Grief

  • hdurdinr

    Posts: 699

    Mar 17, 2010 9:30 PM GMT
    I lost my partner of five years just before Christmas after a long and extremely painful battle against cancer. The initial relief I felt for him when he died wore off pretty soon, and now that I'm back to a 'normal' work routine things are just getting harder and harder and harder. I get so angry sometimes like today, so I went tot he gym and exhausted myself. No friends my age can relate and most of them have distanced themselves. It is also coming up to the first anniversary of my dad's death. I'm not a depressive person but this one's got me. Anybody else had a similar experience, or any advice? Thanks, Harry.
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    Mar 17, 2010 10:08 PM GMT
    I lost my partner in a fire almost 4 years ago so I guess I can say I can imagine the sort of things you may be feeling.

    My advice would be to try and remember that grief is a long process. It never leaves you, you just learn to live with it.

    But for the time being I would suggest a few things:

    Keep busy

    Look after yourself

    Try to get plenty of sleep

    Find somewhere quiet each day to take a few minutes to think about your loss

    Don't worry about inappropriate crying, sometimes it'll just happen when you least expect it.

    I found a brief period of counselling was helpful, gave me a chance to talk about my lost partner.
  • hdurdinr

    Posts: 699

    Mar 18, 2010 12:54 AM GMT
    Thanks redheadguy - good advice for sure, the sleeping part is hard though, I can be super tired from going to the gym and work- I can be falling asleep at my desk, but then when I go to bed I just can't switch my mind off......
  • gumbosolo

    Posts: 382

    Mar 18, 2010 1:56 AM GMT
    I've never experienced such a huge loss. If it's anything like the lesser experiences I've had, there'll be days when you need iron self-control, and others you'll have to listen to your needs and take it easy. Just wanted to wish you well.
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    Mar 18, 2010 2:05 AM GMT
    hdurdinr saidI lost my partner of five years just before Christmas after a long and extremely painful battle against cancer. The initial relief I felt for him when he died wore off pretty soon, and now that I'm back to a 'normal' work routine things are just getting harder and harder and harder. I get so angry sometimes like today, so I went tot he gym and exhausted myself. No friends my age can relate and most of them have distanced themselves. It is also coming up to the first anniversary of my dad's death. I'm not a depressive person but this one's got me. Anybody else had a similar experience, or any advice? Thanks, Harry.



    I don't know if your spiritual or not but you might consider praying.
    You also might try speaking to a pastor or a therapist.

    I wish you well. icon_neutral.gif
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    Mar 18, 2010 2:06 AM GMT
    I'm sorry you are going through this. You need to remember that grief has a process with these steps: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

    You need to allow yourself to move through them, but not become stuck at one. I was stuck on one for years after my father's death and am still stuck there, and it has harmed me tremendously. Counseling might be helpful too.
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    Mar 18, 2010 2:17 AM GMT
    I'm so sorry for your loss.

    It's upsetting that your closest friends have distanced themselves from you. You really need friends with whom you can share your feelings openly and without judgment. Definitely, a competent therapist plays an important part in the process, as does group therapy. Talking it out is the most important thing.

    Oh, and try not to pressure yourself into thinking you have to be at a certain point of recovery by a certain date. It may be more like three steps forward, two steps back.
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    Mar 18, 2010 2:24 AM GMT
    Jeremy suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage on July 4, 2001, a few hours after we returned to Houston from a fab vacation in San Antonio with my two kids, David and Emily, then 14 and 12. He died two days later, never having regained consciousness. We'd been together seven years and he was 30 years old (I was 43.)

    As I told David when we were driving home from the hospital that first evening, "Life is wonderful except that it sucks and this is one of the sucky times." I've since come to realize that life is wonderful even when it sucks. Certainly the days and weeks that followed were full of unexpected blessings just as much as they were filled with tremendous woe.

    Losing a partner, or any extremely close loved one, isn't something you ever get over, no matter how long you were together, no matter how old (or young) you are, no matter the circumstances (fast or slow.) On the other hand, it is something one becomes accustomed to over time and the hurt becomes manageable.

    With the exception of my children's maternal grandfather, everyone close to me has always died abruptly so I've never been in the situation you endured with your partner. I would imagine that in addition to the loss you are also experience the after effects of profound emotional exhaustion. Working yourself into a state of physical exhaustion may have some appeal but it may not help with the emotional part, hence the insomnia even when you're completely spent.

    I was already in counseling when Jeremy passed away (I had some other issues to work on) and consequently I didn't actively seek out grief counseling. In retrospect I think I would have benefited from it a great deal. I'd also have done well to pay attention to the one good bit of advice I received, namely: Change nothing for a year! Not where you live, not your job, nothing. How you feel about things right now is not necessarily how you're going to feel about them six months or a year from now.

    It IS hard to find gay men who are willing to talk about this stuff. As men we're taught to bottle it up; as gay men we're taught that our relationships really don't count, which just compounds the discomfort. On the other hand, words -- and hugs -- are all we really have, so don't feel like you need to bottle it up.

    A few years ago I created a Yahoo group so that those of us who have lost partners can talk about it. Even now it's not very active but I'd encourage you to join and share your story with the people there. You can find it at:

    http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/gaywidows/

    Take care & keep us posted...

    xoxo

    Richard
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    Mar 18, 2010 2:28 AM GMT
    Advice above is spot on; I also recommend the Jill Brooke’s book.
    I hate to offer simple platitudes’ I’m sure you have heard them all already.

    I cannot imagine loosing your dad and your partner in the same year, I doubt I would get out of bed for weeks.

    Everything you are feeling is normal, but don’t hesitate to reach out.

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    Mar 18, 2010 2:32 AM GMT
    Loss is always one of the hardest things to deal with... All the jumbled feelings that can float by so quickly, from happiness, to sadness, to anger.. it can be all overwhelming and seem like it'll never end.

    When I lost someone I loved dearly I tried hard to fight those feelings, using al sorts of excuses or rationalisations to try and settle all that pain I was feeling.

    In the end, I had to just let my self feel those things and accept that I was angry at him for leaving me here, that I missed him, that I wanted him back, that I wanted to be there with him, that everything was just so incredibly unfair.

    There all incredibly normal feelings and everything else is normal too and you should let your self have those feelings, when your angry, be angry, when your sad, be sad, when you have moments of happiness let your self feel that.

    Eventually all those feelings will fad but it's going to happen slowly and it's going to be painful, but just let them happen and if you need to get out of your head for a bit just so you can forget for even just a little while, find a good friend who'll take you out to do something, anything, everything, what ever..

    You'll get better from this but it'll take a while.
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    Mar 18, 2010 2:35 AM GMT
    So sorry to hear about your loss. Actually, you've had two huge losses. That would be more than enough to throw a lot of us for a loop. If you haven't had any counseling, I'd recommend it. At the very least, it might help to give you a perspective on things.
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Mar 18, 2010 3:14 AM GMT
    I can't be particularly helpful on the loss of your partner, having never gone through that. Your father, though...my mother died when I was 22. The most useful advice I've got:

    1) People say absolutely moronic things, but most often mean well by them. It doesn't make it right, it doesn't mean that what they say isn't infuriating/hurtful/whatever negative reaction it triggers. But keeping in mind that they almost certainly meant well, and made the mistake out of ignorance and not malice, can keep you from lashing out at them over it.

    I'm sure, decades from now when some of those people lose a parent of their own, they would be utterly horrified to be reminded of what they said to me. And knowing that made it a lot easier to just let go of my reaction to them.

    2) As a corollary, your grief is one of the most acute (if your partner's parents or siblings are alive, they could easily be up there with you), but it's not the only one. Your friends and family are grieving to some extent as well -- some for your partner, and some for the loss of their expectations of what your life would be with your partner. It makes it easier to cut people close to you some slack when you recognize that part of them is reeling too.

    3) Grief is not a packaged, schedule deal. There are not 5 discrete phases of coping that everyone progresses through, and the idea that it's linear is laughable. The pop psychologists who popularized and perpetuate this idea of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance deserve to be slapped on a daily basis. Some people rebound amazingly quickly; others take a lot longer to come to terms with things. Some people find immersing themselves in a social environment helps them not to brood; other people need the quiet and introspection that time alone brings. You will grieve in your own way. Right now, judge yourself solely on whether you are functioning on the most basic level. If you are managing to go to work, doing your job, bathing, and eating, consider that a success. If after six months to a year you're still in that barely functioning state -- not able to enjoy time with friends, still depressed easily, not feeling like anything other than the bare minimum is worth the effort -- then you should seriously look into talking to someone trained at helping you through this sort of thing. But if you don't want to do so before then, then don't. Do what works for you, not what other people want you to.

    When my mother died, I found I needed concrete things to do on a daily basis; that helped me remind myself that I could still get things done, and life wasn't completely and totally overwhelming. It also let me stop thinking about my loss for a while, while I tackled taking things down to the storage unit or going grocery shopping or whatever. She died in the summer after I finished college; in September that year I started grad work. And I threw myself into it, because that's what I needed. Leaning what I needed to know for my classes, reading papers to develop research questions, troubleshooting lab methods...those were all things I knew how to do, and knew what steps to take, and I think that in and of itself helped me get back to a good place mentally. But, that's me. What you need is something only you are qualified to determine.
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    Mar 18, 2010 3:53 AM GMT
    I have experienced the deaths of many VERY dear family and friends. It is excruciating, even torturous pain. Their is no getting past it or over it quickly their is no easy path or preparation that gives you all the answers and support you want and need. Sometimes the best you can do is all you can do and it will have to do....I found it helpful to know that their are stages and that they can be out of order , simultaneous, delayed, repeated, etc.... maybe this knowledge would be of help to others......
    I got it from this website and I refer to it frequently.....http://www.recover-from-grief.com/7-stages-of-grief.html

    Good Luck and take care of yourself.......time helps, but it still hurts....
    Gary


    7 STAGES OF GRIEF
    Through the Process and Back to Life

    It is important to interpret the stages loosely, and expect much individual variation. There is no neat progression from one stage to the next. In reality, there is much looping back, or stages can hit at the same time, or occur out of order. So why bother with stage models at all? Because they are a good general guide of what to expect. For example, generally, a long period of "depression" (not clinical depression), isolation, and loneliness happen late in the grief process, months after the tragedy strikes. It actually is normal and expected for you to be very depressed and sad eight months later. Outsiders do not understand this, and feel that it should be time for you to "get over it" and rejoin the land of the living. Just knowing that your desire to be alone with your sad reflections at this time is normal will help you deal with outside pressures. You are acting normally. They just don't "get it".


    Here is the grief model called "The 7 Stages of Grief":


    7 Stages of Grief...

    1. SHOCK & DENIAL-
    You will probably react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief. You may deny the reality of the loss at some level, in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks.

    2. PAIN & GUILT-
    As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs.

    You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn't do with your loved one. Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase.

    3. ANGER & BARGAINING-
    Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame for the death on someone else. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion.

    You may rail against fate, questioning "Why me?" You may also try to bargain in vain with the powers that be for a way out of your despair ("I will never drink again if you just bring him back")

    4. "DEPRESSION", REFLECTION, LONELINESS-
    Just when your friends may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be "talked out of it" by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving.

    During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your lost one, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.

    5. THE UPWARD TURN-
    As you start to adjust to life without your dear one, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your "depression" begins to lift slightly.

    6. RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH-
    As you become more functional, your mind starts working again, and you will find yourself seeking realistic solutions to problems posed by life without your loved one. You will start to work on practical and financial problems and reconstructing yourself and your life without him or her.

    7. ACCEPTANCE & HOPE-
    During this, the last of the seven stages in this grief model, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness. Given the pain and turmoil you have experienced, you can never return to the carefree, untroubled YOU that existed before this tragedy. But you will find a way forward. You will start to look forward and actually plan things for the future. Eventually, you will be able to think about your lost loved one without pain; sadness, yes, but the wrenching pain will be gone. You will once again anticipate some good times to come, and yes, even find joy again in the experience of living.
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    Mar 18, 2010 6:38 AM GMT
    My condolences to each guy who has written of his loss here. Thanks for so many good words of advice for the OP. I was able to take these words and apply them to my own loss. I'm going through a tough time - like so many others. I appreciate the caring advice on this thread. I realize we all grieve in our own way, and in our own time, but these words above me have already helped me. For that, I'm grateful. This is such a good site and a good bunch of guys.
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    Mar 18, 2010 6:40 AM GMT
    Don't isolate yourself.
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    Mar 18, 2010 7:12 AM GMT
    hdurdinr saidI lost my partner of five years just before Christmas after a long and extremely painful battle against cancer. The initial relief I felt for him when he died wore off pretty soon, and now that I'm back to a 'normal' work routine things are just getting harder and harder and harder. I get so angry sometimes like today, so I went tot he gym and exhausted myself. No friends my age can relate and most of them have distanced themselves. It is also coming up to the first anniversary of my dad's death. I'm not a depressive person but this one's got me. Anybody else had a similar experience, or any advice? Thanks, Harry.


    Grief sucks. You may find comfort in taking a positive approach to your memories. In time, you'll likely remember the good, and be thankful. As we grow through these sorts of experiences we gain perspective, mature, and move forward. You'll be o.k. It's o.k. to feel the way you feel. It takes time.

    If you're the intellectual sort, you can study up on the process, but, this, too, will, in time, become less painful, and you'll begin, at some point to view it with a certain joy for having had the experience.
  • Space_Cowboy_...

    Posts: 3738

    Mar 18, 2010 7:23 AM GMT
    Something I find that helps, take a hot shower and think about everything sit down and talk to space, cry in the shower let it all out, even talk to him if you want to tell him something. Works for me.
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    Mar 18, 2010 7:25 AM GMT
    Space_Cowboy_89 saidSomething I find that helps, take a hot shower and think about everything sit down and talk to space, cry in the shower let it all out, even talk to him if you want to tell him something. Works for me.


    oh shitz....wutd i say about the crying lil hommie?
  • Space_Cowboy_...

    Posts: 3738

    Mar 18, 2010 7:28 AM GMT
    joshnyc said
    Space_Cowboy_89 saidSomething I find that helps, take a hot shower and think about everything sit down and talk to space, cry in the shower let it all out, even talk to him if you want to tell him something. Works for me.


    oh shitz....wutd i say about the crying lil hommie?




    icon_eek.gif lol I haven't cried in a long time! How do you always catch me when I post stuff about me crying?
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    Mar 18, 2010 8:15 AM GMT
    Don't bottle your grief, let it out, and let it go.



    It's a process, maybe a long one. Be patient with yourself, and if you can, with others.
  • metta

    Posts: 39104

    Mar 18, 2010 8:18 AM GMT
    I can totally relate. It will be 5 years on April 20th that my best friend/business partner/roommate past away. We did everything together. 5 years ago, my best friend asked me to take him to the hospital for an overnight stay so that they coiuld take care of a pain that he had in his back. They found something else....long story involving a staff infection (he was a kidney transplant patient that took medicine to keep his immune system down so that his kidney would not be rejected), heart valve replacement, and complications from a damaged digestive system from doing dialysis in the past. I was so devistated and at the time really did not think that I would survive it. Honestly, at the time, I really did not want to survive it. It just hurt so much. I thought that I would be like one of those people whose spouse dies and they die soon after from the pain of it all. It is still not easy. I hate when people ask me how long it has been....it just brings all that pain back and I keep remembering having to agree to have him taken off the machines and seeing him lying on that hospital bed. I still keep myself busy. I will always miss him. It has changed me forever. I really hate how emotional I get with everything. I just seem to feel the pain of others so easily. I have worked very hard to keep things together. I know that would have been be proud of me.

    Everyone handles grief differently. If you feel like you need to be angry...get angry...personally, I think that putting that anger into your workouts is a great way to do it as long as you don't injur yourself. I have done that before as well, especially on the cardio machines.
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    Mar 18, 2010 8:30 AM GMT
    Well, there is a lot of good stuff written here. Personally, it took me about a year to stabilize. Afterwards, I had a whole different appreciation of mortality. In a way, it's a good thing. You have a sharper sense of Things That Are A Waste of Your Life, and more freedom to let them go and seek richer experiences.

    I like the quote from Steve Jobs, after his cancer surgery. Something to the effect that a brush with death "relieves you of the illusion that you have anything to lose."
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    Mar 18, 2010 8:36 AM GMT
    I'm not sure I have anything meaningful to offer but here's a song to shake your shoulders to...Find beauty in the life you have...That's what your partner wants.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwc0AW67CmA






  • hdurdinr

    Posts: 699

    Mar 18, 2010 11:50 AM GMT
    Gosh, thanks guys for all the responses, lots of good advice and kind words. It goes a long way. I'm feeling a little bit better today - yesterday was especially tough for me as it was St. Patrick's day and I only realised the night before. It crept up on me. The day always served as a marker for me in thinking "what was I doing this time last year?" This time last year I was full of hope that Eric would recover and beat his cancer. This time three years ago we were living in Germany and I remember exactly what we were doing and how I felt. Three years is not a long time but never has something felt so far away and inaccessable - like it happened in a different life time. I suppose it did.
    Thanks again everybody for your support, it means an awful lot.
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    Mar 18, 2010 1:11 PM GMT
    hdurdinr said... inaccessable - like it happened in a different life time. I suppose it did.
    .


    Yes exactly "a different life time"