After a year of grief

My husband died around this time last year. I never thought I would cope and was totally overwhelmed with the shock and loss. I found SR after a few weeks in a desperate googling session trying to find WTF i was supposed to do. I had no idea about funerals or all that admin like many of you but had to learn too. I wanted to kill myself every day. I spent every day shaking, crying, often unable to even breathe. My initial posts are here Overwhelmed

One of the most helpful things to me was this forum and I went on to meet a number of people from this forum (carefully and only after talking to them for many months, there are also a lot of dodgy people here and scammers since you don’t need an account to read…).

Taking the things I was most worried about at the time roughly a year ago… here is what happened…

The flashbacks of my husband’s heart attack death and the day… at first i had major panic attacks every day and hardly slept for weeks/months… with counselling, anti-depressants and time those have significantly reduced. I still have relatively minor episodes but now it is not too bad at all. It didn’t stay like that forever despite me watching/participating in a often grisly and not very peaceful death. I do still think about it every day though but for much less time each day. Telling people about it in detail (counsellor and close friends) helped at first quite a bit. At around 10 months I stopped crying every day and now i only cry a few times a week and not for long.

The funeral - it happened despite i had no prior expertise. It went fine. I got bereavement support allowance from the government which helped paying for it. It doesn’t matter to me much anymore who came, what was said or the music/photos, despite all the fretting over those things at the time.

Family - Getting help even though i found it very annoying at the time was the right thing and i am super grateful to my family (my mum literally slept in my bed with me for several months). Take the help, it won’t be forever, even though you cannot see that then.

Friends - i lost the few friends i had, it was too hard remaining friends with people who don’t understand what it is like to lose your partner. There is no point putting yourself through humouring people when you have enough to cope with… Now i have new friends though through this site and meet up with them, that is such a massive help that cannot be overstated. I have around 15 very good friends for life through this site now. Not really any others left and good riddance.

The grief stays the same. The grief for my husband stayed the same but instead of being the only thing i could think of and the main focus of my days now it is just part of me and i have other stuff besides it, “growing with your grief” is working out true for me.

I couldn’t drive as my husband took me everywhere - i had driving lessons from Manchester Driving School, I can now drive short distances and still working on it.

My house and the home automation, I got a lot of it to work, some still doesn’t. It doesn’t seem such a big deal now as it did and I have adapted (i do have to use a torch at night still as big lights don’t work so must get an electrician to come and fix some stuff but i survived quite alright for a year like this). Other things happened like my gutters fell off and my drains got blocked. Normally my husband would have sorted that stuff but with help from those around me i got it done and it was alright. None of it seems such a big deal as it did at first. My standards for a lot lowered.

At first i didn’t think i’d ever be able to live in this house but now I sleep in the room my husband died in and it mostly doesn’t bother me. I love my house again and feel at home so over time (I think around 9 months) that all lessened and just became less important. It was helped by my mostly living away from my house since i was lucky enough to have family i could stay with.

The loneliness - i think this is the biggest thing, i also think it is separate from the grief. For me I made a few very special friends through this site that I speak to every single day and that stops my loneliness having someone to tell my insignificant little stories about my life to. You can’t replace the person but you can be less lonely if you can have courage to reach out to people who are in the same situation (carefully, taking precautions, grief community has it’s fair share of nutters too).

Eating - at first i couldn’t eat and lost weight, then all i did was eat and put a load back on again. At first you do just need to eat though. Pork pies, Sausage rolls, Scotch eggs, bagged salads and stuff you only have to reach into the fridge for is the best until you get more able to feed yourself.

I am hoping to start losing weight soon as i am feeling stronger.

Work - i went back to work after a few weeks, it was too early for me and then i had to go off sick for another month… when i went back i still didn’t do much for almost the entire year but coast and do the minimum… i did manage to keep my job though (so far).

All the grim death admin… A year on and I still have not done all of it… gas bill, internet, quite a lot of stuff and it doesn’t seem to matter. I was super stressed about it all for the first months and had a mega list i looked at every day that used to panic me but now i will just get to it one fine day when i can be bothered and if i can’t be bothered it doesn’t seem entirely terrible so far. No one has locked me up yet anyway. The main ones are the government stuff (which you should be able to do through tell us once service) and applying for bereavement support payment so you don’t miss out on the money you are entitled to if you are.

So if i had to recommend some stuff to me if i have this happen to me again sometime I guess it would be:

  1. you don’t have to do anything, there is no answer to any of it… Just try to survive the days at first, try to eat, sleep/rest, drink and not kill yourself.

  2. Once you are up to it (after a few months probably) make a GP appointment and try to access some counselling, or even better if you have money get private counselling (it is around £30 - £50 a week) so that you are not rushed. If you are working and have medical insurance you can get it through that too (as i did).

You can also get drugs, i resisted this at first but in hindsight it was good for me. I was given drugs to stop the initial terror/shaking and calm me down and later anti-depressants which I am still on now. They are helping me build myself a life again by bringing some of me back. I hope to go off them next year.

  1. Ditch people mercilessly if they make you feel bad or keep giving you stupid advice. Make new friends with Bereaved people in a similar situation.

You can find these people through SR forum, WAY and WayUp, Cruse, local bereavement groups… google it and find people like you, this is too big to ignore, you need to look after yourself and you need support. You can go back to those other people you knew in your old life later if you want but right now if they are not helping then get rid.

  1. Write the stuff that worries you down in lists/get a special book and then try not to think about it, worrying doesn’t seem to change much and once the funeral is over there is not much timescale on most things that cannot be abandoned. Don’t be too hard on yourself, this is a truly awful and life changing experience and in some ways it doesn’t matter what you do so don’t fret about that.

It’s horribly normal… what a thing to think so many people have been going through these feelings of guilt and grief for thousands of years, indeed every single one of our ancestors i guess… You’ll cope somehow even though like me you won’t quite know how. Take care and hello to everyone I used to speak to. I don’t come here too much anymore as the raw grief reminds me of that terrible time but I do like to look in from time to time.

Things are getting better for me despite my complete and absolute terror and hopelessness, i hope things will get better for all of you too somehow. Take care.

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FleurDeLis

Thank you so much for posting this. I have read it in earnest and take a lot of comfort and strength from it.

I have some very good friends and family who I am great full for and glad they are in my life. Yes I too would like to make friends with those who have experienced or know the grief we have suffered as they are the only ones that really know.

Meeting people too would be great but I’m not a confident driver so that hampers me a bit …… but I’m sure I will get there.

Thanks again
Take care

Dee xx

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Thanks FleurDeLis, this has made me think so much about the last year and how things have changed. I often feel like I’m stuck, not moving but after reading your post I thought about how although I’m still grieving and life is still very hard, there is change and a lot of learning. It’s sometimes hard to acknowledge that as I can’t change what happened to my Mum but that doesn’t mean that my life since she died isn’t real or important.

I’m really glad to hear things are getting better for you.

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Well said,
In my opinion — and it’s only my opinion.

If there was ever a leaflet summarising how to navigate this horrendous journey , I think you have it spot on.

I still have my moments and certainly don’t trivialise others coping with their grief.
But for me this is a comforting post
Thankyou. Xx

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FleurDeLis thanks for this, extremely helpful.

Best wishes.

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Hi
Absolutely brilliant post. I can relate to everything you have said. I am 10 months in, and I sometimes wonder how I have got here from those horrible early months. I remember the book, I still have it with all the admin things I had to and panicking that I hadn’t done all the tasks. I even remember taking a day off work and sitting on the phone with my book, being passed to the bereavement team, and breaking down every time I was told “so sorry for your loss” Or losing my temper if I got the idiot on the phone. I ask myself now why on earth did I put that much pressure on myself to get things done when my head was probably not in the right place? I now just do things when I want, what’s the rush. I am useless at home maintenance, but I fixed the house alarm, an electrical fault that left me freezing in January, the coffee machine and other stuff, YouTube/Google is a very good friend. I agree about the friends thing, I now have hardly any, they soon disappeared. I would love to meet up with people near me and that’s my next project. Thanks for posting x

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This is very helpful post, I am 10 months into my journey, it is the hardest thing ever. I constantly think and talk to my husband, it’s like I am on a rollercoaster, I still see that picture of him dying and his last breath.

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FleurDeLis,

I’ve been an avid follower of your posts since you joined. They are honest, brutal at times and funny. You have kept your sense of humour even though you have suffered the death of your husband at a young age.

Your positivity has inspired me and I have laughed with you and cried with you at times, even though you lost your husband and I lost my mum. You have showed such courage and resilience and I’m so pleased that things have got better for you.

Life is so different without our loved ones and I will never forget how you struggled to open curtains and other things in your husbands smart house. It reminded me of my daughter bringing her first missing button off a school skirt to me soon after my mum died. My mum had always done sewing for me and I had a complete meltdown.

I hope you stay with the site (alot of people leave as time goes on because they dont think they are needed or beneficial anymore)

I look forward to seeing how you progress through your life without your beloved husband.

Cheryl x

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It was good reading you post .it will soo be a year for me. My husband passed away 22nd January 2021 with COVID-19…still can’t believe I’ve come this far with out him …like you I have a great family two fantastic daughters :heart:. But my best friend who I thought would be there after 30 years .never came round and was just not the person I thought she would be …but other people have came in to my life and held out a hand and are always there for me …it just helps to have people on here who understands how you really feel …the days are getting harder with out stephen. But one day at a time x

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Thank you for your post. One of your comments struck me as particularly useful - you said ‘don’t be too hard on yourself’. My wife died 15 months ago and I still feel guilty that I didn’t comfort her and say more to help her in her last dreadful days. The truth was that I was in a daze at the time.

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Thank you for your brilliant words, you seem to be surviving this craziness & give hope to others. Jill M x

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Thanks very much for your encouraging comments. I hope you all are still surviving the grimness of grief and it is lovely to see people who I have walked this path with since the start on here <3

This week I took off my wedding ring. It wasn’t as momentous as I thought it would be and feels okay.

I didn’t really celebrate Christmas (the luxury of not having kids, I know it’s not possible for most people) so I passed it relatively unscathed this second Christmas without him, for the first time in my life I didn’t watch telly on Christmas Day and did some gardening/went for a walk.

4 days before Christmas I got a new boiler, something that caused me a lot of angst as my husband was an air conditioning engineer in a past job and had always said that he would install an aircon/heat system himself once our boiler packed up. He had handmade a cupboard over our boiler because he never intended it to be moved/replaced for that reason.

Of course when my boiler broke I knew something would have to happen to that cupboard he made and said would never be moved… it took me a while of living without hot water/heating in December before getting it sorted and i was reluctant due to that but in the end bit the bullet. It made me feel a bit weird at the time and the men saved the cupboard for me in case i can still use pieces of it (I can’t but still didn’t throw it away yet). Dealing with things like my drains blocking, boiler breaking, gutters falling off is giving me more confidence, i was terrified about dealing with workmen and this kind of thing a year ago and i still don’t enjoy it but like everything, you get used to it and find a way to solve the problems. Life is a series of problems after all :slight_smile:

I’m getting better at driving and enjoy it now, I still have not been on a motorway but my confidence locally is improving.

The big news is that I started a new relationship with a widowed man… I honestly never would have thought that is possible. I would have judged people like that that they didn’t love their husband as much as I loved mine… indeed i felt a lot of guilt at the start myself and came to realise the worst judgement/comments i got were actually from myself… I love my husband so much I would have thought it impossible I could fall in love again… it is surprising the turns life can take to show us we don’t know it all after all!

I love the new man and whilst we both still miss our deceased partners and grieve for them every day, the journey is much less lonely now and I have a new hope for the future. It doesn’t mean everything is rosy, there are new challenges every day, like with any part of moving forward but I am in a much better place than i was a year ago when i had no hope and no life left. Things change all the time whether you try or not so for those of you in the grim extreme grief, please don’t give up… keep going one day at a time and maybe one day something will change to give you some hope… i dont mean a new partner but it can be a new passion, a grand child, a new friend… who knows… we certainly don’t know it all…
Good luck out there and I hope you can all find something to bring you some peace for some time today xx

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Wishing you and your new partner well for the future.
Thanks for posting your news.

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Fleur,

Finding someone new to spend time with doesn’t wipe out your marriage or love for your husband.

My mum was widowed at 53 and I used to hope she would meet someone new. She never did and spent 21 years on her own before she died.

You have to grab happiness where you can in this life. It’s too short not to.

Wishing you all the best.

Cheryl x

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Hi Fleur, so nice to see your post and that things have turned a corner for you. It is encouraging for others who were once in the same position as you to see it is possible to get on with life, it will never be the same but we adapt to our new situation.
That’s great about your driving well done :+1:t3: I told you you could do it.
I am thrilled that you have met someone :heart_eyes: just having a special person to share life with makes all the difference and brings back our confidence and self esteem. I have also met someone :face_with_hand_over_mouth: like you I never thought I would let another man into my life but we never know what is in front of us and we should make the most of the life we have left, nobody knows better than us how everything can change in the blink of an eye :slightly_frowning_face: but it is all about accepting the situation and dealing with it. Great to know you are in a happier place Fleur, good luck to you :kissing_heart: xx

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Oh Ruth.
( Hope you don’t mind me calling you by your proper name now.) I can feel your new found happiness and I hope I am one of those new friends you have made since your hubby passed away.
I always look at your lovely posts and admire the way you have so bravely moved forward from such an awful experience. I look forward so much to seeing you again soon. You are a star !!!
Take care and thank you for all the humour you still instill into your writing
Mo. Xxx

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Hi. I have only just joined the group and your post made me feel better. My husband died December 2020. Every word is spot on. I especially agree with ditching the people that make you feel even worse. We have enough to get through without trying to make others feel better. Take care and I wish you more happiness in your life.

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Good luck annie x

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