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:
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.