"Can life return to normal after the death of a spouse?"

Whilst having a bite to eat this lunch time and reading the BBC News, I found this article about a blog written by Sheryl Sandberg (the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook) after her husband suddenly died last month.

I thought it’d be worth sharing here as there are some poignant comments made:

“Can life return to normal after the death of a spouse?”

Her full blog can be read on Sheryl’s Facebook page.

Can you relate to any of what Sheryl has been going through?

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My husband died 15 months ago from mesothelioma, I spent the last 2 weeks of his life with him in the hospice and was with him when he died. I still have constant flashbacks of the dreadful things he had to endure, the pain and suffering but also his amazing bravery during that terrible time and his constant concern for my wellbeing. People say, ‘think about all the good times you had together’ but that does not help as it only reinforces the point that we will not have any more good times, they are finished for ever. Will things ever improve, I don’t know? I suspect not, I am back at work which is a great distraction, but I don’t feel that I will ever truly get over this and therefore expect my future to remain as bleak as the present. My coping strategies are really non-existent, I am unable to discuss it with anyone and rely on anti-depressants to keep me going. I exist rather than live and I cannot socialize much as it all seems too much of an effort so I would rather stay home and have a glass of wine and sit in silence. Maybe things will change with time but I suspect not, bereavement makes one very self-centred.

Hello there - thanks for visiting the community and sharing your story. It’s something that will always be with you, for sure, but as time goes on, you do learn to ‘cope’ - even if you never fully get over it.

We’ve actually published some research today that shows on average it takes people in the UK 2 years, 1 month and 4 days to feel ‘better’ after bereavement - but this will vary from person to person and there’s no right or wrong way to handle this and you shouldn’t worry that you’re not feeling ‘ok’ again.

We had another post this morning here on the community in response to someone else who is having a hard time that really resonated after reading what you’ve put here and I thought I’d share it:

A post from Karen Miller about how she copes after the death of her mum.

Bereavement can make one self-centred, as you say, but that’s no bad thing and is part of a coping strategy - even if you say this is non-existent. The fact you’ve posted here and are seeking help medically are positive steps…

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My husband also died with this terrible Mesothelioma only four months ago. It was only fourteen months after Mesothelioma was first mentioned and eight months after confirmed diagnosis. Like your beloved husband he was so brave and endured so much pain. He had a pleural catheter fitted because of the effusion and I had to drain this every three days which was agonising. This along with giving him daily injections due to having a massive embolism following palliative chemo was distressing beyond words. He dies two days after his 65 birthday and had always been so fit and healthy, funny, kind, helpful and loved by so many people. I cry every day and sometimes don’t really know why, I just get so overwhelmed. However, I do try to laugh every day too as my husband and I did everyday of our almost 41 years of marriage. Our young grandchildren lift my mood as do friends and family. I try to have something to do or somewhere to go each day even though all I really want to do is stay in bed some days. I still can’t get those last two days out of my head no matter how much I try. I can’t move any of his clothes etc but know I will have to at some point . Is there a best time to do this I wonder. I worry that we didn’t say all the things we could have have said as I keep going over them and remembering things that were perhaps missed. He was loved every minute of every day. What I do know though is that we were very lucky to have had him in our lives for so long but if I could just have one hour with him not in pain…

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I lost my only brother on earth last month. Its like a dream. He died of liver and kidney related issues. He got better .infact the dr told me he would be discharged the following day. My brother told me he would like to go have holy communion on Easter Sunday and he died that day. We spoke together and 10mins later he stopped talking and that was the end.And ever since then. I never stopped crying. I wish it never happened. I wish God never created death . He was my confidant. My best friend. My everything. He doesnt allow anyone to maltreat me. Very kind. Finding it hard to move on without him

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Dear Lola,

What a terrible shock for you so hard to lose the person you’ve always looked to for support. The shock of his sudden death is so hard to bear.
My partner died suddenly and with no warning and like your brother , he supported and cared for me so much.
I’ve just started counselling and this may or may not help you.
Take care J x

I live in Nigeria. I have been looking for someone to counsel me because am about to hit the wall. Kick the wall. But couldnt get a counselor. I had to get online to look for support on how to cope. Iys hard to bear because my brother would tell me dont worry. I wont die and he died. Its unfair

Hello Lola,

I’m really sorry to hear about your brother , what a terrible time for you.
Try to take each day one by one.
I have made a little book of all my memories of my partner. Do you have photos of your brother? write down all the lovely things you remember doing with him. It will help you remember all the good times you shared.

Life is unfair, my lovely partner died so suddenly at a young age. I will never get over the shock of it,

Take care, J x

The thoughts that i would never see him again scares me and leaves me panting. I wish it was a dream. Why would someone kind as him die and leave his parents.

Thank you Joe for sharing this, it helped me cry, which is something I haven’t been able to do and I do feel better for it. I normally just sit in a blank void, stunned by the realisation of what forever means or I go about life pretending to be okay.

Thank you Joe for sharing…these links I found to be a comforting and encouraging read for someone who is grieving but wants ultimately to choose life

Looking back over my married life of 44 years I don’t think that the idea of normal was ever static or unchanging. Things evolved as we grew older. We have lived in the same house for 42 years. Two became three, then four, then five and then six. Add a couple of dogs to the mix. Six then became five, five became four, four became three, three became two. After a few years two became one. Now it’s evolving into what will become a new normal but I doubt it will ever be just normal as the years catch up with me as well. As I look back over our life together I realise that part of my grief includes grieving for all those past “eras” and yet I hardly gave them a thought until these past eleven weeks. Things can never be the same again so I suppose I need to create a new normal, a place I’ve never been before. None of us know what the future holds in store and maybe that’s just as well. However, we do have some ability to influence some things and I’m determined to have some say in how things work out.

Yorkshire Lad…so true …it’s not just grieving the loss of your partner in life, it’s also grieving the passing of those eras you’ve shared …the family, the pets, the holidays, house stuff etc etc etc over so long .
I realise in my case I need to find a way forward, no idea how, no idea when, just know it needs to happen to keep going.
One day at a time Yorkshire Lad. Be kind to yourself and be strong.

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In theory I should be well equipped to deal with change as I worked for a large Local Authority in Training and Development with special responsibility for Organisational Development and Management Development. My area of expertise was Change Management. However my brain just seems to have completely frozen and I struggle to put two coherent thoughts together. At the moment my life seems to be a series of disconnected random events. I’m tempted to sit out and measure a series of objectives but I’m completely lost as to what they should be. I quite like the analogy of fog that’s been used by several people and maybe things will become clearer as it thins a bit and then, hopefully, clears. Nothing in my life to date has actually prepared me for my present situation and so I seem to be learning on the hoof. I’ve found that things that give the most comfort can also give the most distress. When I talk and play with the grandchildren the thought always crosses my mind that my wife would just love to be doing what I’m doing and my eyes fill with tears. It’s sweet and sour. My eyes fill with tears regularly but actual crying is much rarer. Whenever I mention Granny to the grandkids I get a response but I don’t get much back from my kids. I’m not sure how to interpret that.

It’s not something you can prepare yourself for. Your children are grieving too and no doubt worrying for you. Sounds like you’re doing well in the circumstances even if it feels nothing like that to you. Keep sharing on here…it helps others and hopefully will help you. Take care.

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