Death of my husband - after 9 months still a constant raw pain

I am new to this community, having only just discovered it. I was beginning to think that something is wrong with me because time is not healing. While we were on an alpine holiday, my husband suffered a severe stroke (his first and only). He was airlifted to hospital and then airlifted to another larger hospital, and I couldn’t go in the helicopter with him. As it was Christmas eve, just the beginning of the holiday, I could not contact people like our GP for help or solace. Family was with me on the holiday, but my husband was 3 to 4 hours one-way travel away and I was torn between having some comfort from them at night and being with him so I commuted, which I now feel was a mistake. He died 18 days later, still abroad, my family having left. Death of a loved one can hurt beyond bearing. It feels like being torn apart because they were part of us. I am so sorry for each and every one of you for your loss. My husband did not have a chance to say goodbye because bar a few of the barest signs, he could not communicate although he was conscious. As for me, I was torn between hoping he would recover and believing he wouldn’t and couldn’t stop crying and just repeating ‘I love you’ and playing the music he loved, when there was so much more I should have said and done. I replay those 18 days over and over, at times with vivid flashbacks. Now I wonder if on top of grieving there is an element of post-traumatic stress. I cannot change what happened and I would do so much differently if I could. There isn’t a right or a wrong way to react to bereavement. Grief counselling helped me understand this, but though I understand it in my head, it hasn’t helped me out of this constant pain and reliving. It is hard for me to share this. I don’t know if it will help me, but I hope for anyone with similar anguish, it helps to know that you are not alone.

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Hi Rosie.
Im so sorry for your Loss. Like you im new to this community.
Sadly my Wonderful Husband passed away August 2017. My Husband was an extremely healthy active man always smiling and Loved by so many people. Sadly in May 2017 he was diagnosed with a Rare Cancer and we where told that he would live for around 1 year. We made each second of each day count, then sadly in July after a Scan we where told he had 2 weeks to live and thats exactly how long he had with me. My heart is in bits, I am existing and every day is a constant struggle. My Husband was my everything we lived for each other, I just feel in constant pain without him. People are always asking what they can do for me, there is nothing at this point that anyone can do because I want my Husband by my side and no one can do that. Take care x

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Dear Rosie C, I am so terribly sorry for your loss. The truth is, no matter how long ago or how recently you lost a loved one, the grieving never, ever ends. You grieve for the rest of your life. It is just over three years since I lost my husband and not a day goes by that I do not think of him and re-live in my mind, our wonderful years together. You will look at photographs, listen to music you both loved and you will cry, you will cry a lot. You learn to take one day at a time, go to bed and dread getting up again in the morning but you do get up, you carry on living the nightmare that is now your life. As time goes by you start to accept that your loved one has gone and no matter how much you beg and pray for them to come back, they never will so you go on alone, waiting for the time when it is your turn to go and be together with your loved one once again. You go out with your family, you laugh and smile, your son/daughter/grandchild gets married, or they have a baby and you are happy for them but inside you are screaming because the one person who should be there to share their happiness and joy isn’t. They have not seen their son/daughter/grandchild married, they haven’t seen their new grandchild/great grandchild born so you cry for what they have missed and you cry for your son/daughter/grandchild because their parent/grandparent should have been there on the happiest days of their lives. At the end of the day there is not a darned thing we can do about it so we plod on and live what is left of the rest of our lives the best way we can. My husband and I had 50 fantastic years together so I thank God for giving us such a wonderful life because many people never get that. So many people on this site have lost loved ones and children when they were young and are now facing many years without them so like I say, I thank God for giving me such a long and wonderful life with my husband. I am thinking of you. Sheila xxxx

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Hi Rose im very sorry for your loss have you seen your gp re these flash backs (im on a waiting list for this its called CPT )keep coming back here Colin

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Mp, Sheila, and Colin: Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your own experiences for which you have my sympathy. It is very brave to come out and speak of these raw feelings. The headline summary of this topic is spot on. It is hard to anticipate how we will respond to the death of a loved one. There is no right or wrong way. For several months I kept thinking ‘when will this unbearable pain end?’ By now I have stopped wondering. No doubt many people cope better than I have, and it doesn’t mean that they loved less. But I have come to accept myself, even through the chaos of stopping time for nearly a year. Colin, I did see a counsellor at my GP surgery, and discussed the flashbacks. Because of the circumstances of my husband’s death, I wonder if it is PTSD but I’m not sure giving it a label helps. I still have the flashbacks, sometimes they are all consuming. I also had dreams virtually every night in which my husband was alive; in some, that he died was a mistake, in others he simply hadn’t died… When I told the counsellor about them, they stopped, which made me unhappy. I still have these but only occasionally. He was my soulmate and I am bereft.

Oh Rosie, the pain does not end it just fades into the background and then all of a sudden, you hear a song, see a photo and the pain once again rises up and hits you in the stomach and takes your breath away. You will grieve forever because it is knowing the future we now have is a future without our loved one and that is absolutely heartbreaking, knowing we have to go on without the one person we have loved for most of our lives. The first year my husband died, I heard him calling me every single night, I jumped out of bed to see to him then realised he was not there. The second year I didn’t hear him calling but there was banging on the front door every so often and I got out of bed to see what it was but there was no-one there, the banging was loud enough to wake the whole street, it was like someone using a battering ram against the door. This third year I have dreamed of him such a lot, not when he was older but when he was young and we had just been married but it is always in very bright colours. I have a lovely comfortable home, thanks to Peter and even though it is much too large for me now, they will have to carry me out as all my memories are here. I child-mind our grandchildren and they sleep over such a lot and play in our large garden, the plants and trees in the garden are from when we were married in 1967. I have no fear of dying as he will be waiting for me along with all our family from the past. Our sons said to me the other day how lucky they were to have had parents who loved each other to the end and gave them a childhood they still look back on with happiness, they surprise me with what they do remember. Take care. Best wishes, Sheila xx

Rosie - I am so sorry to read of your devestating loss and remaining distress and anguish. I lost my Husband 12 months ago in what I consider to be truly traumatic circumstances as well. Even after 12 months, much of my waking day is spent on thoughts very, very, similar to yours. From wishing you had said/done things differently, the shock, the dreams, the thoughts of hoping he would recover whilst realising he wouldn’t, the reliving of events and the dreadful realisation we can’t reverse them. I had two sessions with Cruse who couldn’t see me again because I was too distraught to hold it together and then within the last 5 months I had two sessions with an NHS counsellor who, again wouldn’t continue with the sessions as I was too distraught and unable to get through a session without becoming distressed. Four weeks ago I went to my GP and told her I felt I was experiencing some form of PTSD. I mentioned I was continually reliving and dissecting the events and was feeling detatched from real life. I think the term is “rumination”. I had been voicing my concerns about this through all my previous GP appointments. In order to try and avoid these concerns and fears I try now to blank things out - the downside is that now the thoughts are much more overwhelming when they do break through the “defences” I have built up. Several members on here, have in the past, mentioned a link with PTSD and I think this is a very valid association to make. I also think GP’s should be able to detect the possibility of PTSD symptoms developing in some patients and treat accordingingly. I have been offered anti-depressants many times but have always declined - not because I have tried to be brave but because they terrify me. Maybe if I had accepted I would not be so distressed now - some 12 months later. I sincerely hope I have not depressed you further as my reply to your post has not been very positive. I wanted you to know that your thoughts of a PTSD (or possibly complicated grief) element to your grieving is not unrealistic. This pain on top of the loss itself is very hard to bear, I truly understand. I’m sorry I cannot help but I send you compassionate thoughts Rosie and hope we all will be OK somehow.