My father-in-law passed away in June totally unexpectedly he was fit and healthy with no health problems, since then I feel on another planet. It’s the first person my husband has ever lost, my husband has a zest for life doesn’t suffer mental health problems very happy bubbly and my absolute rock. I go to him for everything I’m a natural born worrier. He’s completely shut down only goes to work and back looks distant doesn’t talk and I’m finding it really hard looking at him with so much hurt, I feel lost I know I can’t take his pain away but that doesn’t stop the need to want to help him he’s pushing me away and I don’t know what to think or do I’ve been with him 25 years and I’ve never had these feelings towards him I have so many thoughts and feelings about everything and my husband is constantly on my mind every minute of everyday. Can anybody share any thoughts on similar experience what helped you to help your spouse? Xx
Oh no it’s so hard for both of you. My mum died nearly a year ago. I know my husband has struggled. He’s a fixer. Yet he can’t fix this. I know he feels helpless and I have pushed him away at times. It’s still very very early days. I remember the early days. They were awful. But over time you will see chinks of light come through. Just be there for him. Is he a hugger? Then just put your arms around him. Does he talk about his dad. Then all you can do is listen. Get out for long walks. Maybe a bike ride even if he’s into that. It’s baby steps. And being gentle and kind. Which I’m sure you are already doing. I have had counselling which has really helped.
Unfortunately I can weigh in on this too.
So sorry to hear about your father in law.
My father passed away suddenly a year ago in june. He was also fit and healthy. We had played tennis just 2 days before as an example.
I was in shock, terrified, sad, the world was nothing to me anymore without him in it. I would do what was necessary and then sleep for hours or hide away by myself. This went on for 6 -8 months. You are in this for a while.
Here is what you can do: be there if he wants to talk, leave him alone if he does not. Try to get him to go places here and there. Doing things is important as it forms new brain connections which helps with coping. there are times when the motivation to even breath is 0. Somedays I would hide and cry for hours and hours, without any way to stop myself. One day when I was having that situation, a friend called me to come out. i could not move and said no. She came over with her dog, and I had to be friendly and of course a cute dog. Who can resist? It got me out of the cycle on that day. It just shows how the little gestures and things that are slightly out of the ordinary can help.
Also - subtracting from his tasks to relieve any outside stress can help. This is a personal call - some people prefer to have things piled on so that they can be distracted. But most people need some mental space for healing and dont even realize it. In my case, I have a lot of responsibility at work, we were building a house, plus kids. Lots going on and therefore lots to subtract. My subtraction was my kids had to get themselves breakfast and make their school lunches. That way I could get up later, which gave me time every morning to process the ‘new’ knowledge that my dad was gone. Everyday is groundhog day to him right now. He wakes up, and for a brief moment his life is normal, and then he remembers that his dad is gone. I needed a good hour to process that every morning.
There may be times that he might get mad uncharacteristically or he may want to run away. All of that is normal. It also might not happen.
I was under huge stress with the house build that at one point I told my husband to keep everything and I was going to run away and be alone - all I needed was one small suitcase, the car, and a computer. I just needed space. I dont like to talk about my feelings. There was only one feeling at all times - the grief. I wanted to process it alone.
This is going to be your normal for a long while. But as Jooles said, bits of light will start to shine through for him over time.
All I want to do is talk to him, he doesn’t show his feelings he never has In any way shape or form that I’ve always struggled with so this has just intensified all that. I feel like I’ve got questions only he can answer and I know he can’t be there for me, I understand that whole heartedly but I hate to think he’s struggling on his own he’s always slept no matter what but he doesn’t sleep I lie at the side of him listening to his loud sighs his tossing and turning and my heart is breaking everyday I’ve lost 2 stone in 2 months there will be nothing left of me I’m mentally wore out, while he’s at work I know his mind is occupied a feel a little relief. We have 4 children 2 older 2 younger I do what I have to for them I try to run the house but I have nothing inside or desire to do any of it I feel totally out my depth and just want to pack and go I know that sounds so selfish. Seeing him looking at him hurts to the core of me.
He’s not a hugger but if I ask for a love he will give me one, I know I can’t fix him and I think that’s the hardest pill to swallow, I remember the early days of loosing mine and it consumed me and I know that’s probably what it’s doing to him, I’m here but if he didn’t allow me to be there for him then I can’t be, it’s just so sad. I feel like I have the grief to process what’s happened but I also feel like I’m loosing him as well x
I remember the sighing - constant sighing.
Be sure to eat and take care of yourself. Being depleted can make it worse.
Time - thats what it takes. Your needs wont be met for a long while. Try to be with friends as an outlet for that. Let him heal.
I am sorry as it sounds like you have lost a parent also.
The suddenness adds to the grief Becky - he has ptsd plus loss. Its the feeling of terror every minute of every day which is likely why he can not sleep. The stress chemicals are haywire. I was the opposite, being awake was so draining that I would sleep for long periods.