How the grieving mind works.

I don’t know if anyone watches Emmerdale, but I watched it this week and one of the actresses in the show plays a woman who has lost her husband. She said that for years after her husband died she used to leave the catch off the door in case he came home as she couldn’t believe he had died.

For three years I did the same, and also kept all my late husbands clothes as I didn’t want him coming home and having nothing to wear. It is now seven years that I have been without him and even though I live my life to the best of my ability, there is still a feeling that this is all a dream and one day I will wake up and he will be here with me. I think it is because I cannot believe that this has happened to us.

Does anyone else feel the same way.



Hi Sheila

I do think grief has different effects to us all. I do the opposite, I go round making sure all the doors are locked, the door chain is on, and the alarm set. I have even drove off one day got so far down the road and turned round as I had convinced myself I had not locked the door. I never did this before and just hope it stops soon. I have the anniversary coming up next month, and I haven’t sorted out clothes. I am finding it a difficult thing to do, it’s as though I am erasing him out of my life, which I am not. I know he has no use for them and somehow moving them makes me feel guilty. I still think it’s a dream and all this will end soon and everything will go back to normal. It’s the finality of it all that makes it so hard isn’t it?



Yes sheila I understand you entirely. Giving up his clothes is so final.

Dear Viv,

I am now the opposite of what I used to be, my home is like Fort Knox, our sons are not happy about all the security I have in case I am taken ill and they cannot get in. I have gone from one extreme to the other.

There is no rush to move anything, it took me three years until one morning I woke up and decided that was the day, it was hard, going through his pockets, something I had never done before and finding half eaten packs of polo mints, old train tickets of journey’s we had taken and tissues. I folded everything up neatly and put them in vacuum sealed bags and moved them to the laundry room but it took me another six months to give them to the Heart Foundation charity. I still have a bookcase full of his books, a record cabinet full of records, cassette tapes, videos, Cd’s. DVD’s, I kept them as what is a book case and a record cabinet for without these items, I also kept his suit, shirt, underwear etc. in a suit bag just in case, that just in case is always with me. I look at our photos of when we were so young and met in 1964 and cannot get over the fact that this is now my life, it was never supposed to end like this.


Oh Sheila…
Your words resonated so much with me! I lost my husband 2 years ago last Monday after 48 years together.

I still have all of his clothes and his aftershaves on the dressing table. I made one attempt about 6 months ago to give some of his clothes to charity. I took them out of his wardrobe…folded them carefully…but ended up hanging them all back in their place! Even his slippers are by his side of the bed.

I’ve stopped questioning whether this is ‘normal’ or ‘healthy’. His personal things about gives a modicum of normality to my world…which will never be normal again.

I ‘keep busy’…but keeping busy is certainly no replacement for living a full and happy life. I sometimes feel like I’m existing in a vacumn…I talk, laugh, visit friends, walk the dog, clean etc…but everything feels devoid of emotion, just going through the motions.

I haven’t posted on here often. I suppose I feel that for those newly bereaved it may not be helpful to think that two years down the grieving road…it doesn’t get any easier in my experience. You just become more adept at hiding the gnawing pain.

We used to say that living our lives ‘joined at the hip’ was setting one of us up for immense pain…seems I drew the short straw.

Samantha x


Sheila ive read your post and feel sad for you and your grieving. Whether you are doing the right thing only you can decide?
I have never done anything like that , but can understand why you are doing it?

I used to hope that my wife would come home to me and left things in the home exactly as they were when she died
But in the last 5 years i have virtually changed the house inside and out.
I talk to my wife as i believe she can hear me. I used to ask her to call me, but no longer do i do say good night and blow her a kiss and tell her i love and miss her.
But now i have moved on a lot and am living for me
May your guardian angles watch over you
Hugs Keith the poet
But thats

Dear Samantha,

Thank you for replying and I am so terribly sorry for what has happened to you, to me and so many others. They do say that life goes on which I totally agree with but I find it is a life so very different from the one I knew.

I often wonder if always having someone to take care of me and love me from the day I was born is the reason I feel so lost, never living alone from the day I left my parents home to get married to moving into our new home with Peter when we married in 1967. I met Peter when he was 18, we were little more than children but it was love at first sight.

One thing I do know is that I will never give up, I will live what time I have left to the best of my ability, I am now 79 years old and still buy clothes perfume, shoes and jewellery, always get dolled up when I go out, my home is beautiful as I have ensured I have kept it in tip top condition. I don’t only do that for myself I do it for my Peter as he was always so proud of the way I looked and how I looked after our home.

Yes, you do get used to a different way of life but you never get used to the one person you have loved for most of your life not being there.

Please take care.



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Dear Mr-chipps,

I see you have been widowed for 25 years which is a long, long time, then you go on to say that in the last five years you have changed your home both inside and out. May I ask how you felt the 20 years before you started changing your home, you do not mention that side of it. I was just wondering how many years you grieved before you started living for yourself.

My seven years without my husband is nothing compared to the 25 years you have spent without your wife. My brother in law lost his wife when he was 46 and spent the next 25 years grieving until the day he died.

Thank you for replying.


Hello Sheila,

I understand where you’re coming from. I’ve never left the house unlocked but I do still have some of my husband’s clothes. I sent a lot to charity but have kept some. I remember sorting through them and I pulled out his dinner suit which had only been worn a couple of times. He looked so incredibly handsome in it - I put it back in the wardrobe and there it stays along with other items of clothing.

Like you Sheila, I live my life with my man very much still a part of it. There are still times, more than four years later, when I cannot believe he is gone. How can it be? If I listen carefully I can hear the gravel crunch beneath his feet, as he walks up from his workshop. How can he not be here? Times like these leave me feeling utterly bewildered. xx


Hi Shiela ,
I’m the same with my late mams things. We had to give up her home, which she had lived in for 30 years. My family childhood home I grew up in, which was hard. I’ve kept all my mams things…everything from clothes to perfumes to bags. I just can’t bare to get rid of them. I think I will always keep them. It’s been 8 months there still in a case at my dads, I can’t bare to look at them at the moment it’s too hard but I’m glad they are there. I was like u when mam first died thinking this has to be a bad dream, that she’ll come home. If she comes home, she’ll have no home to go back to but at least she’d have her clothes and possessions. I still wish this is all a bad dream, that I’ll wake up and life will go bk to normal xx

Hi Sheila
i have been widowed 27 years and 9 months and i have grieved all of this time. i cant recall when i starting living again? but i think that it may have been after I had gone through the 27th anniversary of my wifes death, i was married for 26 years and 4 months, i wasnt able to get any counselling orsupport, because of my age , as most groups or charities had a minimum age of 60 and i and my wife were both only 45 when she died
earlier this year i underwent both counselling and cognitive behaviour therapy, through the NHS
these therapies and my college education taught me to understand what I have been going through and to learn to move on in my life!!!

i didnt bother to change my home and house for over 20 years, because I basically could not see any point, it was not a home, simply somewhere to rest and hide. i suddenly thought to myself, you have money in the bank and everything you need, plus i had been able to buy my ex motability car

i have been doing voluntary work for over 35 years and it came to me, that instead of helping others to move on in their lives, it was time for me, to do things for myself. i now dont feel guilty about being alive and enjoying myself, which is something i often did ,and found that other bereaved people felt the same?

your comment about me being widowed over 25 years and you only being on your own 7 years is for you long enough , as was the moment your husband died.
e are all different and cope in our own ways and move forward when we can, but theres no hard and fast rules about grief and loss .

i thought many years ago that i maybe over my wife.s death after a few months, but Hell fire , i made a big mistake and it took me several years to even stop feeling lonely all the time

i still feel lonely at times and sometimes think of my home a sim[ply a place to stay and hide
i dont like Christmas, because it brings back sad memories of my wife dying and when it comes to early january, i have her death to cope with.

sending you a friendly hug, to help you when you need support
regards Keith

I feel the same way my husband and partner of 39 died in July I can’t except he’s gone I think when I am out and about I will bump into him it’s too painful to think I will never see him again[quote=“Lonely, post:1, topic:43144, full:true”]
I don’t know if anyone watches Emmerdale, but I watched it this week and one of the actresses in the show plays a woman who has lost her husband. She said that for years after her husband died she used to leave the catch off the door in case he came home as she couldn’t believe he had died.

For three years I did the same, and also kept all my late husbands clothes as I didn’t want him coming home and having nothing to wear. It is now seven years that I have been without him and even though I live my life to the best of my ability, there is still a feeling that this is all a dream and one day I will wake up and he will be here with me. I think it is because I cannot believe that this has happened to us.

Does anyone else feel the same way.


strong text

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Dear Mr-chipps,

Thank you so much for explaining this to me. I honestly think, even though I live my life to the best of my ability, and I have ensured that my home which is my safe haven is in tip top condition, I think I will be like yourself, grieve for my husband until the day I die.

I am so sorry that you were so young and your life is reminiscent of my brother in law who was about the same age as you when my sister died of cancer, he never moved on, his home had never changed from the day she died until the day he died. The day he died, his last words were, at last I will be with my love again. He spent 25 years just wanting her back. After my sister had been gone five years, he did start dating again but it always came to nothing as no-one came close to my sister so after that he stopped dating and just lived his life on a day to day basis. He had his own small business but sold it and took early retirement.

My husband and I were married 47 wonderful years and together for 50.

I always say that I wish I had a time machine to take me back to 1964, the night we met and do it all over again.

Take care.


Dear Kate,

I never left the house totally unlocked, but I always left the security catch off so when he came home he could use his key.

In the night when I wake up, I think I can hear footsteps downstairs, I know there is no-one there because they would need a battering ram to break into my home as like I said, it is now like Fort Knox.

There are two main things I can no longer do since Peter died and one is I can no longer read a book, I start off on the first page, then forget what I have read and go back, nothing sinks in anymore, I used to be an avid reader. The second is that when watching TV I can watch half an hour of a film then turn it off, do something else then go back and watch another half hour and turn it off again. My concentration has totally gone. I make lists of jobs that need doing and tick them off when they are done. I have taken up knitting and even with that, I knit for so long then put it down and do something else.

I sometimes look out of the rear window into the garden and close my eyes, I can see my husband, cutting the lawn and playing with our German Shepherd dogs, I see him washing the car and playing with our sons. I have said this before, the past seems more relevant to me than the present.

I found this little saying on the web.

The past cannot be altered,
The present holds regret and loss,
It is only in the days, weeks, months and years to come
that we may find peace as memory fades.

All I know is that I am glad I am nearing the end of my life as I honestly do not know how I would have coped if we had been younger when Peter died, so many young people on these forums that have lost their partners so very young, it is heartbreaking.


I have no items or memorabilia from my partner… Everything was lost in the fire that he died in… The only thing I have is a necklace he bought me and a watch. I’ve lost the most special person in my world and all our possessions

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I am so sorry for your loss the one thing that losing my husband has taught me is that all the possessions in the world are worthless without the love of my life beside me I would give everything I own away to have my Paul back take care x

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I would agree about processions but it’s comforting to have something that reminds me of him and things we use to do. Today I found all the Christmas cards, birthday cards and little sentimental gifts I bought him, and some cds with music he liked, in his office and it was wonderful, it made me feel a little comforted


My daughter sent me a voicemail that she had kept. It is precious. x

I still have those large satin fronted birthday, Christmas and Valentine cards that were popular in the 1960’s and 70’s that we sent each other when we first met and over the following years, reading what we wrote to each other still makes me cry after seven years without my husband. I have our wedding invitations and place settings, dried roses from my wedding bouquet and the 21st silver keys from our 21st birthday cards even the telegrams that were sent to us by friends congratulating us on our wedding day. I also have a cine reel of our wedding day, in full colour that I put onto a video, then a CD then copied it to a USB memory stick. The sad thing is that all the guests that were at our wedding in 1967 have all now died, there is only me left. It really is heartbreaking.

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Among sewers memory quilts are favourite for using the fabric from clothes when someone has died or from a wedding dress and so on. Could this be a new hobby for you?

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