Still Searching

I came across this site quite by chance. I don’t know what I was searching for but that seems to be the story of my life at the moment; searching for something, having expected that I would experience some revelation, some reason for what happened that will make everything fall into place and provide a purpose to go on. I’m still searching.
I lost my wife of 32 years last December. She had battled with leukaemia for nearly a year. Believing she had beaten it we went for the results of the bone marrow biopsy in confirmation only to be told it had returned. There was no further treatment and six weeks later she died.
I don’t believe in an interventionist God but I find myself needing someone to blame, someone to explain to me why my wife suffered so and was taken away when I can see so many people for whom, if karma exists, deserved this so much more (sorry but that’s just the way I feel).
I thought I was a rational self-assured and independent person; I hadn’t realised just how much I needed the acknowledgement from my wife to bring purpose to what I did. I have lost all interest in anything I would previously have enjoyed because I now realise that I did everything for us as if we were one person. I feel like we had spent a lifetime together weaving a tapestry, the warp and the weft, and events have just pulled all of the threads apart and left a jumbled mass of now pointless memories and experiences with no one to share them with.
Life now is a roller coaster between doing positive things in her memory (because that was what she would have expected) and dissolving into feelings of hopelessness because I really don’t see the point in doing something she will never see. In many ways “moving on” just makes the situation worse because I feel I am building layers of a life now that we had expected to have shared together.
People are so well meaning and supportive but whenever someone says “I know how you must be feeling” I want to scream at them “You have no idea! Whatever your own personal experience has been it has no relevance to mine beyond it arising out of the same tragic conclusion”
I’m sorry if this site is intended to provide positive support and I seem immersed in anger and self-pity. I am so used now to putting on the face that everyone wants to see and masking how I really feel. I go out and play a part because that makes other people more comfortable in my presence. The hardest thing is putting the key in the door, walking in and knowing that everything is exactly as I left it; nothing has moved, nothing has changed. I can read the thoughts of well-intentioned people “you must find it difficult to go to bed alone”………No, what hurts the most is not having someone unseen but calling out “do you want a coffee?”
I’m not expecting anyone out there to guide me toward my revelation. It is a comfort though to feel I have shared this instead of having it fester inside me. A comfort also if someone else out there is thinking “I know just how you feel. You’re not alone”
My only bit of advice for anyone else out there; read “Things We Never Said”, a novel by Nick Alexander. I felt that this guy was reading my mind.

Kester - I have just been googling and found my way to this site! What am I looking for…who knows…each day I do my best to cope with the unbearable sense of loss. What you wrote I can completely understand. My lovely hubby died in October 2016 after two years of complex mental/physical health issues. I keep busy but the loneliness and emptiness of life without him just seems endless and does. Not seem to get any easier.
I hope you find comfort from this site.

Lester Hi, here is someone that understands you. I lost my husband 15 months ago after a very short illness, not cancer. Was not prepared for it, the loneliness or aloneness, the going into an empty house, putting on a face even now when someone says how are you, you say fine but inside you are screaming I’m not can’t you see, but they don’t everyone deals with losing someone differently coping differently. Take care

Good evening Kester
I am so very sorry about your wife…all of us who use this community will understand how you are feeling even if we are not able to express ourselves in the beautiful way that you have done.
The awful reality is that each one of us has been changed irrevocably…we never asked for it and many of us never even saw it coming (or if we had an inkling we tried to pretend it wasn’t true) but here we are trying to make sense of the worst calamity that could have happened and struggling to just keep going.
I have been travelling this path for 96 weeks and 3 days…I try every day to be as positive as I can …and I am calmer and the crying is less frequent…but in reality deep down inside I feel as if my soul has turned into Munch’s Scream and the rest of me is the shell which encases it! I just try not to let anyone inside the shell!
If you read the postings here, you will find so many other people who are struggling to come to terms with their aloneness…some are just beginning their journey, others have been travelling longer…some are still in the desert and pouring out their pain, others have reached an oasis and are sharing a moment’s happiness…but each and everyone of us understands.
Keep searching…in reality that is all we can do. Try to believe that, one day, the tapestry that you and your wife wove together will be restored.
Take care x

Thank you to those who have responded so far to my posting. I can picture where you are in your heads, it’s a familiar landscape.
I’m very fortunate to live in Gloucestershire where I am receiving bereavement counselling through Longfield. I know that this is a lottery and it is something not available to everyone; it should be.
Everyone’s experience is unique, nothing could have prepared you for the maelstrom of emotions that engulf you when you suddenly realise that you are alone and nothing will ever be the same again. If you have not received counselling then let me share the most important thing I have learned; whatever your feelings, whatever you have done or are considering doing, where you feel guilty or even ashamed, where you feel you have been disloyal to your partner or where you simply don’t recognise yourself in the person you have become, none of this is unusual, you are normal.
Despite my determination to not break down in front of my counsellor I inevitably do so within five minutes of walking through her door. It is my only opportunity to share my deepest feelings with someone who encourages me to do this and to then talk about it and to virtually be granted forgiveness. To be told “what you are telling me is the sort of thing that everyone experiences” is so incredibly reassuring.
I wish I had come across this site before. No one has the right to judge you and only someone who has personally lost a partner can begin to understand this place where fate has so cruelly deposited you. It is only through reading the postings from other people on this site that many people will come to realise they are not unusual and that everyone, it seems, needs to battle the same daemons. Good luck to you all and many thanks to Sue Ryder.

Lester you have a very good way with words so as a member of this community for a short while thank you. I to wish I had joined this site earlier, I believe people’s wisdom would have helped me on the road to recovery. I have a long way to go still good and bad days but more good than bad. And like you no-one is going to tell me how to feel. My best wishes to all.

I had to reply because your post echoes how I feel much of the time. I have a public face and private grief. I even bought the Nick Alexander book, although I haven’t been able to read beyond a chapter or two yet as it just seems so sad and I have a limit on how much I can handle right now. My husband didn’t deserve to die suddenly at 49 - he worked hard and put others first his whole life and it is just so unfair! Not much helps really but coming here reminds me there are plenty of others feeling the same, or similarly, to me and that does help a little, as much as anything can but I don’t believe it is possible to “fix” or make better the loss of a partner, we just have to learn to carry on with the grief, I did think about making an alternative choice but like so many others I am trapped here because our children still need me and I couldn’t put them through another loss. I try to be as positive as I can on here but grief is terrible, owning it and facing it just has to be done I guess.

I came to this site late in my journey, had I come earlier I would have found some comfort in realising that my experience, my feelings were not unusual, in fact they were and are typical of virtually everyone else in this situation.
We are conditioned by the media to believe that we understand things that we have no personal experience of. In TV series characters experience great love and tragic loss but by the next episode they have “come to terms”, found someone new, “moved on” and rediscovered happiness. Life just isn’t like that and I’m sure that we all know that death and its consequences are seldom how they are portrayed in fiction.
I was given Nick Alexanders book quite soon after losing my wife. I’m someone who treats books with a reverence, to write in a book is to deface it and a sacrilege but, for the first time, I kept a pencil by my side and marked the passages where I felt “that is exactly how I feel”. You may not associate with the plot or the story line (particularly Sharron because you lost your husband suddenly) but his grasp of the realities of life after loss; the seemingly trivial things that hit you nevertheless like a steam train, left me feeling “Thank God, I’m not going mad”
One of my biggest regrets now is not having been more supportive and understanding of my mother when my father died. Maybe if I’d read Nick’s book I might have realised that she wasn’t “getting over it” or “coming to terms with it”. When I drove away thinking she was happy she was in the same place that you and I are in now. My mother was “in God’s waiting room” for four years before her wish was granted and I feel now that I failed her.
Everyday is a challenge, some are good and some are horrendous. I try not to expect too much of today or tomorrow, instead I try and picture myself in five years time, happy and smiling again and trusting that, between now and then, something will change to bring that about.

Thank you for that. I should give the book another try!
As a mother I can tell you that we want our children to be ok above everything else and it is likely that your mother took comfort from being able to “fool” you that she was doing ok. I know that is how I feel, I try not to burden my children and remind myself that the loss is also theirs, I am happy to see them moving on and feel that my grief is very personal and private, I couldn’t share it with them any more than I already do as it wouldn’t feel comfortable for me. I know we are all different people and grieve in very different ways and I think books that address death and grief can only be a good thing - I have been shocked by the intensity of my feelings and as you say it is experiential and you can’t warn people about it or prepare yourself for it but helping people understand as much as they are able is helpful for people going through it.

Kester ,

So much of what you have said is exactly how I feel. My partner of 47 years died within 3 1/2 hours of leaving home. He was fit and healthy m hadn’t been to a doctor in 20 years.

Like you, I’ve always thought I was rational and self-assured- could cope with whatever came along but now I know how much validation and support my partner gave me. It was him that made me able to do all the things I’ve done in my life and cope with the problems.

I don’t feel positive- my partner died at 69 this would have been our first real year of retirement together, his 70th birthday, 30 years in our lovely home .We both wanted to grow old together supporting each other as we’ve always done. All we wanted to do was enjoy the walks, the picnics, days out, being at home and in the garden - everyday life.

Have you had a good day ? I’m asked- I can’t imagine ever having a good day again.
Have you thought about going back to work or volunteering ? I’ve spent 46 years working and volunteering- this was supposed to be our time to enjoy and be together.

I don’t want to move on because it means losing him and what we had , I have all my lovely memories which sometimes help me.

Karma - God - I can’t believe in anything now, my whole life has been washed away.

Like you I want to scream " you have no idea " at people.

I’ve just started counselling , I would have scoffed at it 2 months ago - but I am just so desperate.

Take care, x

Hi There.
You will have good days again I am certain. I feel sure that your husband would not want to see you sad and broken so push yourself in the belief that you are making him proud.
My bereavement counsellor is excellent but I have struck it lucky, I have had experience with counsellors before and you need to trust and connect. If you find yourself feeling that you are not getting what you need and the time commitment is becoming a chore then stop going because this will come to feel like part of your problem instead of part of your solution.
At the same time you need to be realistic in your expectations. Your counsellor does not have any answers to the questions you really want to ask (no one has!) he or she can though help you to focus on what you can do instead of drowning in what you can’t.
I inevitably break down in tears every time I see my counsellor but I also always leave feeling less burdened and, dare I say it, happier.

Thank you Kester,

That’s good advice about the counsellor and I’m glad you’re finding it helpful. I spent my first session crying but felt a little easier afterwards. Being able to talk openly without worrying about upsetting people is a relief.
I hope daily life gets less painful for both of us. x

Kester - thank you for your post: it is so honest, so raw, so true. I lost my partner of 28 years last summer and I feel exactly as you do. Doing anything now feels pointless - because everything I did before was, as you say, for both of us. I stare at the future and all I see is a blank canvas on which I have no desire to paint anything other than big, black stripes. I too am angry as hell: my partner was a beautiful, loving man who spent his whole life caring for others. Why was he taken so young and so fast? What is life about - really? It makes no sense to me. I feel like a prisoner in our house: I can’t bear to leave it, but staying here is torture too because he is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. God had better have some good answers ready for me: at the moment we are not on speaking terms - it is a cruel world and I hate it.

Best wishes to you… I am with you on this hard, hard road…

Thank you David and everyone else here. It is such a shame that we are meeting in such tragic circumstances but a comfort too to share our feelings with people who understand how only those who have been here can. David - Do you paint? If so then paint those black stripes; they’re better outside of you than blackening what is clearly a loving and caring heart.
I find it easy to give advice to other people but find my own journey so painful and strewn with rocks. I feel that I need something new and big in my life to fill it and shrink the part that is just such a gaping hole. I can fill my day with trivia and expand it to tell myself that I have achieved something, on looking back though I feel ashamed when I realise that actually I have just killed the time between waking and sleeping again. Like you David I feel that I want to run away from this house but I know I can’t. I had always thought that I was not a materialistic person but everything seems to tie me here. Maybe we should all house swap…
Many of my friends are practising Christians and I envy them their faith. I wish them no disrespect and I have been grateful for their love and support but if you are tackling God from one side David then I will be at the other. Please do not tell me that “God’s purpose will become clear in the fullness of time” or that “God moves in mysterious ways” I’m not ready for cliches or platitudes. I’ve seen how God moves; it was ugly.
Ooops I didn’t mean to go there but you know what…I feel better for that.