Sudden loss of my wife

Hi, my name is Alston and I joined the forum a few days ago, after being pointed towards it by a very good friend.

I’m not very good at putting my emotions into words, never have been, so please bear with me.

My wife Nicki passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on 15th July, which was also my 64th birthday.

I met Nicki in 1989 at work and we were together for 31 years, married for 24. Nicki wasn’t your typical individual. She was born with a disability called talipes, and in the first 15 years or so of her life she had many operations on her legs and feet. Bones were taken from her lower legs to rebuild her feet and the bones in her lower legs were replaced by metal plates. The operations her specialist carried out on her were quite revolutionary in the day. She spent much of her early life in and out of hospitals, and walked with the aid of boots and calipers and/or crutches. Despite her trials, or more likely because of them, she grew up to be an incredibly determined individual - she was more than capable of giving the medical profession a hard time - but she was also an incredibly caring, loving and loyal person too. Her legs and feet caused her huge amount of pain and she could only travel longer distances using her wheelchair.

She was also a very talented and creative lady too. She was heavily into craft work such as decoupage and cross-stitching and had only just bought a new sewing machine about 4 months ago. She had 4 or 5 cross-stitch projects on the go, at least one of which she said she was making specifically for me.

On the day that she passed away, I thought (and still do) that my life had ended. She was not an early riser because of her health problems, and I had fallen asleep late morning in my armchair in the living room. I awoke at 2pm to find she still wasn’t up, and when I found her in bed I was frantic. The image is imprinted in my brain for eternity and I cannot ever forget it. The ambulance workers tried their best to help her but I was already convinced that she was gone.

As I write this at home on a lonely Saturday night my heart is aching and the tears are flowing and I miss her so much it physically hurts. She was my soul mate. I stopped work in 2009 because her health problems were worsening, and I spent most of every day for last 11 years in her company. She was often asleep on the couch if she was having a bad day, and I would just keep an eye on her whilst watching TV or working on my laptop. The sense of loss I feel now that she has passed is indescribable. Everywhere I look, I see her things…her cross-stitch projects, the bookcase full of her recipe books, her wheelchair, her clothes, her cigarettes, her toothbrush, her boots and calipers, her stitching and sewing books. I feel paralyzed, I am unable to move any of her things. I want everything to stay just the way it was on the day she passed, almost like a memorial to her, silly I know, but I WANT those reminders of HER even if they do cause me pain. I cannot bear to watch TV and the programmes we used to watch together, I have no interest in listening to news when the most important thing in my life has gone.

I have almost no appetite, it takes me an hour to get to sleep at night and I usually waken a couple of times during the night. I talk to her during the day, hoping that she is around and able to see and hear me. I question why she had to be taken from me, what did we do that was so wrong, she was just such a magnificent human being. I have fleeting moments when I think maybe I will just make it though all this, but the majority of the time I think the opposite and wonder where on earth I will get the strength to make it. I was lucky enough to have had the help of two exceptionally good friends in the immediate aftermath, and without them I don’t know how I would have survived - they were absolute godsends, and still are. I spend my days sitting in our conservatory because it is warm and bright, reading some of my wife’s books or seeking solace in my laptop - emails, Facebook, anything that is a sign of communication from other people. I have a radio playing in the kitchen and one in the dining room, simply because I need to hear something in the backgroud to distract my brain.

But more than anything, it’s the haunting lonliness, missing making her coffee in the morning, moaning about her cigarette smoke in the dining room, watching her sleep on the couch, all of her little highlighter pens on her table, not being able to cuddle her and tell her I love her. I feel as though the life has been sucked out of me and left me a shell of myself, because my entire day revolved around Nicki. Now I’m just lost.

I have read some of the other post from members and I am amazed at how eloquent and insightful some of the comments are. I only wish I could express myself equally well. I am a Cancerian, we keep our feelings very close to ourselves, we have a hard defensive shell but inside we are just a boiling mass of emotions.

I apologise for the length of this post, but I just felt an incredible need to try to express myself.

Dear Alston, I think you have put your emotions into words very well. I am so very sorry for your loss. I lost my husband very suddenly too so I know about the shock of it. There are times, some 3 years later, I still can’t believe it.

You have given us a great insight into the life of your wife. What a wonderfully strong person she was. I hope it helped you to write it all down. Writing is a great way to offload our emotions. Many of us on this forum keep journals. In mine, I write to my husband telling him about my day etc. It’s my way of having a conversation with him. I’ve always been one for writing things down. It’s a coping strategy and it works for me.

Of course your heart is aching and your tears are flowing. Of course it physically hurts. How could it not? When we have loved so deeply, how could it not hurt? With regards Nicki’s things, it’s ok to leave them. Do whatever is best for you. You’ll know when the time is right. My husband’s toothbrush still sits in the holder, his shower gel still in the shower. I have kept some of his clothes, well quite a few actually but I have got rid of a lot too. There is no right or wrong in grief. My love for my husband continues to grow and he is still a huge part of my life. Take your time Alston, grief cannot be rushed. Read others’ posts and join in the conversations if you wish. This site is full of wonderful people who are all, sadly, in the same boat. Sending you love and strength. xx

Alston, everything you write regarding your lovely wife is amazing. What you are feeling is the same in some way for all of us 4 in the morning and I’m sitting write to you so I think you get the picture I can’t say what you will go through in the next month or years as it is different for all of us. But 4am or 4pm you will find you can tap out anything on this site and now there is some one out there going through this to. Non of us want to be here. we are so you can say what ever you need to us as unfortunately we are all Saling the same boat through a very rough sea take care good night or what ever is left of the night that is cj

Alston, your Nicki sounds like a wonderful person and you have put your feelings for her into words perfectly. You have only lost her very recently and as with a lot of us on here your grief will be very raw because you love her so very much. Having lost my beloved husband Gerry on 25 May, I am a bit further down the awful road we are on. You will know when the time is right and what you want to keep, put away or maybe donate to a charity. I need to get the telly fixed in our bedroom but can’t be bothered to yet as we used watch a bit of telly together up here. I have the radio on as
the house is so quiet without him. Be kind to yourself and there are lots of lovely people on here who will reply to you. Take care.

Kate, thank you so much for your comments and I suspect that in 3 years I will feel as you do. Nicki was indeed an incredibly strong person, so much stronger than I am. It’s comforting to hear that your husband is still such a huge part of your life. I worry even now that I will start to forget Nicki. I had to cancel her car insurance and a magazine subscription, both of which she had spent some considerable time sorting out. By “undoing” those things which she had spent her energy on, I felt as though I was slowly chipping away at her presence in my life, and I cried after both events.

Nicki had also collected lots of fabrics and material for her proposed sewing projects and she could literally spend a couple of hours simply browsing through them, unfolding them and admiring the designs and patterns. Just thinking of her doing that now fills me with numerous emotions and makes my heart ache. I just know I will not get rid of anything belonging to her for years, if ever. Thank you for your good wishes.

Dear Cj, I am only beginning to realise how similar my experience is to so many others. In the days following Nicki’s passing (I struggle using the word “death”) I could not bear to go back into our bedroom, and slept in the armchair in the living room. Actually, I don’t think I really slept for the first 4 nights. I do find it difficult to put my feelings into words, my thoughts are all over the place at the minute, but I am finding reading the comments from others on the site comforting. Thank you for taking the time to post.

Janet, I am so very, very sorry about the loss of your husband, and thank you so much for your message. There are so many things in our house that need fixing too, and Nicki was planning to have some of them started. Like you, I can no longer be bothered, they are no longer a priority. Please do take care too.

Hi Nicki, your comment about the spelling of your name did make me smile (first time in weeks), because my Nicki had exactly the same problem, there are so many variations on spelling the name. I talk to my wife too, it feels like a way of keeping her close to me. I do find each new day difficult to start, drag myself out of bed late morning so that the length of the day is shorter and I don’t have to cope with my thoughts for so long. I’m slowly learning from others that all we can really do is hold on tight to the roller-coaster we’re on.

Hello, and welcome to the group no one wants to be a member of. Your wife sounds like she was a truly remarkable lady, overcoming so much when she was young.
The shock of finding her as you did has possibly traumatised you, I too found my husband who was super fit and healthy dead in bed, I thought he was having a lie in, I’m wracked with guilt that I was sitting in the sun reading and having a coffee when my amazing husband was alone upstairs. I’m struggling to forgive myself that he died alone.
We all seem to share the same thoughts feelings and use the same words to express how we feel. It’s what I call the universal language of grief, we learn it very quickly,
I’m only 3 months down the line, and seriously question what is the point of going forward as I’m drowning in grief and loneliness, but I believe this is because not only did we tell each other every day that we loved each other, we were in love with each other. Anyone can say I love you, but the reason it’s so hard for us is because we loved them so much.
Take each day as it comes, the shock will ease slowly, don’t expect too much of yourself, it’s hard with disrupted sleep, lack of appetite etc., but just eat what you want when you want and look after yourself as your wife would want you to and you looked after her.
Post as much as you want, write whatever you are thinking and feeling, we are all in this together although we are all strangers. We are united by grief.

Hello Carolmae, and thank you so much for your comment.
I think you are right, we do all share the same sorts of feelings - shock, grief, loneliness, wondering what is the point. Your words, thoughts and feelings could so easily have been mine too and I do find a degree of comfort in the fact that other people are experiencing the same sort of feelings. I want to try and do the right things, those which my wife would have wanted, but then I look at her picture which I’ve blue-tacked to our living room wall, and all I can think about is what I’ve lost and the things I wish we’d done. Some good friends told me that I should try to think more positively, and perhaps that will come in time, because I can’t change the things which are in the past. But I think it’s human nature, to think that we could always have done things differently or better. I hope you too can manage each day at a time, and know that my thoughts are with you. Please take care.