18 Months of GrIef, Honest Reflection and Change

by Judith in California

Today is the 18-month mark since my husband, my love of 35 ½ years, passed away. It is by far the most horrible pain to have ever felt. I struggled, at first dealing with all the legal things, then a stepdaughter attempted to come after the little bit of money my husband left me. Then my own son became verbally abusive. I had a most challenging time dealing with the sad memories of our imperfect marriage. He always yelled at me about my son and was verbally abusive towards him. I never said an ugly word to any of his children or to him. I wrote in my journals every night of my feelings of pain for his dying, loving him even when he wasn’t loveable and I wrote of the things he did that angered me and the unfair way he dealt with me and my son. I wrote it all out, got real honest and finally came to the conclusion I had to forgive him for all that mental hurt he inflicted on me over the years. I wrote of the things I was sorry for and asked his forgiveness. I did a lot of soul searching and had to be honest in those journals and to God in order to move on. Some of the ugliness and bad times were because he was sick and we didn’t know it. By the time he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, he had fallen and fractured his skull and that was the beginning of his end and the end of US. I lovingly was his caregiver, his arms and legs. I fed him , dressed him and changed his diapers until the end. Yes, we had some loving times and when I look at our photographs I know deep down he loved me but he just could/would not show it the way I needed. I was constantly fighting for that equal, caring, sharing, and loving relationship. I had to beg for hugs and kisses and for him to just sit next to me in the evening on the sofa. We could have had the love story of all time had he just let it happen. For all of that, I grieve.

My experience with my husband has helped me face a lot about my self and that’s why I write to those in troubled relationships on this site. I gave up all of me to him and lost site of my own needs. I gave and gave till it hurt me. I realize that I was too willing to tolerate the emotional abuse and lost my self-esteem and wish I had the will power to leave but I loved him too much to do it. For all of that, I grieve.

The last 11 years I began to stand up for my self and when he said or did something I nipped it in the bud at the very moment it began. I told him if he couldn’t get on board he could leave. He didn’t. Two months before he fell we began counseling. I was so hoping we could finally find some resolve for some of the issues. We never got to continue because of his fall. The fall changed his brain and he began telling me he loved me more and saying he always loved me and always will. So for the three and a half years he lived after his fall, I heard I love you more than in the 32 years before. For all of that, I grieve.

I will always love my husband and miss the loving moments we had. I certainly don’t miss the difficulties. I will still grieve , on occasion, for all we did have and could/should have had.

I have soul searched deeply in order to heal and find the peace I need. I have let go of it all, the negative feelings, the sadness and disappointment. I have truly forgiven him and myself. I have begun going out to dance and even date on occasion. I promise to never loose site of who I am, what I need and what I just won’t tolerate ever again in a relationship. I told my 48 yr. old son he can be respectful to me or stay away. I just won’t tolerate abuse or disrespect for the sake of love ever again. It’s a good feeling to know I’m in charge of me and I don’t need a man to complete me or support me or make me content. I’m okay in my single widowhood.

Comments for 18 Months of GrIef, Honest Reflection and Change

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Apr 11, 2013
Reply to Anonymous
by: Judith in California

Dear Anonymous, first, I'm sorry you were left to have to deal with the conflicting emotions in a complicated grief. Second , i will point oit that deep dwon he knew you loved him and were he sober he would have acknowledeged it and his love for you. Thridly, he has forgiven you. You had no control over him and you did nt cause his death in anyway. Please know that if nothing else.
He was nt himself when he drank and the chemicals in his drink changed wh he was and he knew that too if he had the inteligence to thnink rationally.
This type of a relationship leaves us conflicted in our thoughts and we look to ourselves now that we are alone instead of looking at the whole picture and actually facing it all and then learning to let it go. We think about the hardest times and wonder if we would have ever married them if we knew then what we know now. And a resounding NO comes from us. Then we revert back to our feelings and how WE loved them not how they treated us and we are caught up back in the cycle of it all.
I have gone through all of that and I make an effort not to think about it anymore ..it's done and he is gone. My love for him taught me a lot. God gave me to him and God took him from me after he made sure he told me how he truly felt and I am content with that. It's been 2 years 7 months now. Yes, i still miss him and yes, I grieve but not as much now and yes there is still the void deep within. I am at peace now and I pray you too will will find that peace and acceptance.

I wrote that I had an occaisional date back then but it was only 3 with one guy . No more since then as I find them very flakey and insincere so I haven't dated since. They seem to not know what they want and my time is precious so I won't waste it on them.
I'm content to read a book, go to a movie, go dancing or out to dine by myself.

I won't tolerate one misstep form any man again..no matter what.
You owe it to your self to do the same.

Apr 10, 2013
Dying to live
by: Anonymous

With tears in my eyes I write this. My 33yr marriage ended 18mths ago when my husband passed with colon cancer. He left me with our son who is a drug addict. When u have time to tell someone u love goodbye for 2 yrs, u would think u could recover more quickly, not true. The pain, the verbal abuse I suffered and tolerated from both my son and husband tore down my self confidence. I was lost at first, no direction, only sadness for what our life had been and what it could've been and the reality of what I had become. God was there, he never left. He built me back up slowly, in stages that I could handle. Yet I still grieve for what I lost, what was comfortable. No fear, my faith tells me that. Keep walking forward he whispers in my ear. So I do and I am thankful that my faith still carries me to a new place. I pray those of us who have suffered will find our "place" in this world and not wait to live till we are dying. God Bless!

Mar 24, 2012
Keep On
by: Anonymous

This is one of the first places I where I have read of other women who deal with 'complicated grief'. My husband of 21 years was an alcoholic for our entire marriage. I stuck by him in thick and thin, but things got worse and worse. I left him for three months when I realized my daughter was suffering terribly from his alcoholism...and then I went back to him. Oh,I loved him so, but I built so many walls and shelves around my heart to protect it from the pain...I was going to have to leave again. I told him it was too hard on our daughter, that if he wouldn't get help, I would have to leave. He wouldn't get help, he told me. He did not want to quit drinking. And then he dropped dead a few hours later when his heart just stopped. And all the things that I ever held in my heart that he had done that hurt me--they melted away into nothingness and all that mattered was how much I loved him. The hardest thing for me has been the guilt, the belief that I caused his death by telling him I would go. I replay all the things I could have done or should have done to help him...or just to tell him that I loved himm no matter what. And I did...I can't let go of him. I talk to him all the time, I ask him to forgive me for my cruelty and my hardness. I tell him how I love him. I don't know how to face my future without him. It's been 14 months, and it does get easier to make it through the day, but the pain never leaves. And I no longer fear death--I just pray that he will come for me when it's my time. I cannot wait to be with him again...but I will tell you that I am thankful for the stories here, and I am glad to know that I am not the only one suffering this terrible loss.

Mar 15, 2012
Thank you All
by: Judith in California

Zoe, TrishJ, Judy, Janet and Annonymous, Thank you for sharing your open, honest, responses and thank you for your hopes that I continue to have good things for my life.

After I posted I had second thoughts and thought this would not be well received but your inspiring thoughts re-inforce what my intent was and that was to encourage us to deal with the complicated grief that caregiving, step-parenting and the loving but imperfect marriage brings.

I pray for all of you daily that you find the peace you need. I also admire the strong wonderful women you are. You all have encouraged me this my process.

Mar 15, 2012
You Give Me Hope
by: TrishJ

What courage you have. How far you have come. Good for you.
My marriage was not perfect either. My husband was married before me. I was 20 when we married, he was 30. He never looked his age and was a handsome hunk of man. Our age difference had him always being in control and basically telling me I didn't know what I was talking about. We had problems with his daughter from his first marriage, with his mother who suffered from schizophrenia. She was married 7 times and I swear her goal in life was to make me as miserable as she could.
In the last two days I have driven by two of our old homes. One we lived in for 6 years (that was the home I brought both of my babies home to) and the other we lived in for 15 years (that was when we were the happiest when our children were growing up). I drove by and cried and cried. I like you am mourning for the good times. Sometimes when I think about the bad times I think, what am I really missing? I'm missing the good man he really was. He was an excellent father, just not the best husband at all times. I usually felt very taken for granted. Then I think about the really sweet things he would do when the spirit moved him and cry some more.
You are really an inspiration to me. Though I've been approached by a few men I just don't feel like it's something I want right now. It's only been 15 months.
I too have forgiven Joe. The anger, if we let it, will kill us. God bless. I hope you find something really great to smile about today. Thanks again.

Mar 15, 2012
Your honesty
by: Judy


Your candor and the courage to say honest things here is amazing and inspiring. My husband has been gone two plus years. It took me longer to come to the soul searching that you have done. But I did it eventually and maybe that's part of the grief process we all go through. Our marriage was not perfect either. He really didn't like my son either (what is it with men and their stepsons?) even though my son was in young adulthood and lived seperately from us and always did. We also had big differences in money issues which were ongoing source of conflict. I was left with some bills I didn't realize he had run up. After he realized he couldn't work anymore he got bored and depressed and discovered ebay.

I learned some things about myself that make me feel selfish but they are true-I don't want to have to deal with another sick man, I don't want to push another wheelchair, clean up spilled urinals, get a zillion calls a day at work because he's bored, have to rush home and make dinner for someone, be nervous because I know we are spending money we should not. I sound like a selfish person but there it is.

I also had an verbally abusive first marriage. It's amazing how we begin to believe the junky stuff they say to us. I will never be mistreated again by any man. No relationship is more important to me than me.

Despite all this venting I have just done, I believe our marriage was good because we could talk about all this honestly and there was still no one I'd rather see at the end of the day. Even now he's still the first person I want to tell things to that I've seen or heard.

Jeez, life is complicated.

Many blessing to us all.


Mar 15, 2012
by: Zoe

When I write about grief I often reference women who take where they are and build a new life. What you have done takes incredible personal strength, in your case even outside of Widowhood. We are not allowed to speak poorly about those we loose but there are many who could, should in order to do what you have done forgive him but more importantly yourself. What you have shared here is going to help alot of women. I am glad you got to hear how he felt, I am sorry it took the fall to allow him to say that.
My life with John was different than yours, my grief is different, but I am truly inspired by your strength.
We scream our pain here, it is wonderful you have shared your healing
You know I am here for you
As always on the hard days
One breath one step one day at a time

Mar 15, 2012
Point Well Made
by: Anonymous

I am sorry for your loss. I hope that one day I can be where you are again. It has been just over 4 months for me and yes I agree with you. It is by far the most horrible pain and journey we have to make.
We did not have the perfect marriage but who does. Our biggest arguments were usually about my son. Jim was the only Dad my son ever knew and he loved him deeply probably more so than Jim's own children did. Jim never really got to know his own children and sadly they never really got to know who their dad was. He had a very strained relationship with all three of his children.
You have come a long way in 18 months and I wish you happiness in all that you do. Maybe one day I will be where you are. May God Bless You and may He gently hold you in the palm of His hands.

Mar 15, 2012
by: Janet

I understand in a way where you are coming from. The only problem my husband and I had was my son. My husband was the only father that my son knew and loved him very much. We would get into fights over my son and there were times I would not speak to him for hours on end. There were other times where I had to agree with him even though I did not want to because I knew he was right. Other than that we had a good relationship and marriage. We were no different than any other couple I do not think. We had our good times and our bad times but we were always there for the other person.
Ours was not the perfect marriage and I do not believe that there is a perfect marriage. We both strongly believed in the vows we took 25 plus years ago. I was the sole support for just over 3 years before he got his disability in December of 2010.
I have to admit we did suprise people alot. We never went anywhere without the other, except to work. We were always together. Our friends in Belize were always amazed because he always opened my car door for me. Where he was I was or very close by. We held hands, laughed together, fought together and at times even cried together. Truthfully I probably would not change much about us, except to have retired a year earlier and gone to Belize. He was happy there and did not suffer from the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. My wall has gone back up since his passing and I am not sure that it will ever come down again. It is my protection, my safety net, and for now it keeps me safe. I have found myself less trusting of people.
I admire you for becoming the person you are. I hope that one day I can be that way again. May you continue to grow and become the person you were meant to be. God Bless You.

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