Progress report number 4 by Lawrence

by Lawrence
(UK)

PROGRESS REPORT NUMBER 4 by LAWRENCE

It has taken me fifteen months to have the courage to dispose of my dear sweet wife’s clothes.
I opened her wardrobes and filled ten bags, every item had a precious memory, dancing under the stars on a Caribbean cruise as the ships orchestra played the song I composed for our Ruby Wedding called “THE RUBY DANCE”, or at both our daughter’s weddings, her wearing the most beautiful evening dresses. and three Bar Mitzvah’s of our grandsons, one of who died at the age of twenty one from SUDDEN DEATH SYNDROME, that broke both our hearts, he went for a bath and just died, God works in mysterious ways, he was so talented.
I even found her Brown Owl hat when she was a Brownie leader, she looked so gorgeous in her uniform, I just couldn’t give the hat away.. .
I did it without tears, just sad nostalgic smiles but after returning from the charity shop I took them to, I wept buckets as I opened her wardrobes to see them so empty it’s like I had severed a chord.
I found a box she had kept with mementoes; there was even a love letter I sent from a troopship coming home from Ceylon at the end of my RAF service in 1950 and our wedding photographs, we looked so ridiculously young to get married.
Needless to say I am still nursing a badly broken heart and miss her terribly, there is such a void in my life and the house is so lonely without her laughter and love..
But I am moving forward; I still serenade her every night and can now sing the words to “SEND IN THS CLOWNS” which I found it impossible for a year, without crying.
I live a frantic life, I play bridge four times a week, I have joined a social club and meet men like myself bereft and heartbroken after losing their wives.
I write novels and compose music, not unfortunately love songs as the person I wrote them for has gone. I am running a marathon (no, not really)
I am still having a violin lesson which is crazy at the age of eighty five but I want to be a better violinist and my teacher gives me such difficult concerto’s to learn that it takes my mind off my sadness and I practice for hours every night..
So, bottom line, I am getting on with my life although I realize I am just filling in time until we meet again (which I hope we do).
I read in a comment someone said that I hope I meet a nice lady and find love again, THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN, she was the first girl I ever kissed and the last on her deathbed, I will be satisfied and grateful for a wonderful seventy years of love and passion, I consider myself so lucky.
Thank you all for your help, you saved my life.
Lawrence.

Comments for Progress report number 4 by Lawrence

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Apr 05, 2014
Here's to Friendship
by: Doreen UK

Hi Debby,
I was touched by your comments. I embrace your friendship. Pity I live so far away. I am so glad that I am able to be of support to you. YES! I agree. We could become good friends from across the pond, but better friends if I lived in the USA. Anytime you have any difficulty just reach out if I am able to help I will. I feel drawn to answer every post as I feel the sorrow of another deeply. But saying this I also benefit GREATLY from all the posts written here. Some make me cry which is good and keeps me in touch with my loss. Which is healing every time after the tears fall. Debby if you ever want to write to me about anything. my email is doreen_1948@hotmail.co.uk
Days ahead we may face more obstacles and need the support. For now my Dear Friend. God Bless you and give you and all of us the Peace we need from our loss and the business of tying our beloved husbands/wife's possessions. Doreen

Apr 04, 2014
It's me again
by: Debby

Hi Doreen,
Just need to let you know that YOU are the BEST!! You have given me so many tools to use to cope with the monumental task at hand. That makes SO much sense. My husband's things were important to him at the time, but not ME. 34 years of "stuff". Lots of tools and equipment, I'm sure there's a guy out there who would love them and put them to good use. My son is an English teacher and not very mechanical, so I must let them go. You really brighten my day, I look forward to your replies and comments. You have gained much wisdom in dealing with your experience, bless your heart Doreen, you are helping a lot of people in times of trouble. Too bad you are so far away, I am in Connecticut, USA. I believe we could become good friends. Isn't it like having a "pen pal"? We did that when I was in grade school. You are a blessing. Thinking of you, Debby.

Apr 04, 2014
Letting Go is hard but necessary to moving forward.
by: Doreen UK

Hi Debby,
The key is to Put the FOCUS on what you have to do and not HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO. This will take away some of the bad feelings attached to the task in hand. It hurt so bad when I had to dispose of Steve's car. I loved riding in it and I loved that car and Steve behind the wheel. Now it is a MEMORY I will keep forever in my memory bank. If you have any photos of the bike, jacket, and car, which I'm sure you must have. You can make up a scrapbook and enter in what you need to say. KNOWING that you will have the memories FOREVER. You are just making a new memory in having to move forward. It is also a very MATURE outlook needed now by us as WIDOWS. When you think about it. We accumulate so much throughout our lives. We enjoy all those good things. But when one dies they can't take anything with them. It is all left behind. This is what hit me hard when clearing out Steve's garage of over 45yrs. of STUFF. Important to him, but not me. My son-in-law took most of it because he would have a use for it. NOTHING IS EVER WASTED IF IT CAN BENEFIT SOMEONE ELSE. It still hurts I know. But I have to try hard to DETACH myself from the association of what has to go. Because it is so easy to become attached to our possessions. I am trying not to let my possessions or Steve's possessions possess me to the point I can't part with them. HARD TO DO. But a must if we are to move on. It just takes TIME. Don't look back with any regret or guilt. I give myself a pep talk. I DON'T NEED IT! IT HAS TO GO! I WILL NOT REGRET THIS DECISION!!.
Best wishes. Have a good day. Doreen.

Apr 03, 2014
It's the little things
by: Debby

Hey Doreen...same here your feelings about the notes he's written that I can't bare to throw away. He was a list maker, all the things he wanted to do. Whether it be preparing for the upcoming season, a holiday, a birthday or just chores around the house. They are so precious to me, also. And though I love the memory of him in his truck, it is killing me every time I pull in the garage. It seems terrible to say I can't wait 'till it's gone. It feels like I'm wishing him away, which is the furthest thing from my mind. Hopefully, it will go to a good home! I wish you all the best.
Debby

Apr 02, 2014
Some more items to keep
by: Doreen UK

Hi Debby, That is the first thing I gave away. My Steve's BMW. It was such a burden. I couldn't cope with. I gave Steve's car to his niece. His one and only sister's daughter. I knew she would value this. It died on her and I think they have put it in a garage. I just don't want to hear about the car I used to love to ride in. Couldn't bear to see it again. I came across a notebook I write in and came across Steve's writing and this is so hard to see. But yet I want to keep his little notes. Steve had such a beautiful soul. He was loved by everyone. This makes the grief worse. I am not even going to tackle the log cabin contents yet. I keep finding Steve's various cowboy boots. I can't part with these. It would kill me. I have decided they are going into this leather trunk so I don't keep bumping into these possessions that have long memories. But I will keep them till my heart says otherwise.
Bye for now and Have a good day!
Doreen

Apr 01, 2014
Can't get it in gear
by: Debby

Hey my friend,
I think I mislead you. Ooops! I've actually only "moved" 2 pieces of clothing from the closet. A shirt and that pair of slacks with the money in them. I haven't gotten to putting anything into a bag yet. I think that if I'm crying everyday still, it might not be the right time. Maybe this Summer I'll give it a go. Right now I'm just mentally thinking about the items I could never part with. I just asked a friend about buying his truck. That's a big step for me. My husband loved his truck! He always personalized his vehicles, so in a way, they show who he was and his personality. It'll be like saying goodbye..........again!
It's nice to find a kindred spirit. All the best Doreen,
Debby

Apr 01, 2014
Precious Memories we keep forever
by: Doreen UK

Hi Debby,
It is early days for us and it for sure feels as if we will never get through this grief. Sorting out our loved one's possessions is one of THE most difficult tasks. If I had got rid of everything I would be so hurt and wouldn't be able to cope. I feel a sense of sorrow that I had to give most of Steve's clothes away. But it had to be done. This morning I closed my eyes and visualised Steve wearing an outfit I loved. IT HURT. I wanted him back.
I am glad you are keeping the motor cycle jacket and other bits and pieces. It will make you feel happier inside. Always go with your GUT FEELING. There are NO RULES that we have to give EVERYTHING away. It doesn't mean you are not healing. I don't mind even being buried with some of Steve's special possessions. Oh! How I miss him. It is very comforting to know that you have something of him left with you. Even if this be forever whilst we live. Best wishes. Doreen.

Mar 31, 2014
Precious Things
by: Debby

Hello Again Doreen,
Good advice on keeping a few of your husband's shirts and precious jewelry. I knew immediately that there were some things I could never part with. I suppose I just needed some reassurance that keeping things wasn't a sign of not healing. My husband was a motorcycle enthusiast. I'm keeping his black leather jacket without a doubt. And the thought of a completely empty, his side of the closet, is more than I could bare, so there are many things that will not make the cut. How do we get thru it Doreen? There is nothing more difficult. It can only be with God's guiding hand that leads us thru this dark valley of despair. May peace reside within your heart.
Debby

Mar 31, 2014
Sorting out our loved one's clothes.
by: Doreen UK

Hi Debby,
Good news about the $40. This is the start of many Blessings coming your way. Best not to sort out all the clothes whilst you don't feel 100% ready to do this task. I got rid of some things much too early. If I can't sort out Steve's rings and personal items before I pass on then my two daughters will know what to do, and can sort out what I am unable to do. I have 2 lined leather trunks in Steve's log cabin. I am going to put the little things left over into this trunk and leave it in one corner. I feel a sense of comfort knowing they are safe and I still have something of him left with me.
One thing I did when sorting out Steve's clothes was to keep 10 or 12 of his short sleeved shirts that I especially loved on him and loved to iron, I am going to wear these when the weather is warmer. 2 of Steve's worn shirts I will use as an overall, when I am painting different rooms. I will never part with them. Oh how it HURTS. even talking about what we have to do. God Bless Doreen.

Mar 30, 2014
Do not be sorry - ever
by: Debby

Hi Doreen,
Please don't ever be sorry. You are not bombarding me in any way. Everything you write, I practically absorb. I am going to wait until I can maybe do some of it without feeling so terrible. I thought I would start by taking just one item a day out of the closet. In the past five days I was able to remove 2 things. Hey, it's a start, right? I needed a hangar today so I thought I would borrow one from my husband. I took one pair of black slacks out. Before I folded them and placed them on the chair with the other item, I stuck my hand in the pocket and out came $40.00. I told my son about it and he said, isn't that just like dad, still providing for us. If that doesn't hit your heart I don't know what would! Thank you always for your comments. God bless, Debby

Mar 29, 2014
You are amazing
by: Debby

Dear Lawrence,
You are an inspiration to me and I am sure, many others. It's the clothing and his vehicle that haunt me. But I am stuck in neutral when I try to move anything. Fifteen sounds about right. I will wait patiently, if the spirit moves me sooner, so be it. I at least feel justified in the waiting. God bless you for being strong and finding things to fill your life after you have lost your love!
Debby

Mar 29, 2014
God Bless You, Lawrence
by: Alan

Dear Lawrence, I know I am not alone when I say Thank You, from the bottom of my heart. You give us hope where there is none, a reason to get up in the morning when it seems impossible, the great Love you shared with your precious wife is so clearly evident in every word you share with us. I too, consider myself a blessed and rich man for having had my Donna for 34 years, we both share the same warmth in our souls where these two great women now reside.

I hope you realize how much you've helped many of us here, your wisdom, compassion, and kind heart is something I can grasp and hold onto, not just empty words scribbled into some dusty journal!

May you find peace my Friend.

Mar 29, 2014
Letting Go
by: Doreen UK

Debby,
Just to expand what I wrote. I re-read your post, and realised that you are finding it hard because it is SO FINAL. Letting Go is so hard to do, but if you FOCUS. No use keeping the clothes because your mom can't use them anymore. I had to put some distance between the clothes and what I was doing. I detached myself from this task as if I was doing it for someone else. I didn't associate any memories or feelings. but it was still hard to do. I came across my husband's cowboy boots in the garage and one set indoors and one set in the log cabin. These will be hard to dispose of. When sorting out the garage his new boots and shoes were sitting on a shelf in the garage and I had to be strong to put these in bags for going to the charity shop.
But I do regret giving away much when in a lot of pain and sorrow. Best not to do anything till you feel you are ready. As my former boss a psychologist/counsellor said to me. When in doubt. DO NOTHING. I have always remembered this. Sorry to bombard you with so much long winded information. Best wishes.

Mar 29, 2014
The Sorting
by: Debby

Dear Doreen,
Thanks for relating your feelings on what to do with the clothes. I have always followed my gut, and it has never steered me wrong. But right now, I have no sense what to do. The clothes are killing me, but I run into a road block when I try to move them. So many beautiful things that I can still picture him in, some as recent as Christmas! To date I have removed a single shirt from the closet but couldn't bring myself to even bag it. I folded it and placed it on a chair in another bedroom where it remains. I suppose the next step is to get the darn black plastic bags and begin putting his things in them. April 9th will be 3 months. I still cannot bring myself to accept the fact that he will not be coming home to use these things. I'm not sure if getting rid of them will help. My son is suffering also. My husband has a Dodge Ram 1500 with a Hemi engine. I asked my son if he would like to trade it in and get himself a new car. Surprisingly, he said yes! And then added, dad is still taking care of us. My heart just broke (again). How true that statement was. My husband would have sacrificed his life for our son and would love the fact that his truck is going towards a worthy cause. Our son is an English teacher and not into the BIG trucks. So at least that aspect of the loss can be dealt with in a relatively positive way. Thank you for your help and advice, and as always, God bless.
Debby

Mar 29, 2014
Sorting out our loved one's possessions!
by: Doreen UK

Debby I feel there is no right or wrong time to do what you need to do. For me I had to sort out my husband's clothes whilst I was numb otherwise I wouldn't have done it. I knew he would never use these clothes again and a charity could put them to good use for other people, so for me the time was right. Based on my FOCUS. GO WITH YOUR GUT FEELING. Since you say that "the clothes are really getting to you." Is an indication this may be your gut feeling telling you the time is right. I sorted out my husband's clothes whilst I was tying up all the other affairs and paperwork that comes with death.
But all my husband's personal items are locked in his log cabin. I don't know when I will be able to deal with them. BUT when the time is right I will know by my gut feeling. I was de-cluttering and came across all the sympathy cards sent to me after my husband died. I couldn't part with them. I will know when it is time to dispose of them. It took me 9 years before I could look at my mother's photo's and put her pictures up on the wall. I just can't look at my husband's photo's or put them up. IT IS TOO PAINFUL. But again I will know when the time is right. It may have something to do with how we HEAL. Some things become easier to deal with and other's not.
My son-in-law helped me clear out 44yrs. of collecting from my husband's garage. This was so painful to do. I am glad it is done and now will become a gym for my daughter. Some things I am glad I dealt with, and other's I regret doing, It was too soon. The timing that was wrong. My decisions are also based on tying up things to make it easier for my daughter so when I pass on she has less to do. I have purchased my grave plot, so I will be buried with my husband, and I am now leaving a book with everything my daughter has to do for the funeral and general guidance. We each have to find our own way of doing things. There is no general rule. But we can all learn from each other as I also have learnt and been supported by everyone on this website. I hope this helps you. God Bless

Mar 28, 2014
thank you
by: Anonymous

Lawrence,

I have read your posts over the 14 months that I have lurked on this site and you and your wife must have made a very beautiful couple. I gauge somewhat my own coping skills by how others have written about their journey and I am believe your gift to the world is in being so genuine and heartfelt in your responses to others. You truly have such grit and courage to give such warm advice to others.

I am only a month behind you in the grief journey and I cannot measure my progress against anyone else but I am unable to do much. Too much tv and computer, going out in crowds or groups overwhelms me, and I don't want to eat. I seem only to peek periodically over the rim of the hole I am in and then I am content to do nothing else.

I can only say that you are a tower of understanding that has helped more people through their grief by finding a way through your own. I just wanted to thank you for continuing to write to those of us who are holding on, hoping that somehow they will find a way to ease the pain that permeates so thoroughly through our everyday life. We may not write much but we read every word.

Thank you Lawrence.

Mar 28, 2014
Another Thank You
by: Debby

Dear Doreen,
Just a quick note to let you know that between you and Lawrence, I don't know who helps me more. The clothing is really getting to me. It is such a final step. I am genuinely asking, do you think 3 months is time to pack it up? If I'm not sure, it probably means it's too soon? I don't know. Would love your input.
Debby

Mar 28, 2014
Thank you Lawrence
by: Maryann

Thank you so much Lawrence for your progress report. I have lost two husbands to suicide and have been feeling I will never be able to really live again. Your letter gave me hope.

Mar 27, 2014
Your wonderful life
by: Debby

Oh Lawrence, you write so beautifully. It is good to see that you are getting along. I'm glad you wrote about what you did with your wife's clothing. My husband has more clothes than me. It kills me to look at everything, right in the same place he left everything, but I figured out (after 2 months) that it would kill me more to see the empty closet and drawers, so I'm leaving it all for now. There's plenty of time to tackle that task. You were so blessed to have many joyful years together, your wife was a lucky woman and I'm sure you were equally blessed to have a loving wife. Thank you for sharing the details of your life here, it helps a lot of people. Enjoy your friends and practice, practice, practice! The violin is not an easy instrument to master.

Mar 27, 2014
Dear Lawrence,
by: Anonymous

I have read your posts over the past year, and your heartfelt words have helped me tremendously as I continue to mourn the loss of my father. My father also died suddenly, from sudden cardiac arrest, in January 2013. He and my mother had a beautiful 50 years together, and at age 85, she is all alone and absolutely devastated. She just mentioned today that she plans on going through his clothes this weekend. She has not been able to do this, and nothing in his closet or bureau has been touched. I hope we have the strength to do this, but if not, we will leave it for another day. We try to take one day at a time as we get used to our new normal. I wish you peace and comfort as you continue to heal. Barb

Mar 27, 2014
Progress report number 4 by Lawrence
by: Doreen UK

Lawrence how lovely to read your progress report number 4. You are amazing. In the early days of your grief I was so worried about you. I told God to look after you. I felt so helpless. But you amaze me by how you have taken the bull by the horns and living life to the full. I can almost see God smiling down at you because you are making the most of the days God has given you. For many of us it will take longer. I just think that Men somehow find it easier to move on. They have a different inbuilt skill. Women being the nurturers and men the hunters. I am so happy for you putting so much into life to make each day better. I guess we all do it in different ways for ourselves. But you are an inspiration. You don't realize that you are a role model for recovering from grief even although I know that we will all be at this grief recovery for a long time more than we would care to be. Much like yourself I would never marry again. My husband was my first love and my last. My song to him was by Sonny James. "My world begins and ends with you." This song was played at my husband's funeral and was so fitting. Removing your wife's clothes was the right time for you. I did this at the beginning when my feelings were so numb. I also detached myself from what I was doing so that no feelings would be associated with the clothes. All the personal effects are locked up in my husband's log cabin to be sorted out when I am ready to do this. There is always a right time to do this work. But no use hanging on to what we know they can't use anymore. I am doing this now for myself so that my daughter has less to do. Your energy is so vibrant it gives me motivation to do what I need to. So keep posting. I would miss you if you I didn't hear from you. Best wishes.

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