My response to “Honest things I wish someone told me about losing a loved one”

This is my response to the recent article: 19 honest things I wish someone told me about losing a loved

This is my response to the recent article: 19 honest things I wish someone told me about losing a loved one.

First, I agree with all the points listed. I lost my hubby 21 months ago. Since then I have battled family greed (point 11), not knowing my final position, and only in the past 4 weeks have I really been able start the normal grieving process. Also 10+ of my friends/associates have also lost their hubbies during that time.

Points I add include:

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of communicating with someone else who is grieving – words aren’t even necessary – just a look, a hug or touching of hands gives one a feeling that someone understands… at last!
  2. Be especially blessed if your family is totally supportive RE the legal formalities and/or do not treat you as if you died the day your partner did!
  3. I wish someone had told me that despite your wish to eventually “move on”, a purpose or plan to help you do so just never seems to eventuate, so you not only lose your loved one but also a reason for moving on. This is particularly felt if you have reached retirement years – as all the plans you shared together do not have the same meaning if you think to do them on your own…There’s really no point!
  4. Do not allow yourself to be forced to move from the home you love or to follow family until you have had a long time to sort out your own wants and needs.
  5. Finally, if female, be prepared that not having someone to help you with the “blokey things” when you need them done, will drive you absolutely crazy (even if a hands-on person yourself). Even asked the blokes at the ‘Men’s Shed’ for help but they were reluctant. The knitting circle were more help and I don’t even knit! 

Thanks Jenny for sending this in.

Do you agree with Jenny’s points?

  1. what’s been said is true but in your grieve you have to be strong minded as well and do what you want with help from a good friend listen to yourself

  2. I no but my husband and I always talked about what we will if anything happens with us and has been gone coming up 2 years

  3. I lost my wife after 53 years of happy marriage together. The biggest problem I found after the funeral was over andf the mourners and other family members had left to lead their normal lives was what to do now. I had no one to talk to and no guide lines to consult. There are lots and lots of books about how to bring up children or how to cope with various disasters but it seemed to me that death of a loved one was neglected. Those first few months were terrible for me as I tried to shape a new life for myself. One of the best pieces of advice that I received was from a local estate agent. I had decided to sell my house that we had lived in for 25 years as the memories were too painful living there. She came and looked around and then said,, ‘I’ll sell your house for you in six months time not now. You take the time to think things through and then contact me if you still want to sell.’ Her point was that you are not in the correct emotional state to be making proper decisions, especially big ones, straight after the loss of a loved one. It takes time. I would say at least a year in my case. I’m still living in the same house now 10 years later. I had to make some changes to my life of course but my advice is do nothing drastic until you have recovered and this may take more than a year. Hope that helps.

    • After writing the above I remembered a small article I wrote last year. I don’t know whether it will help but this is how I coped with my wife’s loss.

    • A New Beginning

      The funeral was over. The last of my friends and relatives had left. I gave away the many bunches of beautiful flowers and the two wreathes. The cards went into an old shoe box. I wanted to throw them away but just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I felt emotionally and physically drained. The previous weeks had been so busy that there had been little time to think clearly about anything other than the many arrangements that had to be made. The house was empty and quiet; I was completely alone for the first time in my life.

      What was I supposed to do now? After fifty three years of living closely with someone else, sharing everything including our most innermost thoughts and wishes, I felt completely lost. It was as if half of my body had been amputated and yet I was still alive somehow and had to plan a future for myself. There was no one that I could turn to for help or guidance. Life outside my door continued on as before.

      During the next few weeks I sank lower and lower into a black pit of despair. I just couldn’t shake off the thought that my wife was not really dead. I expected that at any moment she would walk into the room from somewhere else in the house or the garden. Finally, I could stand it no longer. I drove to the local estate agents and asked for someone to come and give me an estimate on the sale of my house. I had to get away from this place where every day there were constant reminders of the long and happy life that we had had together over so many years. The lady that came out to give me an evaluation said that I would have no trouble selling, but then she sat down over a cup of tea and gave me some good advice. ‘Don’t make this decision now; leave it for a couple of months. If you still feel like selling then I’ll be happy to put the house on the market for you.’

      Next day when I awoke I knew exactly what I had to do. Starting in our bedroom I removed every article of my wife’s clothing and shoes. I put the used items in a green bag for the garbage bin. The good stuff I loaded into my old wagon and took it to the Salvo’s. I cleaned out every drawer and the ensuite and threw everything that had any connection to her into the bin. I stripped the bed and threw all the linen away. Then I thoroughly cleaned the bedroom. I even removed the pictures and washed all the walls down. I then shut the door and it was over six months before I entered that room again. I went to the shops and bought a single bed and linen and moved into one of the smaller bedrooms. I painted this room from top to bottom and converted it into a study. I then went through all of the other rooms in the house and removed any item that would vaguely remind me of my wife’s presence including pictures and ornaments. I started to substitute new ones until I had stamped my personality on every room. I even put her pots and pans away and bought smaller ones for myself. I threw our cutlery away and bought new. I gave our crockery to my grand daughters. I gave my wife’s personal jewellery to my daughter. All this work took time but I welcomed the distraction.

      My family didn’t understand at all. Why was I discarding all their grandmother’s personal belongings? Things that had taken her years to accumulate; things that they knew she had treasured. I couldn’t explain to them that it was because I loved her so much that I couldn’t bear to be reminded every day of the wonderful and fulfilling life that we had spent together.

      At last it was done. I’ve lived alone in that house for ten years now. Mostly they have been happy times but there are still moments when I feel her presence; smell her scent; recall some episode we shared together in the past and the black dog comes to keep me company but life has to go on. It wasn’t easy that first year but time is a great healer and I am really glad now on looking back that I took those first few vital steps to make for myself a new beginning.

      • lillian wallace  

        Jack you were lucky that real estate agent said what she did to you it gave you the chance to think things through.Unlike my self I ran our business for 6 months by myself and had to close the doors,lost our home and moved to be with our daughters and their children what a mistake good for you to have the chance to do what you did.

      • Suzanne Nouwens  

        Thank you Jack for bearing your soul. I lost my husband 20 months ago and it’s still raw and painful.
        I found your comments helpful and encouraging.

    • You have to do what is best for you, not for anyone else. I still have a cardigan of my dad’s and one of my mum’s and no way will I part with them. A spouse is different. I do hope you kept your photographs.

    • I understand exactly what you went through but life goes on. I can now think about my time together with my partner and not get sad. Still miss him terribly but I guess I always will.

  4. I lost my husband 26 years ago very suddenly and was devastated. What you need is to take each day as it comes as each one will be different and you will be feeling different. Definitely don’t make any decisions until you are really sure of what you want. The best thing you can do is have a friend who has been through it as they will understand and that helps you to realise you are not on your own going through this dreadful time. The worst bit will be the second anniversary. Everyone helps you through the first then lets you get on with your life. Even you will be surprised at how that second one hits you unless you are prepared for it. After that things do get better. After 15 years of being a widow I have met a lovely man and have been happily married for nearly 9 years so don’t give up on life yet. My first husband and I could be together 24/7 and even worked in the same job together so I was really lost. Good luck.

    • The girl over the road to me lost her husband 6 weeks after mine passed away, we are travelling the same road and it is so good to have someone who knows what I feel and is experiencing things at the same level.

    • Similar story to my own Dot only I lost my hubby 30 years ago, and I have been happily married again now for 24 years we also worked sise by side

  5. I agree with all the above, especially the decision to move, my husband before he passed 36 years ago asked me to make the decision to take my children away from where we were living, to move near one of their grandparents. My parents were in another state while his parents were in a town 5 hours away where my children had friends as we had moved from there 5 years before and visited regularly. They were very young at the time and had been through a lot with my husband’s illness, my father died 3 months after my husband with similar problem. It was the ideal thing for my children to move back to their father’s home town, but it was not in many ways the right solution for me. Hindsight is a very good thing but I now ask friends in similar situations to wait before making those sorts of decisions. I left 2 weeks after my husband’s death.

  6. You say you have only just now begun to grieve,if you are only just at that stage now,do not make any major decisions about selling up,going to live near children,etc,until you can start thinking straight.I feel for you as it took me a long time to(hate the term) come to terms with it.Decisions made while still adjusting can become big mistakes.

  7. I lost my Husband 4years ago very sudden big shock for me and my family, I still miss him but I am fortunate enough to have a great group of friends, plus after he had gone you soon learn who your true friends are, I had to learn how to handle money pay bills etc after 49 years of marriage I had never done any of that I try and do as much around the house like mowing lawns, gardening, chopping wood my two boys and there family live not far away, and I try not and pull on them for much help I reckon I am Jack of all trades and master at none, have done 2overseas trips since his passing we were fortunate enough to have travelled quite a bit and I have a lot of wonderful memories to cherish, yes I have my off days put I just say pull yourself together and move on as that’s what my husband would of wanted not for me to sit around all day and twiddle my thumbs.

  8. yes you cannot make major decisions until you are ready. death of a spouse is tragic no matter how long you have been married & even when you move on the loss is with you every day. i do things by myself because if i didn’t I would be alone in the 4 walls. I am enjoying life however, I still wish he was here after 17 years.

  9. I last my husband of 50yrs Oct 2013.
    I totally agree with all Jenny’s points. I was lucky to have great support from my children. I have had difficulty in finding other ladies in my position.
    Still trying to find my way after grieving for nearly two years.

  10. It is the “blokey thing” I find so hard. I am willing to tackle most things but it is the brute strength of a man I miss. The responsibility of it all weighs heavy. Have a good friend who would always help, but he as a wife and doesn’t need a second. They have been so supportive.

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