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Grief feels like a form of madness

(87 Posts)
purplepatch Fri 01-Feb-19 15:11:40

My DH died two months ago. We had been married over 52 years.

I am experiencing all the 'usual' emotions e.g.
Can't believe I will never see him again
How can the world go on without him in it
Breaking down when the smallest thing hits me from left field
Regret for things I might have done better
and so on....
But something I have experienced three times since his death has really sidelined me. For no reason, and at no particular time or place I get this strange sensation that he has never existed, that the last 52 years didn't happen, that it was all my imagination. Presumably it is some sort of protective mechanism but it doesn't feel that way. It makes me feel distraught.

Can I ask - has anyone else experienced this sort of feeling or is grief a form of temporary madness?

MawBroon Sat 02-Feb-19 11:19:06

Dear Purplepatch I am 14 months “down the line” and little has changed from this time last year except the constant realisation that “this is it”.
The world has gone on turning apparently and most people assume I am “coping” - what other option is there? I try to be cheerful and not to moan about what life alone is like. There are many out there worse off than I am, those facing the ongoing bereavement of dementia for instance.
An early dream I had after Paw died was that he hadn’t died at all, but instead of being happy my first thought was that we would have to go through it all again.
Now I can have dreams in which he features because they are at some indeterminate time in the past when the children were small and these are bearable.
But I wish I could hear his voice too, feel his presence but sadly I can’t. His books line our walls and they were very much a part of him so in that sense he is still “here” but, but, but....
Grief is a much more complex emotion than I had ever imagined. You don’t come through it, but you do learn to exist with it, although like an amputation, you are never “whole” again. Your mind may well be playing tricks on you as a primitive coping mechanism. A sort of reverse “phantom limb pain” perhaps. There are no easy answers, not even hard ones.
You have my sincerest sympathy flowersflowers

purplepatch Sat 02-Feb-19 11:58:35

Once again thank you and flowers to all posters.

I'm sorry if my thread has made anyone revisit sad times, but also glad that we can talk about loss to each other. The brave face is all very well but it rebounds on us in our private moments I feel, adding to the pain.

When I knew my DH would not be long for this world I tried to imagine what it would be like without him. I've found you cannot rehearse bereavement. It is a thousand times worse than any imagining.

I think perhaps we need to acknowledge this.

Maw I know what you mean about his books. It's all part of it still being "our" home and not "my" home isn't it?

Luckygirl I also loved your sun analogy. Thank you.

I too am writing my thoughts in a beautiful diary I bought. When two months were up at the end of January I stopped - there is only so long one can ooze self pity. So instead I am now writing letters to DH, going through our lives from our first meeting. I wrote my first letter yesterday and it's amazing how it dragged up (happy) memories that I thought I had long forgotten.

I've found grief physical - like a vice round your heart that squeezes it to the point of pain. But knowing I am not alone and there are many "squeezed hearts" out there is both sad and comforting - contradictory emotions I know.

Anyway, now I must put my boots on and go shopping in the real world....

Much love to fellow travellers.

MawBroon Sat 02-Feb-19 12:14:34

When I knew my DH would not be long for this world I tried to imagine what it would be like without him. I've found you cannot rehearse bereavement. It is a thousand times worse than any imagining

Like you Purplepatch I had had the opportunity to envisage life alone , in fact over a period of 20 years and quite a few “dress rehearsals.
But as you say it is infinitely worse and I am still learning.
While my heart goes out to all of you in a similar situation, it is somehow comforting not to feel entirely isolated, because despite the love and care of family and friends, it is an isolating experience. You’re on your own in a unique situation in your family, possibly in your friendship circle and there is no hiding from that.

Luckygirl Sat 02-Feb-19 12:18:36

You are doing so well pp - I know that underneath you are paddling like mad, but you have such sensible strategies in place to help you on this journey.

Your words I've found you cannot rehearse bereavement really struck home for me. It is over a year since I was told that OH is dying of his PD and I have gone over it all in my mind more times than I can say. I have been rehearsing like mad, but as you rightly say, I guess this is a futile exercise - it is especially on my mind when I have a "ratty" day - but I guess we must all forgive ourselves for being fallible.

Take care - I hope there will be happy moments for you today. flowers.

grannyactivist Sat 02-Feb-19 14:42:03

PP I truly believe that when my daughter lost her husband she was, as we have since come to describe it, no longer in her right mind, for at least the following year and a half. Her grief was often overwhelming and would strike without notice at odd times, she did and said things that she would never normally do or say, she had days when she could barely function and others when she was like a whirlwind. There is no 'normal' following a bereavement, so whatever you experience is all part of the process for you and eventually you will enter a new normal. Many on GN will testify to the help and support received on here, so please keep in touch. flowers to you and to all who are entering into their own new normal.

52bright Sat 02-Feb-19 14:50:58

Heartfelt sympathy Purplepatch.

purplepatch Sat 02-Feb-19 15:04:52

What lovely people you are on Gransnet. I've lurked but not posted much up to now.

I expect everyone else here has discovered that life is full of firsts, then lasts, then firsts again. It's like living life backwards now. Part of the new normal as grannyactivist says.

I am going to try and have a happy moment Luckygirl later, again watching the rugby. I'm not sure though as the last England international I watched was with my DH on 17 November - England v Japan - just two weeks before he died. He struggled downstairs to watch it even though we had put a TV in the bedroom for him, because he wanted to feel "normal". So this will be a poignant experience for me - another first after another last. I think wine will be called for wink

Thank you 52bright and everyone for your kindness.

My thoughts are with you all.

Menopaws Sat 02-Feb-19 17:00:54

Beautifully written Maw, right from the heart. I am shit scared tbh and think I'm all brave and will be fine but I still want to run away and just want it to stop but it's still going

Menopaws Sat 02-Feb-19 17:02:44

I told him today that I wish I hated him as it would be so much easier but I dont

Menopaws Sat 02-Feb-19 17:12:41

Pp inspirational and honest, thank you

Nonnie Sat 02-Feb-19 17:41:57

Wise word again Maw like an amputation, you are never “whole” again. I hadn't thought of it like that but it exactly describes how I feel, a part of me is missing.

Just heard that the father of a young friend died of cancer this week and I suggested to her that, knowing it is going to happen cannot prepare you for it or make it easier. I haven't been through that myself but it is what I think. She was able to fly from Australia to say goodbye, I would give my right arm to have been able to say goodbye to my son.

GrandmainOz Mon 04-Feb-19 23:36:40

My love and thoughts with all who are going through bereavement, particularly purplepatch, and those who have lost their life partner flowers
I am so fortunate to still have my husband but lost my adult DS and very recently my mother. The grief I have experienced since my son's death is definitely a kind of madness. When you're in the midst of deep grief, you're trying to forge a new "normal " out of the maelstrom. It's a mammoth experience and no wonder some of us lose the plot a bit. I think it would probably be odd if we didn't! I don't think there's a "right" way to grieve.

BlueSapphire Thu 07-Feb-19 08:35:57

So many wise words here that have helped me so much.
But it hurts, oh it hurts.
27th February will be the first anniversary of DH's death and these weeks leading up to it are hell. I just don't want to remember what happened, and am trying to push the memories of that time away. Valentine's Day will be hard as we had such a lovely day and had no inkling that he would be dead by the end of the month. Perhaps it's just as well that it all happened so quickly.
I like to write to him every day too, just to tell him what I've been doing, how I'm feeling and remembering happy days.
Will never learn to live with it though.

GrandmainOz Thu 07-Feb-19 08:43:18

Hugs to you bluesapphire

Luckygirl Thu 07-Feb-19 09:02:24

bluesapphire flowers

MawBroon Thu 07-Feb-19 09:05:26

flowers Bluesapphire - the run up to the “anniversary” is hell, there is no escape from those “this time last year” flashbacks which sneak up on you out of nowhere.
It can prove a turning point though, once past.
Hope is is for you.

megan123 Thu 07-Feb-19 09:42:39

Bluesapphire flowers

Smiley4 Thu 07-Feb-19 09:49:26

Bereavement is such a shock. I always think it’s like PTSD.
Someone is there, you share your life with them, your thoughts with them, you plans things with them. They are your companion, your friend. Part of your world.
Then blink and it’s gone. All of it. They have gone and also life as you knew it has gone.

I feel for you purple patch and no, I don’t think you’re going mad in the least. It’s your subconscious trying to work out how to cope, what to do and make sense of an unreal event.

Grief is the price we pay for love. Two months is no time at all. But one day, Very slowly, you will see the light and start to stand on your wobbly legs again. God bless. Xx

nanny2507 Thu 07-Feb-19 10:32:51

pippa000 thats so lovely x

purplepatch Thu 07-Feb-19 14:31:23

Thank you Smiley and Grandmain and all those who have posted since I last posted.

Another thing that has thrown me is how it's possible to cope reasonably well for a few days than, randomly, I wake in the morning and can't cope at all. Today is like that. I threw myself into housework this morning, then spent a couple of hours in tears wandering round the silent house, sitting in his favourite chair, talking to his picture.....I am now going to do what helps me most - go for a long hard walk. But it is baffling how one can react so differently on days that are ostensibly the same.

PECS Thu 07-Feb-19 14:54:26

purplepatch ? When my mother died I kept seeing her when I was out and about and almost calling out to people who I had mistaken for her. It took a,few years for thst to stop happening
When you are ready maybe some grief counselling would help you feel more able to cope with your thoughts.

Smiley4 Thu 07-Feb-19 15:00:48

Anytime you’re having a particularly bad day. Feeling lost. Post on here again purplepatch. We can be here for you all day, if you need support ? xx

purplepatch Thu 07-Feb-19 17:01:54

Thank you Smiley4. smile I feel better for a good walk. Blown the cobwebs away.

Thank you also PECS. I certainly won't rule out counselling. At the moment I have a diary that I pour my heart out to as I find writing very cathartic..

GrandmainOz Sat 09-Feb-19 00:50:43

Still thinking of you purplepatch. The ups and downs day by day are exhausting sometimes. I used to feel like I'd been stuffed in a washing machine and I'd be gently soaking one day and then thrown into a violent spin cycle the next!

Nanabanana1 Sat 09-Feb-19 07:21:52

Oh purple patch how I understand, lost my husband of 50 years two years ago a nd one of my lovely daughters unexpectedly six months ago. Certainly felt as if I was going mad at times think I was some of the time, lucky for me I have support from my family two daughters and son. It’s true you learn to live with the grief it doesn’t leave.
Off to my grandsons 16th birthday today, wish his Mum was there to share it with us and to see him grow up.
Take each day as it comes and be kind to yourself. Sending you virtual hugs.