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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?

Marmight Sat 09-Feb-19 08:40:22

I'm sitting here blubbing. So many wise, kind and familiar words, so many shared feelings and I grieve for you and with you Purple, I really do.
I am 7 years and 2 weeks down the road and still sometimes can't believe it. The complete suddenness of it and the shock remains with me always. I can't really remember our 38 years together. It's as if that time has been compacted into almost no time at all. It's like a dream. In my head I just exist and no more, but externally I get on with it, apparently am coping and making the most of my new circumstances. No one really knows how you or I feel. Its unique to each of us; there is no rehearsal and we all have to work it out on our own. Ive recently had some counselling which has helped a bit. I would certainly advise waiting a while before embarking on it; you need to get past the initial grieving process in your own way.
What I miss so desperately is the familiar arm round my shoulder, a kiss and 'I love you'.
Sending you, and everyone else who is trying to cope with bereavement, love and kind thoughts and flowers

BlueSapphire Wed 13-Feb-19 22:11:07

Valentine's day tomorrow. Being silly I have bought him a card, and I will put up the one he bought me last year. I have got a bottle of pink fizz and will have a couple of glasses and will remember the good times. Also going to cook myself a nice steak and just remember him. Thinking of all those who are dealing with loss.

MissAdventure Wed 13-Feb-19 22:13:02

Oh I do hope you have some happy moments, bluesapphire. thanks

purplepatch Thu 14-Feb-19 11:40:18

flowers wine BlueSapphire I've done the same. And will raise a glass this evening....

grandtanteJE65 Thu 14-Feb-19 12:02:17

So sorry to hear that you have lost your husband.

What you are going through sounds quite normal to me.

And yes, I have experienced something similar to the feeling or whatever we should call it that you have had and I fully understand why it has upset you.

10 years ago, my sister and I went back to Scotland where we had grown up for the first time in nearly 40 years. Whilst we were there, I woke up one morning completely convinced that my adult life as I had lived it up to that day was a dream or a hallucination and that there was no DH waiting at home in Copenhagen, that I didn't have a home there, that I had never left Glasgow and that I would have to try and find my life in Glasgow.

In short, I woke up, convinced that I was suffering from a form of amnesia and that the memories I had were all a form of madness.

It hasn't happened again, thankfully, and it only lasted a few minutes, but I found it horribly unsettling.

I hope your similar experience soon will be a thing of the past, your husband did live and you have 52 years to look back on once you get past these first difficult months where you weep every time you think of him and all that you had.

The only positive thing to be said is, that it is generally said to be healthier to be able to mourn just after a death, than not to be able to. It is very early days yet, so please do take your time. Feeling guilty about this and that is part of the process, but perhaps something one should try not to do, as probably you have nothing to feel guilty about.

Beechnut Thu 14-Feb-19 12:07:41

purplepatch and BlueSaphire I have bought some mushrooms and chocolate bars what DH loved. Half eaten half a bar already and will have a drink later. ?

purplepatch Thu 14-Feb-19 14:28:30

Thank you grandetanteJE65 smile

Beechnut - we need a chocolate emoj!. But have some flowers in lieu.

Grannysmith59 Mon 01-Apr-19 12:10:34

I lost my husband 5 months ago, and after going through most of the stages of grief, in the past couple of weeks I have had this weird feeling of “nothingness “ which after reading your post I can now identify as “Denial “ I wondered that one would creep in hmm . Like you I have also had the definite feeling that my husband and the last 20+ years did not exist other than in a dream, and that I had imagined the whole episode. In some ways I am pleased I read your post because I now know that I am not mad, but obviously I am not happy that we find ourselves like many others in this position. Sending you a huge hug ?

travelsafar Mon 01-Apr-19 13:01:21

I remember my mum saying something similar after my dad died. She also said she felt numb. She didn't get rid of his jacket shoes and coat for a long long time and left them hanging in the hallway so that she knew he had exsisted. I do think it is the body and mind's way of protecting you in a time of grief.

rosecarmel Mon 01-Apr-19 15:29:10

My husband died last March - And indeed I have experienced periods of him having never existed - Until it hits me that he did - Then the floodgates open - Memories and so forth - Its an odd process - When people fall in love our feet seem not to touch the floorboards - Then in time we settle in step together even if stepping on each others feet - Its just part of the fun and struggle - Then when they leave this world, this life, but at the same time leave so much behind, it feels like a dream, like losing one's footing, like something went to sleep, forever, and yet reappears in various other forms to both comfort and haunt and beckon us along to help us get our feet back on the floorboards once more to live out the remainder of our lives with greater appreciation than before -

lovebeigecardigans1955 Mon 01-Apr-19 15:43:33

Grief is something which affects us all differently purple and his presence is probably missed most of all.
It's still raw for you but time does soften the rough edges somewhat. The time is takes is different too.
I still say, 'Night, night' to my late husband who died eight years ago.
Lots of support on here and flowers for you purple.

bikergran Mon 01-Apr-19 16:12:12

Coming up to 5 yrs for me and I still thank all the Gnetters that helped me .

I left the duvet/pillow and bit n bobs around for months and months, I couldn't bare to move them. When a few years later I decided to tidy the room out, I couldn't take the curtains down, each time I moved I felt like I was discarding him (even the curtains) my dd said "mum hes not in the curtains" (yes silly things I know)

I too sometimes think "did this person ever exist"? if so how could I have spent so many yrs (over 40 at the time) and yet feel like hes never been here and it has been some film or play I have been watching, why am I here in this house, where has all that time gone! its just like some kind of vision/dream what ever you want to call it.

MissSpamalot Mon 01-Apr-19 16:15:51

Hi Purplepatch,

no, it's definitely not a form of madness.
It's a ruddy great hole in your life where someone you loved beyond life itself used to live, and it doesn't matter what you do in an attempt to fill that hole, it refuses to budge.
My husband died in 2003, aged 45 - he had a massive heart attack whilst driving home. By time the paramedics arrived it was too late - they couldn't restart him, despite their best efforts. For months after Tony died, I slept with the shirt the ambulance crew cut away in their attempts to save him. In my bed, in the dark, I could pretend he was there with me, as I cried and smelled the gradually fading aftershave he wore....
For six months, life was a thick fog in which I simply functioned on a day to day basis. And that was it. Matters weren't helped by his family, who shut me out (I'm a second wife and as such, didn't count, apparently). His mother actually told me that the family knew he didn't love me and it was a matter of time before he returned to his first wife. I will be honest and say that suicide was a viable option at that point.
Workmates thought Tony's death was on a par to losing a pet gerbil, and after six months, I really should have been getting over it - really?!
Nearly sixteen years on, the absolute numbness and sheer physical pain (yes, bereavement hurts) of my loss has receded somewhat, and now I can smile when I see photographs of him, as opposed to dissolving into a complete mess.
Life has since taken a direction that was never planned as a couple, but is one in which I have found some peace. Suffice to say, the toxic family members are no longer a part of that.
Personally, I would not join any widow's groups - I found it was not helpful to sit with women who talked about their deceased husbands every time we met, thereby exacerbating loss. Talking to a bereavement counsellor wasn't helpful either, as it didn't help with moving on.
If you're not working, you may find voluntary roles helpful. Keep busy. Fill your days. Remember your husband for the man he clearly was (and he was, for you to love him so deeply and so much). One day, you WILL start to feel something you recognise as peace - a coming to terms with your loss. But don't put a timescale on it. One day at a time...………

BradfordLass72 Mon 01-Apr-19 17:02:18

Bless your heart, no it's not madness, it's just grief. I went through that same thing.

I don't know what causes it but I found that talking to my husband helped.

I asked his advice, told him off, even told him jokes just as I did in life.

I still do talk to him occasionally, even now, 20 years later and can just imagine his wry smile and humorous responses.

notoveryet Mon 01-Apr-19 17:21:21

It's only a few weeks for me and I just feel I can't go on without him...but I am, looking after our animals and knowing my family would suffer too much if I took myself off. I get furious with him and upset the dogs screaming and crying. Today I have just felt so tired that apart from a dog walk I've been watching television all day. Heartache is just what it says, an ache in your heart. I'm so sorry there are so many of us going through this.

Grannyknot Mon 01-Apr-19 17:26:06

Hi purplepatch - gosh 52 years, such a long time.

I've experienced grief with the loss of close family members - my mother when I was in my forties, my 43 year old nephew in recent years when I felt my sister's grief as if it was my own.

Reading about grief helped me.

There's a book called "Grief is the thing with feathers"- I've not read it (it seemed too highbrow for me), but I've read about it, intrigued by the title. The feathers of the title refers to a "crow" that "comes to stay" when the author is widowed. I won't leave until you don't need me anymore the crow says.

Joan Didion's book on grief (when her husband and daughter died within a year of each other) is called The Year of Magical Thinking. It's a wonderful book.

I offer these books as examples that you're not mad, you're grieving as expressed too by these authors.

flowers for you.

lure1959 Thu 04-Apr-19 14:23:48

Ito lost my dw wife over night last xmas i ask myself could i have told her more how much i loved her things go around in your head all the time . You had over 50loving years together that tells me allot take care

purplepatch Fri 05-Apr-19 19:10:11

Hallo everyone who posted from 1 April on. I have been off the boards for a while and only just caught up with them. Thank you all for your wise words, info about books, advice and general loveliness flowers Particular thoughts to the posters who have suffered recent losses.

I penned a few thoughts about a month after DH died that summed up my feelings at that time. I'll post it separately, so don't open it if you feel it might be triggering and not helpful.

purplepatch Fri 05-Apr-19 19:16:49


Grief - the thief that steals your heart and holds it in a vice
That takes your breath and hurls it into a void
That makes you hug yourself and rock in pain
Silently in a corner.

Grief - the actor that invades your dreams
That lets you tears flow even as you sleep
Then makes you pace the empty house
And despair.

Grief - the pain that overwhelms the mind
Imbues the slightest thought with meaning
So profound it crushes your spirit
And saps your strength.

Grief - that tears your memories from your soul
And lays them bare for all the world to see
A life left numb and empty
Never ending.

Grief - the price we pay for love
Too big a price to pay for caring
Too harsh a punishment
Just for being there.

lmm6 Fri 05-Apr-19 21:48:09

Please look up Complicated Grief. It is a recognised condition.

Alexa Fri 05-Apr-19 21:56:06

Dear Purplepatch, I think tha the feeling that the past never existed is your good healthy brain-mind getting used to your new identity as a widow. I wish you well in your future life.

purplepatch Sat 06-Apr-19 11:49:56

Thanks for your kind thought lmm6. I did look up grief, including complicated grief, a while ago. I don't have it. I am a writer and just expressing my thoughts in the way that helps me. Others will express, or not express, differently I guess. (smile) (flowers)

purplepatch Sat 06-Apr-19 11:50:37

Whoops that was meant to be smile flowers - wrong brackets!

BlueSapphire Sun 07-Apr-19 10:31:59

Lovely poem, purplepatch. Describes it perfectly.
I keep thinking back to the moment he took his last breath - my life changed in that milisecond. But I am trying to make the life I have now as good as it can be, for him. I owe it to him.
Would have been our 47th anniversary last Wednesday, went out for the day, had lunch out, did some shopping, and in the evening had lovely flowers from DD and DS.
On Thursday had lunch with my oldest friend, would have been her Golden Wedding on Friday. So, we drank wine, talked, and reminisced and it did us good.
Going on my first holiday without him soon, a step into the unknown...
I read recently that the grief is always there and stays the same, but that gradually your life expands around it.
flowersflowers for you.

lmm6 Sun 07-Apr-19 12:13:30

It is early days. But I would really suggest that when you are ready you consider making a gesture in memory of your husband. It can help. The Woodland Trust, for example, will plant trees in memory of someone or you could perhaps make a garden in your husband's memory. I lost a grandmother - she took her own life due to depression - 40 years ago. I have grieved for her ever since. I have ornaments and jewellery that belonged to her. I am going to sell them and give the money to MIND. What were your husband's interests? I am sure there is something you could support in his memory. And I think you should talk to him - love can never die. I visit my grandmother's grave regularly and take flowers and talk to her. Sometimes I talk to her photo. "You do not really die until the last person speaks your name" - it's something I read and I talk about her a lot to my GS and he's really interested. His brown eyes are just like hers. I feel she could walk into the room at any moment. She was born in 1902 and every year I think how old would she be now? This year I thought that someone has loved her for the last 117 years - first her parents and family, then her husband and daughter and me still.