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Does it get easier?

(91 Posts)
Su22 Sun 09-Apr-23 11:40:15

It is 18 months since my husband died, people tell me it gets easier, but it's no easier in fact it is getting harder and harder. Lots of people turned up to his funeral which was lovely to see but where are they now I can count on one hand the people that have kept in touch. It's four days since I have spoken to anyone I realise it is Easter and people have their own things to do but life is pretty lonely, just need someone to tell me it will get easier and life does go on.

Iam64 Mon 10-Apr-23 13:13:58

Foxygloves and Greta, your posts resonate with me. I’m only six months on from what in the end was an unexpected, brutal end to an unexpected and brutal six months from diagnosis to death.
I’d not known the CS Lewis linking grief and fear quote. Fear hasn’t been a significant part of my life but it is now. I’m anxious about things I’d have taken in my stride in the past. Some of it links to being solely responsible for everything but it’s deeper than that

This thread is another of those that reminds you what a good place grandnrt can be

Foxygloves Mon 10-Apr-23 13:28:30

I used to be so independent and 'fearless' but now I'm scared and get anxious about things I would have done almost automatically
Exactly! While I have every sympathy for you, I am relieved it's not just me!
I don't know if my self-confidence will ever return properly or if advancing age will put the kibosh on that.
I do put on a brave face and like Anna in The King and I, try to "convince myself that I'm not afraid"
But it's all a facade!

nandad Mon 10-Apr-23 13:31:13

Sending you hugs.
Call friends, meet them for coffee, cry if you feel like it, talk about your husband and your feelings. People don’t know if the bereaved should be talked about and so avoid doing so, they will take the lead from you. I encourage two friends to talk about their husbands because it shouldn’t be the elephant in the room. I know others aren’t so comfortable talking about bereavement but you won’t know until you do.

Georgesgran Mon 10-Apr-23 14:10:16

My post resonates with so many before it. My ever optimistic DH died during, but not from Covid in March ‘21 and had a sad little funeral with only 15 mourners present. I found the first year hard, but a DGS2 born a few months later brought joy and sadness too, as it was expected that DH would’ve lived to see him. There was lots of practical and financial stuff to be done after he died and I threw myself into it for the rest of the year.
Post Covid, I realized there were a some big and probably expensive jobs to do around the house that had been put off, so that took up a lot of my time last year.
None of this detracted from my feelings of loss and a degree of isolation. My little band of friends have never wavered, although one died last month. We often speak of DH, as I believe that’s the only way to keep his memory alive.

It is hard and a brave face isn’t easy.

Does it get better? I’ll let you know in 10 years time, but from regular posters on GN it would seem not, but becomes more acceptable. We cannot change it.
Into my 3rd year now, I’ve had to buy a new car without DH’s input - might be a mistake, but at least it’s mine to make. A bit of trial and error, but it’s the only way.

We too raised money for a local charity (based in the Ward where he was treated). We sent them just short of £5000 and almost a year later, I actually had to contact them for a reaction to the donation - it was a disappointment that they hadn’t bothered, as if he hadn’t mattered to them whenever he’d been a frequent patient there. I found that hit me hard and sort of blew it out of proportion.
Perhaps bring realistic - it was something ‘solid’ to get angry about?

Iam64 Mon 10-Apr-23 14:20:04

George’s gran, good that you contacted the ward and disappointing you had to. I sometimes wonder about rage and anger, not emotions I often feel but definitely part of the grieving
My husband appeared fit, he did a ten mile walk the day before his devastating metastasised stsge 4 diagnosis. I sometimes feel so angry at the ‘unfairness’ of it all but remind myself life isn’t fair and I have blessings to count
I’m alone without him. Not lonely as I have family friends and dogs but yes, I feel alone without him

Iam64 Mon 10-Apr-23 16:17:16

Can I ask others about the exhaustion that accompanies grief? In the six months dominated by hospitals, treatments and their side effects, terrible news and more terrible news, I seemed to function on adrenalin and love. The week in which we were end of life care was a continuation, I managed on little rest hardly any sleep, stayed with my lovely husband as his life on this earth came to an end. I organised a big funeral, was interviewed by our local press, took care of my children and their children and once Christmas 8 weeks after he died, was over I stopped working. I get every cold or other bug my grandchildren bring in. I’m sleeping better now but that’s better in comparison with badly
I’m wondering if I’ll ever get my energy back
Anyone else ?

harrigran Mon 10-Apr-23 17:00:36

Yes Iam64, I can empathise, I too seemed to survive on adrenalin. During DH's last weeks I lost 15 kilos and was perpetually exhausted.
It took me a few weeks to move back into our bedroom but I was surprised how comforted I felt when I did return.
I still often need to go to sleep listening to classical music, I have one favourite disc in the player all the time.

Greyduster Mon 10-Apr-23 18:00:49

If anything is going to tip me over the edge it is music. DH was always singing (Welshman, of course - ‘hymns and arias,’ and all that😊) and he had a great voice - just couldn’t ever remember words, so he made them up as he went along, and used to make us all laugh. But the other day Nessum Dorma (which I am not a particular fan of) popped up on the radio and I sobbed all the way through it. A lot of the music we listened to together I can’t listen to anymore because it breaks my heart.

Iam64 Mon 10-Apr-23 18:37:54

Yes, music has the capacity to reduce me to tears. It catches unawares and I find myself back in that special place with him

Georgesgran Mon 10-Apr-23 18:56:22

Some mornings when I’m in the study I ask Alexa to play Time in a Bottle. I look at a lovely picture of DH on the windowsill and will him to hear the words.

MadeInYorkshire Mon 10-Apr-23 19:31:47

I'm sorry but I haven't managed to read a lot of the posts through my tears ...

As many of you will know, my daughter died in November, I lost her to suicide, but we do think that this time it was accidental for several reasons, she just wanted to quieten the voices in her head and didn't think.

As my health has deteriorated over the last 2 decades, so has my friendship circle, one by one they have dropped off, as they did with her. It was lovely that over 100 people turned up to her funeral, and we had some lovely memories from different people who had known her in different periods of her life, but where were they when she was alive?? We were both very socially isolated, as when you aren't able to do much, you don't actually have much to talk about!

I am now scared to go out, I don't want to leave the safety of my home, and she became the same the more her mental declined. She was talented, clever, bright and bubbly, caring, but when she was in her head, she could be vile, violent on occasion and completely irrational - it wasn't that we weren't expecting it at some point, she had tried many times before, just not that point. I did manage to go out yesterday for a little while, up to where her ashes are buried with my mum, brother, daughter and granddaughters and I planted some bluebells for her, her favourite flowers, but I won't go out again this week until Friday to see mum and go to the doctors.

I do talk to her, I shout up when the front door is locked and say goodnight every day, daft but it's what I did when she was here ....

The loveliest thing was that someone contacted me that didn't really know her , or me, had hunted me down on Facebook, but she had left her with a very lasting impression ...

"Hey, I was umming and ahhing about whether to send this. I am assuming you are C’s mum. Apologies if I am wrong and you are another relative.

I knew C loosely from school but was a few years below her. I didn’t know her too well but I had one distinct memory of her that I thought was worth sharing with you. I had just been asked to join the jazz club at school, and when visiting she was singing and I remember just being in awe. The beauty of her voice. It literally gave me goose bumps. And as a younger child in school I definitely looked up to her.

We also performed together in the school play Oliver.

I was saddened to see the news and send my condolences to you and your family.

I just wanted to let you know my memory of her was thinking “wow she is so talented”. And how although I didn’t know her well that brief memory will always stay with me and I will always think of her in this way.

I appreciate I don’t know her well so I hope this doesn’t feel out of turn but I felt I should say this."

That was lovely, and really made me cry, which I can't do very often, but maybe I need to?

As *Greta says "now I'm scared and get anxious about things I would have done almost automatically in the past" - that's exactly me, year by year because of my health, and now because she has gone, grief has made it far worse. I have been doing a zoom support group with others affected by suicide, and I have found that helps, but it's the last session this week and that is terrifying me.

The weeks up to and shortly after her funeral, everyone was visiting etc, but as expected, I have been left alone with my grief and guilt, and if it wasn't for my other daughter, mum, and my dogs, I would have followed her by now. My dog sat with her for 14 hours the night she died, and he is basically doing the same with me and has saved me a couple of times. If I weren't here, then there's no-one who could have him.

Sending my best wishes to all of you who are struggling x

Luckygirl3 Mon 10-Apr-23 21:24:08

So much in these posts resonates with me.

I too was deeply tied up in organising care for my OH - battling would be a more accurate word. It consumed every waking moment, and did not even stop after he died - I was owed money relating to his care and had to battle for that as I did not know whether I would manage otherwise. All this when I had just seen him dying.

And yes exhaustion - living on adrenaline for months during his illness, then the funeral arrangements, then money worries and battles and then ..... flop.

As to music - I cannot even listen to so much of the music that I love because it reminds me of us listening to it together. And the people I thought were our closest friends have barely got in touch; and when I rang the husband answered and said wife was in the garden, and did I want something in particular. Ouch.

But I moved house to be near friends and a social life so I do now have support around me.

All these things are hard and they hurt; but I do plough on and, Su22, there are moments of happiness, things that pull me back into real life rather than dwelling on the past and its traumas. Celebration weekends like Easter and Christmas can be hard I know. But I hope that as time passes you too will find those moments that bring you back to life.

Please do try "Way-up" - everyone on that site is living a life they would not have chosen, but they have good advice to share and arrange zoom get-togethers as well as face-to-face. I only go on the forum, but there is lots going on I know. It might be of help to you.

Iam64 Tue 11-Apr-23 07:55:08

Good morning everyone. The sun is shining in north Manchester but it’s cold.

Su22 Tue 11-Apr-23 08:09:44

Thank you to everyone who has commented with their good wishes, stories and messaged me etc I was really low over the weekend but reading all the postings made me realise I am not alone in feeling this way. a big thanks to you all.

Iam64 Tue 11-Apr-23 08:23:43

MadeinYorkshire your loss must feel overwhelming at times. Good to know your dog is ever present x

knspol Thu 13-Apr-23 13:30:55

It will soon be the first anniversary of my dear husband's passing and I'm dreading it with my whole being. A few months ago I thought things were maybe getting a tiny bit easier, I had the odd day when I didn't cry quite so much and then even started feeling guilty about that. Then it all come back again tenfold and it's no easier at all.
Greta's comments ring a real bell as I am now so anxious about every little thing even going to the shops in case the car breaks down or I have an accident or whatever stray thought comes into my mind., things that wouldn't have bothered me at all a year ago. It seems that every day is another endurance test.
I try hard to be cheerful in front of other people and then I look around and everybody seems to be in couples and, like so many of you other gransnetters, I'm not part of one anymore.
Sad though it is it's also reassuring to know there are so many others who feel the same way and are going through the same very difficult times. Best wishes to you all.

Whiff Fri 14-Apr-23 07:07:39

To all of you with any anniversary of your loved ones death,birthday etc the firsts are always the hardest but it took me 14 years before the anniversary of my husband's death to stop reducing me to a sodden mess. I relived the last 2 weeks of his life like watching a film. My children never knew . I hid it from them when they still lived at home until 2006 . Then they used to text to check I was ok on the day. I used to say I was fine . It wasn't until the 14th year that my daughter phoned instead of text and it all came out. She told her brother and they rightly told me I should have told them. I vowed I wouldn't let myself get into that state again and haven't. I now celebrate his life on the day ( well everyday) yes I shed a few years but it's happy tears as I remember all the silly things he said and did.

It took me 14 years to get too that point. Please don't be hard on yourselves do what you need to do on the anniversaries etc. Cry, scream,shout ,swear or hit a pillow just do what makes you feel better.

When the other half of you dies your present and future die to . You still have the pass but it's so hard making a new present and future. For me I had to do an awful lot of firsts. I had been with my husband since I was 16 he was 18. Making decisions by yourself is so hard but you have to do it and yes you will make wrong ones but don't dwell on them. It takes years to get comfortable making all the decisions. This is my experience only and can't say how others cope.

My husband made me promise to go on holiday a year after he died. I didn't want to but all the promises I made him I keep to this day as they are important to me. I went to York on the train I don't drive. Never been on holiday by myself ,walked into a pub,ordered a meal plus all the other first I did in 4 days. The hotel I stayed was all couples so the lovely waiters when they had a few minutes sat with me when I had my dinner.

When it should have been our 40th wedding anniversary was especially hard . I wanted to look at our wedding album but couldn't until 3 days after. Then I just remembered all the things that went wrong that day but also what a wonderful day it was . It made me laugh as my dad made home made wines and had made a punch. My dad's wines where strong and he put in a bottle of brandy as well. My parents had been buying a bottle of spirit when they where cheap from when we got engaged on my 18th birthday. We got married when I was 23. They even brought champagne. It was 1981 so we catered for the wedding meal ourselves. My parents paid for the food and all the booze. So it was free drink..They paid for 2 waitresses to wait on the top table. I wasn't brought up with money . But everyone said it was the best wedding they had been to including my horrible in laws who didn't want us to cater for it ourselves and tried to bribe us to have the meal in a hotel. I even made the table decorations. My husband and I paid for everything else. As I was always careful my wedding dress cost £40. £30 for the satin and lace and £10 to have it made. This was 1981. No one went home in a car they where to drunk. Except us and my parents. I have to laugh even now at midnight I was sweeping the floor of the church hall along with my husband. And helping my parents clear the room and clean it.

Hopefully that will make you smile. And no I wasn't my wedding dress as I had changed into a dress for the evening. Even our honeymoon was on the cheap a Haven chalet in Cornwall we went to on the Sunday. There was that much food we when with a box of leftovers including a bottle of champagne my parents put aside for us. Neighbours and friends had leftovers and the freezer was full with them. My parents always brought cheaper but wholesome food. And my dad was king of the bargains.

It doesn't matter if you had been with the other half of yourself a year or 50 you are never the same . 19 years on I still feel half of me is missing. And my grief has no end but you learn to cope. Only do what things need to be done don't try and do everything at once. Took me 8 months before I could sort out my husband's clothes and only because my daughter helped. You will know when is the right time for you to do things.

Grieve for me never ends but neither does the love for my husband. I hate being classed as single as to me I am still married and always will be. Still go by Mrs and still wear my wedding ring. Still sleep on myself of the bed. But in the early years found myself wake on my husband's side showed me how upset I must have been . Only the other morning I woke on my husband's side of the bed. But that wasn't due to my grief for my husband but another matter which upset me. Others may recognise my name from other threads so will know why.

There is no timetable for grief so just get through each day the best way you can. But remember to eat and drink and look after yourself. It's hard and the loss in my case gets harder as the years go by but you learn to cope. So be kind to yourself and live the best life you can.

Grief is the price we pay to love and be loved in return. But we are lucky we had that. Some people live their whole lives and never have that. 🌹to you all.

LRavenscroft Fri 14-Apr-23 07:20:18

I have a friend who lost her husband at 63. She had already had several bereavements with her own family and then he was diagnosed. She seems to have found comfort in paying attention to the detail in life, remembering birthdays, visiting elderly relatives, walking in beautiful places each day and paying a lot of attention to her home and garden. I would not say that she is sociable but she always finds time to have a chat etc. I really admire her strength and don't think I would be as brave as she is, but, she has inspired me to make the most of each of my days as I cannot imagine what she has been through. I wish you courage for each day, and light and love for the coming months.

Whiff Fri 14-Apr-23 10:20:49

I found when I went out I always wished people good morning etc. Because you never know if you are the only person they speak to all day. I know how much it felt to me to talk to people.

Not long after lockdown had to see my GP . Only one person allowed in at a time. I got talking to an old man . He and his wife had Covid he was worse but she died. He was in his 80's and was lost he couldn't understand why he lived. He went in before me. And when I came out he had waited for me. Because he said you understand. I spent over 30 mins talking to him and at the end he said thank you and wish he could have hugged me. He said he would live even though he didn't want to because I made him realise it's what his wife and family would want.

I have been ill all my life finally found out my diagnosis last year. I was born this way. Yet my fit healthy husband got cancer and died. Life is not fair but it's life. I don't believe at life at any cost . It's quality of life not length that counts. I know my mom had dementia she had no quality but I looked after her she lived with me. She died long before her body. That is not a life I want to live. So do everything possible to keep my mind and body active.

LRavenscroft your friend has found a way to cope and it must have been hard for her to do. But it's what we all have to do too live a full life. My husband died in 2004 aged 47,dad 2007 aged 80, mother in law 2015 aged 91 and my mom 2017 aged 90. I looked after them all. I do not want that for my daughter. As I didn't realise how much my own health was effected until after mom died. I got jaundice and could have died. Luckily didn't find that out until my gastrologist discharged me. As people with my bilirubin levels normally died. It makes me more determined to make the best of everyday. And take joy in little things like a flower.

karmalady Wed 19-Apr-23 08:34:51

It is eight years for me since being widowed very suddenly, no warning just a policeman and air ambulance, he went out and never came home. No time for me to prepare. I got busy, that was my way, always busy. Packed up the house 3 years later, moved the following year and have spent 3 years being busy, getting my house ready, getting the garden ready

It is all done now and I feel in limbo, I cannot shake off that I am getting old by myself. I go on the bus, I say good morning to everyone, I go to superficial U3A meetings but at the end of the day I am alone and it is getting to me. I am doing my best to shake myself out of it but quite honestly people are in their set groups and bubbles and I am in a solo bubble, rolling along

Today I am on the internet hunt for interest groups, classes and courses. This is very much what I did during the first couple of years, of course lockdown ruined all the progress I had made. I need to start that process all over again, moving house and prepping the garden was a wonderful time killer but for me now, interest groups will be the way forward.

Iam64 Wed 19-Apr-23 11:53:37

I had six months from his diagnosis to death. Medics began to say 18-24 months but I always knew six months. We tried to live our best lives in those months and managed it somehow despite the endless hospitals and brutal treatments
I’m six months widowed now. So many firsts and I’m now a year on from his diagnosis so inevitably remembering significant dates, of which there are many
Like karmalady I’m aware I’m getting old alone. I’m 74 and my awareness that we don’t know what tomorrow brings, or how long we have to live was always strong but strengthened by my husband’s untimely death
Gransnet has many of us, trying to make the best of our lives, living with huge loss

Luckygirl3 Wed 19-Apr-23 12:41:36

I relived the last 2 weeks of his life like watching a film. - this is so true; I cannot shake it off at all, nor ever will I guess.

One of the things I regret is that I was so shell-shocked that I failed to support my DDs or understand the extent of their grief. They were hugely supportive to me, but I fear I was not to them - I had nothing left.

Shrub Wed 19-Apr-23 13:00:13

They now refer to ‘shell shocked’ as post traumatic stress disorder which I think it is. I have days when I just can’t cope even after 15 years. The health problems of old age just add to it.

karmalady Thu 20-Apr-23 07:12:38

The process has started, craft courses and groups are thin on the ground. Saying good morning to everyone I pass is nice but is random. Next step for me is way-up

I have an open mind and fingers crossed and have found one craft guild that I will go to next month

We have to be pro-active, nothing falls into a lap and I need to be self-reliant rather than dependent on my busy AC. The inner loneliness is far the worst thing for me now and I can do my bit to remedy that, bearing in mind that I dislike formal coffee mornings and am not a twinset and pearls person

Greyduster Thu 20-Apr-23 08:43:54

I have joined a couple of groups that bring me into contact with others. It’s given me something to focus on and people to talk to. DH and I were always joined at the hip and he wasn’t a “joiner” but we were very happy in each other’s company. He left a very large hole in my life that, for the sake of my mental health, I have to fill, so that’s what I’m trying to do, and it’s hard to make the effort and find the courage but I hope I’m getting there. I looked at a couple of dedicated bereavement sites early last year and frankly they just made me feel worse. Taking that first step towards, as Karma put it, being pro active is possibly the hardest thing we’ll ever have to do as we get older, when confidence is thin on the ground and we don’t take anything in our stride any longer.