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Bereavement

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.

karmalady Thu 20-Apr-23 08:53:05

I have applied to register with way-up, they do want a lot of personal information, much of which is only held by their admin, I did gulp because the gn anonimity is not in way-up. It is only for widows and widowers so they need to be sure about the applicants. It is definitely not a dating site btw

That was the first barrier for me broken and gone through, part of my defence wall is now down and I have taken a tiny step forward. I am looking forward to being able to go onto their forum. I never realised how much that alone feeling is deep within and how much of my well-being now is down to me and that includes aloneness, which really is mental health

Hetty58 Thu 20-Apr-23 08:58:57

I didn't/don't have the 'fear'/anxiety others talk about - but I was so angry, hopping mad, in fact, for years afterwards. Some anger was towards the world in general, that unfeeling world I didn't feel part of, couldn't connect with. Some was directed at him - how dare he leave me? (He really didn't want to go anywhere - but emotions aren't logical.)

Now, I think that anger was so useful, it spurred me on, gave me focus and strength, was my expression of all the hurt I felt.

Foxygloves Thu 20-Apr-23 09:19:42

I absolutely agree with all I am reading here.
Yes - this is the rest of my life .
What is the point of planning for the future?
I am lonely despite pinning a smile on whenever I speak to anyone
That gap can never be filled, it’s like losing a limb, you learn to limp along but are never whole again.
Yes you have to be proactive (or else turn your face to the wall )
For me, 5 years on, I am expected to have “got over it”. Huh!
I also recognise and regret that after DH died I did feel it was all about me and didn’t support my AC who were grieving too.
Somebody, I think Katherine Whitehorn’s, said “widowhood is like being an unwilling refugee in a foreign country.” You don’t want to be here but you have no alternative.
I try to tell myself I’m not the first it’s happened to and I won’t be the last, but it’s still me.
I am totally aware of my own inadequacies, others are (or seem to be) “moving on” but I don’t want to for fear of losing that past life and the happy years - even the sad times, they are all I have.
So what is the answer? I honestly don’t know, one foot in front of the other? Not looking too far into the future? Enjoying the small joys and blessings?
Accepting that it is what it is -bad days, better ie bearable days - and good days when it is important not to feel guilty about enjoying something- although you so miss telling him about it.
A couple of years ago a poster who may no longer be a member, suggested I was “going on “ too much about DH etc. That was cruel and made me afraid I was being a Moaning Myrtle so I started bottling things up (“laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone”) and I would say to anybody bereaved whether 20 years ago or last week, never think you are being a Moaning Myrtle - anybody who thinks that of you has never experienced it.
Moan, cry, remember, but if I may quote Joyce Grenfell,
“Weep if you must, parting is hell
But life goes on, so sing as well” flowers flowers

Whiff Thu 20-Apr-23 10:03:07

I can well understand that feeling of anger. After my husband died I expected the grief and bone crushing loss but the rage and anger I felt was overwhelming. I thought I was being wicked. But quickly realised it all part of grief and needs to come out or you hurt yourself. It's been 19 years since my beloved died but still feel the rage and anger at times and know I always will. I have had health problems all my life and yet it was my fit healthy husband died in agony from cancer.

As I have said before I couldn't grieve properly after he died yes there where plenty of tears and being broken hearted but all I want to do was curl up in a ball and be by myself to wallow in self pity for a while. But couldn't do that. Our children where 20 and 16 when their dad died. Our daughter in her final year a uni and out son had started college a month before we knew my husband was terminal. Plus had my parents grief to cope with and my mother in law's dismissal she ever had a son or had 2 grandchildren. And no she hadn't and never did have any form of dementia until the day she died 11 years after her son.

My husband never liked his parents but loved them so never gave up on them no matter what they did or said to us. His dad died in 1988 aged 70 his mom 2015 aged 91.

Our daughter lived at home after her finals and helped her brother through A levels . He went to uni 2006 and told my daughter it was time to live her life and go back to the north west where she went to uni and had met her further husband. With many tears she did what I wanted. With them both leaving home permanently finally I could grieve during the day instead of in bed at night .

My health had gotten worse before my father in law died in 1988 but my darling husband attitude was we alter our way of life to suit what you can do and be a normal family. And out children had a normal life even with a disabled mom. It wasn't until I finally had my diagnosis last year I would use disabled to describe myself even though doctors told me I was from 1988. If it wasn't for my husband I could have done the things I have done.

When I had my diagnosis whilst I was filled with happiness the sadness I felt because my husband would be never know was crushing. I talk out loud everyday to him so told him be if course he would never know.

Grief for the other half of yourself never ends well that's my experience but the love never dies either. In the instant my husband took his last breath my present and future died. I know I have said this before. But I have met so many people who have lost their other halves and didn't realise it had. And it's so hard to make a new present and future alone.

Because I had both parents and mother in law to look after I couldn't live the life I needed or wanted until my mom died in 2017 .

Still didn't live the life until I moved to the north west in 2019 and finally live the life I want and needed. I am a whole different person. People know and like me for me no labels . I do thinks I never did before but it took me a long time to get too this point.

I would give anything to have my husband back fit and healthy but I can't. So the life I live is for me. A friend who was widowed in November has visited all the places she went to with her husband but not one her own but with friends. I am very worried about her . They brought a home in France over 10 years ago but only went for 2 weeks a year never rented it out. Luckily they had 2 weeks there last year together. She is going next month on her own for 2 weeks. She has never been their on her own and worry she won't cope. Also people will treat her differently. I did warn her it would happen here after her husband funeral she didn't believe me until it did . As many here know you find out who really cares about you as many so called friends and some relatives disappear.

What I found strange was wives suddenly became very protective of their husbands if they offered to do jobs for me as if I was looking for a replacement for my husband.

The loss of the other half of yourself never heals like I said this is my experience. But others I have talked to feel the same. I could never visit the places I went to with my husband it would be to hard and anyway I want to cherish those memories as they are ours.

I haven't had a holiday since 2005 and only because I promised my husband I would otherwise I wouldn't have gone. Hopefully next year once I get my state pension I will save up and go somewhere but it wouldn't be anywhere we went to together.

Everyone's grief is different but also the same. It's in the order you feel things also depends on how long you have been together as a couple and age you and they are when they die. I was 45 my husband 47 I didn't met anyone my age and those in there 60's and older didn't understand what I was going through. As we are all unique our grief is to.

Don't rush to do things and take it in your own time and if you need to wallow in your grief do it. Scream,shout,swear or hit a pillow do what you need . Only wish someone had told me that 19 years ago.

Luckygirl3 Thu 20-Apr-23 10:04:41

others are (or seem to be) “moving on” - I think the "seem to be" is the important bit here. To others you seem to be moving on but you know how raw it still is. We all put on a face as we know we cannot be a weeping heap forever or others will get tired of us.

A friend has just died - yesterday - she was only 59, much loved and well known in the village. I had known her 2 years but others had been brought up with her - school, work etc. There is a general air of shock and sadness amongst my friendship group and it is triggering so much for me - in spite of her not being a close friend I am feeling very sad. It just brought back so much as if it were yesterday that my OH died. So we have this to contend with every time someone dies.

Luckygirl3 Thu 20-Apr-23 10:08:10

What I found strange was wives suddenly became very protective of their husbands if they offered to do jobs for me as if I was looking for a replacement for my husband. - definitely this.

Foxygloves Thu 20-Apr-23 10:34:53

At a practical level does anybody else find it hard to entertain?
We used to love having friends round until DH became too poorly, although even then, good friends to lunch or afternoon tea helped the relieve the monotony of just me.
I have had friends - mostly couples- to lunch, but find it hard to take the initiative, possibly sensitive to rejection or appearing needy. The logistics of cooking for more than just me, serving the drinks, chatting, not burning the food, and then of course the clearing up just defeat me. Too often I CBA!
Family do’s are different but exhausting.
Sinking into sloth?

karmalady Thu 20-Apr-23 10:55:08

yes foxygloves, I don`t entertain couples outside of family any more, nor do I ask any favours

I never did get angry, I am more of a pragmatic living-in -the moment person, life is what it is. He passed quickly doing what he loved, not that horrible slow lingering ending to life, which is what so many have experienced.

It has helped being the oldest of 7, I always had to be independent and able to do tasks and it has helped that my 5 remaining siblings are close in spirit as are my 3 AC. I lost three close relatives during that 18 months after my husband. I could have stayed in that pit of despair but my nature is not like that, never has been and especially now that I am obviously going through another phase ie getting older on my own. I have a pick myself up mentality

I have to send a death cert and utility bill to way up. Got to re-learn how to scan, attach and send

Daddima Thu 20-Apr-23 11:01:44

midgey

Su22 to be honest I found that the second year without my husband was harder than the first. Life is different again this third year. I think I might sum it up as less worse! flowers

On the day of the Bodach’s funeral someone said to me that that was the easy bit over, and now, in a way, I can see what she meant. I also remember so many people saying ‘ you know where we are’ , but I would never ask for help ( even from family, as I don’t want to appear ‘needy’ or not coping).
Since another widowed friend said to me that she felt the second year was harder, I wholeheartedly agree, as do many others I’ve spoken to. That’s why I try not to abandon friends who have suffered a bereavement.

The Heavy Stone

My grief was a heavy stone,

rough and sharp.

Grasping to pick it up

My hands were cut.

Afraid to let go,

I carried it.

While I had my grief

you were not lost.

The rain of my tears

smoothed it.

The wind of my rage

weathered it,

making it round and small.

The cuts in my hands have healed.

Now in my palm it rests,

sometimes almost beautiful,

Sometimes almost you.


Averil Stedeford

Foxygloves Thu 20-Apr-23 11:05:16

This thread should be compulsory reading!
I am finding it very reassuring, life-affirming and comforting.
It’s so nice to feel that although I am alone, at the same time I am not, if you see what I mean!

Luckygirl3 Thu 20-Apr-23 12:02:37

Indeed. Bizarrely, one of the things that comforted me when my OH died was the fact that it is an everyday occurrence - all around the world thousands die every day - it helped me to put it in context somehow, but might not comfort others.

Ladyripple Thu 20-Apr-23 12:21:42

I have been a widow for 26years,I was 49 when my husband died suddenly,he was 52.

I had 3 teenagers and I did not cope well at all at first,people told me how well I was doing,but inside I was broken.

I met a widower after a few years and so thought that would “fix” me,it didn’t,although we were together over 10years,it just wasn’t right,so we parted.My husband was the love of my life.

I think of my husband every single day,but I have a life that is full,swimming,friends,my dog and garden,and glorious grandchildren.

One thing I find difficult is seeing my friends,still happily married to each other,travelling together,that makes me sad.I still haven’t been able to travel abroad on my own and now I never will.

But the deep grief of those early days has passed.I live a contented life with my husband tucked away inside me,always.

Oh and I don’t entertain,except family.

DiamondLily Tue 09-May-23 13:40:28

My husband died a little over 2 weeks ago. I'm hoping it improves or at least calms down. I'm struggling to keep stable.

I don't want to contact the GP, because I guess this is normal and he will just send me medication - which I don't want. Neither do I want counselling - if I want to talk, in real life, I've got a really close (widowed) friend.

Some, on this site, have really helped, with their messaging, as well.

I've got friends, a lovely family, a nightmare step-family, and I end up worn out very quickly.

Condolences to those that have also lost a much loved person, however long ago it was. 💐

DiamondLily Tue 09-May-23 14:21:18

Karmalady - goodness, that site does need a lot of personal info. I can see why they are so careful, and it keeps it safer, but it's different to most online sites.

I took a photo of the cert and bill - then just attached it to an email. My scanning is dubious as well.

Iam64 Tue 09-May-23 14:24:49

We are all different of course but I found talking to friends who had also lost their husbands reassuring. We all felt our usual energy levels had disappeared, exhaustion compounded by poor sleep a theme. I was caught unawares by a low level of anxiety, unfamiliar to me. I’d double check locks, worry I’d left a gas ring on, drive slower than usual and feel slightly out of my depth with the endless admin. Friends reassured me it’s all too common as part of grief.

I’m 8 months into my life as a bereaved wife. I’m alone more than I’ve been before but not lonely thankfully. My daughters live close by, I have good friends and of course those dogs that take up lots of time (and money)

Sending love diamondlily 🌺🌸

Whiff Tue 09-May-23 17:17:16

DiamondLily glad you found this thread.

The death of the other half of you is physically and mentally exhausting . Plus all the paperwork which is never ending . Then on top of your own grief there are other people to deal some grieving for your loved one but others who are being horrible.

I have said many times before as much as it hurts to lose the love of your life at least we had that love and we loved in return. And that's something to cherish. Some people live their whole lives and never know such love . I have a friend who wishes she had that in her life but never found it.

Even after 19 years the grief still overwhelms me but I don't fight it and just have a good cry.

My husband was a draughtsman by trade but last 3 years of his life was half owner of a steel fabrication company. Still makes me laugh now he had a trade magazine delivered to our home it was called Wet News sounds kinky but it was about sewerage treatment works . I often wondered what the post man thought. It was a free publication and even thought I told them he had died many times it was still delivered every month. I moved in 2019 but it gives me a smile to think it many still be delivered.

I know that's very silly but hope it's given someone a smile today.

The grief never dies but the love doesn't either. I am still married and still have a husband his just not with me. I hate being classed as single as to me I am not.

Life is hard on your own but you can still have a good life but a different one. But it takes years so take your time . One day at a time and soon a week has gone by then a month and a year. But for me I will never be whole again but that's ok took me years to except that. But since moving here I live my life to the full I no longer just exist. I am happy and loved . Just one sad thing but those who know me know about that . But I have excepted what has happened and won't let it effect the rest of my life. What I had with my husband has given me the strength to fight on.

Just face each day the best way you can. 💐

DiamondLily Tue 09-May-23 18:36:05

Yeah, I am. He was the love of my life. We'd both been married before, we met whilst we were both going through divorces, and we used to call each other our "sloppy seconds"...we weren't of course. We were soulmates.

He will always be my husband - there will never be anyone else.

For some reason I thought of my Nan today. She was an Eastender, and stayed in East London, through the blitz and the war, along with my grandad, (injured in WW1) my mother and my uncle.

Three times they took a direct hit on their houses - and survived.

The last time they took a hit was with the last German bomb to hit the Eastend. My Nan, at that point, had another baby - 4 days old.

She helped dig out my mum, uncle and my grandad from the rubble. My grandad died - so there she was with 2 teenagers, a 4 day old baby, and a dead husband. No home, nothing.

She fought back - she was such a fighter. I was very close to her, because of my awkward mother, and she used to talk to me for hours about my grandad.

One day, as an adult, I remarked that she was only 42 when widowed, and that it was a pity she'd never met anyone else.

She looked at me and said "I had the best, why would I consider the rest?".

And, now, totally different circumstances, I get it.

Whiff Wed 10-May-23 06:41:49

DiamondLily your nan must have inspired you throughout your life. She was a strong role model. My brother gave me the best compliment he could have when he met his 3rd wife he said he finally understood what my husband and I had. I told him finally he found someone for me to love . My mom on their wedding day in 2016 said finally someone who deserves him. It doesn't matter how long or short it takes when you find the other half of you finally you are whole. That's why it's so hard when they die.

Being with the right person is something to cherish and you become we . When they died you become I and that's so hard. Until they die you don't realise how much making decisions together was easier and it's so hard having to make them on your own. I know I have made some wrong ones where I used to live. But since I moved as much as I miss my husband I find making the decisions easier. I think it's because it was our house until contracts where exchanged it was still our home and still the children's rooms. Still his armchair ,still his study.

But here the bungalow is mine it was my choice and have surprised myself with all the colours and things I have chosen to make it mine. Even found out I am a gardener my husband said I had a black thumb turns out I have greenfingers. Our old house had to have a gardener after he died as it was to big for me. Gardening was his relaxation completely opposite to his work . And with my dad's help could grown anything apart from parsley.

I would much rather still be a couple but only with him . After his death had dependants and it wasn't until I moved I finally found me. But I am and will always be Mrs ,still wear my wedding ring still talk about my husband as if he's still alive. I hate having to say my late husband as he was never late in his life . We both liked to be earlier for things. Or worse saying I lost my husband which I am guilty of saying ,but then say if he was lost I would have found him .

Only another widow or widower doesn't matter if you where married or no or in same sex relationship only another person who's other half has died understands what it feels like.

I went to a bereavement group after my husband died I didn't want to but did it for my children they wanted me to go . It was useless . I was 45 next was a man 68 the woman where in their 70's -80's. The woman who ran it was married and had done a 12 week course. Luckily the children never asked if it helped, they just as if it was ok. They where nice people but they didn't understand the problems I faced. When the children left home I stopped going.

Only you know what you need to get through each day and that's different for everyone but something's are the same. Hope that makes sense.

Whether you are newly widowed or have been so for years living without your other half gets harder as the years go by but you learn to cope. But you must give yourself time I wrongly thought everything had to be done at once yes something's have to be, but others can wait until you are ready to face them. I couldn't sort out my husband's clothes until 8 months after he died and only then because my daughter helped me. Until then the only thing I had sorted out what he was to be cremated in. He said don't burn me in my Jeff Banks suit it cost £350 in the 90's . So I sorted out my favourite shirt and trousers . Couldn't let him go without his y fronts and choose a pair of Homer Simpson socks. He always carried a photo of me when I was 18 in his wallet so had the pic put in his top pocket. When I die my daughter will put my favourite photo of him in the coffin with me .

I was horrified when my parents thought he would just have a shroud. As I would have hated that but a friend of mine did just that 5 months ago and her husband was buried . I made sure both my parents where wearing clothes. I still wanted them to have dignity even though all 3 where cremated. And no one was allowed to view them once they left home.

I finally cleared the final few items of my husband's which was just his hospital file and gardening coat and shoes went I was decluttering before my move. But the only thing I have never beable to do is scatter his ashes. I know it's not logical as it's just a pile of ash not him but it would feel like I was throwing him away. Mad thinking I know. But our children both said I didn't have to and they will scatter us together. Well just down to my daughter now after my son's estrangement his choice not mine. My parents wanted to be scattered together so that's what my brother and I did. Dad died 10 years before mom. So at dusk we scattered them by a hut by the river Severn they used to sit in. I know you weren't supposed to but it's what they wanted we mixed their ashes together . They both believe they would met again . I am an atheist so was my husband and children.

So I always treat people the way I want to be treated in this life. Even if I have to complain I am nice about it. It's easy to be nasty but to me it's a waste of energy and you lose your argument.

As usual I have rambled on. Have the best day you can ..

karmalady Wed 10-May-23 06:57:03

Luckygirl3

Indeed. Bizarrely, one of the things that comforted me when my OH died was the fact that it is an everyday occurrence - all around the world thousands die every day - it helped me to put it in context somehow, but might not comfort others.

yes that thought helped me too, it was sink or swim and learning to adapt to my different life.

Ladyripple " I live a contented life with my husband tucked away inside me,always." I think that is me too, no point in me feeling envious of other older couples, who might be suffering in other ways. Life does go on for me, it has to

pascal30 Wed 10-May-23 11:37:56

My husband died over 35 years ago and it does get easier but there is always a lingering sadness at the thought of how it could have been, and I still miss his company.. he was an actor and occasionally I see him on TV when they do repeats which can be quite upsetting. I've done a series of etchings of him and other deceased and alive members of my family and remember them that way.. but it is a long, process. Grief is love with no place to go.. so true for me

Whiff Wed 10-May-23 12:05:34

Pascal it must be upsetting seeing your husband on TV . But just think of all the joy he gave people with his acting .

I have only got photos of my husband and when it would have been our 40th wedding anniversary a few years ago I wanted to look at our album but couldn't on the day but did a few days later. But I didn't feel sad in fact I thought about all the things that went wrong that day it could have ended in disaster everything that happened but it didn't and the wedding and receptions went brilliantly. Even my horrible father in law had to admit it was the best wedding he had been to and had to put my mother in law to bed blind drunk. We did it on the cheap and catered for it ourselves.

DiamondLily your Nan's story inspired me to do something this morning that I haven't been able to do for over 19 years and listen to an ELO album including Mr Blue Sky which played as we left the Crem. I jiggled whilst baking for my craft group . One of our favourite bands.

Greyduster Wed 10-May-23 12:26:09

DH and I were married five months before he was sent away on his first overseas posting to some back of beyond place in the Far East that was mostly jungle. There were no phones, mobile or otherwise, and they managed to fly out mail intermittently which was what kept us both going. We knew he was going, which is why we decided to get married, but for a while that felt like a death to me. I felt completely desolate and cried myself to sleep often. It was before our children came so I didn’t even have them to distract or console me. It took me most of the year he was away to come to terms with it. But I was as certain as I could be then that he was coming back. Now, of course, he’s not coming back, but between then, and now, we had a wonderful life together and that’s what keeps me going. I still write to him, just as I did then, and I put the letters in his memory box. It helps to clear space in my head, and my heart, to tell him how much I love him now, just as I did then.

Greyduster Wed 10-May-23 12:38:38

Sorry that should have been five weeks before we were married - not five months!! We hadn’t even had time to get used to being married…..

hazelnuts Wed 10-May-23 13:46:53

Doesn't get easier you get better at coping .
Let people see you cry they may have been or are in the same situation
Grieving is all very personal we are all different.
I keep it in a box but the lid flies open many times .
These are the words that help me
When you have lost someone you love ..........
Do not make the mistake of living in sadness or living small to honour their absence,
You owe it to them to live more vividly than before

1st verse of "When you have lost someone you love" by Donna Ashworth Do hope this helps and sending lots of hugs

GrannySomerset Mon 15-May-23 19:25:55

I am finding the second year harder, partly because I probably appear to be coping well, but I am not. I have yet to cry which probably doesn’t help - I can cry with frustration but not the sorrow which lies beneath the surface all the time. Coming across a cache of letters from him, written fifty years ago when he was away for a term, was painful, the sight of his handwriting almost too much to bear. Like so many of us, I am still married though to someone no longer here. After sixty years that won’t change.