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Thread: What to do with grief?

  1. #1
    SShock2.com
    Member

    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: The land of ever sideways rain

    What to do with grief?

    It's almost a year now since my wife passed away. No other single person ever had as big an impact on my life. I moved to Scotland for her. I gave up everything.

    Cancer.

    It was a very slow, painful death. I was there, holding her hand as she stopped breathing. But what do I do now? What am I supposed to do with the rest of my life? I came here for HER, and now she's gone. I am lost. I do not know how to deal with grief. She was the closest person I've ever had in my life. I don't know what to do now.

    I'm sure I'm not the first person to be in this position. How do you deal with grief? Almost every day, I break down in tears. I miss her. I know she's gone, but I still can't quite believe it. My head is full of things to tell her, except she's never coming back.

    I'm not a believer, there is no afterlife or spirits or ghosts. How do I deal with this pain and longing?

  2. #2
    Have you talked face to face with other close relatives about this, let yourself cry your heart out and shared the pain?

    If not, you may want to try if you can do so with someone you expect to be empathic.

    And if you have, was that just around time of the funeral or have you done so more than a month afterwards?

    Otherwise my only advice would be to consult a psychologist for either evaluation or therapy.

  3. #3
    SShock2.com
    Member

    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: The land of ever sideways rain
    I discuss it to some extent every week or so with her grown children, mainly my step-daughter who lives nearby, and sometimes less often with my stepson as well who lives elsewhere. I aim to do therapy, but I can't do that yet, I need some time for me to digest it first, so that I don't burst out into tears three words in. I want to be able to finish a sentence without losing my voice halfway. But yes, I do intend to get therapy, they offer that at the hospice where she died.

    [Edit]

    But that wasn't really my question. I know what my options are. I fully intend to do the therapy thingy at some point. My question was more general, like, on a day-to-day basis, how do you deal with the loss? This one very important person in your life who is no longer there, how do you deal with that? I think of her every day. I dream of her at night. I still keep stuff for her, stupidly knowing I can never get her back. I don't know how to process the loss. Logically, I know she's gone and will never return. Emotionally, it's like I'm just waiting for her to come back. It makes no sense. I watched her die. I have her ashes in a box. I know she's gone, I just can't believe it.
    Last edited by Gray; 28th Feb 2019 at 20:26.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    I just try to keep myself busy in various ways, get in some semblance of a routine. I don't know that it helps to deal with grief, exactly, but for me at least it takes the edge off.

  5. #5
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    The classic answer is you should channel that energy into art and pour your attention into that.

    It's a way to capture your attention on something "productive", so you're not simply overwhelmed -- I mean in the sense that you can lose yourself (in a healthy way) to the simple mechanics of the technique -- that's still actually processing complex feelings, since you're expressing them through the art. And at the end of it you have something tangible for going through that, so you don't feel like you're just losing that time. It could be any art ... painting, music, sculpture, comics, writing, making some kind of widget, etc. But I think it should be something with a tradition, something that allows you to be expressive so the emotions can still get out, and something that requires lots of practice and technique, since it's losing yourself in the practice that's the healthy part of it. That's my best advice. There's also the obvious stuff they always mention, regular exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep, etc.

  6. #6
    SShock2.com
    Member

    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: The land of ever sideways rain
    I see what you're getting at. My art is music, I'm a very mediocre musician. I've been doing pretty awful music for about 30 years now, and I'm not getting any better. Sure, I can vent some through my (*ahem*) "art", but I'm not good enough to make it express how I feel. I'm pretty good at programming six drum machines overlapping each other, but I'm crap at playing anything that is not in G minor. I've tried to write lyrics, but I just don't have the talent, they come out pathetically bad. At best I can manage four lines before it goes awful, in any language I know.

    One problem is that I am still in Scotland. I moved here for HER, so everything here reminds me of her. On the other hand, I can not afford to move back to my home country. Brexit isn't helping.

    She was the love of my life. The only person who ever GOT me. She understood my stupid head. She was very clever that way.

    [Edit]

    I'm already focusing on exercise and keeping myself active and busy, cutting down on fatty foods and alcohol. Lost about 6 kg so far. One drunken lonely night I even installed some dating app on my phone, but uninstalled it the next day, not ready for that yet. I'm trying my best to move on, but it's not easy, hence this thread.
    Last edited by Gray; 28th Feb 2019 at 22:07.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2002
    Location: In the flesh.
    I wish I could help. If mere words could do it then I would. But I honestly think nothing can for good and all. Being around people puts it off. Being interested in them and their lives, being concerned for them, keeps it at bay for a time. Hobbies and activities help do that as well. Charity work is good. Anything that keeps your attention diverted. The worst is being alone at night as I'm sure you know. Find a pub you like and frequent that. You don't have to drink a lot and start fights but if you do then the bastards will just have to understand won't they? Find YOUR people. You will know them when you do. Play darts, sing songs, tell jokes, make friends. Friends are the best. They listen and don't know what to say but they are there. They say some funny and insightful shit just after you have broken sometimes but mostly they just let you know we are all in this. We commiserate and wish we could help but know we can't. Most empathetic sorts can taste your misery but they can spit it out after and know it. They feel guilty about that and guilty there is nothing they can really do but distract you. As such, seek out the best distractor, the story teller, the jokester, the one willing to yell aloud at the sky with you.

    I'm rambling. I'm also not sure that anything I'm saying is coming out the way I mean. You are not going to forget her. No point telling you otherwise. Don't worry that a few moments respite is some sort of betrayal though. You need it and she would want it for you and you know it. I've not lost my wife so I can't say I know how you feel but I have lost some very close and it doesn't go away. Sometimes I could slip off into a crying jag at the drop of a hat but I don't when I'm with folks so I guess just be with folks as much as possible. The pain doesn't go away but the worst of it gets farther apart. I wish I could be there to go out drinking with you as I'm sure I could think up some momentary mischief to distract or get us thrown in jail or both. If you can't find some nut like me then PM me sometimes when it gets bad. I'll give you my number if you need a voice. I don't mind. You care enough to hurt very badly for someone and that makes you good people to me. Don't ever mistake that you are imposing on me.

    Edit: Woops didn't see you are cutting down on alcohol. I'm next to worthless in helping with that. Not a good influence nor any inclination to be one.
    Last edited by Tocky; 28th Feb 2019 at 22:39.

  8. #8
    SShock2.com
    Member

    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: The land of ever sideways rain
    I've tried the pubs, but all I met were racists and homophobes, and (ick!) football fans. I'm not likeable enough to make friends easily, I guess my shaved head is just a magnet for the local racists, wrongly assuming we have something in common besides a cheap haircut. So far in Scotland, I have maybe one friend, but he's in a relationship so he's busy quite a lot of the time. If I would ask, he'd be here in a heartbeat, but I can't pester the poor guy every time I'm feeling down. So far, I know zero people here that didn't know my wife first, and many of them only tolerate me because they loved her, she was a much nicer person than I am. I'm not that worried though about making friends, I'm a pretty solitary person, I'm used to always doing everything alone, but it would be quite nice to have at least one single male friend to go to pubs with.

    [Edit]

    I'm trying to focus on helping my stepkids. They're both fully grown adults, but they relied quite heavily on their mother. I can't take her place, but I'm trying to help with what little I can.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2002
    Location: In the flesh.
    Well that shoots down my romantic fantasy of Scotland. Mostly I've met good sorts the few times I've traveled. I did run into some skin heads at Trafalgar square new years of all things. There is a story there but not one for here just now. Maybe you could go on some trips about the country to crumbling castles and hassle tourists with a heavy brogue making up stories about what happened at this place and that. "And over here is where the second Earl of Winchester was tied to a goat and sent packing all the way back to England for unusual animal husbandry... aaaaahhh but it was how he was tied wannit?"

    I'm listening to your Information Society in another window. It's good.

  10. #10
    SShock2.com
    Member

    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: The land of ever sideways rain
    There are plenty of nice people in Scotland, and even in the pubs, it's just me who attracts the nutters.

    And yes, InSoc are pretty great, listening to them right now, the album Don't Be Afraid is their best and most industrial.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2002
    Location: In the flesh.
    I understand. When I'm out by myself I feel as if I only attract crazy people. That is a mixed bag. A mixed nuts bag you might say. Some are quite interesting and others you can't tell what they are going to do from moment to moment. I was sitting with a guy at a bar called The Gin before it burned (not that night) and we had been talking about poetry of all things and he just up and asks what I would say if he told me he had just gotten out of a mental institution. I told him that I would say it seems to have worked as he seems quite normal now. He said that's just it, I seem that way, and as long as I take my meds I will. I know that the voices are not real then but I still hear them. They don't shut up even when I'm perfectly sane. So we talked about his voices awhile. I liked him. He was interesting.

    Hmmm. Maybe try libraries. If you met a woman there at least you would know she reads. Smart is just so damn sexy. Not that you have to meet anyone. But that just happens when you aren't expecting it and if it did a library would be a good place for it to happen.

  12. #12
    SShock2.com
    Member

    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: The land of ever sideways rain
    Austerity following the 2008 financial crash is closing all the libraries. Yay for tories. But even if they were still open, there are two problems with your plan: 1) the librarian would be twice your age and twice your weight, and 2) I am not ready. Yes, I'm lonely as hell, but that's because I miss my wife. She can not be replaced. She was the smartest person I ever met, and for some inexplicable reason she loved me. Our marriage was very happy, and, quite successful in the sense that it really was death that did us part. I know that sounds morbid, but that was a joke we both loved while she was alive, "a successful marriage means one of you gets to watch the other one die". So we won.

    [Edit]

    Ed Byrne was the comedian who made that joke. We both laughed heartily to that before we got married. When she became ill it became a recurring joke. In a bitter twist, about a month before she died, she took my hand and said "this will be a successful marriage". I knew exactly what she meant.
    Last edited by Gray; 1st Mar 2019 at 00:50.

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2002
    Location: In the flesh.
    You don't have to find a woman. If my wife died I wouldn't want another buuuuuuuut things happen. If you meet someone lovable you wind up loving them. It just happens. Maybe less so when one becomes old and ugly. I'm not sure. Maybe there is some sort of making it happen thing then. And no, I'm certain nobody you love can be replaced, much less your wife. Everybody is just so unique and those we love the most unique.

    It's a horrible sort of comfort but take it where you find it. You wouldn't want her to have to go through what you are going through now. You got to be the strong one. You got to be the one to bear this burden of memory. You got to be there for her all the way. To have a hand to hold as you leave this life is a remarkable thing and you got to give that to her.

  14. #14
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Perhaps someone's already mentioned something along those lines (I haven't seen anything, but I'm not entirely awake yet, so I may have missed someone saying the exact same thing), but do you have the option of checking out a self-help group? They get a bad wrap in films and the like, but I went to one for a while (for a different issue - if the details matter to you, I'm happy to share them in a PM), and it was very different from the stereotype you usually see. It also helped. Obviously it depends on the actual people, but it may be worth checking out.

  15. #15
    New Member
    Registered: Nov 2015
    I am so sorry to hear of your grief, Gray. It sounds like your wife was a wonderful person and that you were blessed to have been in each other's lives. You are at the other side of a bridge that I have yet to cross (and I, too, will undoubtedly suffer as you have when or if the time eventually comes). I won't insult you by pretending to know your pain; I can only wish, as one stranger to another, that you find a measure of happiness from the beautiful things in life that still surround you. I live further south than you in the West of England but have had the good fortune to visit Scotland on two occasions. It is a beautiful place - I think your wife was incredibly wise for choosing to want to live there. Perhaps in doing so, she has gifted you with countless future experiences that you otherwise would not have had? If anything, that must be something to treasure and think fondly on from time to time?

    I, like you, am not 'a believer', however I came across the teachings of a Buddhist monk called Ajahn Brahm a few years ago when I was seeking self-help in the midst of depression. These have helped me immensely in understanding my thoughts and emotions and making some sense of the human experience, both the good and the terrible. In this talk, for example, he talks about death and coping with losing those we love:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEb2U1RLDJY

    Please don't be dissuaded by the religious element - the vast majority of his teaching is arguably religion-agnostic. Of course, this may not be of any help to you at all - I can only say that the messages resonate with me personally in a way that brings me comfort.

    I wish you peace and happiness in your road ahead, Gray

  16. #16
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2005
    Location: Not Kansas
    Oh Gray! My heart breaks for you. I lost my husband in 2006 to a sudden, untimely death and here I am almost 13 years later and I still have bouts of tears of grief. What to do with grief? Accept it, let it work its worst, then try to (slowly) focus on your life again, try to find that new level of 'normal' (for you). You have to kind of force yourself to work around it & through it at first, and eventually the immediate, awful, white-hot-knives-sharp pain will start to subside into something more manageable. Eventually the bouts of tears will become fewer and farther between. It's a long, slow process before you realize that your grief will always be a part of you but that you've learned to keep it in the background so that you can function like a relatively normal human being. The awful truth is that nothing will be the same for you because with your loved one's death you've changed forever. The woman you love brought out certain aspects of your character, your personality, and your nature and no one will ever be able to bring out those exact same aspects in you ever again because she was not like everyone else and no two people are the same. Don't know if that made any sense, but it's a sad truth that has to be acknowledged and accepted. You're a different person now; you'll never 'get over' your beloved wife's death, but you will survive it and learn to work around it and live with it. Eventually it will be softer, less agonizingly painful, but it will always be there in the background of your mind and heart because it will never truly go away.

    How do you deal with grief on a day-to-day basis? Take one hour at a time, at first; I had to force myself to focus away from that pain in order to get things done. You'll find that with time, your friends and relatives might be less inclined to talk about your wife's death even though you still have this burning drive to talk about her. You want everyone to remember her and that's normal, but no one is going to feel the same level of grief that you feel. And do NOT listen to anyone who tells you, 'Man, it's been a year (or two or three) since she died; it's time for you to move on!'. It's YOUR grief and you're allowed to grieve in your own way and in your own good time. I think for me it's been a learning process; learning how to force myself (at first) to focus on day-to-day responsibilities, chores, duties, and obligations. After awhile, it becomes second nature and you realize that even though you feel like there's still this black cloud lingering in your brain (that's the grief), you've taught yourself to work around it and through it. Oh, you're still going to cry at night when you're all alone; as I said, it's been almost 13 yrs. since Bart died and I still have crying jags now and then. And it still hurts dreadfully if I think about the actual loss of him, but I've taught myself how to let that grief have it's moment, give in to the tears, then to steer my mind away from that pain and put it out of my consciousness so that I can do things like work, eat, sleep, and interact with others like a reasonably normal human being.

    So I guess my answer to your question is try to force yourself to work around and through your immediate grief by focusing away from it when you have to. That's not the same as denying it's still there, it's just teaching yourself to focus away from the pain that makes you burst into tears and it's not easy at first. If you're with others and feel a bout of tears coming on, you can excuse yourself for awhile and go to another room or outdoors, wherever you can find a little solitude and privacy so that you can allow those tears to come. Then, after the tears have passed, focus on what you were doing, or what you need to do and force that pain into the background ... just for now so you can function. And don't feel as though you need to make excuses for your grief and tears, either. It just is, is all. When those whom you were with ask if you're alright, tell them the truth and say 'I will be'. Because you will.

    It took three years before I came out of what I can only describe as a grief-induced fog and finally started feeling almost like a 'normal' human being. The second year after your loved one's death is the worst because that's when it really hits home and becomes a horrible, concrete reality that she's never, ever coming home again. The holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries are the worst during that second year, but in between you'll find that you're starting to move forward and learning how to focus away from that pain when you need to. You'll also need to keep reminding yourself that as time passes, others won't feel comfortable with your still-very-real grief; they've moved on because they don't feel their grief the same way you do, and that's okay. Don't feel guilty about the tears, just accept them, let them flow, then re-focus. Time won't entirely heal that wound you have, but it will eventually take away the sharp edges; the trick is not allowing yourself to wallow and dwell, which is why you need to teach yourself to focus away from that pain and those tears.

    It's a long, slow process and I know at this point in your grief that's not what you want to hear, but it's a reality. So give yourself plenty of time and space, especially day to day, hour to hour, because you need to; don't fight the tears or that God-awful pain, but at the same time, teach yourself how to focus away from it. Like I said, it becomes second nature after awhile. I hope I've helped, at least just a little, Gray. You have my most sincere sympathy and condolences, but you also have my most sincere confidence that you'll be able to work through this horrible time. Just don't rush it and take it one day, one hour at a time. Wishing you all the best.

  17. #17
    I'm sorry to hear about this Gray.

    It may sound corny and I don't know if it will help you, but I came across this thread the other day, and it might be of some help in dealing with or expressing your pain:
    https://twitter.com/LaurenHerschel/s...87540732149760

    I hope the ball soon gets smaller for you. Best wishes.

  18. #18
    SShock2.com
    Member

    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: The land of ever sideways rain
    Thank you all for your kind words.

    I'm not a buddhist, but I already know some of their teachings and methods, and have been using chosen bits of them to calm my mind for over 15 years. I don't practice proper meditation, I just steal the bits of it that are useful to me. The same approach I have to yoga. Pick what you can use.

    Raph, curiously, my stepdaughter sent me that very same link only two days ago.

    Dia, thank you, you seem to understand what this is about. It's all of those things.

    One thing is, everything reminds me of her. I pimped all of my favourite music to her, so now when I hear it, I think of her. Same with movies, books, etc. Everything around me in this country reminds me of her. Many great memories of love and happiness, but quite painful now. I live in her old flat, in her country, eating her food, drinking her whisky. I'm quite literally living in her world and not mine, except she's not in it any more.

    I know, it will take me some time. One thing is that her family still can not agree what to do with her ashes, so I just have them in a box. This means that for all our important dates, I have nowhere to go to express my grief. There is no tombstone or memorial I can go to. It has not been conclusively decided because she was so much loved, and it just makes everyone too sad to think of how to deal with it, but for me, I'd really want a place to go to. Any place is better than no place. Some family member wanted to go through her clothes and save the ones that gave them good memories, but they are too sad to do so, so I now have 12 bin bags stuffed full of clothes that I can not get rid of, and it's slowing down my process of moving on, it's filling up half of a room in a very small flat. I picked out a handful of her clothes to save already 8 months ago, I've got the important ones. Problem is, nothing belongs to me now, it's all owned by her children who do not live here, and can not face going through her things, or agree on anything. It puts me in yet another weird limbo state. At some point I'm just gonna break, put my foot down and make a decision, but we're not there yet. I still feel it's not my place to decide, but if nobody else will, and I'm the one most tormented by the indecision, I'm gonna break first. She was universally loved because she was an amazing person.

  19. #19
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Sorry to hear of your loss. I've only been married for 1 and a half years (though we were together for about 8 years before that). If she passed away I'd be completely lost and not feel whole.

    In the past when I've been through dark times, the best thing has always been keeping busy (as mentioned earlier). Whether it's via actual paid work, or throwing myself into a hobby of some sort. Gaming works well, though it'd have to be one of those open world games that you need to invest significant amounts of time into. You said earlier about being into making music, so I'd recommend doing that. You might not think yourself very good at it, but who cares. We all start out crap at stuff, but it's only via regular practice that we get better. There's often clubs or groups that you can join etc. I think the main thing is finding something constructive to occupy your time, so you have less time just sitting on the couch contemplating the past. Do that and you'll be on a better path.

    Best of luck to you.

  20. #20
    SShock2.com
    Member

    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: The land of ever sideways rain
    Trust me, when I say I'm a terrible musician, I mean it. "Mediocre" would be flattery.

    I do spend most of my time playing video games, or rather one game. World of Warcraft. But that's how we met, we both started the game in 2008, I just did so two weeks before her, so when we bumped into each other, I could tell her about what little I had gathered about the game so far. We became friends. We fell in love. Our wedding rings are even inscribed with where we met in the game, "Lake Al'Ameth". Yeah, we're nerds. Warcraft is a massive waste of time, which is exactly why I play it. But I now play on both of our accounts, so I can level one of her alts to boost mine, and vice versa, like we used to do together.

  21. #21
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    As long as its still enjoyable to play and doesnt leave you thinking about the past then no worries.

    Otherwise I'd say to move to a different MMO or go the path I did and devote yourself to going through your backlog of unplayed and unfinished games. WoW does tend to leave you with a MASSIVE backlog over time.

    Or try and play through an entire franchise of a series which I've found fun to do. For that I find picking franchises you enjoyed as a kid to be fun, especially if you've not played the more recent entries or it has been a longtime since you last played them.

  22. #22
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    Quote Originally Posted by Gray View Post
    One problem is that I am still in Scotland. I moved here for HER, so everything here reminds me of her. On the other hand, I can not afford to move back to my home country. Brexit isn't helping.
    I haven't experienced the same kind of loss, so I don't feel I can give you advice on handling the day to day grief. But at some people you'll be ready to look forward again, and when you are I highly recommend leaving Scotland for a fresh start. Either go back to your home country, or go someplace sunny. Long, dark winters really affect our moods.

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Second that. Change of scenery sounds like the best, otherwise be constant reminders.

  24. #24
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2014
    Read a philosophical book.

    I recommend Schopenhauer then Nietzsche, or Nietzsche then Schopenhauer...Not sure if one of the two will give you a reverse effect.

  25. #25
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2002
    Location: In the flesh.
    Actually a book isn't such a bad idea. It takes you away from reality for awhile. I would recommend fiction, as immersive a story as you can find, in any genre. My sister became an avid reader since she lost her husband to Huntington's disease. The amusing part is she likes historical books about Scotland. Highlander stuff is her favorite.

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