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Support systems are a must


teriw

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Today I had lunch with a woman from my church who lost her husband last year to ALS. He was ill for 16 months, with 9 months unable to speak. They had a long marriage in which they shared their lives. She obviously loved him dearly -- her emotions still raw. Hearing her describe him was similar to hearing me describe Bill -- I imagine they might have been good friends had they met (and maybe have met now). Up until now we've only had brief email "talking."

I can't tell you how refreshing it was to spend time with someone who truly "knows" the loss of a soul mate. I was thinking a lot about Tanner's post and all of our reactions, and the reactions we all face from others -- mostly well-meaning. It's just so important to seek people out who can relate to you. I think that helps us relate better and stay close to those important people in our lives who can't. Because it's actually not their fault. How can you relate to something you haven't experienced? And I think sometimes the annoying attempts to relate are actually sincere attempts to connect. And I think it's important to have people who have suffered the same loss. Because the loss of a spouse is different than the loss of a parent; the loss of a parent is different than the loss of a child; the loss of a child is different than the loss of a sibling, etc.

I don't know why I'm posting this except to encourage those who don't already know someone to find someone, even if they only meet once a month and have to drive a bit to do so. It's worth it.

Hugs to all who are missing someone,

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I think what you said is very important. I believe it is very important to have someone who truly understands. Also I think it is so great that you shared your stories with each other! I am so glad you found some comfort in being with her.

In any situation, I think people do try to be sincere and well intentioned, but like you explained, they just don't get it, because they haven't been there.

You are in my family's prayers and I thank you so much for sharing your story and your thoughts. In doing this you are helping many!

Prayer to you,

Dana

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It's all so true. I think it took many months for me to realize that people weren't intentionally being insensitive or rude....they just hadn't walked in my shoes, they hadn't experienced loss and they just didn't know how to relate.

Once I "got" it, I stopped being annoyed and angry with them.

And you're right...when I connect with someone who HAS been in my shoes...the feelings are so intense and real...and being able to share really does help!

I hope you and your new friend have many more lunches and that she becomes a great support and friend to you.

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It's amazing how much easier it is to "connect" with someone that's grieving after you've been through it personally. I used to feel so out of place when I was trying to comfort someone that had lost someone. I never seemed to know what to say, as everything always sounded so fake and repetitive. Now, I know that simply saying "I'm sorry" can mean so much and people understand that you know how they feel. Having someone to share your feelings with, that truly understand where you're coming from, is the best therapy in the world. So happy you made the connection!!!

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Terri,

I am so happy you have found someone to understand the pain you are experiencing. As I read your post, I was thinking about Flowergirlie. Have you talked with her lately? Just a thought, but when I would read the posts from the both of you, to each other, it seemed y'all had a connection. I know her loss was comparable to yours. I hope I am not being insensitive...just a thought.

Love

Bobby

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Teri,

The loss of anyone we love is horrific. I have lost both parents and both sisters, my only siblings, and 4 nephews. But those losses pale in comparison to losing my husband. And I too have found, that only other happily married widows can truly relate.

Your spouse has shared the most intimate moments of your life in all aspects. Your spouse has shared your life in a very unique way, different than all your other relationships. Losing all of this leaves a tremendous emptiness, a huge void in our lives.

Time does help. The edge will be gone. It will happen to you, I promise. But do it at your own pace, doing whatever you need to do. Be your own caregiver for awhile.

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Ginny -- your words gave me chills. I'm so lucky -- I have both my parents, both my brothers, step-kids I love so much, a niece who is like my own daughter, great in-laws, friends, etc. I don't know that loss of a parent or sibling, and I hope I don't for a long time. I was expressing just what you were to my mom last night and she had the sensitivity to say, "I realize that I have no idea what you're feeling, but I'm glad you have someone who does." That was nice. Because I believed I'd have Bill here to help me when I lost my parents. You know?

Bobby -- Melinda (Flowergirlie) and I talk via email all the time and are planning to meet up when she comes to California. We definitely have a lot in common in how we handle things. This forum is awesome, but you do need "face time" and someone to hug! :)

Much love,

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Teri I am so glad that you have found someone that you can share your pain with face to face. Your relationship with Bill seems so much like the one I share with my husband - a relationship that I understand I will lose much sooner than I could have expected. Even now, while he is still here with me, I have begun to grieve. I understand your need to be able to share that pain with someone that truly 'gets it'.

You are in my thoughts and prayers every day.

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Even if you cannot find a buddy who is grieving the same kind of loss as you, at least find someone who has experienced deep personal loss. While it may not fulfill all of your needs in the grief process, it does help.

And it's so true; experience makes us much more empathetic and capable of giving what is needed. The awkwardness I have previously felt when others have shared a diagnosis of serious illness or at a funeral wake is mostly now gone. I can look them in the eye and know that they realize how much I mean it when I say that I can sympathize. I know how to extend concrete offers of help; previously, I never went beyond the standard "...if you need anything..."

I wish you well, Teri. You have basically lost half of yourself, and it's going to take some time and hard work to recover, and to go on.

Hugs,

Karen

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I'm glad that you met with your friend for lunch.

I'm guilty of being one of the people that has no idea what to "say" in certain situations. Saying "I'm sorry" seems so "little", but it's truly what I feel...A heart wrenching sorrow that aches to the core. I've never been able to stand seeing anything or anyone suffer. It hurts my heart.

I can't even begin to imagine the pain you've gone thru.

If I'm ever in your situation, I hope I handle myself with the same dignity and grace that you have shown .

Take care of yourself,

Nova

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They are.

I'm lucky enough to have met a girl at the hospital who was also with her mom who was getting treated for lung cancer.

We still keep in touch. She says I'm basically the only person who still acknowleges her heartache over losing her mom.

I however still have all of you too...and this support system has been invaluable.

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Teri,

Having lost my mom and stepdad over 15 yrs. ago (mom to SCLC and stepdad to heart attack): husband suddenly in his sleep 7 yrs. ago (coroner said it was heart disease - we were not aware of); 28 yo son 2 yrs ago after 2yrs of hell with Osteosarcoma - I agree that all losses are different. I think that the loss of my child was the hardest for me, but by the time he passed, I had already grieved during the two years I watched him suffer with his disease. My dear departed husband was the love of my life and I know that I can never replace him. I miss him terribly still.

I unfortunately (or should I say fortunately) don't know anyone who has lost their parents, husband, and child, AND has had to assume custody of and raise their young grandchildren because their son has died and the grandchildren's mother is a junkie. And also has the added challenge of dealing with a stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis themselves - and just to make it that much more interesting has had their oldest sibling diagnosed with extensive stage SCLS within a week of their own incurable dx.

Now I know this sounds like I'm bitter, but I'm really not. I am incredulous. I'm not sure why all this happened to me and my family - and in such a short span of time. But I do believe that everything happens for a reason. In due time I will learn what that reason is. I am just happy to wake up every morning and be able to be with the rest of my family and feel well enough to care for and enjoy my kids and grandkids.

I believe that the kids are what keeps the fight in me and gives me reason to go on. I hope that by meeting with other widows who understand your loss that you are able to get through your grief and envelop yourself in all the wonderful memories of the happy times that you and Bill have shared together. I know for me the many videotapes that I have of my hubby are invaluable to me. I hope you can find peace and comfort in the weeks and months to come.

God Bless,

Sharon

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Sharon -- you're amazing. I honestly don't know how you manage the strength, other than by your faith. Truly, you're an inspiration. Why some people suffer SO many losses (and the illness yourself), I don't know and I truly can't begin to comprehend. What I do know is that there aren't many people who would handle them with such strength and grace.

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