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A Sudden Shift


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It seems that since I looked at the calendar on Monday and saw "16 weeks," that a shift has occurred. My energy level has dropped significantly. My emotions are close to the service. Is this just the effects of coming down from months of uncontrollable frantic energy?

I'm thinking perhaps it has less to do with the amount of time since I lost Bill to the time of year it is and what we were doing last year. Early last November, we had finished one round of chemo. We were scared but optimistic. We had received good news, then bad news, and misinformation from our original doctor. We had little bottles of Purell everywhere you looked (and it worked). I see them in the store now and I get a twinge in my stomach. I see Ensure and feel the same way. I still have bottles of expensive supplements that proved to be useless. Last year we were a team like we'd never been before. This was to be just another challenge, albeit a monumental one, that we would overcome -- and both live to tell about it.

Thanksgiving weekend we shopped in earnest for Christmas decorations. (Bill absolutely loved Christmas -- he listened to Christmas music year round; we played it at his service.) We set up a tree early and took it down late. We watched old Christmas movies. We enjoyed every minute of Christmas, despite the black cloud that hovered overhead. On December 26th we heard "it's almost gone!" I remember how excited Bill was. I remember how tentative I was. I remember he did a post here that just said, "Oh bollocks -- Merry Christmas!"

And we had planned this Christmas in England. My step-daughter Gemma and her mum Linda had the menu all planned out last year. It would be our first real Christmas in England. No one doubted that we'd be there. But we won't be.

Sorry for the downer...Is this just yet another "it's real" moment sinking in? And why is grief making me so self-centered?

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Dear Teri,

In the past, we have talked on here about the fact that grieving is selfish. I'd be willing to bet that you are the type that always puts yourself second, third, fourth or last. This is different. This is YOUR loss and there's no way to not be selfish about it. It hurts and it hurts YOU. YOU want him back, YOU miss him, YOU are the one that's alone.

I recall that I went into my real meltdown and depression time about 6 months after Don died. It smashed down on me like a building fell on me. If it hadn't been for the holidays, I probably would have sunk into that hole earlier, but there was just so much to do, and I didn't have time to think about it, or perhaps just wouldn't let myself think about it. No matter how hard we try, eventually we really have to think about it, and I truly believe that we just have to go through that meltdown phase.

I have always believed every word that God has spoken, but the words that the two become one flesh became a reality. I truly had no idea how strong that bond was until the other half of me was suddenly gone. It's not even like you were ripped in two - it's like you were ripped completely apart.

Hang in there, hon, it really does get better with time, at least more tolerable. There's just no way to avoid going through these phases. Our children have to go through the painful teenage years, embarrasing times, and everything in there lives seems like the end of the world, but go through it, they must! It's the same with us. Just like Pat said, nothing we've gone through or that we have learned will really help you get through these hard times. Nothing except our love and support.



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Dearest Teri,

Are you being selfish? I find that term so unusual to describe overwhelming grief. Is it selfish to miss the man that was and owned (and still owns) a part of your heart? No, thats not selfish, that is pure unadulterated LOVE. That is what happens to us when we have the priviledge of having someone so wonderful in our lives that moving onward without them makes us feel as if we are not truly living anymore, just merely going through the motions. Not having Bill by your side has left you a bit lost and unsure of where to go from here (that is how I am perceiving your feelings). You two shared a life, a world that you two created for yourselves and now you must move on in that world without a key element in your plan - it has to be overwhelming, it is NOT the way you planned it, nor is it the way it should be. But it is and its not fair - and what you are feeling is so very "normal".

The upcoming holiday season will be so difficult for you - I think of your struggle every day, I pray that this season passes gently. Cherish the memories Terri - that is why you and Bill created them.

Love, Sharon

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I have chided myself for making everything about ME.

Then I decided that for awhile I would let that be okay.

Centering into yourself is part of trying to find our who you are now.

Because you are different.

Everything that was isn't/

Dreams have to change




Your interactions in former and new groups

all different and feeling wrongly.

It is imperative we become self centered to figure out how to get up each day.

I care and I understand

You FEEL self centered because the process centers around you and the impact Bill's death had on YOU.

In fact you are loving, giving and generous~or you would be absent from here and avoiding the process.

You are a capable, loving, good woman.



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Part of it is the time of year. This time of year for me is worse even now 5 years later because the end was getting near and I didn't know it.

Not long after Johnny died I had an argument with his daughter in law. Normally we got along well but there were a lot of issues with his sons. She told me that I was making his death all about me.

I was already shattered and angry so I blew up. We both apologized a few minutes later but looking back I know how right I was.

I told her that it was about me. About me and Johnny because I was the one there for him when no one else was. I was the one who dealt with the fear, his and mine, I did the cleaning and the cooking and made the appointments and drove him there. I was the one who loved him unconditionally and made sure he knew it every day. I sat alone with him in the hospital and then the nursing home day after day. I held his hand alone and watched him die while slowly dying inside myself. I was the one left alone with no more of those responsibilites and nowhere to focus that love that was tearing my insides apart.

It is about you. Never doubt that you have the right to feel that. Everyone else has their grief but the grief you feel is much more personal and if you are like me it is not only your loss that you grieve for but Bill's as well. The loss of a life that you were supposed to continue together.

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Teri, I just wanted to say that I know exactly how you are feeling and like Katie, I want to send you a big hug. I lost Dennis on December 15...almost five years ago. Like Bill, Dennis loved the holidays and I believe he was hanging on to try and be with his family for Christmas. I know how hard this time of year still is for me, after almost five years now. I know your pain must be unbearable as you approach your first Christmas without your dear Bill. I'm holding you tight in my prayers and my heart. Please let me know if you would ever like to talk.

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Thanks so much everyone -- hugs back. I decided to put the new pic up just for the season. Reminds me of the blessings we did have (I've also just framed it). Bill had said to me on more than one occassion that he truly didn't think he'd see Christmas, as he felt so terrible at the time of his diagnosis.

With love,

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There are so many wise women on this site. I think one of the things that helped me get through the firsts and then the seconds, and now the thirds and fourths is the knowledge of how many others have done this. While they are not in the room with me, they are in my spirit and somehow they make this journey a little more tolerable.

The old saying 'Better to have loved (and to have been loved) and lost than not to be.........' is so true. While I would give anything for it to be different, I am truly grateful for the love and life that Earl and I shared.

It is very obvious that you and Bill had an amazing love, a love that will always continue. You express your grief well which I think is important to learning to accept it.

While Bill was sick, it was his time. Now it is your time to recover - your time to figure out how to do it. Do not feel selfish or guilty.

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There is one more thing I wanted to add about your comment that your emotions are always on the surface.

I had and still have to this day that very same "problem". I put problem in quotes because I I'm not sure that's the right word. It seems that since Don died my emotions are always "on the surface", like the tears are just laying there at my eyes and they spill out over any bad news and even good news. Even though I have always been an emotional person, it is now much more profound.

I think it's a little better today than a year ago, but it still takes very little for tears to appear, and I'm not talking about my grieving for Don - it's anything sad or happy. If I hear that someone lost a loved one, if someone is glowing because they have a new grandbaby, if I make a mistake on my job, I really have to fight back the tears.

I am curious to know if any of the others are like that, too.



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Yes Peggy. I really can not do anything without the tears being there. They just seem to lie in wait for the first chance to start. I really don't think it is a bad thing. I think being more emotional is not only a sign of the love we had and the person we lost but a sign of the love that remains with us. I feel like being more emotional in many ways has made me a better person. Does that make sense to you?

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It IS about you. That does not make it selfish. As a caregiver wasn't it always about Bill? I don't mean that in a negative way, but that is where the focus and the energy needed to be directed. That has shifted and now the focus and energy need to be directed to you and how you get through this. You are still the caregiver my dear, but now you need to be taking care of YOU. Don't feel guilty or that it is wrong. You do what feels right to you and don't be afraid to lean on family and friends to help you get through.

I know the holidays will be rough. You are in my prayers.


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