Author Topic: Grieving the loss of myself / PTSD / New Life  (Read 1416 times)


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Grieving the loss of myself / PTSD / New Life
« on: August 16, 2016, 11:58:37 AM »
I am 28. Married at 21. Widow at 27.
I had sort of a breakthrough the other night. I don't know if anyone else is like this but I will feel "off" for a period of time (in this case about 6weeks) and the strength of that feeling grows until I take a (relatively) giant emotional dump.

I am 13.5 months out... The dominant issue surrounding this whole loss and trauma(i was a witness to his gruesome death) has been numbness(flashbacks, intrusive memories and trigger avoidance are others).....and just some overall inarticulable change. I feel stuck in some weird purgatory where the world is without color, but somehow I can see more detail in the greys and it's not good detail. I don't feel positive things(even if I am laughing sooooo hard it's just not the same feeling, it's empty), and I don't get pleasure out of things I used to. I don't feel depressed or hopeless. But I wish I could see the world the way I used to.... I wish I could be a beacon of stable radiant joy like I used to. 

When I was 20 I knew my purpose in life was to serve and support struggling returned veterans of combat in one way or another. I got to live out that purpose in my marriage. I made a difference in this man's life and that is my greatest pride. The war at home was unfathomable and I never expected it to be the way it was. Most women either don't survive or they quit. But we were fortunate, hard work and perseverance prevailed. I got my sense of meaning and purpose from both the fight, being a vital part of his life, and in the last two years from the victory of addressing one very very prominent symptom of his which have him(and I) great relief and peace and happiness. I am so proud of how I spent my 20s. I underwent a profound growth and transformation in those six years, going from victim to victorious. But that meaning and that purpose..... I no longer have those granted to me daily. The war is over for me(and for him, now finally), and the world outside of it is vapid.

I am not sure even what kind of grieving I have done.... The tears have been infrequent...but gosh it has felt sooooo good when they do come. I feel odd that I can't even get into an emotional state of missing him, but maybe part of that is because he wanted to die so badly for 13years since he returned from iraq, and he suffered so much that this death was such a relief for him. Nevertheless I feel I should still be able to miss him and feel all of that normal pining and stuff....

My epiphany Saturday night was that in all of this, some part of me has gone....and I have not mourned that loss of myself in the past year....just had that nagging feeling of "what in the world is wrong with me? When will I feel nnormal again?" But I won't feel normal again...and that's okay. And what's wrong with me is that some part of me died, and I've been dragging around my own corpse trying to wake it up, trying to feed and clothe it.  I just have to accept the death of who I was and ride this next wave of transformation. And I have to cry and grieve this loss before I can truly move forward into the next chapter and figure out who I am now and who I will be. I have to accept and be okay with the changes I have underwent, and the way the world looks so different now. I will never be who I was, and I will learn to deal with that. It already helps to know that I can just expect things to be different and I can stop expecting my dead parts to be alive again.

The leaves on a tree die every year, and each year new leaves grow.... They're not the same leaves, but different.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2016, 12:03:31 PM by SemperFidelis »


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Re: Grieving the loss of myself / PTSD / New Life
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2016, 06:43:39 PM »

During my first year of widowhood, I too came to realize that along with losing my spouse I had lost much of myself as well. And if I was to go on, I would have to face many overwhelming challenges in the process of finding a new me and a new life. I tried to articulate these sad realizations in a post I called "Unique and Devastating Loss", which has since been reposted here:,8.0.html

I wish you well on your own personal journey of healing, self-discovery and rebuilding.

--- WifeLess


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Re: Grieving the loss of myself / PTSD / New Life
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2016, 09:51:48 AM »
Your post hits home, SemperFidelis. I had a life. I had a purpose. I had a partner. Then he died, and I lost all three. All meaning vanished. I vanished-- Jim's Jen died the same day he did. Now I think I've grieved for him-- I've accepted his death and feel peace about it-- but I'm still grieving for my lost life, my lost self. I don't know who this new me is-- I've learned a lot of things, found some surprising things out about myself, but I'm still incomplete. A work in progress, but the progress is so tediously slow. Honestly, I hate it. Has to be done, but I don't have to like it. >:(

(((((HUGS))))) I wish I had something more upbeat and encouraging to say. I just wanted you to know you're not alone feeling this way.
I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other. ~Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

"Dying is easy. Living is hard. ~George Washington, Hamilton


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Re: Grieving the loss of myself / PTSD / New Life
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2016, 09:17:05 PM »
I truly believe we have multiple things to grieve- the death of our partner the person, the loss of that very special couple relationship, the loss of the future we were planning on having, and then the ending of the person we were as part of that partnership. It's complicated and I don't think society thinks of it like this, but they are all separate losses and need to be processed.


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Re: Grieving the loss of myself / PTSD / New Life
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2016, 07:54:51 AM »
Perfect, terrible insight. So, so true, SemperFidelis. Everything was muted. There were nuances of pain and greys. No colour. No music. No texture without him. It comes back. Eventually. But I too had to let the old me go and find out who I was. Like a terrible, brutal rebirth. Learning how to do life again. I am so sorry for your loss.
"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight." Kahlil Gibran