Author Topic: All sense of purpose has vanished  (Read 5504 times)

Brenda

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All sense of purpose has vanished
« on: April 14, 2015, 06:20:11 PM »
I know it's still early days for me (three months, give or take), but I'm struggling with the total loss of any sense of purpose I had in life.  Everything my wife and I had planned for our future together is gone.  It's verging on a loss of the will to live, and that frightens me - but also comforts me because if anything did happen to me (or if I did anything to myself), I'd be with her, and that's exactly where I want to be right now.

Don't worry - not going to do anything to harm myself.  Just want to get it out there and see if anyone else struggled with the same thoughts.  And how did you overcome them?  Time heals this problem, or did you need to actively work on a plan to refocus your life.

Or at three months, should I even bother trying to figure things out?  I guess there's no rush...

mixelated

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Re: All sense of purpose has vanished
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2015, 07:12:29 PM »
I think that's totally normal, Brenda. The person you were with her, and the person you were going to be with her, and the shared identity you had together aren't there any longer. Four months out for me, and I struggled with the same thoughts for three and a half months, and yeah, the loss of the active will to live is frightening. Feeling depersonalized is frightening. I feel less constant despair now, but it's almost despite myself. It would have been easier in some awful way to give up, but it seems that I've somehow made the choice to continue. Not consciously, because I didn't want to go on without him. But because life is going on anyway, and it's dragging me along with it.

I've had a sort of a break for the last two weeks, feeling a bit more purposeful and like I have a sense of self, but the past two days I've swung back into that hollow sense of loss. I expect it will go up and down, back and forth.

If you're up for it, see if doing something physical helps. Exercise, decluttering, gardening, smashing plates...

hugs!

Dahlia

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Re: All sense of purpose has vanished
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2015, 07:16:38 PM »
I, too, often feel a sickening sense of pointlessness. (Interestingly, my friends who are getting divorced report much the same feeling.)

Because I took care of Scott for so long (nearly three years), I had a very real point to every moment of my day. Now, I sit in a largely empty house and some days the point is hard to find.

What I am doing when I feel that way is to try and remind myself of the little points in my life.  I have thousands, or at least hundreds, of small points and while they can't replace the big point ever, they can build me up just enough to keep moving forward (like my husband told me to).

I always want to get up and talk to the kids; see what messes the pets are going to make; enjoy nature; run the company my husband started and, one of these days when Netflix gets its act together, see the last season of Parks and Recreation.

The other thing that helped me with this feeling is just telling people in my life how I felt. I told people who wouldn't judge me or call a suicide hotline. They needed to just listen to me process those feelings. It really does help to have a dialogue with someone about this stuff, even if they have no way of understanding my life right now. 

Anyway, I hope you continue to work through all of this in whatever way you can. We are all walking up a steep and treacherous mountain: whatever you need to keep putting one foot in front of the other (so long as it is mostly legal) is fine with me.   

WifeLess

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Re: All sense of purpose has vanished
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2015, 07:17:23 PM »
Brenda,

At 3 months, of course you are feeling as you describe in your post. At this point you should not expect to feel anything other than heartache, hopelessness and despair. And the feeling of no longer having a purpose in life is also a common one. I personally felt that way myself for almost a year after my wife's death. Which is why at 3 months I posted:

Quote
So now that she is gone, my life is pretty much empty. I appear to function, but it is without direction, meaning or purpose. I frequently wonder: What is the point of going on? I haven't found an answer yet, and I don't expect to anytime soon. It took me so many years to establish my professional life, and even longer to find the woman who would bring joy and meaning to that life. So, how long will it take me to find purpose again? Will that ever happen?

At this point, I accept that I am not in a position to uncover the answers to those questions. I have only recently entered this strange new world, and I am still learning my way. I also know that I have not been thinking very clearly in the months since I lost my beloved. Months that have been filled with shock, grief and loneliness.

So for now, I will spend my time trying to heal. That is as much as I can handle. And those questions, as important as they are, will have to wait

I now see that those last two paragraphs actually proved to be among the best pieces of advice that I could have given myself back then. For more than a year, I blindly put one foot in front of the other and kept going, even though I didn't have a clue where I was headed or why. But fortunately, during my second year of widowhood my life changed greatly for the better as I gradually uncovered a new sense of purpose and meaning.

So please hold onto hope. You are still very early in your journey. You will not always feel as you do now.

--- WifeLess

Brenda

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Re: All sense of purpose has vanished
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2015, 07:26:02 AM »
Exercise, decluttering, gardening, smashing plates...

Decluttering has been my "go to" task for the past few weeks.  There's something very therapeutic about violently hurling bits of the past into the dump.  Exercise, tidying, and smashing things all rolled into one.

What I am doing when I feel that way is to try and remind myself of the little points in my life.  I have thousands, or at least hundreds, of small points and while they can't replace the big point ever, they can build me up just enough to keep moving forward (like my husband told me to).

That's a very interesting way of looking at things, Dahlia.  If I think about it, there are many minor points that do add up to a significant reason for getting out of bed in the morning.  None will ever replace my poor spouse, not even close, but I guess she's wasn't the be-all and end-all of my life.  (Sorry honey.  Feel bad even typing that.)

At this point, I accept that I am not in a position to uncover the answers to those questions. I have only recently entered this strange new world, and I am still learning my way. I also know that I have not been thinking very clearly in the months since I lost my beloved. Months that have been filled with shock, grief and loneliness.

So for now, I will spend my time trying to heal. That is as much as I can handle. And those questions, as important as they are, will have to wait

Those two paragraphs are perfect - thanks for sharing.  Healing first, then work on the other stuff.  You're right; they are very important questions, but there's no way I can even begin to answer them either until I'm sure I'm thinking straight.

As ever, thanks all!

Jess

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Re: All sense of purpose has vanished
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2015, 08:16:51 AM »
I know that feeling so well. I felt like much of my life was tied into looking after my husband's well being, even though he didn't have an illness. He had a very intense job that affecting his emotional state profoundly (child pornography investigation). I really used to feel like my life purpose was to make him happy so he could make a difference in the world. When he was suddenly gone, I lost my purpose and those are the sort of things that really make this type of loss so profound. When we lose a spouse, we lose our identity as a spouse and all of the plans, routine, and focus that role entailed. Of course a lot of us feel so lost, how could we really feel any other way?

Bit by bit, new pieces of our identity come together and new purpose seeps in. I am still in the seeping in phase myself, but it has gotten better.
On particularly rough days when I'm sure I can't possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that's pretty good. - Unknown

Don't be concerned about being disloyal to your pain by being joyous. - Hazrat Inayat Khan

Joe: 1979- 7/2014

Jen

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Re: All sense of purpose has vanished
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2015, 02:52:42 PM »
If anyone happens to come across my purpose, could you let me know? I desperately wish I knew what it was... :-/

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

Chrispy89

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Re: All sense of purpose has vanished
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2015, 08:19:30 AM »
Hi Brenda, I totally empathise with that feeling of purposelessness... When CP died all of our dreams did too... Buying and renovating a house together, babies, marriage. It felt like my life's purpose was to have children and it had been taken away from me in the cruelest way possible. I now have no interest in renovating a house, even though that was a dream I had before I even met CP. And what really is the point if we all end up dying anyway?... My motto has become fake it till I make it. Get out of bed and go do something, even if I don't know why the hell for. My life's point at the moment is, I don't want to grow up to become a bitter, resentful, old lady. If I'm achieving that, I'm winning. Gradually, I am becoming more excited about things... Becoming passionate about things. It's been hard work to get here, and I'm still working hard. I'm at 7 months... Good luck, and remember, fake it till you make it baby ;)

Mizpah

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Re: All sense of purpose has vanished
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2015, 10:43:22 AM »
I hope you don't mind me coming over to this section (I'm 4 years out).  I read your post and wanted to tell you that your feeling is totally normal.  When I was at six months out, I was outside in autumn sunshine watching the NYC Marathon go by on the street, alone, and I noticed I was smiling.  It shocked me.  There was no meaning for me for a long, long time - honestly, I'm not sure there even is now.  I said on another person's post that finding meaning in human existence is one of the loftiest, most ambitious goals a person can set for themselves.  Maybe set your expectations lower.  I spent the entire first year plus focusing on healthy habits - the tiny, tiny stuff of life.  I tried to spend time outside, eat healthy, get exercise, read books, took long walks, I took part in rituals like weekly synagogue attendance (I clung to structure and routine), I felt proud of myself for things like regular apartment-cleaning and laundry and the stuff of routine, discipline, simple healthy living.  I'd say recalibrate and don't hope for meaning - hope for solace instead.  If you can.  Things will fall into place later.  I'd say, for now, grieve and keep things simple. 

(At about two years, I started to come alive again.  Life-rebuilding takes time and comes in very gradual steps for most, like when you don't notice daily that you're losing or gaining weight because you see yourself every day, but when you compare at a year, you're shocked at the difference.)
widowed 2011 (DH 28)

Brenda

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Re: All sense of purpose has vanished
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2015, 11:50:35 AM »
Thanks ever so much, Mizpah.  You make perfect sense, and I'm glad you popped over to share your experience.  Perhaps the search for meaning is a fool's errand in the first place, and that if we get the little things right - starting with the most basic, such as staying organized, eating right, exercising etc. - then the big things like meaning and purpose take care of themselves.

tableforone

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Re: All sense of purpose has vanished
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2015, 01:28:23 PM »
Hi Brenda,

I am a way out veteran widow but I remember this feeling clearly. I called it being, 'passively suicidal". I was not going to do anything to hurt myself but I didn't care if I died.  And I think that at three months your feeling is "normal." 

How did I overcome them? I started slow by making a to do list every day. I attempted to create a small sense of accomplishment. I cleaned out my house. Something about throwing our extra bags of 'stuff' or donating it lightened my load. Also, it had become very clear to me that stuff was not making me happy.

I worked at it in fits and starts. I would try something like joining a gym or forcing myself to eat healthy. In the end the things I needed most were to not put pressure on myself and time. Lots and lots of time.

Wheelerswife

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Re: All sense of purpose has vanished
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2015, 01:57:06 PM »
Like tableforone, I was initially wanting to die.  After my first husband died, I posted on our old board that I wanted to fall asleep on my side of our double plot at the cemetery and just not wake up.  They would just need to dig the hole and roll me into it. 

Fortunately, that feeling didn't last too long.  Life became good again...and happy.  I remarried and was happier than I'd ever been.  Then my second husband died and I immediately had medical issues ad surgery and was ultimately diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer.  I decided then that I just wanted the cancer to take me quickly and get me out of my misery.

Well, the cancer hasn't even resurfaced (yet) and my attitude has changed as well.  I don't want to die.  I've kept putting one foot in front of the other and although I've accomplished some things, but I'm not living fully yet.  I have to believe that it is possible to find happiness again...and purpose.  It isn't easy....that's for sure.

Maureen
Life is short.  Love with all you've got. 

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gracelet

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Re: All sense of purpose has vanished
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2015, 04:51:44 AM »
Brenda,

I too am popping over to reassure you that what you're feeling is normal.

My wife died 18 months ago and I've been through some extremely dark phases where I came close to ending my life, despite knowing how devastating that will be to my family. I felt I had no purpose at all, that I couldn't achieve anything. What was the point?

I can't pinpoint when it happened exactly, but when I look back at my old diaries, at the pain filled letters I used to write to Elle in the months after her death, it is clear that I have come on leaps and bounds, and bounced back.

 I am alive again. I've found a mojo that I'm not sure was ever inside me before, but it is now! Sure, I'm sad a lot. Today, I'm taking the day off work because I had a mahusive grief blast last night and this morning. It's the first time in months I've had to do this and I attribute it to it being her birthday next week.

Expect to be sad. Expect the grief to come in waves. But also expect calm, joy, life. I promise it will happen. Purpose, I dunno. I've never known what my purpose was, even when she was alive, but for sure now, when I smile, those smiles are genuine.

One step at a time.
Musings of this sarcastic but upbeat young widow can be read here : www.eerilycheerily.com

Brenda

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Re: All sense of purpose has vanished
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2015, 07:52:27 AM »
Thanks gracelet.  I can't wait for that feeling of a genuine smile.

Interesting that you mention you weren't sure what your sense of purpose was when your spouse was alive.  Looking back, I can't think what mine was either.  I mean, I was just happy (?) being married, having a normal (?) life, trying to be a good (?) person and spouse whatever.  It's almost like there was no sense of purpose needed, no higher calling or meaning necessary to feel fulfilled.  Maybe I'm looking to regain something that I never had in the first place, making it seem all the more impossible?

And if the purpose of life is as simple as trying to be a good person (which I'm fairly sure it is - everything else meaningful should follow naturally), then it's a standard that's well within my reach.

donswife

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Re: All sense of purpose has vanished
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2015, 08:17:37 AM »
I so remember this feeling.
Still have it but I am trying to take, as they say, one day at a time
I mostly feel loss of the other part of me that was him, if that makes sense
always felt like a whole happy person when we were together and now constantly feel like something is always missing
But I do have good days and you will also
but its so comforting to have a place like this to talk about the bad days
My everything