Young Widow Forum

Time Frame => Newly Widowed (1 day to 6 months) => Topic started by: Algos on September 29, 2017, 09:20:50 PM

Title: A world full of light and love, suddenly full of sorrow and darkness
Post by: Algos on September 29, 2017, 09:20:50 PM
I’m 47, I’m not sure if that makes me a young widower or a middle aged one!

 My wife and I started dating in our teens, she was 15 and I was 18, 8 years later we were married, in January of this year we celebrated our 20th Wedding anniversary still very much in love and with 4 children.

And then 3 months ago, there was a tragic accident, the accident destroyed my life, it took away my soul mate, my wife and my eldest daughter (16), one minute they were here and then they were gone! Leaving me a single parent with 3 children 16, 14, and 10.

3 months on and my life is still an emotional struggle, people tell me how well we are all coping, they see me and the kids functioning out in the world, some days they do see me struggling, days nothing can make me smile, others I seem largely ok to them, they don’t see the constant pain, loss and struggle within, grief is my constant companion.

I have to carry on I have my children to take care of, without them I would have no reason to get up in mornings and I probably wouldn’t, my life would no longer have meaning, they give me the strength and reason to go on.  They are largely coping ok, I often think they are coping better than me, the loss of their mother and sister (and in the case of my eldest, their twin sister) at their age would be truly devastating, their resilience and strength amazes me, although they too of course have their highs and lows.

I was back at work after a month and the kids were back at school, my wife was a stay at home mum, she used to take care of the housework cooking, cleaning etc which I now do, although I do struggle with the cooking, 😊 its not so great, meal planning is not my strong point at this stage and my repertoire of recipes fairly limited but we won’t starve.  Working full time, taking care of 3 kids and supporting them through their loss doing all of the housework, and the dreaded cooking makes life very busy, until late in the evenings after the kids are in bed and I can sit down and relax, and then the grief comes to the surface and the real battle begins.

 I thought was coping Ok but a couple of weeks ago I am watching a wedding scene in a movie and they said the traditional words ‘until death do us part’, words my wife and I spoke at our wedding, words which immediately broke me, at that point I thought perhaps it might be good to speak to someone, to seek some counselling.  When you sit down in front of someone and deliberately talk face to face about what you are going through and feeling, then you find out how you are really coping.  The struggle of verbalising what I was feeling, telling someone of the guilt I felt, that I always thought as a parent the most painful thing you could experience was the loss of a child, but finding that I am overwhelmed by the loss of my wife almost to the exclusion of my daughter and I feel guilty about not mourning her enough,  I am sure counselling is beneficial, but from my experience so far it is very emotional and draining, I am sure it will get easier with future sessions….

Its hard not knowing from one day to the next what my emotional state will be, or what will trigger an emotional response, everyday is different.  At times I have felt it is time to take off my wedding band but it remains on my finger where it has been for 20 years, because I know that the following day I will want it back, right now I can’t face removing it.  My head mush, I constantly forget or overlook things, I ask myself will I ever be normal again?
Title: Re: A world full of light and love, suddenly full of sorrow and darkness
Post by: Julester3 on September 29, 2017, 10:40:08 PM
Algos- I am sorry you have to join us here. It is hard being a single parent and to teens but one has to look for the bright side of our situation to help cope and try to progress. When we go to family grief counseling and we see a family with children much smaller, my girls feel for them because those kids won't be able to have even half the memories they have of their their father. It makes them grateful and they cherish them all the more.

I hear you on just functioning for the kids. I am guiltily the same. I met my husband when we were 13. We were friends all through school and dated when we were 18 and been together since. I feel loss without my soulmate and it can be crushing. Those night silences are tough and there are triggers at every random moment. Be kind to yourself and be patient. Let yourself grieve rather than bottle it up. Vent here if you are not ready for counseling. Many of us are up at random times and check in often and I found reading here gave me a sense of understanding what I was feeling and some peace as to what may lie ahead.

Hugs for you today.
Title: Re: A world full of light and love, suddenly full of sorrow and darkness
Post by: sojourner on September 29, 2017, 10:42:30 PM
Algos, I am so sorry you find yourself here in your circumstances, as all of us here do. Even more heartbroken for you and your children that your wife/their mom died alongside your daughter/their sister/twin! 

This grief that we go through, as you're finding, is a slippery beast. The emotions may constantly shift. It's simply not generally linear, and at times when you think it's easing up, something can trigger you back to Day 1. This is the way of Grief.

You truly are in the early days. Be kind to yourselves, and ease your expectations of what you might think you ought to be doing, or what people who have never been in your shoes think they have a place to expect of you.  I'm just over 3 years out (wow, can that be true?). The passage of time does allow for the intensity of grief to soften (even though at times it can come back to me like it happened this morning). But most often first there's the numbness of shock, followed by the gut punch of the brutal reality. It sounds like maybe the transition out of the numbness is what's now happening, and it hurts.

Allow yourself your feelings. It truly is a crazy rollercoaster of emotions that you and your remaining family are on. This is sorrow beyond what words can truly describe. I'm so sorry you find yourself here. Welcome to the club none of us wanted to join, and may you find some camaraderie here. Hopes and prayers for peace for you and your children.
Title: Re: A world full of light and love, suddenly full of sorrow and darkness
Post by: Algos on September 30, 2017, 07:51:41 AM
Thankyou for the kind responses,

sojourner you hit home with your comment:

You truly are in the early days. Be kind to yourselves, and ease your expectations of what you might think you ought to be doing, or what people who have never been in your shoes think they have a place to expect of you.

I really don't know what my expectations should be, I feel bad when I know there are things (maintenance) around the house I should be doing, but i just dont have the time or energy to do them, I should be going through some of my wifes and daugthers things but I just dont have the motivation to do it.  This is foreign to me, at times I just don't want to do anything and find myself staring into thin air, or talking to my wifes and daughters ashes asking if i am doing an oK job, I am at a loss.  I do give myself some leway, but how much should I give, i just dont know!

and Julester, you are probably right

Let yourself grieve rather than bottle it up.

But being a man I do bottle things up and I don't know that I could function if I didn't, getting the kids to school in the morning, going to work, coming home cooking dinner, doing the washing, shopping etc.  However I do let myself grieve when I am alone, when the kids are in bed, or if I am alone in the car, or any brief moment I get to myself I often find tears running down my cheeks.

It is certainly a rollecoaster ride and a slippery beast, from your words, i can tell you know my pain, it is somewhat of a relief to find somewhere, with people who know what I am experiancing who i can talk to.  I have had a huge, overwehlming outpouring of support from our local community for our loss, we come from a relatively small community and the event which took my wife and daughter has rocked the whole community, I hugely appreciate their support, however people often comment when I speak to them that they can't imagine what we are going through and pain we must be enduring, which honestly they can't, but I feel you do.  Thankyou
Title: Re: A world full of light and love, suddenly full of sorrow and darkness
Post by: Julester3 on September 30, 2017, 08:29:47 AM
Take that moment in the car or late at night is okay but remember for your kids' well being, it's okay for them to see it and for you to discuss it with them. I don't particularly like crying generally because it messes with allergies and such - it's a miserable feeling. Your kids need to grieve too  and understand every bit as you do how their works just won't ever be the same. We spent the first year doing what we needed to do - tradition was hard because their dad was a strong part of them so we broke every one and did things as we needed to do we can see for ourselves we'd be okay and we could do things our own way - learn a new sense of normal as twisted as it seems.

On expectations that was mentioned - take joy on the tiny things: you got up today, you managed a shower, though you aren't big on cooking you made something - those are good things, they are tiny victories. When my husband died of a sudden heart attack, I just wanted to sit there and never leave the house. I needed to go back to work and change to full time so I could afford to carry the health insurance for the kids. Going back sucked - there were just days I couldn't stop crying but I powered through it. Many people rallied but in the end, I am a crazy independent person who needs to grieve and do everything my own way. I'm at the point where I have to remind people, thanks but we are fine. I'll be sure to let you know when I need help:
Title: Re: A world full of light and love, suddenly full of sorrow and darkness
Post by: Wheelerswife on September 30, 2017, 12:10:02 PM

I am heartbroken to read your story.  I am so sorry you lost the love of your life and your daughter.  I don't have children myself and I can't really give you advice on how to manage the situation you face as it relates to them, but it seems that there are others here who are wise parents who can address those concerns.

I've been through this twice.  (Yeah, widowed twice.)  I have learned that there are many things that we thought were important that are not as critical as we thought.  There is no timetable for taking care of your wife's and your daughter's possessions, for example.  Should it feel like a good thing to go through some things - then do it.  If not, then don't do it.  I guarantee, her closet of clothes and her dresser drawer of underthings will still be there in 6 months or a year, or 6 years, for that matter.  Take your time.  Your time table.  Or, perhaps, your children's time table.  Do not let anyone else pressure you into anything.  Family can do this sometimes.  If they ask for something, gently but firmly let them know you will get to things when you do.

Right now, you are mourning both your wife and your daughter.  If your wife was here, you could mourn your daughter together.  Your wife was the person with whom you shared your intimate life on so many levels.  Do not berate yourself for missing that relationship, even if it seems wrong that you seem to grieve your daughter in a different way.

Home maintenance can wait.  It can also be done by all of those people in your community who want to support you.  When someone gives you either direct or indirect indications that they want to help, give them these tasks.  People want to do practical things.  Let them.  Making meals is hard for so many of us.  Pizza and cereal can sustain us for extended periods.  You don't have to be superman.

You are a grieving husband and father.  Keep the poker face on as necessary to get through work, but let your hair down and allow yourself to grieve in the way that YOU need to grieve.

Hang in there.  Read and post to your heart's content.


Title: Re: A world full of light and love, suddenly full of sorrow and darkness
Post by: Algos on October 01, 2017, 03:22:10 PM
I can’t sleep tonight, so much going through my head of the events of the past few months, I may have managed a couple of hours sleep, and I need to go to work in a few hours, I couldn’t just lay there any longer so it thought I would get up and put my thoughts into words, perhaps this will help!

The day  of the accident was the worst of my life, I was a work and someone outside of my office made a comment that the local news had a story of an accident not far from town, I knew my wife and daughter were travelling and details of the accident sounded like it could be them (I need to be vague about the details of the accident as there was a following media circus and coverage which makes the event easy to identify if I give too many details – side note reporters and the media can be utter inconsiderate pigs).  I excused myself from work and went home and phoned several authorities trying to get details but no one would tell me anything, I then received a call from one of my wife’s close friends who told me that she had heard from her husband that it had been my wife and daughter involved (but I still had no official confirmation), a short time later the kids school rang me, the kids had heard of the accident and were concerned it was their mum and sister involved, I went to the school to pick them up (based on what I had heard and not heard I was getting a sinking feeling).  I picked up the 2 older kids and was on my way to my youngest daughter’s school to pick her up as well, the route took me past our local police station, so I decided, screw it I am going in here and I am going to find out what the heck is going on! After going to the front desk and telling them who I was and why I was there, I was escorted to an interview room (this pretty much confirmed it for me). We (the 2 kids were with me) waited 20 minutes for someone to come in to see us (the officers involved were out in the town trying to track me down).  5 detectives came into the room, the eldest with tears streaming down his face, he couldn’t talk, came over and stood behind me rubbing my shoulder muttering he was so sorry, whilst the others delivered the news, the only consoling news was that death their deaths were instant (I was later told that the senior detective had 30 years’ experience on the force and notifying us of what had happened was the hardest thing he had done during his career).  The detectives drove me to my daughters school to pick her up (at this stage I was in no state to be driving) and took me home.  When we got home I did the hardest thing I have done in my life, I broke the news to my beautiful 10yo daughter, the cry of anguish that she let out when I told her shattered me, a cry of pure pain and unimaginable loss, it will haunt me forever.

The following hours, days and weeks were filled with so many struggles, painful and sometimes confronting moments, the accident was truly horrific, photos all over the media hard to avoid.  2 days after the accident I had a visit from the major crash investigation squad, their visit was to get my statement of events leading up to the accident, they also wanted a detailed description of my wife and daughter and any scars or features to help with their identification, they also collected some of their personal effects to obtain samples of their DNA, this was very confronting, I was told it could take up to 3 months for the coroner to release their bodies. 

About 2 weeks after the accident I had a call from the coroner’s office (they had been in regular contact giving me updates) I could tell from tone and evasive start to the conversation that the poor lady on the other end of the phone did not want to be making this call.  Firstly the easy part, they had been able to obtain and use dental records for the identification of the bodies!! And then, she proceeded to go into the detail of the state of my wifes body and in particular a horrific injury to her left leg, which had resulted in a large number of small chunks of flesh (sorry for the gory details),  the coroners office needed to know if I required to have these individual pieces positively identified, if so due to their large number, using DNA testing it would take about 3 months to process them all….This conversation still regularly haunts me.

I hear my alarm in the other room…must be time for a shower and getting the kids up, and going to work, it will be a struggle today, 2 hours sleep doesn’t cut it, I am finding 4 hours is the bare minimum I need to function with any type of normality, at least I know I should sleep well tonight!

My apologies for the gory details, this is just the start of my journey, although I’m not sure I will continue to write it….it may depend on how I sleep!
Title: Re: A world full of light and love, suddenly full of sorrow and darkness
Post by: Algos on October 04, 2017, 07:47:02 AM
It is so hard to express emotions with words, maybe it is because I’m a man, or maybe because I am very introverted or perhaps both, I don’t know!

Why is life so hard I regularly ask myself these days,  I try to tell myself that no matter how bad my life is someone else has it worse but it doesn’t help with the pain I carry inside.  This is in stark contrast to 6, or even 4 months ago when I would regularly literally think how awesome life is and how lucky we are, wonderful kids and a loving wife who I loved dearly in return, life was close to perfect.

I thought our life was pretty great.  However when I was planning the funerals I came across the letters my wife wrote to me when we first started dating 28 years ago and also her diary, beautiful letters full of emotion and first love, her diary documenting our early meetings, our first kiss and the day I asked her to be my girlfriend and her words detailing the raw love and emotion she felt during this time.  These letters reflected my emotions from that time, reading them reignited the love and passion I had felt some 28 years ago, emotion I only then realised had dulled more than I could have imagined over the years, this hurt immensely.  Firstly feeling the rekindled love and passion magnified the grief and pain I was already feeling, my loss was suddenly so much greater, secondly it made me feel as if I had failed, let my wife down, that if perhaps I had read these 10 years or 5 years earlier that perhaps our relationship in recent years would have had more spark or passion then it did, rather than settling into the everyday, it made me think of what could have been.  I have had to put the letters away, I would love to read them every day, they are like a drug, they elicit a high, reignite a love so strong, but also inflame the pain and grief I feel inside, perhaps in 6 or 12 months I will be strong enough to read them.

Reading through posts on these forums I see that people here get it, they know the pain I feel.  I never know how people expect me to respond when they ask how I am going, or how I should respond!  I am out functioning in the world, going to work, I feel as though everyone has moved on and thinks that everything is OK now.  I have this constant grief, pain and loss inside some days I really struggle with anxiety and stress and battle to function and hold back the tears.  When people ask me how things are going at work I generally just say OK and move one because I don’t think they want to hear how Shit things really are (they are only asking to be polite), and if I try to talk about what I am feeling or going through even in the slightest, my emotions start to well up close to the surface and I struggle to hold back the tears – being a man I don’t like to show tears, especially at work.  I don’t really show my emotions / talk to anyone about what I am going through, my counsellor is the only one I talk to face to face about what I am feeling and that is emotionally draining and I am not sure how much she picks up between my sobs – I really struggle talking about my emotions face to face, there are a few friends (ladies) who I communicate a lot to about my emotions to over messenger as I find it a lot easier than talking face to face and expressing it.

My family doesn’t even know how much of a struggle my life is, physically to them I am getting on and coping, when they ask how things are going I tell them that it is a struggle but I am taking it one day at a time, they can’t understand the pain I feel, I think people realise I must be hurting, but they have no comprehension of how much!

I’m rambling, so many things I could write, so many questions…My biggest stress at the moment is my 14yo daughter, before the accident (the few months before the accident were not particularly the best times for my family, for a number of reasons), she had some mental health issues, I think this week I have finally found a counsellor who she likes and is comfortable talking to which is a big relief for me.  However due to her issues before the accident I regularly (unbeknownst to her) search her room taking stock of sharp objects and anything which may indicate bingeing (which I am happy to say I have not found any evidence of in the past few weeks), but I have found some disturbing things, firstly some family photos with my Wife and deceased daughters (her mother and big sister) faces cut out of them, can this be a normal part of grieving? – I don’t really want to discuss with her as she will then know I am going through her room- if it is not unusual to do this when grieving then her counselling should help .  I have also read her diary which is not very flattering of my FIL (who is not a nice person, so I am not overly concerned about what she has written about him) – he put a memorial notice in our local rag in my wife’s maiden name on her birthday to try and hurt my feelings (which it didn’t, it just confirmed to me what a dick he is), but my daughter took grave offence to it.  But she also had a note saying that if she had taken her life the week before the accident that her sister and mother would still be alive as they wouldn’t have been travelling because they would have been at her funeral, I think this is probably normal ie trying to blame yourself for what has happened, I know my mind has tried to blame me for our loss, so I  don’t really think this is abnormal!  Don’t worry, I believe my daughters suicidal tendencies are in the past, they were largely bought on by comments made by my FIL the week before the accident….The week before the accident was not a happy one, my FIL said some things which forced my wife to make the decision to disconnect him from our lives (which was long ovedue), but a tough call for her to make.
Title: Re: A world full of light and love, suddenly full of sorrow and darkness
Post by: sojourner on October 04, 2017, 08:53:17 AM
There's so much our minds and hearts have to process with our losses, Algos, and so few in our "real" lives who get that, as you've already found.  Writing it out can be a big help when we either don't have anyone to talk to, or just can't, for whatever reason.

Your FIL sounds like a nightmare. That he could even think that, to say nothing about saying it to anybody at all, least of all your daughter!? What a sadistic, nasty excuse for a human being.

Continuing hopes and prayers for peace for you and your daughter especially.
Title: Re: A world full of light and love, suddenly full of sorrow and darkness
Post by: Julester3 on October 04, 2017, 09:49:49 AM
Finding a good counselor for your daughter is huge. I hope they can get started soon and help her work out what she's feeling and dealing with.

What is it with most inlaws? I am glad he doesn't get to you but it is terrible how it affects your daughter! So sorry that man is menace! Hugs for you today!
Title: Re: A world full of light and love, suddenly full of sorrow and darkness
Post by: Wheelerswife on October 04, 2017, 11:58:29 AM

I am glad you are writing here, especially if you find it hard to talk to people face-to-face, as the emotion gets so overwhelming.  I can't begin to give any feedback about your daughter, so I will leave it to others who may have some wisdom there.

One thing I did after my first husband died was to find one trusted person at work and I told that person some of my truth as well as what I needed or wanted from people.  I worked in a health care environment, so of course, I wanted to be able to hold my emotions in check when I was working with patients.  People did wish to make connection with me, but I hated to be asked. "How are you?" colleague met with other co-workers (with my blessing) and let them know that the "How are you?" question was awkward for everyone.  My colleagues started to greet me with, "It is good to see you today."  I could respond in kind and nobody felt awkward.

I think that many marriages lose passion over the years, especially when raising children.  I didn't even have that excuse!  There is a reason why the first years of marriage are called the honeymoon period.  You loved your wife and remained devoted to her and your children.  I am glad you were able to find her writings and you have refreshed those deep feelings of love.  The expression of love changes over time.  I can see from your writing just how devoted you were to her.

I would also say that you don't have to maintain any kind of contact with people who are toxic in your life.  I stopped contact with my second husband's mother after she blamed me for her son's death (he died in his sleep of unknown heart issues).  She is a bitter lady and was long before then, but I do not need to be her verbal punching bag.

You are holding a lot of pieces together.  Give yourself credit for that. 

Keep writing.