How to Heal From Loss
This week I received several Ask Honey questions on loss. Loss is a difficult subject to write about because it’s emotionally disturbing on different levels. It covers so many issues. From the loss of words or time, to loss of important papers or an iPhone. Or even the loss of keys in the onion bin at the market! Then, of course, a divorce, loss of friendship, and death.
Loss can be deeply felt. The loss of love and respect in marriage, the loss of a close friendship or beloved pet, the loss of money or health, loss of memory… and the ultimate loss; the loss of a cherished loved one where grief feels beyond repair.
Today on Ask Honey I am challenged with giving advice to a woman who unexpectedly lost her daughter and to another woman who realizes the loss of her long marriage. Lastly, to a woman who knows her husband’s death is imminent.
I believe we live our lives with guideposts. What do I mean? I mean when loss confronts us we move our guideposts forward and reshape our lives. Some of us get stuck! This is a no-no because it prevents recovery. Loss is repairable but it all starts with you. You must search for your ‘personal tools’ to help you go from despair, to relief, to hope.
Ask Honey – How to Heal From Loss
August 6, 2020
I have been married for 38 years. My husband has worked away most of the time. His job has provided him with a fulfilling career and as a family, we have lived well. I happily put my career on hold to keep a home and raise 3 children. As a team, I was willing to put up with my husband working away for weeks on end, interrupted holidays, dinner times, family times, and together times always made way for his job.
Two years ago, unbeknownst to me, my husband left his 40-year job to work on his parent’s orchard. This wasn’t discussed between us, nor was I told that it was going to happen. I pieced it together after a number of comments and questions directed at me by other people that knew.
It was a huge change and a drop in income. My husband said it wouldn’t affect me all that much, his aging parents needed help and it would be a better lifestyle for him. To be fair it hasn’t affected me all that much. It would have been nice to know it was going to happen. As usual in our relationship I make a noise, my husband waits it out, and ‘I go back in my box’ and life goes on. I feel this is a pattern in our life, neither of us likes confrontation and generally, I shut up and put up.
So now 2 years on, a company that he had consulted for in his past career needed help in India for an emergency job. I asked him not to go – the first time ever. He went, leaving his elderly parents at the busiest time of the year and me with a son who had come out of jail for the 3rd time with drug-related issues.
My son relapsed and I am again helping him get into yet another rehab center. My husband has been gone for 8 weeks in that time and our home has been broken in to, I’ve had issues with a neighbor over ongoing fence problems, had to bury a dead animal, and on it goes.
I was prepared to go through dealing with things on my own when he was working away, then he changed the ‘rules’ to work with his parents. And then he gets a call for an emergency and off he goes, again leaving me to carry everything on. I’m too tired to keep going on.
I understand your feeling of loss.
I would be tired and raging inside. Your husband does not behave like a married man. He is a free agent who comes and goes as he chooses to please himself. And, he seems to have or had two redeeming qualities. He is a provider and he does not like confrontation. Use his assets.
It is time to get fierce and roar! You may not realize it, but you have more inner strength than you give yourself credit. You raised your family alone, wearing the pants, with no support from your wandering husband who did exactly what he wanted. No wonder you are exhausted. I would be, too.
You have two choices. You can continue being his doormat or visit a good woman divorce attorney. Don’t threaten him, but present him with divorce papers and watch his reaction. Go into your savings or checking account for the money. Don’t ask him if you can. Just do it.
You will know by his reaction when you hand him his walking papers if YOU want to, salvage your marriage or if it is time to start a new passage in your life. If he gives you his song and dance do not fall for it. After 38 years of marriage, you know him better than he knows himself.
Be fierce and bloom and grow, Irene. It is your time. Living alone in peace would be better. You tell him you will take the house. He can move in with his parents or live in India!
Keep me posted.
I am caring for my disabled husband who has Progressive Supranuclear Palsey. He is now under home hospice care. He is reaching the end of his life (at age 67), and I am grappling with the idea that I will be a widow (age 65) in the near future. The last few years have been such a struggle with his illness, but I am terrified to lose him. We have been married for 43 years. Can you offer any words of advice?
You are going to be faced with grappling with the loss of a love of 43 years. I feel your anguish and your mental and physical exhaustion from dealing with today and fearing tomorrow.
First things, first. You are living in the present but preparing for your future. For your necessary peace of mind, I would make sure that all of your husband’s papers are in order. This will require a conversation with your husband. I am talking about his will and all his assets. That includes his insurance policies, your home, his military papers (if he was in the military), his social security information, his banking and savings accounts, etc…
I would ask to read his will, that is if you have not seen it. I would want to know the name and phone number of the lawyer to handle his estate so you have someone to aide you. This is extremely important for your financial and emotional future. When you know the details of the above this will give a certain sense of relief and strength.
In the future, you will have to shoulder your pain. No one can do that for you. Yet, people and family can give you some solace. Reach out to them because your loss and the fear of the unknown will be daunting. Remember, your ultimate goal is to heal and have hope.
I am sorry to say that loss is the nonnegotiable side of our life. I have been there. But, I found peace in listening to my feelings; not running away from them. Then, I went from weakness to strength through the mourning process I choose. You can listen to my podcast by clicking on this link about how I dealt with the loss of a love, my late husband, Michael.
Try your best to put yourself first. Be loving to yourself. I chose to stay alone for a year with the exception of my daughters. That was my choice. I knew I needed personal time to mourn and think and discover my future. You will follow your road and my advice is to take as long as you need.
My thoughts are with you.
My first grandbaby (a little girl) is due in a few weeks. My son is opposed to the name I have chosen, KiKi. I have even offered to “pay” him a generous amount to get on board with my chosen name. He prefers a more traditional name and I want something unique and different. Should I go ahead and use this name or choose one to his liking? I don’t want to cause waves but I really do like the name I’ve chosen.
Grown children can be challenging!
You don’t want to lose your son and daughter-in-law over a name. It would be a loss. I would not use the name KiKi because your granddaughter is his child, not yours. He should not have to consume his time with this issue. On the other hand, you should be happy with the name your new granddaughter will call you! I am sure you can come up with a list of traditional names, other than Grandma, that you can live with. I understand and am in full agreement that you want your new title to represent your personality.
Send him an email with a list of names that you like very much and ask him to choose one. The email should be very loving. Here is an example:
I understand how you feel and want you to be happy. Here is a list of names that I like very much. The choice is yours. I will be very happy with your decision.
All my love,
You have your list with names you like and you have given him the opportunity of ‘choice.’
Voila, done deal.
If he is still acting difficult, choose one of those names with no discussion and for sure no money.
One of my closest girlfriends suddenly lost her son years ago. He was murdered. Yes, murdered! The killer is serving a long prison term. That will not bring Seth back. Em, my girlfriend, spent a few days visiting me last summer. She laughs, she leads a full life, she is happily married BUT, there is a hole in her heart that will never heal. And, you are right… you will never be the same, but you will recover like my dear friend Emily has.
You are both victims of a tragedy you didn’t expect and cannot control. It has taken your breath away and you are probably saying, “How could this happen?” You are probably in denial, feeling anger and guilt and depression all at the same time.
Accept the pain you are feeling. Remember, there are questions that have no answers. You will not heal until you allow yourself to feel.
Express your feelings to yourself and to others. Crying and sobbing is a person’s true expression of human grief. Allow yourself to despair.
If you have other children don’t forget them in your time of grief.
If you can, reach out to your community for support. There are grieving groups.
I lost a husband suddenly. I know the feeling of grief. And, I handled my grief in solitude. I had to grieve, rest my mind, and heal my body. I was not lonely. My solitude was positive satisfaction of going into myself and thinking. Ultimately it offered me peace and a new spirituality.
Please listen to my podcast by clicking on this link. It is the walk I chose for mourning.
I offer you my deepest condolences. I know there are no words.
If you would like to reach out to my friend Emily, let me know and I will ask her if she would like to offer her advice. She is wise. That is why she is my close friend!