#1
Old 07-03-2018, 12:34 PM
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How We Handle Grief

As many of you know I lost my significant other last week. It is funny how our brain works. All I find myself focusing on is the good parts of our relationship. My honey was a hopeless alcoholic and prescription drug abuser. She put me through hell for most of 22 years, financially she nearly ruined me and drained the better part of my retirement savings. She was a wrecking ball.

She had movie star looks when we first met and was socially at ease in any group, never the life of the party type but always engaging and bright and sought after at parties and other social events as she seem to brighten and bring to life any group she became involved in. She seemed to never forget a name even after only one brief introduction. Our welcome as a couple however would soon be worn out as the drinking never failed to take over and she would inevitably do something way past the bounds of acceptability.

In the months leading up to her death her drinking and pill abuse escalated if that is even possible and she got to the point she was no longer eating. I saw death coming and made many attempts to intervene but not nearly as forcefully as I should have. This is what is eating me up right now. Not one minute goes by where I don't feel I should have done more. I just can't seem to forgive myself. All my mind seems to recall is the sweet moments, the cheating and lying all seem so small right now. In all honesty I wish I could just get mad at her, it would make this so much easier.
#2
Old 07-03-2018, 12:43 PM
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Number one, I'm sorry for your loss. I'm certain it's awful. It's good that you are focusing on the good times; for many that is difficult.

Number two, you gotta talk to somebody. Not us. Someone in person that you can look in the face and tell these things.
#3
Old 07-03-2018, 12:45 PM
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Thank you for sharing this. I'm sorry for your loss. As someone who has had great difficulty finding a relationship, I sometimes get upset when I read about people who have severe issues of one kind or another, and yet still manage to find someone to love them. I think, why would that person choose to be with someone who is so much trouble, when they could be with someone like me who is hard working, responsible and doesn't have a substance abuse problem. But the bottom line is that we are more than the sum of our parts, our addictions and our flaws. Clearly your SO had good, lovable qualities that attracted you, and that are worth remembering and celebrating.

There is no value in you being mad at her. But there is also no value in you feeling guilty. As much as we want to, we can't change other people. No matter how much you loved her, you couldn't save her if she didn't want to be saved. Everyone processes grief differently, but I think you should appreciate the path you are on, one that involves loving and forgiving her. Ultimately, I think that is the path to loving and forgiving yourself.
#4
Old 07-03-2018, 12:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HoneyBadgerDC View Post
In the months leading up to her death her drinking and pill abuse escalated if that is even possible and she got to the point she was no longer eating. I saw death coming and made many attempts to intervene but not nearly as forcefully as I should have. This is what is eating me up right now. Not one minute goes by where I don't feel I should have done more. I just can't seem to forgive myself. All my mind seems to recall is the sweet moments, the cheating and lying all seem so small right now. In all honesty I wish I could just get mad at her, it would make this so much easier.
You cannot save someone who is dedicated to destroying themselves, but the guilt and regret at not having done “something” is entirely normal and unfortunately not really amenable to just reasoning yourself out of the emotional conflict.

Please talk to someone; it doesn’t need to be a therapist, but it should be someone who can understand and have empathy with your conflict, and reinforce the idea that you did what you could, as best you were able, in a situation that was ultimately beyond your control.

Stranger
#5
Old 07-03-2018, 01:13 PM
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I’m very sorry you are going through this. I agree with other posters that have said talk to someone and that someone doesn’t need to be a therapist. I know that would’ves and should’ves don’t help to ease the pain and they don’t change the situation. Is there something positive you could do in her memory? Make a donation to a local rehab center? Volunteer with kids that are at risk or going through rehab? Don’t get sucked into the past, look to the possibility of the future.
#6
Old 07-03-2018, 01:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HoneyBadgerDC View Post
In the months leading up to her death her drinking and pill abuse escalated if that is even possible and she got to the point she was no longer eating. I saw death coming and made many attempts to intervene but not nearly as forcefully as I should have. This is what is eating me up right now. Not one minute goes by where I don't feel I should have done more. I just can't seem to forgive myself. All my mind seems to recall is the sweet moments, the cheating and lying all seem so small right now. In all honesty I wish I could just get mad at her, it would make this so much easier.
Sorry for your loss.

In the past 22 years you may made numerous attempts with no success to get her to change. There is no possibility anything you could have done in the last few months would have had an effect.
#7
Old 07-03-2018, 04:35 PM
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You *will* get mad. There are definate stages in grief processing. Just go with them, they are there for a purpose. At the end (there's no set timeline) you will be better. But...do talk to a professional. Grief counselors are a chosen people.

Last edited by Beckdawrek; 07-03-2018 at 04:35 PM.
#8
Old 07-03-2018, 07:26 PM
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Having lost one of my sons a month ago to alcoholism, I know what you are going through. In some cases, intervention is just not enough, particularly if there is little will on the part of the person to actively try to get better. You couldn't have fixed it no matter what you did, believe me. In the end stages, the depression and the addiction are the drivers, and your loved one is on a suicidal mission to just end it all, regardless of the hurt, anger and guilt that is inflicted on everyone around him/her. Despite the love surrounding him, my son simply was unable to deal with whatever demons ate at him in his darker moods. We all just looked on, helpless, as he destroyed his life.

You have my sincere sympathies; I hope we both can manage to cope with this awful turn in our lives in the future. For now, rest assured that you did what you could.
#9
Old 07-03-2018, 09:16 PM
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I am so sorry for both you and Chefguy! I lost a 28-year-old nephew, and then his father, to alcoholism a few years ago. NOTHING you could have done differently could have fixed her.

Addiction is a horrible disease/condition that relies on putting responsibility on others for the addict's using, and you're still feeling the after-effects of years of that co-depency that the addiction demands.

Please take it easy upon yourself. You have suffered too much already.

Chefguy, we've all followed the story of your son, and I feel like I lost someone I knew. My deepest condolences.
#10
Old 07-03-2018, 09:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beckdawrek View Post
But...do talk to a professional. Grief counselors are a chosen people.
Yes. I am not concerned with your religion or if you have one. It's times like this when you learn that sainthood is in the person, not their religion.

And Honey, I'm no saint but I can listen.
#11
Old 07-04-2018, 09:55 AM
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I genuinely appreciate all the responses. Today is one week. One minute I want to talk about it and the next I don't. At times like this I am grateful for this place, sharing with strangers seems to allow me to be a bot more honest than sharing with close family or friends. I was caught a bit off guard by this whole thing, I thought I had prepared myself for this long ago as I knew it was inevitable.

Chefguy, my heart goes out to you, my brother lost his son to the disease and I know his family has never been quite the same since.
#12
Old 07-04-2018, 10:24 AM
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Death by addiction is so hard to watch, especially in the end stages. From the outside looking in, it seems like healing would be so easy. The heartache and pain seem so unnecessary. But the addiction is only the tip of the iceberg, and the using exacerbates the problem below.

The disease grows quietly, out of sight, and the addict knows how awful it would be to try and quit. Some have the steel to face it all sober and chip away at the problem, others just don't. "It's not their fault, they seem to have been born that way."

You kept her fed when she would eat, warm when she would sleep, loved when she would feel. You did everything you could have done for her and as the burden increased slowly through the years you strengthened and adjusted it to carry her further. The demons won this round, (they often do) but not because you didn't give enough.

You are only just beginning to see how much you did, how hard you fought, and how much you have given up to the fight through the years. As the realizations hit they may become overwhelming, and the anger will be gargantuan. I strongly endorse the above advice to find a grief counselor. Don't wait until you are sinking, find someone to talk to now. That way when the tidal wave hits you'll already have the relationship in place.

If you can't go to a counselor for whatever reason, then go to a few Al-Anon meetings. Look for the people you respect and relate to, and get their phone numbers. Raise your hand and let people know who you are, and what you have lost. Talk as much as you can about what you are going through, especially the isolation her addiction imposed upon you. There will be sick people in the room, but also recovered ones who can support you through this process. Love the former, cling to the latter, get what you need.

I hope this is helpful. Please discard anything that isn't.

Last edited by TruCelt; 07-04-2018 at 10:26 AM.
#13
Old 07-04-2018, 10:40 AM
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I'll say what I say to anyone grieving: how you feel is how you feel, and it's not wrong.

There was a time in your posting when the anger you felt was very apparent. Now, you seem to be mourning all the good times you had with the bad. Both are how you feel/felt at the time. As much trouble as the relationship brought you, you clearly had some genuine fun and good times with her. That's as much truth as her addiction and death. You have lost the whole of her, the good along with the bad.

With more time your grief will change again.

I'm sorry for your loss, and the pain you are enduring.
#14
Old 07-04-2018, 10:46 AM
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You know, it might sound odd but I am finding some comfort in my pain. It makes me feel her life was not so in vain that she was truly appreciated and loved for her attributes. It also reminds me that I haven't turned into a callous heartless robot that I often feel like. Thanks again for all the replies they are greatly appreciated.
#15
Old 07-04-2018, 11:18 AM
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My condolences. I've suffered loss but not a self-destructive run-up to it. I can't imagine how that bit feels.

I lost my parents far too young and my kids ask about them from time to time.
I talk about them freely and how sad I was and how I miss them but the one thing that I try to impress upon them more then anything else (in preparation for my own demise as much as anything) is that loss is the price we pay for the time we get to spend with them. The only way to avoid it is to not have them around in the first place or to inflict our own loss on them first.

Neither is very palatable.

So that may be of no immediate use to you now but it may be a nugget of comfort at some point in the future. It certainly helped me to put things into perspective.

Best wishes.
#16
Old 07-04-2018, 11:21 AM
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One of the things that most annoyed me just after my husband died were the people who seemed to want to pretend nothing had happened. I found myself wanting at least a "I'm sorry for your loss" rather than complete silence on the subject. Sure, being reminded of my loss could hurt, but I'd rather have that hurt than silence. I wanted acknowledgement that I had suffered a loss. It hurts because that person was important.

Not sure if that's directly relevant to you or not, but I get the notion that accepting the pain is part of accepting the loss.
#17
Old 07-04-2018, 11:42 AM
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I'm sorry to hear about your loss.

A few years ago I lost both my parents within a month and I hope my experience from then will help you.

I felt a wide range of emotions, including sadness, anger, helplessness and anxiety.

It did help to talk to relatives and friends.
I also found a grief counsellor very understanding. (I went to Cruse UK.)

Good luck to you.
#18
Old 07-04-2018, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by needscoffee View Post
I am so sorry for both you and Chefguy! I lost a 28-year-old nephew, and then his father, to alcoholism a few years ago. NOTHING you could have done differently could have fixed her.

Addiction is a horrible disease/condition that relies on putting responsibility on others for the addict's using, and you're still feeling the after-effects of years of that co-depency that the addiction demands.

Please take it easy upon yourself. You have suffered too much already.

Chefguy, we've all followed the story of your son, and I feel like I lost someone I knew. My deepest condolences.
There is also the battle that goes on within the family and circle of those close to the addict. The lines are drawn between those who are co-dependent and those who draw the lines. I was a line-drawer and took some abuse from family members who were co-dependent. Their belief was that you do whatever it takes to help, even at risk of destroying your own financial and emotional well-being: two of the heavy hitters in the definition of co-dependency. My stance was always that without personal investment from my son in the form of therapy and other treatment, he would never stop circling the drain. I feel badly for one of my other kids and my ex-wife, who will, at some point, realize that what they were doing was not helpful. That said, I can't fault them for doing what they thought was "the right thing". My daughter is a pile of emotional wreckage and my ex will never recoup from the financial disaster.
#19
Old 07-04-2018, 04:54 PM
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I am so sorry for your loss. I know how much it must hurt.

It is healthy to remember the positive attributes of your SO. Who would want to remember only the bad things?

As far as blaming yourself goes, please get some help. A clergyperson, a psychologist, even just a close friend. Whatever you are feeling in that regard is just not true. We can do everything in our power to help others, but the decisions they make are their decisions, not ours. I went through something similar when my sister committed suicide and I can state this unequivocally. No matter how much I might or might not have reached out to her, it was her decision.
#20
Old 07-05-2018, 09:54 AM
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After my husband died, and he presented to the doctor as terminal. meaning there never was any hope, a friend dragged me to a grief class. I was consumed with huge guilt about my caretaking at the end.
As I sat crying and spilling my guts about the times I became impatient or was unable to do something, another woman in the group, who I didn't know, looked dead at me and said "What, did you think you could have saved him?"
Now, I was at 4 mos. then, not as fresh as you, but it helped a lot, and I would ask myself that frequently.
#21
Old 07-05-2018, 11:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
One of the things that most annoyed me just after my husband died were the people who seemed to want to pretend nothing had happened. I found myself wanting at least a "I'm sorry for your loss" rather than complete silence on the subject. Sure, being reminded of my loss could hurt, but I'd rather have that hurt than silence. I wanted acknowledgement that I had suffered a loss. It hurts because that person was important.

Not sure if that's directly relevant to you or not, but I get the notion that accepting the pain is part of accepting the loss.
This bothers ne too. I lost my son 3 years ago to cancer. There's not an hour of every day that I don't think of him. Most are good memories others are sad because I miss him so much. There are people in my life that never bring him up to me or ask me how I'm doing. I know they think if they bring up the subject I'll feel bad or fall apart. But the thing is, I'm always thinking of him. Someone asking about him isn't going to make me all of a sudden remember that he died. That's always with me. I WANT people to talk about him and ask me about him or how I'm feeling. I love hearing his name and talking about him. It makes me happy to know that others haven't forgotten him. That's my biggest fear - that he'll be forgotten.


To the OP - my heart goes out to you. My circumstances were very different from yours, but a loss of someone you loved so much hurts and will always hurt. There is nothing that will change that, not even time. That person will not and cannot be replaced. It doesn't get better with time, you just learn to live with it. It's a part of your life now.

I've had addicts in my life and know that unless they want to make changes and get help there's nothing you can do. Even if they try, sometimes they just can't do it. Which is hard for someone who isn't an addict to understand. It's very frustrating and sad. You loved her - that was what you did for and it was the best thing for her. Take care.
#22
Old 07-05-2018, 11:08 AM
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In Spanish we say "I share your feelings"; I didn't understand it until I lost my Dad (so careless, really!). The word condolences itself means "shared pain", but the feelings after a great loss are a lot more complicated than that. Like Beck said, how you feel at the time is however you are feeling, and it's all valid and it's all real.

Peace,
Nava
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#23
Old 07-05-2018, 11:19 AM
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Someone upthread has correctly pointed out that anger is a reasonable, predictable, entirety human passage in grief.

I want to emphasize that the anger comes from the loss itself. I can tell you from personal experience that I spent a long time trying to find the rational cause for anger in the events leading up to my loss, but in the end the things I was looking for -- something or someone to blame my anger on -- didn't exist, or at the least didn't merit anger. I was mad at reality, and time had to pass before I could realize that.

You have my condolences.
#24
Old 07-05-2018, 11:51 AM
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When my first husband died, I felt profound guilt that I wasn't able to fix him, to save him from his choices and behaviors, to find some little or big thing to say or do or encourage. Something like in a book or a movie, something inspiring and life-changing.

We want to bend the world to our wills, and I think a lot of us have the notion that if we were really great people, we could do that. That if the world and other people aren't changing for us, it's our fault. I'm not talking about our conscious minds. Our rational brains know it isn't true. But for many of us, we still have that thought back there, hidden and maybe even embarrassing, that if we try hard enough, we can fix everything. And we want to think we're in control, because that means we can stop it happening again.

I think one of the things the grieving process reveals most completely is that we can't even control our own brains. I spent many hours trying to impose order on my thinking, hoping that would make the pain fade, hoping that seeing my guilt as the assumption of impossible responsibility it was would make it go away. That didn't happen. Instead there was a whirling, erratic cycle of guilt, sadness, love, rage, fear, numbness, relief, hope, confusion, despair, loneliness, joy, and hatred. And despite my eventual acceptance and the wonder and beauty of my new life without him, I still can feel every single one of those emotions again on occasion. Every single one. It's been over 9 years, so I don't expect that to change, though the mix is now mostly love and joy with a dash of fear and guilt.

I echo the encouragement to find people to talk to. Talk about how you feel, even when you think it makes you or your SO look bad. I think a guilt exposed is often a guilt lessened. Just talk. Some of the things you say and things you predict won't end up being true, and that's okay. And some days, someone might ask you how you feel and you won't know, or you'll say you are fine when you are not, or you'll say you are sad when you're angry, or any combination of inaccuracies and wishful thinking. And that's okay too.

I'm so sorry.
#25
Old 07-09-2018, 09:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
I'll say what I say to anyone grieving: how you feel is how you feel, and it's not wrong.
This.
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