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02/18 my wife had a 2023_Heart_Attack, and passed away on 03/22/23; the hardest day of my life. Except for the ones after it.
02/18 my wife had a Heart Attack, and passed away on 03/22/23; the hardest day of my life. Except for the ones after it. Which isn't completely true. I just entered a new phase of life; grief. I had to let my wife, the love of my life go. She died, by my choice (to support her wishes). But what now? Since the future is dark, I just focus on the present.
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Created: 2023-03-22 
🗒️ Note:
To RSVP for Melissa's Memorial, to help select date, or to leave an anecdote/message try this link: Celebration of Life

Lessons[edit | edit source]

Our Society is bad at dealing with grief, because we see so much less of it than the normal human condition. It's easier to hide from or avoid. Making us soft, and uncomfortable. And those trying to "make it go away" or rushing to put it in the past, makes them say the wrong things.

  • Pre-Grieving or Anticpatory Grief This is grieving lives that are lost, or how lives are going to be changed, before they are changed. My wife had a heart attack on Feb 18th and died on March 22nd 2023. Grieving began in February for me. Does that help or make it worse? Yes. I had prepared for life changes, a little -- but they were same/different/same/different ones. But a lot of my life was on pause while she was healing, waiting to see what were going to get. Just as I was ready to go forward holding her hand, she was taken from me. I was prepared until I wasn't. And I was already raw and worn as much as toughened up.
  1. I've generally looked at grief as selfishness - The people we are grieving have passed; they are at peace (finally). So crying about the dead and just us whining about that WE don't have them any more (WE miss them, WE want them). WE is all about ME. Why can't I have, hold, share with my wife? So I've used that to beat those feeling down with "stop being a selfish prick! Suck it up, and get over it". But the beast of losing a spouse is a lot bigger than my other losses (parents, friends, pets, or just a character you liked in the movies). This person isn't just the cat you stroked while watching TV.... but the person you spent more time and intimacy with than all the others in the world.
  2. My brother gave me his view. That grief isn't just selfishness, it's the body and souls need to express how much someone meant to you. That means that the better the person, the worse the grief? Well I'm fucked. Everyone that knows Melissa was touched by her and knew what a kind and special person she was. If my brother is right, it at least takes away the narcisstic guilt at being weepy -- but now I get the burden of expressing how bad it is at having lost such a wonderful person. And I don't know if that's any better.
  • You will find love again One of the themes I've found in grief stuff, is lots of efforts trying to reassure folks that they will find love again. (It will get better). At least I don't have the fear and insecurity of doubting that. There are lots of lovable people. My first wife and I had discussed this a fair amount over the years, and we both wanted each other happy if we passed (as long as it wasn't at the hand of the other). She kept telling me how trading her in for a younger model would mean they wouldn't get any of my jokes and references. Duh! Of course I never wanted a younger model, just her. But I know that someday, I will likely find someone else. Today is not that day... or year. But life will go on. I will know the sweet tender caress of hearing, "I don't know, where do you want to eat?", "What's that smell?" or "Why did you park here?"
  • Grievances has grieve inside it. Life is about balances -- and while I love my wife, I need to keep remembering the things that irked, annoyed me, or were less than perfect. No Pedastals allowed. When my Step-Dad and Grandpa died, my Mom was doing this overblown catterwauling, "they were perfect humans", because she thought that's what you should do, but maybe also to make her grief more important than everyone elses. It irked me, and I thought, "I'm not going to do that". In balance, I want my love back so badly it aches. But I need the humility of her imperfections to help myself cope with the loss and not dimish others losses as well. My pain is nothing special -- just the worst of my privileged life.
  • HALT protocol Everyone has to process it their own way, but one "protocol" for avoiding regrets is HALT.
  1. Hungry or not - Keep eating, people in mourning lose weight fast
  2. Angry - Don’t be Angry with God or anyone else. Pause, take a breath and calm yourself before you regret something
  3. Lonely - Get out of the house as often as you can. Go be with people.
  4. Tired - Try and rest as much as you can but do not stay in bed all day

Journal[edit | edit source]

Week 1[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Week 1
2023-03-22 to 03-29 - Passed
  • Grief/Day 0 - Melissa wanted to go, but It was over. I knew that. She'd begged me to let her go while there was still much more hope -- but the odds for a better quality of life had evaporated, so I had to fight it for her, even knowing the loss I was causing. So we drugged her up, took her off everything, and let her fight to the end. Bye bye babe, the world and I lost someone special.
  • Grief/Day 1 - When people ask "How are you doing?", I hear, "Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?" This is the beginning of the firsts... a list of things I have to do without her, or can't share with her later. The joys of finding a funeral home (cremation), sending pictures of her to remind me what I lost, and trying to keep it together.
  • Grief/Day 2 - Drug induced sleep (NyQuil bought me 8 hours of sleep, more than the prior two days combined), I got Mary (Mom-in-law) to the airport. Then I had to fill papers for cremation; and my dark humor started kicking in. Then I got an incredibly touching but horribly timed package from her brother+wife about all the sweet things Melissa could do, when she never got out.
  • Grief/Day 3 - Life goes on for the living; and there's work to do. I got our property insurances worked out. I started talking to myself, working on post-cremation/memorial plans. And skipped all the other stages of grief to get to acceptance. (Or piled them all on at once)...
  • Grief/Day 4 - Diving in to study grief. Not to be consumed by it, but to understand it. Grief is like antidepressants on me; it makes me more emotional. Basically, my emotional cup is filled, and adding anything else, causes it to spill over. But still making small steps forward -- as long as forward isn't away from Melissa/past, but bring us both forward.
  • Grief/Day 5 - Picked out an URN. Went to Dr. Longfinger about my prostate. And just kept working on administrative stuff around the home and banking, and so on.
  • Grief/Day 6 - Every day is a new day without my wife. It's not the many things that she did for me that matters, it's not being there that matters. Not wallowing in grief, but still studying it. Many seem to suffer more than me -- not emotionally (I have enough of that), but they have all these fears/denials/insecurities that don't seem to impact me... as much.

Week 2[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Week 2
2023-03-30 to 04-05 - Passed is past
  • Grief/Day 7 - Balancing the wallow (in grief) and moving on. Or at least keeping busy with plans and doing all the stuff she did. Oh, and I got the joy of visiting Doctor Longfinger (Urologist). My prostate issues aren't much to worry about for now; it sucks getting old, but beats the alternative.
  • Grief/Day 8 - Grief; the gift that keeps giving. But I have had, and still have, a privileged life. I went out with a friend, joined an online support group, can talk with others about Melissa without losing it, but still have a lot more things to do as a bachelor-widow than I did as a lazy husband. But getting it done.
  • Grief/Day 9 - Happy Birthday. What do I want? Reincarnation? I still lived the day, and it wasn't a bad day. I feel like if I stop enjoying, I'm not living up to Melissa's goals for me (or honoring her memory of living every day well for herself). So I miss her so much, but grateful that we had 32 great years together -- and I can't waste life's gift pouting and in self pity.
  • Grief/Day 10 - Happy Birthday to me (59). I went to lunch with bank buddies, went shooting and to dinner (bought myself a new toy). And earlier in the day shared grief (the stories of Melissa's passing) with an old friend of both of ours. Being that M was a flight attendant for two decades, I'm fine with the day-to-day (she took her trip to heaven). But hurting friends still stings.
  • Grief/Day 11 - Swimming, Adulting and Crawfish. I always got more done when my wife wasn't around -- there's no one else to do it, and I get started earlier. Not as fun without the company or soft criticism about how to do it better (e.g. her way)... but I can still here her voice as I get things done. One small step at a time.
  • Grief/Day 12 - Cleaning and moving rooms is a process (baby steps). Rehoming her things is something she would love. Disposing of some, just hurts. I took a break and tried a little microbrewery (and delicious Dog Stand), and had dinner with friends/neighbors. Life has to go on... but missing her never ends.
  • Grief/Day 13 - Watched a movie, and picked up Melissa from the Funeral Home / Crematorium, not necessarily in that order.

Week 3[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Week 3
2023-04-06 to 04-12 - New Normal
  • Grief/Day 14 - Swam. Did some work. Got Melissa's Memorial Invite done. That was harder than it looks. Talked to a lot of friends about different things -- including participating in grief groups.
  • Grief/Day 15 - The Black Box for my heart - who knew a sports watch (that tracked heart rate) could show my emotional reactions to my wife's heart attack or passing? Widows Fire -- craving physical contact is a reaction to grief? And going out with the guys for guns, steak and beer.
  • Grief/Day 17 - More boring adulting, dinner with the neighbors, and Easter Service.
  • Grief/Day 18 - Easter gardening, and a little spring cleaning, and paperwork.
  • Grief/Day 19 - Finding beauty in the routine. A beautiful sunrise over a deck covered in bird shit.

Week 4[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Week 4
2023-04-12 to 04-18 - New Normal
  • Grief/Day 22 - Not much today, but a bunch of Memes and thougths by others on grief.
  • Grief/Day 23 - The upside of losing your spouse is you can finally watch whatever you want on TV. The downside is you don't want to watch anything.
  • Grief/Day 24 - Woke up to a huge lightening storm, dreaming of Melissa. We were just doing shopping chores; that's new, I hadn't had a lot of those dreams. The lightening and thunder was definitely making a racket. Then I had a horrible thought, I'd been letting Zen (Cat) out on the back deck for 30 minutes, had I forgotten her? So cat hunting in the rain. What a metaphor.
  • Grief/Day 25 - Big life decision are coming. The memorial ends the grieving for what was, or living in the moment. What's left is deciding the future. Which can be statis (holding on while deciding), or doing what I've done before, and remaking into something else. I've worn many hats... and the last one is gone. So what's the next one?
  • Grief/Day 26 - Change is constant: embrace the change, because fighting it changes nothing.
  • Grief/Day 27 - Society and Grief (societies ignorance causes grief complications), New Normal is more productive.

Week 5[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Week 5
2023-04-19 to 04-25 - Running to the memorial
  • Grief/Day 28 - Book worming, pain or suffering, and cortisol tricks? Grief has a physical and psychological component -- so far, I've mostly stayed in control of both. Melissa mattered. But (so far), I'm stronger than grief, or the judgement/expectations of others.
  • Grief/Day 29 - Change is constant: embrace the change, because fighting it changes nothing. Don't run away from the past (or past mistakes). Own it. Wallow in it. Let it cover you. But then run to the future that's brighter, even covered in the muck.
  • Grief/Day 30 - Dating a Widow. (According to YouTube, and various websites). I watched about 30 videos/articles, and couldn't find an intelligent one amongst them. They all had points -- but they applied to some widowed and some unwidowed alike. There's not enough commonality and too much diversity for any generalization to be useful. The more assured the author, the less credible.
  • Grief/Day 31 - Still chewing on the pile of work that going from a partnership to s aole proprietor brings. Firsts don't hit me as hard as most grievers, to me they're just constructs to be miserable. And there's enough misery without constructs. So plodding forward, got a ton done in the last month, and working on self.
  • Grief/Day 32 - This meme/truism irks me. "My future is on hold while I hold on to the future from my past." It's so true that many grievers are doing this, and it's what we want to do -- it's hard to let go of the future we had. But it's so fucking unhealthy to hang on to that sinking anchor, let it go and swim for the surface.
  • Grief/Day 33 - I had one job... writing a summary of Melissa's life for the Memorial. That took all day, and everything I have. It's not that it's that perfect... but how do you sum someone up in 1,000 words? Especially someone that gave you 32 years of happiness? So many stories untold, so many memories I can't share. The witness to my greatest happiness is gone.
  • Grief/Day 34 - Member of the Widows Club: worst club ever. What can you do to help? Start by understanding the wound is physical and not just in their head. What can you do to prepare? Talk about the uncomfortable, pre-accept, pre-forgive each other, share that you forgive.

Week 6[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Week 6
2023-04-27 to 05/01 - Memorial
  • Grief/Day 35 - I did the Brave Widow podcast, cleaning up and prepping for the weekend/memorial. And am going to do a video.
  • Grief/Day 38 - Technical Difficulties, the Memorial, and closure. It was full of contradictions; Gads that was easy and hard, fun and tragedy, love and loss, sorrowful and joyful. She had a wonderful life and touched so many. But life is for the living, and even with the passing of the most beautiful person I ever knew... life goes on.

Day 37[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Day 37
  • Down to Earth People were coming into town -- but that made it more about entertaining and socializing. It was great seeig friends/family and having them at the house.
  1. We went to Lifetime Fitness (my Gym) and they were dicks to my brother. "Sorry, you've been a guest twice in the last 60 days, you have to pay $40 for a day pass to visit again"... oh shut up. So I stepped in and truth bombed her, "I'm sorry, he was here to visit my wife while she was dying in the hospital, and now he flew back this weekend to help run her memorial. Do you think you can let him work out a 3rd day?"... she backed off but said, "OK, well this will be have to be the last time". And I snipped, "That's fine since this was my only wife". Dumb fucking policy, and I was more snarky than mean about it -- but there was a barb in there about it being dumb fucking policy.
  2. I had to do an airport run to pickup Debi -- and the airport is crazy this weekend for some reason. And some people had cancelled flights and weren't able to make it. But Debi did, we eventually got through the mess, and everything was fine.
  3. I had ordered BBQ, we put it out, and people just grazed as they were hungry, and more people came over, and everyone snacked and chatted, and cleanup was plastic plates, and beer bottles (and some wine glasses). The kids swam in the pool, fished off the neighbors deck, or played ball in the yard, it was actually a wonderful night.

Day 38[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Day 38

Friends - Memorial / Celebration of Life. Gads that was easy and hard. But life is for the living, and even with the passing of the a beautiful person... life goes on.

  • Easy:
  1. A lot of people showed ≈80+ with probably half from out of town.
    • It was great seeing the people -- each bringing back great memories. Different eras, places we'd lived. People that Melissa had touched (or I had). Many of them connecting up and chatting with each other. And making wonderful new connections. "Oh, of course those two would get along." The people made it work.
  2. My brother did an excellent job of running it. And the planned and spontaneous testimonials were perfect. Many funny, lots of great stories. My friend Richard summed it up -- when every picture has her smiling from the soul, when that many people from all over tell the same fundamental stories about how kind, giving she was, and how she touched them -- then that's a life well lived. Even if too short.
  3. My pre-taping my 3 little stories / allegories worked well - I was able to be nerdy AV guy -- and still share things that I wanted about her, and just hint at a fraction of what an incredible loss the world suffered when she passed.
  4. Our friend Gina had helped with a video (picture deck movie, and just all around support). But that fucking video montage of photos with her music at the end, just had me bawling. Too many memories/emotions.
  5. The food from Lupe's Tortilla was perfect -- everyone seemed to enjoy. When it whittled down to 20 or so, we moved back to the house, and continued it until everyone went home and I crashed about 11:00.
  6. It was a wonderful send off. She was so loved and lovable. And it was a great party with great people.
  • Hard:
  1. I had all sorts of technical difficulties. You couldn't see the screen the way it was facing, so had to re-orient the room. It took a while to get everything setup. Then I couldn't get Facebook Live to work. Having worked with Facebook, they are a lousy, arrogant and incompetent organization that doesn't know how to write software, support it, or manage user privacy -- and all their incompetence resulted in lousy error unhelpful error message that nobody could figure out -- and just increased the stress. But whatever, we'd just record and worry about it later.
  2. Of course you want it to be perfect -- and nothing ever is. Things I had cut got re-added, the venue worked well, but wasn't perfect. Things I'd said, didn't all come our perfectly. I felt like I didn't have enough pictures of our neighbors, or other individuals. Oh, I forgot to Gina enough credit for her help. And so on. You can't do justice to 55 years in 55 minutes... so it can never be perfect. But it was good enough, and she would have loved it.
  3. Most of all, the guest of honor was missing. She would have loved it, and loved being there. I can manage grief most of the time... but the brutality and finality of the loss when you're having a party for her and withhout her? And everyone and everything reminds you of that loss. The people made it great, and all were helpful. Then I had to go to bed alone, again, and get lousy sleep (another night of crying in self pity like I hadn't had that bad since night 2 after she passed), knowing that tomorrow I wake up and keep moving on with life without her. Time to clean up, keep shifting my life from her/us to just me, and never forgetting, but having to stop living in the 32 wonderful years of my past. And figure out what the present and future is going to be.

Day 39[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Day 39

After MASH - Memorial / Celebration of Life.

  • Celebration of Life Recording The day after the memorial was like any other. I think I had hopes that there would be this great weight lifted, and closure. But there isn't. Someone I loved dearly is still dead... my partner is still gone... the hole is still the same size and depth it was yesterday. But I got to see friends and family (a few left today, and few more in the coming days), I uploaded the memorial, get to be thankful she was so celebrated and loved and everyone did such a great job. And I swim, work, clean, prepare to travel -- and just go on without her.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Journaling her and my journey was a way to use the world as my therapist. (Even if most of the world didn't read it). Writing things down, let's me get it out, organize it, understand it (and look at it from all sides). Not hide from the grief or pain, but really, really take it in, and go through it. I never worry that I'll forget it, because I can click in to each week or day, and re-live it on command. Once I've gotten it out, I can let it go. It's not just my burden to carry any more, others can share the load. I figure once the memorial is over, I'll be past this phase. (If not before... but I'll go to that stopping point to give others the sense of closure they need).

I also find that grief was a little similar to when I got an anxiety disorder that screwed up my brain chemistry, and made me depresed and suicidal. I had to crawl out of that pit of despair, and re-program myself just to leave the house... so having this loneliness/loss/despair just made me think of the lyrics to the Sound of Silence... "Hello darkness my old friend"... but I'd gotten through it before, so I started with the advantage of it being almost like a second time (at least biochemically, even if the reason for the despair was completely different). So the psychological pain that was being inflicted on me? I've had worse. And I carried that disorder for 30+ years.

In the end, my wife's passing has given me more reasons to live; to live for her memory, and to try to reflect some of her best characteristics on the world. I don't believe the bullshit that you need this to grow or it's some karmic balance thing happening. But if life gives you shit, you might as well stick some seeds in it, and see what grows.

Resources[edit | edit source]

Videos[edit | edit source]

TED Talk
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Nora McInerny - We don't "move on" from grief. We move forward with it.(Liked it)
TED Talk
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Jason B. Rosenthal - The journey through loss and grief. (Meh. Didn't do it for me.)

Books[edit | edit source]

  • The Widower's Notebook by Jonathan Stanlofer The Widower's Notebook) felt like an art professor wrote a book about his wife's death, and how he responded. Which he was and did. But I don't have a kid to do roadtrips with, Melissa's death wasn't a mystery that required lawyers, I didn't become a basket case (yet), and didn't try to assuage my feelings of loneliness with a student 1/2 my age and her bisexual boyfriend, and I don't do New York pretentious dinner parties trying to out intellectual everyone else. So it was a bit long-winded and only superficially relevant to me. Someone died. That sucks. Feel bad for him. It might help some relate more than others, I was the others.
  • It's OK that You're Not OK by Megan Devine This is more an academic's approach to how to better handle grief, and teaching people how to cope with grieving people as a back-handed way of teaching grieving people why people that don't know how to handle them sets them off? Why statements like, "it'll get better", or "at least you had X years", "they're in a better place" or "I suffered the loss of parent/child/pet" irritates some grievers. It converts the story from their suffering to the other, minimizes their pain, or they hear, "so get over it" at the end. So far, I get it, but not stickig with me, as I don't hear in the imagined sentence -- and I don't imagine in that they're trying to minimize my pain, convert it to being about them, or all the things that some people that want to be angry will do. But I have seen it in other grievers, so it's still good to review triggers and why.
  • Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis This has various intros that give it context -- but it's sort of poets view of grief, why he misses his wife, and some pithy observations on the universe and God. Basically, Lewis defends against his own inner voices crisis of faith, by metaphysical/theological exploration of grief and why it is needed. Even if I don't agree with parts, or have the same issues as he did with grief, it resonated well and I like it. Observations like time is another word for death, since you can never have it back -- and thus grief is pining for the past. Or his worry about how his memory drops parts, or tweaks parts, and thus he's terrorized that his wife is gone, and all is has left is memories that are no longer her. That stuff is brilliant, even if irrelevant. It's like reading someone else's love letters, you bond even when they aren't applicable and it doesn't change anything in your own situation.
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion An experiental books, on what she went through at the loss of a husband and daughter at the same time (loosely). But I never went through denial or self delusion ("If I just do X, they'll be back"), time dialation, or "the fog" of war/grief. So interesting read on how other people cope/react with problems that I never had, but limited direct applicability.

Forums/Sites[edit | edit source]

  • Young Widows/Widowers This is a page for people lost people they loved. It's tricky because they are dealing with different issues, like child-rearing and lack of resources. A lot of this didn't apply to me (we were childless, had means, and so on), but seeing/helping others that were going through it with more burdens and self-doubt (youthful insecurity, more immature relationships, etc.) all helped me come to terms with my own. It could have been a lot worse, and we got so much (which makes it both better and worse) compared to some others.
  • Rooted By Grief Started by one of the members of Young Widowers, it's a similar but slightly broader Forum.
  • Widowed Village By Soaring Spirits International, is a bunch of resources for Widows/Widowers. I used a few of those resources, just to see.
  • This has a lot of resources, but starting with what I consider a fallacy (the 5 stages of grief) doesn't help it's credibility for me, even when they use that to explain it's not linear or even that important. It's worse than that, it promotes ignorance by people think believe it exists.
  • DC Widow Story of/by a 39 year old Widowed mother of 3, living in DC.
  • Brave Widow VLOG on Widows. Smart Lady, I like her, and a lot of what she says. Not just because she had me on.

TV/Movies[edit | edit source]

  • A Man Called Otto Movie where Tom Hanks plays a suicidal widower, trying to re-learn the value of life after the loss of his soulmate. A bit triggering.
  • Shrinking AppleTV+ Show about a Widower.
  • After Life Netflix - Dark show about a Widower. Very British dark/awkward humor.
  • Dead To Me Netflix - Christina Applegate drama about screwed up people intertwining. (Lead is Widow)
  • Unstable Netflix - Rob Lowe as an unstable eccentric scientist that is more so, and trying to bond with his son, after the loss of his wife.
  • P.S. I love you RomCom movie about a widow and her husbands messages from beyond the grave.
  • The Patient Steve Carrel is mourning the loss of his wife.
  • Land Dark movie about a broken lady isolating herself from people after the loss of her family.

🗒️ Note:
I'm no authority, and I don't know how pleasant it is to read the snuff film of our partnership. But getting my thoughts out might help me or someone else, so while I tried to document my wife's story in her heart attack, this is my story of what happened next; the icecream headache of my heart... and the journey back from blissful co-dependence, into trying to re-grow the missing half of my soul back. Everyone's journey is unique, and they they say that there's no wrong way to grieve... but I'm pretty sure sniffing cocaine off a hookers boobs isn't the tribute my wife was hoping for. Fortunately, that's not my journey either.


🔗 More

Story of us
This is the "Story of us"... the pictures/tales of some highlighted trips, events or milestones in our life.

2023 Heart Attack
Feb 18th Melissa had a heart attack, stroke, and had to have CPR for over an hour.

Feb 18th Melissa had a heart attack, and had to have CPR for over an hour.

Tags: Story of us  2023 Heart Attack  2023 Heart Attack/All

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