Week 3

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GriefWeek 3
The memorial is planned, Melissa is cremated, home and resting in her urn on our mantle.
The memorial is planned, Melissa is cremated, home and resting in her urn on our mantle.
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Created: 2023-04-04 

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.

Journal[edit | edit source]

Day 14[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Day 14

Dear John

  • Adulting: Swam, mail, paperwork, moved a few more things around inside the house. Talked with a few different people -- still informing people on what happened or how I'm doing.
  • Melissa's Memorial Invite Yesterday, I did a lot of work (and finished up) the Memorial invite. Such an easy task. So hard. I had help (thanks Gina). But nostalgia and looking on any fond memories just reminds me of the soul crushing loss. I'm happy in the present. Happy for our past. But if I dwell on what a great life we had, I can still collapse back to sorrow about the lost future.
  • Grief Groups I still follow a few grief groups (and seem to be able to help a few people via my communication skills), finished a book on Grief (The Widower's Notebook), and started another (It's OK that you're not OK). I still feel the same pain as everyone else, just seem better able to take it (for now).
  1. The first book (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.
  2. The next book (It's OK that you're not OK) is more an accademics approach to how to better handle grief. Teaching people how to cope with grieving people as a back-handed way of teaching greiving 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.

Day 15[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Day 15

Growing Pains

Check out your heart
So on one of the grief forums, someone posted their FitBit's heart rate for the day their spouse died. It looked like they were having a heart attack. So I checked out the Apple Watch log. It's a low fidelity black box for my heart. It only samples every few minutes, but it still catches the physical reactions to pure love/grief.
  1. March 22nd -- I normally have a resting heart rate in the 70s-80s. I was woken up ≈3:45am by the Hospital and told my wife had to go from Rehab back to CCU and get put on a vent because of sepsis (Septic Shock). Bang, I'm awake: coming. I calmed myself down a little (I assume my heart was up higher before I put on the watch/black box); just because Dad died of this, doesn't mean Melissa will. Got dressed (including Watch), and started driving down to the hospital. I can see spikes, and know what they mean. Theres's when it shot to 120 rage screaming in the car while driving, "NO!". There's where I was getting news or researching what it means, or when I pulled out the DNR (I'd carried with me for 5 weeks) and said "no more surgeries without my permission". There's where my heart broke and shot up to 154; I was either telling the doctors they had to let my baby go, or that's the moment afterward when I was in the room asking her if she knew I loved her more than anything in the world, and she blinked once slowly, "yes, she knew"... before they administered the drugs to put her under for the last time.
  2. I peeked at the next day, and there was a huge spike to 149 when I woke up and remembered my wife would never be there again. It was elevated the entire day, and would spike up a couple more times during rage cries.
  3. I went back further to Feb 18th. I'd just got in the jacuzzi (lightly stretching before my swim) when I got and answered a strange local call a little after 7:00am. (I almost never answer those spam calls, but needed to this time). “This is Theresa, a running partner of Melissa, your wife went down and we are doing CPR"... 151 heart rate. It stayed above 100 most of that day, until I fell asleep at 10:00. I can't imagine if I haddn’t answered that call (and did my swim first)?
  • Voice Mail Someone on the forums says, "I keep listening to my LWs voice on voicemail" -- and the reply is, if it gives you peace, then it's fine. If it gives you hurt, stop doing it. We weren't big voice-mailers (usually answering or calling back). But I think, "Oh look, there's a scab I hadn't picked -- let's check out my voicemails from her". A couple cranky ones about traffic that made me laugh, and a dozen heart crushing happy ones waiting for one of her flight, "Good morning sunshine, love you", or something I needed to do for her. "Love you too babe". Heart melting bad fucking idea. I'm not in denial -- but dear God hearing her voice brings her back and tears my heart at the loss. Someday, I'll be able to hear that with nostalgia and fond memories, but today it's a cruel reminder of what I lost.
Guns, Steaks and Beer
So in need for an outlet we did my wed night shooting thing with Mike (and Richard and Jackson/Grandson). We make boom-boom. Mike brought his hand-cannon used for hunting polar bears -- Jackson fired and didn't end on his ass. Richard said he felt the earth move. It was funny watching a guy a few lanes down firing a 12 ga., have to put it down to see what was making more noise that he was. One guy was firing his $7,000 Stacato race gun, and I avoided mooching a ride, as I don't want to blow $7K -- but he let me hold it, it looked nice. I was just firing new optics I'd put on my S&W 5.7. And I helped Jackson sight his gun, and proved it was on target, at max range. Then we had steak and beers at the local pub.
NOTE: This was a much more constructive testosterone release than trolling for hookers who look like my dead wife. But there's always Friday night.

Day 16[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Day 16
  • Groundhog Day
  1. I'm usually good with one shooting day per week. But their neighbors grandkid (Jackson) had such a good time, and we got his iron sight sighted in (but still had to do the laser sight), that he stayed an extra night over spring break, that maybe I'd take him. Richard had some doctors visits with his parents to do -- so I took Jackson to Jersey Mike's and for a quick shoot. He had a great time, as we just competed... and he was bragging he beat me; I was rapid firing pistol, and he was slow firing rifle, at the same range.

Day 17[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Day 17
  • Who's the boss?
  1. Swam. Laundry. Did a bunch of clean up stuff (moving things) around the house. Bought new Office Chair and folders, and organizers for paperwork. (I want my own system) -- and started filing and reconciling. The good news is the work keeps me distracted.
  2. While getting stuff at Office Depot, I got a migraine; can't see out of the lower right quadrant (sparkles). I don't get them often, and sometimes they go away pretty quickly. I finished buying things, and just kind of ignored it. Went next door to Target to buy some stuff they didn't have (I need patches for Jeans that I'm wearing through... if it was just holes in the legs I could call it style, but it's in the crotch. The jeans fit well, and I want to save them a little longer). Fortunately, the sparkles went away, I went to Uburrito (like a better Chipotle's); one of M's favorites. Had a couple Taco's and a margarita for her. It was a small frozen one... but the buzz kicked in for the drive home. I'd stopped for at a pool supply place to see about getting a "pool guy" to take that off my plate, and was definitely feeling it.
  3. Wasn't the best day grief wise -- it comes and goes. And I had to tell one of the Gardeners (Tucson property) that was asking "how is Miss Melissa was doing", that she'd passed.
  4. Did dinner with neighbors, and a late (day early) Easter Service... though I was a bit pouty and fuming during the service, as I felt short changed on the whole bargaining thing. On top of that it was a service that included a 30 year old lady in hospice for cancer that she'd died slowly of over the last 8 years. But she was talking about how her faith was getting her through. And I was thinking about the grief her husband is going to deal with soon.

Day 18[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Day 18
  • Silver Spoons
  1. Slept better, didn't sob when I first woke up, did my swim (drove the Mini Cooper to keep the battery from dying)
  2. Bought flowers (mostly impatient's) for the front yard (for the Gardener to put in) - pink in honor of Melissa, then white closer to the house (in honor of my tastes).
  3. A grief forum topic came up that I thought was interesting -- many of those that have the least trouble were the ones that died from cancer, and the sudden deaths had the longer adjustment periods. It makes sense, and we assume that you can prepare, but it was interesting to see people supporting it.
  4. Note: the 5 stages of grief? That was created by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross -- and it was only meant to applied as a loose guideline for people with terminal illnesses, that first learn of it. Not general grief. And she later said she regretted creating it, because it's so misused and misunderstood by the general public. It does not apply to the loss of a spouse at all, from anyone I've ever heard/listened to.
  5. I continued to move Melissa's stuff from Master Closet to Spare Closet (and vice versa). She had enough clothes to go a month (or two) without washing them. And shoes? Where'd all these fucking shoes come from? (and sandals and slippers). A lot of people seem to go through grief with moving their ex's stuff? But I'm not sentimental on clothes. Especially when I have to sherpa them from room to room.
  6. Then I also did a lot more bookwork -- converting Melissa's system for property management into Dave's. Like she has 5 different spreadsheets, and then just the unit and amount (without summing up columns, etc). I needed to create one spreadsheet with tabs, add in thigns like dates paid, where it was paid to (Zelle, ApplePay, Check, etc), and who is in what unit. She just knew what went where, and where it came from -- I need to add hints.

Day 19[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Day 19
  • It's a living
  1. OK. My life is definitely become a new routine, made up of many old routines. Just emptier. But I have a good life even if it's a little more empty without someone to share it with. The lake is beautiful in the morning. The last few days have been MayFly season (they look like mosquitoes but don't bite), and that brings out the starlings, hundreds of birds flying our like a Hitchock film, eating the mayflies. Both have calmed down, and I'm left with serene, nice temps, an overfilled lake (from rain upstream), and a deck covered in little bird shits that I'm going to have to power wash. What a metaphor for life.
  2. Melissa's Aunt Ceci's health took a turn for the worse. Ceci has had COPD and has Oxygen, but like Melissa is stubborn and does things her way. So decided she didn't need it just to go to the bathroom, and kind of blacked out, was too weak/foggy to get up and laid there for hours. During recovery in the Hospital, it appeared she had a heart attack somewhere in there. And approaching 80, the cascading system failures are a big risk. Since this is Mary's Sister (Melissa's Mom), this could be a rougher year for her. I know that once your emotional cup is full, any additions to it, just make it that much worse.
    • Some of our Friends and Family are mad at Melissa for running with her heart, and ignoring her doctors advice (or not taking it seriously enough). I heard "Selfish", or just fear for her health... or people desperately looking for something to blame for the injustice of such a great person dying like that. But we all die, and it's mixed. Even her doctors admitted that the running probably helped her heart remain strong and live as long as she did, even if it was going to eventually kill her. Her stubborn was sometimes a constructive stubborn, sometimes not. (And mixed with conflict avoidance, meant a sometimes "sneaky" Melissa, that was going to do what she wanted). But she defied Doctors her whole life... and definitely got some of that pig-headed determination to ignore others advice from Ceci (who used to watch her, and was sort of Ceci's surrogate daughter, since she couldn't have her own, after losing one).

Day 20[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Day 20

Doogie Howser, M.D

Grief Brain
One of the books on grief I'm listening to is going over grief brain. Basically, that while in grief a lot of people are in a fog, and keep doing things like putting keys in the freezer, not being able to read, and so on. Basically, the brain starts using all its spare cycles to process grief, and not enough is left for foreground tasks to process well. Usually it goes away. I never had this -- and of course that makes you think to yourself, "what's wrong with me?" But of course, the answer is nothing. I just can divide tasks well into separate modes. I can push a thought down, then bring it back whne I have focus time and really think it through and explore it. So it's not that I didn't think of all the things they did and process it -- I'm just "better" (different) at setting aside 15 minutes or an hour to just REALLY think on that. Then I process it, write it down, and move on (unless I discover a new variable I hadn't thought of, etc). It let's me get closure on topics faster. (It's been very valuable when I was in leadership roles in that I'm decisive and move on).
I over-intellectualize issues and can really process them. But I really explore them quickly and thoroughly. Why do I think/feel that? What could I have done differently? Is this helpful or non-helpful thoughts? What can I learn? If needed, I can turn off, or turn down emotions. But I usually don't, as they need to be processed/felt as well. I worried that the Spock brain processing was turning me into a sociopath (living in a different world separated from the human experience) -- but I feel empathy and for others just fine. And my wife laughed off the idea when I pointed out that I processed grief over the death of my parents or friends that I loved far quicker than most. She kenw the depth of which I felt the pain, I could just handle it, and move on quicker than others. I can revist topics, especially if someone brings something up about an issue/aspect, that I haven't thought of. I don't 100% think I'm right on everything -- I think dwelling on it when I'm at 95%+ certainty isn't going to help anything -- unless there's a new variable. Since I'm discovering litle new about my wife's or parental death, and it wouldn't change much, I tend to move on.
  • Better Person A friend mentioned that the loss of his wife "made him a better person". I don't doubt it. The "funny" thing was I was often a better person (in some ways) when she wasn't around. She'd take a trip, and I'd get all these things done. When she was home, I was often on her schedule, or felt like just running around and blowing through my lists (ignoring her existence) was obnoxious. So I often waited for her... or worse, could just wait until it magically got done or she asked me to do it (to earn spousal credits for later). When she's gone, I'm bored, can't wait until the bill-fairy pays and logs the bills, or the fridge fairy cleans out the things that smell bad or are past expiry. I'm not scoring points procrastinating until asked. Just make lists, and do them. And when I'm by myself -- self improvement tends to get moved way higher up the lists. Go out. Work out. Eat less. (And I don't have her sabotaging me with my favorite treats). A lot of my motivation changes from doing it for her/us, to doing it for me -- and the latter is a simpler equation.


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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.

Tags: Grief/Weeks

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