Week 5

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GriefWeek 5
My life is as lonely as Week 1, but my psyche has already adapted.
My life is as lonely as Week 1, but my psyche has already adapted.
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Created: 2023-04-04 

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.

Journal[edit | edit source]

Day 28[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Day 28

Small Wonder - Wed. Week 5

  • Still studying So I'm still diving in to understand this grief thing. Finished another couple books (The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion and A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis). Listening while swimming and walking. They were more experiental books, on what they went through. I never went through denial or self delusion ("If I just do X, they'll be back"). And I was introspective, but not from a metaphysical/spiritual point of view like Lewis (defending against a crisis of faith). So interesting reads, but limited direct applicability. But it is interesting seeing how other people cope with problems that I never had.
  • Pain or suffering?
  1. I also joined a group chat (and watched a few others) on grief. It's not that I feel I need it -- but it's good to check/question your assumptions. So I do them anyways, and joining let me know that I am WAY ahead of most -- not that it's a race, or there's such a thing as "winning", Just I was not having the problems that the vast majority went through. (Or I had those things as a fleeting thoughts, but stopped them before they metasticized). And I am learning things by listening.
  2. A widowed friend said basically, 'I envy you, you have no suffering'. I was a bit defensive/offended ("Don't deminish my grief or love for my wife!" is the first thought)... and explained all the pain and suffering in my past that enable me to cope so well with this (this ice-cream headache of the heart fucking hurts). And without knowing the differences in the terms, I did get some of it correct by accident. But the group chat I had let me know what the terms meant in the context of grief and how to use them better in the future. Megan Devine (Author specializing in Grief) explained that:
    • Pain is the natural reactions caused by the body/brains reaction to loss, and the direct hurt caused by the loss of a spouse -- like the heart rate example or cortisol or the physical hurt/ache that manifests.
    • Suffering is caused by others judgement, expectations, toxic interactions with people (often intent on helping, but actually forced isolating you or hurting). By projecting their expectations and good intent, "You need X", they often force you into isolation or a negative spiral that you're trying to crawl out of. - or - Suffering is the self inflicted doubts/rehashing of events, anxiety, fear, and isolation, self-punishment that goes with grief, but is an indirect reaction to the reactions of you being "different" and a widow.
    • These are unforced errors that you needn't deal with... but are subjected to or subject yourself to. And on that he was right. I blow off others mistakes who don't know better (so their errors don't usually stick, even if they sting). I can adapt to their ignorance/bigotries and not take it personally as I get their intent isn't malicious. And I didn't make many of those self-induced mistakes or I start to self-correct out of them pretty quickly. So lots of pain, lots of suffering in the past -- that past suffering gave me wisdom and strength on how to avoid suffering in the present. Most of the long grief is caused by suffering, and hopefully, I can remain nearly immune.
  • Cortisol? Sleep and double vision -- examples of pain discussed in one of the forums are things like weight loss/gain, lack of motivation (depression), fucking with sleep patterns, and some bizarre ones like one of the people complaining of double-vision.
  1. Holy shit, I'd gotten up too quickly not a couple hours earlier, and for about 2 minutes, I was seeing double. I was starting a panic cycle, "did I tear a retina (other friends had that recently), having a stroke?". I'd never had this before. I could cover one-eye or the other, and see fine (I did quick tests). I could speak clearly (at least out loud to myself), no droopy I could feel. I slowed my heart, pressed on both eyes, and something reset and it all popped back to normal. I thought, that was freaky... if it happens again, I'll talk to a doctor/opthomologist. Then I went on and was in a group chat a couple hours later and find out it's a symptom of grief stress? Have to keep an eye on that (pun intended). I can intellectualize (Spock) my way out of a lot of stuff, but then pure physical things (like that, or tracking my heart rate at the time of Melissa's death) are still there. Yup. Still human, even if I'm able to control it better than most.
  2. I am controlling most of the other symptoms -- weight loss was intentional. I'm distributing calories throughout the day, just eating lighter meals. I'd done this on Optavia/Medifast, but I'm not doing carb denial (ketosis) as much this time, but trying to keep high protein to prevent muscle decay, and so I'm shedding weight in a controlled way (a couple/few lbs/week), and I'm working out more; it gives me something to do and releases good chemicals and is self improvement (turn a negative into a positive). The people having issues are refusing to eat, not eating with the same frequency just lighter, and they generally are laying around.
  3. My motivation is high; knocking out errands galore and making progress on paperwork, accounts, work-work (I'm still attending meetings and knocking out things for work). I actually want to do more to de-Melissa much of the house; not running away from her (still love her and want some important momentos forever), but more towards the future I have to exist in. (Making the best of it). But I'm slowing the process, and waiting on most of it until after the memorial visitors.
  4. Sleep patterns? Yeah -- I had controlled that with NyQuil (and Tryptophan + Melatonin) for a few weeks, and was getting 7+ hours. For someone that normally gets 6, that's not bad. (Retaining motivation and not dragging ass all day). But NyQuil stopped working for a couple night -- so I stopped taking it for a few more. NyQuil may not be "habit forming", but I'm still too much a control freak to just trust the labels. So I've been doing more like 4-5 hours, then a flurry of activity (like writing this), then a 1-2 hour nap/snooze before my swim. Too much processing makes the brain hard to turn off.
  5. So cortisol (stress hormone) is letting me know it's there. But so far, I seem to be managing it.

Day 29[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Day 29
A Runaway Girl
I think one of the problems of grief and life is people that runaway from things. Usually (but not always), I run towards them; a little impatient (especially at statis). But if you don't understand the motivation (or believe it), then it doesn't matter -- it can look the same, and people can delude themselves. I can be calm and enjoy the moment (especially if my goal is calmness); but a lack of movement towards some goal/purpose? I don't do that well. I was abused, I ran towards living on my own (in my creek) as a wilderness boy (not running away from home). I was bullied, I learned to go through the fight to find the peace I desired. Then I started to become a bully, so I ran into Martial Arts and learned control (and to help others against bullying). I was afraid of Marriage (because I saw so many bad ones), so I became the best Husband I could be. When one job got bad, I moved on -- the new would be better (and it usually was). Life is too short, and Melissa and my blink-of-an-eye 32 years reminds me of that. That life is over; wonderfully sweet with a slightly bitter aftertaste. I'm not afraid of the many great memories, the hurt at the loss -- I just want to turn the page and run towards the new life that I have no choice but to live, with all I have left.
  1. An abused kid, I didn't like home - but I didn't run-away from it. I ran towards living in my creek as often as possible. I knew I would come back home, and get the beating for some semi-legitimate reason for an exaggerated punishment. But I just spent as much time in the new life in the wilderness as possible (wallowing in goodness and freedom to help me through the bad).
  2. Later it was jumping into computers, sports, friends, job or something else was the draw towards learning/knowlege/mastery or giving me a purpose. I couldn't get away from the old/bad, sometimes the old wasn't bad and was good or great -- but still I had to go forward. I remember telling a friend in my teens, I didn't expect to live until 30, so I wanted to get as much done before then as possible.
  3. I hated fighting; a gentle intellectual. But I didn't have a choice, small and mouthy, I was forced to fight. And my Step-Dad beat me for running away from a fight (fear him more than any other child). I learned to never run-away. I'd beg kids not to make me fight, but if they made me, I committed and went through it -- the way to peace was to destroy them as a lesson to the rest, leave me be. I fought 1 kid, 2 kids at once, and a kid 2 grades greater -- not that I had a choice. My fight or flight learned to never flee; I just had to teach them to regret forcing a fight and go forward (even bruised and bloodied).
  4. I started to become a tormentor (let's say pre-bully), it was what I knew (the strong abused the weak). But I didn't like who I was becoming, so I ran into it -- I took Martial Arts; you aren't going to bully those who outrank you. And I taught myself self control (to walk away or ignore), and taught others how to defend themselves. I ran towards the pain, and new reality, and got through it. If something is good or bad, there's still something better over the horizon.
  5. As a teen, I wanted to be self sufficient to get into a new life. I tried every drug or experience, but I wasn't drawn into addiction; I didn't want to run-away or escape from life. I was anti-addictive: trying something was appealing, losing control to it and getting stuck had no allure. I tried everything I could think of; skydiving, backpacking through the sierras, Martial Arts stuntman, and so on. Lean into the change. But few stuck; what else is there, give me more.
  6. With Melissa, I ran towards a relationship and marriage -- despite the disasters that were my parents, grandparents and some friends. And I just vowed to learn it, and be better. I was. Not perfect, but well past the mark of most, and good enough to have a wonderful life with her. Now that's over. I can't change that. What's next?
  7. I also had the drive to try to change jobs, and cities/cultures. Experience all that life has to offer. She was more happy/content with how great things were where we are, and was a nester. We compromised and moved less than I wanted, but more than she did. To her, every move was leaving something behind, to me it was a new challenge to be explored. I dragged her, and she appreciated being dragged... eventually.
  8. With Melissa's death? The same. I don't want to run away from Grief, Texas, our life our home here, or the wonderful past we had together. I wallowed in it, and journaled it, and went through it. Suffer, Suffer, and now I carry the baggage of what was lost. Such is life. I can take all that brutal experience has to offer. At least for a brief period of time... just don't hold me back.
  9. Past memories hurt; bring it. I can deal with and talk about that. Each time I talk about it, I get a little less sensitive and stronger. I can't control the pain, but I can control accepting it and the future; moving into the future. New Adventures, New People, New Experiences.
  10. Age wise? I'm over half way to death... her passing reminds me of that. Gotta go forward. Life is going to be over soon. I can't change that, or the past... or wallow too much in the parts of life I don't like. I can just do what I've always done, and let it go. Keep moving. I can't stop grief/pain, but least I drank deeply from the chalice of life, even chewing on the bitterest seeds of sorrow, loss and grief floating in the cup. Now ever onward into the breach... I'll stop moving when I'm dead.

Day 30[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Day 30
One of the Boys
I'm a data nerd, it's how I process. So while looking at Widows/Widowers, they had a lot of YouTube videos and articles on Dating a Widow/Widower (or dating as one), and faux experts offering conflicting advice. It's basically, them projecting their own issues onto all the rest. Like:
  1. Widows cut through the bullshit and don't want to waste time on games -- they want to get to relationship status. But then others are scared of getting hurt and just want a fuck buddy. So they're saying Humans tend to over-correct in one direction or another, and many don't find balance? Doesn't that same advice apply to divorcées, or people that never got married?
  2. Widows might want to rush in... or take it way too slow. See #1. They are hurt/hurting with something that will never go away. So are they running to replace or running for something new? Baggage is nothing new or unique to Widowhood. And even the kind of baggage isn't.
  3. Widows might internally compare you to their ex'es? But they are also forgiving of small flaws/quirks because they miss those quirks that annoyed them in their late spouses. So non-widows don't compare you to exes? Learning to notice deal breakers and overlook minor quirks seems like good dating advice in general -- especially to those with children in the home. (Maybe a little restraint/caution is good, but a lot isn't).
  4. There was the "Widows that keep pictures, or wear rings", or "if they don't introduce you to their friends/family" means they aren't ready. Yeah -- in the extremes, that's obviously true. But it is a process. Friends/family can be judgy -- so there's a pacing issue there. Or some families/friends that are just easier to avoid confrontation by not sharing. And again, this applies to dating in general.
  5. In the end, I didn't find much value in these. If the diversity in a dataset exceeds the commonality in the dataset (and it does), then it's all noise (no signal/data). The advice was conflicting views trying to generalize things and where either too broad to be useful, or a stereotype that doesn't fit the many outliers. Sure, many people aren't self aware, all have issues and neuroses, but that applies to Widows, Divorceé's, career Single, married and cheating, and so on. So widows lost someone they loved instead of a more acrimonious break-up, and some have baggage from the loss (as they will always love their late spouses). The only thing I got from that is that insecure people need not apply. That doesn't translate into good generalizations for dating -- for them or who they are dating. I was hoping for some epiphanies/insights but got mostly garbage instead.
It reminded me of the addage, "never stick your dick in crazy". Not bad advice... but crazy is good at hiding for longer than it takes for a guy to want to put his dick into someone (or some thing). I'm pretty sure it's an evolutionary tactic by crazy -- or crazy would have died out long ago.

Day 31[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Day 31
Making the Grade
Still stepping forward:
  1. I've been researching on what to use for managing properties. Melissa's system was 75% in her head, with a dozen different spreadsheets, 5 banks with 3+ accounts each, each with their own credit/debit cards, taking payments through any means necessary, and just knowing who is where. Melissa rocked it through manual reconciliation, anal pedantry, and force of will. I need a system. I'd offered to help set one up, in fact asked repeatedly if we could (and share the load, just in case), but she didn't want the input, even knowing that it would make things easier. In all things, she did it her way!
  2. Ahh, another first. The first big/real solo post-Melissa Costco run (I was sherpa, not leader). Instead of grabbing one or two things, I bought a few hundred in stuff. A lot of grievers really have problems with anniversaries/dates and firsts/lasts -- all the suck and missing their beloved overwhelms them. I already did that acceptance of everything when/before she passed (and that first miserable week). So, "sigh, she would have liked that", or, "don't need to get that any more", "or it'd be nice to tag team". But I don't get despondent or cry... just a dull phantom pain ache at my missing limb (with the bubbly personality). Today is the first month anniversary of her passing (March 22) -- it doesn't suck more or less than another day since her passing. Just sucks, now on with life. Everyone grieves differently.
  3. I am writing a longer obit/summary of her life for the memorial, that's taking sandpaper to a thin scab and adding salt. But nobody else is qualified. I'll start with pages, and let others pare it down, each sentence or word a cherished memory lost to time. The time between someone's passing and their memorial (even a happy celebration of life), seems like statis; the time between the old happy life, and the new unknown. But I don't know that May 1st is really much different than April 30th. Melissa is still gone from both of them.
  4. I did a personal trainer -- just to get an idea of what I can work on. (Created a plan). Because I swim and do a body scuplt class, I have some things I'm strong at (like very quick recovery) -- pulling in, chest, etc. But other things that are really weak (quads, back, limberness). I have more free time, so might was well do more work on self. Just an early work to failure got the right amount of soreness for the next day. We also had memberships to massage and stretching that haven't been utilized, so got them to combine the accounts, and now I have a lot of credits (catching up to do). So massages twice a week for a while, doesn't suck.
  1. Quicken would work, but they don't offer the edition I need for the Mac, and don't feel like running an emulator.
  2. QuickBooks can do it, but a lot of setup and complexity (and not cheap).
  3. Just ruling others out, one at a time.

Day 32[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Day 32
Learning the Ropes
It's so true that we want our old future that we won't let it go. And there are so many stuck in that loop. But it's not me. I get it, the past was safe, we were loved, we had fulfillment and routines we loved, and the future has unknown dangers and the loss of security, it's the dark unknown. But you don’t have a choice. You either waste your time (life) wallowing in the lost past, or in the stagnant purgatory of the present, or you just keep going forward into the dark/scary/unknown future. Have faith that there are other places and things to see, other purposes and things to do, other people to love and who will love you.
Seeing people years into the grief cycle and unable to let go of that millstone of their past, or making excuses for not making steps forward just hurts me. I get that people who haven't dealt with grief say the wrong things, like "just get over it", and stuff. They have to learn it themselves. But it's like watching groundhog day, they keep making the same mistakes, and won't learn from them. It's fine to grieve and miss them. It's wrong to wallow in it, and not make progress. Pain, relapses, short term despair? I get. But repeating the same day over and over again, without any change? If it's not working, try something new. Don't stop living because your spouse did. You have the obligation to try to live harder for both of you, not waste your life in remorse or rememberance of what is lost. Even this journal, just shows me that things have changed, just every week, or in the month since she's passed. Like it or not, life happened, and I was forced to change and grow. Experience is what you get, when you didn't get what you wanted. I've gotten more experiences than many. Now onward.

Day 33[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Day 33
The Wonder Years
I procrastinated all weekend, but wrote out a piece trying to summarize Melissa's life for the memorial. Melissa sometimes asked why I didn't write more on us. It's because I didn't have to sort anything out, it was good, I was happy. I often write to get clarity, but I have perfect clarity on us. That and like this, writing about my late wife, is just cruel and unusual punishment... each word assaulting me with what I and the world lost. I don't want to run from it (I did it), but it's a little too soon in the rearview, to have to reopen all those wounds. Nobody knows like I know what the world has lost. A few paragraphs can never do justice to it. I hadn't cried this much since the day after she passed (exactly one month ago). I was so recently a husband to a great Woman. Now I'm a Widower, holding his life together, and trying to move on.

Melissa was born on 03/18/1968 with a birth defect called ALCAPA (Anomalous origin of the left coronary artery from the pulmonary artery) which was usually fatal. Instead of passing within the first 5 weeks, Melissa was with us for 55 years and 4 days.
ALCAPA happens in 1 out of 300,000 live births or 0.5% of the children with congenital heart disease, but almost none of the children diagnosed survive without early surgery, and she was born prior to these surgeries being available. Those undiagnosed, or adult diagnosed have an 80% to 90% incidence of sudden death at the mean age of 35 years. As far as we know, she's the only person with this rare disease to be able to run half marathons. Many say their spouses are one in a million, but Melissa's life rarer than that.
She went to Saint Colombian’s Catholic school, where she learned how to pray and swear, not necessarily in that order. She made lifelong friends, many of which flew out for her memorial. In her teens they performed her first double bypass and told her to take it easy....  so, she did so by competing in gymnastics until she popped open the wires holding her chest together, so she then decided to take up a lifelong hobby of running. She then became student body President, runner up for Prom Queen all at Garden Grove High School, and to all that met her she was a ray of sunshine.
In her early 20s, Debi and Melissa took a trip to Puerto Vallarta where she developed her lifelong love of margaritas, Mexican food and the joys of dancing on bars. Some things that happened in Mexico will always stay in Mexico, but she developed a lifelong aversion to tequila shots.
Melissa earned her degree in Early Childhood Development at CSULB  -- and taught pre-K to 3rd grade for 6 years after college, and then shifted into social work, while living in San Diego and Ohio. She finally became a flight attendant for Continental Express (and then United when they merged), claiming her degree was applicable, since many travelers acted like spoiled children. She enjoyed flying the not so friendly skies for 18 years until she was forced to retire due to the COVID.
She loved adventure, and those 18 years and bragged that she got to visit every Ramada Inn in the continental U.S., Mexico and Canada. But she also got to explore many wonderful cities on extended overnights, and it allowed them to visit Europe or Hawaii on a few occasions. Ultimately she was disappointed when United Airlines CEO did not honor her life time retirement fly benefits.
Melissa met Dave when he was her Karate instructor in 1991, and after 3 years they got married in 1994, making him the luckiest man on earth. Dave said he hit the lotto; a beautiful girl that didn't realize how out of his league she was. They took their adventures on the road living in Orange County, San Diego, Sacramento, Cleveland Ohio, Austin Texas, San Jose, and finally back to Houston Texas. While they had some ups and downs, especially while Dave was getting bridle trained, they had as close to a perfect marriage as anyone ever gets; they were completely devoted to each other, and wonderfully in love until her last day.
To summarize Melissa in a sentence, she was always a happy person, that converted Mexican food calories into a whirlwind of energy; zipping around, cleaning, cooking, doing chores, running, managing properties, until she crashed on her deck, looking out at her lake, admiring her latest pedicure color, margarita in hand.
One of her most treasured activities was never forgetting a birthday, anniversary, get well card, or other event -- anything that would allow her to send a kind note, card, gift, and let people know that they were remembered and loved. For the last year she was working at American Greetings stocking cards in various stores, putting her organizational skills to full effect. Many of us have been the happy recipients of one of her timely greetings, something that we will all miss. A small kindness that was her own in this digital world, and something that can inspire us all to pass it forward in her memory.
Sadly, on February 18th, Melissa was running (doing what she loved) with her friends at Kingwood Fit, when she had cardiac event. Despite having a Pacemaker, she went into ventricular tachycardia and was administered CPR by running buddies Theresa (a Physician Assistant) and Mirna (ICU Medical Assistant). Always the fighter, after an hour of CPR, they were bringing in her husband in to say goodbye, when her heart got sinus rhythm and she fought on. She suffered a stroke, anoxic brain injury, had multiple DVT clots, neuropathy, and had lost most of her vision. And still, she was in rehab fighting and showing signs of recovery when she developed septic shock due to a blockage and passed on March 22nd at 11:52 PM... 4 days after her 55th birthday, and 3 days after the 32nd Anniversary of Dave and Melissa's first date. (Which they still celebrated).

Melissa is survived by her Husband David. Her Mom and Dad (Mary and Bill). Her two recently discovered brothers (Matt and Mark) and their families. Brother/Sister in-law and family. Friend like Debi (her oldest friend), and Mandy (her day drinking buddy and confidant), as well as Richard and Vickie (friends, neighbors and weekend domino partners). As well as wonderful extended family, co-workers, community, friends, and classmates from Saint Columbans. Along with the rest of the world that has been denied the light of knowing one of nicest, happiest and most considerate people to grace the earth.

Day 34[edit source]

           Main article: Grief/Day 34

Herbie, the Love Bug - I just added a couple things I Facebooked about

Member of the Widows Club
Being a widow is a club that I hope you never join. All of a sudden, all these little touching moments that you see on TV and the movies, and used to think you got, you get. Stanford talking to his late wife, people visiting their grave, touching gestures to a photo/painting. Ohhhh... I see it now. It isn't just sweet, this is a profound tragedy for the character, the writer, and any others who are in the club. It's not a touching moment of pleasant memory, but a soul-crushing ritual as a desperate coping mechanism in tribute for love lost but never forgotten and a wound never completely healed over.
  1. A lot of widows HATE when people say, "I get it"... when they can't. (There's a lot of rage on forums about that). "They think they do by comparing some other loss to what they're going through... but by saying they get it, they fucking don't! They can't." Heck, I thought I got it before too. I didn't. The scale and scope of loss, changes everything.
  2. I still take their words for what they are... a kind attempt to empathize, walk beside you, and show they care. But when they say they truly can't imagine, they are correct.
  3. I imagined it for 32 years in various nightmare scenarios (I knew of her heart condition, and every odd call could send the rush, "Please don't let this be the call"), and I'm one of the more stoic people I know. I've "handled it" far better than most as far as functioning, acceptance, and being ready to keep going. But it was still way bigger than my worst nightmares had imagined. It changes you.
  4. I'm not a huge crier. But there is a profound ache of sympathy for the bereaved, the love, and the loss. Ohhh. I see now. I wish I didn't. But I get it. It isn't just sweet, this is a profound tragedy for the character, the writer, and any others who are in the club. It's not a touching moment of pleasant memory, but a soul-crushing ritual as a desperate coping mechanism in tribute for love lost but never forgotten and a wound never completely healed over.
  5. I hope that you never have to really get it.
What can I do to help?
Very little but support them. It's up to them. Let me share a model (construct)
  1. They lost someone they loved. Everyone gets that, and understands the idea of pain, loneliness. (Just not the depth/breadth). That's why they think they get it. Outsiders see hurt, and want to "fix it". Or "just get over it" or think "it's in their head, and they need to move on". Yeah, that's naive, and missing more than half of what's happening.
  2. When you're in deep stress, your body starts dumping stress hormones (like cortisol), the fight or flight, anxiety, fear mechanism. And that chemical starts fucking with the gut biome, the way the brain wants to wire, what it wants to think about, and so on. It's a biochemical war on the psyche (and body). Seriously.
  3. So think about this:
    1. a person lost their security, the person that makes them feel safe at the end of the day, part of their purpose, their emotional outlet/support/tension reliever.
    2. They also might have lost financial and time support raising kids, and so on.
    3. The world today IS far less safe for them than before.
    4. So this isn't in their head. But their head will react to it, dump these hormones which puts them on edge, and reinforces their fears... which dumps more hormones. Negative feedback loop.
    5. I had an anxiety disorder, so think of this as an anxiety disorder but it maps well to the physical reaction (and remedies). It's a fear of losing their loved one, and they have to face that fear every day, and they can't stop it.
  4. So how can you help? Reduce their stress, and let them figure it out.
    1. Being a worry wart, and pushing them can quickly be a stress for them. You're forcing them to deal with things that hurt them, and they might avoid you. (You're hurting them, or making them hurt). They need to have control of the throttle, not you.
    2. You can ask them some of the things that magnify it, and alleviate those. If they're financially stressed, what can help that? If they're time stressed with their kids, how can you help that? (Being Uber, babysitting, etc). Getting them a maid for housework. That's what getting them food is about; alleviating a time suck. (They don't have to carry it all alone).
  5. But they have the heavy lifting -- and have to decide to try.
    1. They have to learn to recognize they have a bad voice, and a good voice, and the bad voice has a megaphone, and how to ignore it and listen for the whisper (the good one). That's on them. (That will rewire their brain from grief to positivity).
    2. They can help combat cortisol with dopamine (or basically happy chemicals) -- exercise, meditation, sex/masturbation, dating (companionship), massage, hot bath/sauna, accomplishments. These all help with the chemical warfare. Most of those have to be taken care of by them. But you can suggest them, or help them.
    3. They have to be willing to voice their concerns, and accept help. They have to be willing to admit their fears/problems, and work on combatting them.
    4. So in the end they're a substance abuser addicted to grief. Like the psychologist changing a lightbulb: the lightbulb has to recognize the problem and really want to change. You just need to be there until they figure it out. And pushing them to change, will probably just get resistance or avoidance.
  1. I think of it actually more as phobia of memories, mixed with phobia of getting over the grief. Either can trigger it.
  2. When you say anything, if they want to take it wrong, they will They feel alone -- so they can either dig themselves out, or dig in deeper. You say, "i'm there for you" -- and they can hear, "I have great support" or more likely because their brain is in a bad place chemically, "they mean well, but they can't know what I'm going through. I'm so fucking alone. I'm going to be alone forever. I hate my life". And so on.
  3. Them fixing the accomlishments one is hard because cortisol is telling them to stay home, be safe, don't exert (preserve calories you might need, don't risk dangerous outside without backup), and it's all too much. So they can't get started on tasks.
    • I try to remind them that "how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time". Don't try to do it all, just set simply small process goals, like make lists of everything that needs to be done (easy since they're beating up on themselves)... and just do one thing today.
    • Then they get it done, they get small hit of dopamine/satisfaction, and might do something else.
    • As they keep doing it, they realize they're productive, and feel better. But it's SO hard to get started, when everything is telling you to hide and pout.
  4. So that's just some of it... but others want to help, without understanding that they have a wicked chemical imbalance that's fucking with their sleep, stress, perception of the world, motivation. They feel alone/afraid of the future/in pain/loneliness/loss -- and want confirmation bias to prove themselves right (so they find it everywhere). Anything you say, can irritate or help prove them right (to themselves) -- no matter how you mean it. They are stuck in a feedback loop, and it takes a LONG time to dig out, if ever.
  5. They have to learn about their good voice/bad voice. But they aren't in a place where they want to listen, especially to people who haven't gone through what they are going through. And since THEIR person is special, and their relationship unique -- nobody else can really understand completely... so it's mostly up to them.
  • What can you do to prepare yourself/spouse? I hope you never have to deal with it, but there are things you can do for grief insurance.
  1. Talk about what you want for the funeral/cremation and various ceremonies.
  2. What you think about DNR's or what things you'd want a chance to live with, or rather be let go from?
  3. Trade responsibilities occasionally (so you're not a lost duck on self sufficiency)
  4. Make sure you don't have regrets (know you tried) -- and try harder by remembering this could happen at any time.
  5. Alleviate each others guilt.
    1. That you want them happy, and to remarry, date,
    2. Let them know what they mean to you
    3. And that all the past transgressions have long been forgiven in the face of death. Neither of you was perfect, but were good enough for each other. When you're dead, you're not going to be remembering their failures, but all the times you were there for each other.
    4. That your death is not what you want to break them, and to do whatever they need to do to get through grief.
    5. Be the best spouse you can be. And learn to go easier on yourself. (Treat yourself as forgiving as you would someone else)


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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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