Can you move on after losing your soulmate?

Discussion in 'Loss of Spouse' started by HelenB, Feb 20, 2023.

  1. HelenB

    HelenB Member

    My husband died suddenly of a heart attack almost four years ago. He was 59 and I was 57. We had just celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary for a total of 21 years together. We had been a blended family with kids from our prior marriages but were now empty nesters and looking forward to retirement. In an instant, all of that was gone.

    Four years later I have retired, sold our marital home and moved to another country. But I still miss him intensely every day. I still feel like I am not whole, like I am missing a part of myself. I still talk about him way too much when I meet new people. In many ways, our relationship continúes to define me. What can I do to move forward?
  2. Van Gogh

    Van Gogh Well-Known Member

    Helen, I am deeply sorry to hear about
    the death of your husband & soulmate.
    May I ask his name? I find it helps to say
    the name to both friends & strangers, to
    honor that person's memory and to keep
    the spirit alive. My wife, Linda , died
    suddenly from a pulmonary embolism,
    right in front of me. She was 68. We
    were married 25 yrs, no children. Like
    you, that was about 4 yrs ago. You said
    you moved to another country, which
    must be quite an adjustment. May I ask
    where? Most members are from the U.S.
    but Rose lives in Italy, I live on the
    northern coast of Massachusetts. You've
    come to the right place, with kind and
    nonjudgemental people. Hope you stay
    with us, Helen. I've made close friends
    on Grief in Common ( GIC). Lou
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  3. Deborah A.

    Deborah A. Well-Known Member

    Oh Helen~ I can relate. I feel so often like I am not enough without my soulmate. Hearing you speak these words resonates deeply with me. All I can say is that I know my husband always wanted me to be happy. I’m sure yours wanted the same. It’s a daily journey. It’s a daily effort. Sometimes it’s hourly. Finding our way is not easy, but we honor our soulmates when we take that next step forward and use strength from our love and our shared life to move forward. It’s only possible when we take one small step at a time. They wanted us to be happy and to go on living. Set tiny goals for yourself. Get up and eat a good breakfast. Get out and enjoy the sun. Talk to us about your soulmate. Find people who share your experience. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. It sounds small, but it is enormous. We are here for you! ❤️ Deborah A.
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  4. HelenB

    HelenB Member

    Thank you both for your encouraging words. It does help to connect to others who have experienced the same trauma. Lou asked some follow-up questions that I will share. My beautiful husband's name was Bruce. We met at our children's daycare and I knew by our third date (with the kids to see Rugrats Live) that he was the man I wanted to marry. After he died I had the financial freedom to retire and move to México. This was something he and I had discussed but another reason was that México would be an escape from the constant reminder of all I had lost. Well, I love México but I cannot escape this profound sense of loss. I tell myself that I should be grateful because I had something that some people never get, but having had it and then lost it is so devastating. I know he wants me to be happy but all I want is to be with my husband again. I always felt like the world was set aright when he was around and now that he's gone my world is pure chaos. I am lonely and I miss having a partner to share life's ups & downs with but I don't want someone new, I want my husband back!

    Anyway, thank you for responding. I know you have gone through the same thing. I'm just wondering when this pain will recede enough that I can move forward?
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  5. Van Gogh

    Van Gogh Well-Known Member

    Helen, thank you so much for saying
    Bruce's name and that you live in Mexico.
    That's exciting, and you're the only
    Grief Warrior ( a term I made up) who
    lives there. I'm sure my widower brothers,
    Gary, from Indiana, and George, from
    Illinois , will welcome you to GIC also,
    as well my widow friends , like Rose in
    Italy, DEB in South Carolina, Karen,
    from California, and Deb, from
    Minnesota. Where did you and Bruce
    live, before you moved out of the
    country?. I proposed to Linda in Bermuda
    and we got married in Las Vegas , in our
    40s. Like you, I don't want to get married
    again. But, my wife made me promise to
    try to be healthy and happy, and even to
    find another woman after she died. When
    she became ill, she had a premonition of
    her death. Also like you and many other
    GWs here, I am lonely, too. I might
    like the idea of a female companion with
    whom to take walks by the ocean, share
    a meal, a laugh, and, yes, even a hug.
    Linda didn't want me to end up alone.
    Thanks for staying with us, Helen. Lou
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  6. Gary166

    Gary166 Guest

    Hi Helen. I’m sorry about the loss of your husband Bruce 4 years ago. My name is Gary and my girlfriend Cheryl transitioned suddenly 21 months ago from a cardiac arrest. Thanks to in person grief support meetings, reading grief recovery and meditation books, therapy, and my dearest friends at GIC I’ve partially recovered from the shock and losing my soulmate Cheryl. I have not moved forward though. That is the riddle we are all trying to solve. Science and emotional health professionals tell us we can. For me moving forward is like recoverying from an addiction. It has to be on going day by day. Have you read 6 needs of the mourner? If not google it. Its a basic playbook for grief recovery. One of the needs is finding a new self identity. That’s the hardest one I think. Thanks to Lou who has provided us a treasure trove of books, articles like the 6 needs, and movies to experience we have found resources in our on going recovery. Thanks to Rose I watched Nora Inerny on Ted.com which is about moving forward. I was finding my new identity in volunteering but I had to take a break when the covid and flu season flared up again. Now I’m trying to embrace the loss and love of my beloved Cheerful Cheryl the best I can. Quoting our longest member Robin, “life will be a continuation of happy mixed with sad”. It’s the Yon and Yang of Life. The beautiful thing is we don’t have to do it alone. My Grief Warrior Friends are far better than most of my blood relatives. I’m glad you chose to stay on the site instead of posting one message and not returning. Stay with us and heal. There is strength in numbers. Gary
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  7. HelenB

    HelenB Member

    Gary, thanks for the suggestions, I will definitely take the time to check them out. I agree that finding a new identity is a huge challenge. Even though Bruce and I were in our mid-thirties when we met and had each been married before, I guess I came to see my identity as Bruce's wife. And it's hard to be someone's wife when they are dead. So I died too.

    I will check out those resources you mentioned. And let me say that I am very sorry for the loss of your soulmate, Cheryl. Thank you again for writing. Helen
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  8. HelenB

    HelenB Member

    Hi Lou, our life was located in St. Louis, MO, which is my native city. Bruce moved there when he was a child, he was originally from Springfield, Massachusetts.

    I think the thing I miss the most is the emotional intimacy. Someone who knows you so thoroughly and cherishes every part of you, even the unpleasant parts. And having someone to to share life's little ups and downs with so you don't feel like you are going through it alone.

    How long did you say you and Linda were together?
    Take care, Helen
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  9. Van Gogh

    Van Gogh Well-Known Member

    Helen, thank you again for answering my
    questions about where you and Bruce
    lived. I was so happy to see my younger
    brother, Gary, welcoming and comforting
    you. He has honored me by referring to me
    as The Godfather of the group. But, unlike
    bringing together the Corleone crime
    family, I like to gather the GIC family. Deb
    and others call me that, too, much to my
    amusement. My grief counselor had
    suggested 2 books, which I recommended
    to the people here: Permission to Mourn ,
    by Tom Zuba, and The Widower's Notebook, a memoir , by Jonathan
    Santlofer. I think you'd be better off
    reading these powerful books in the
    morning. They are not bedtime reading.
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  10. cjpines

    cjpines Well-Known Member

    Helen, it's the pits isn't it losing our love one. It's been 2 years and 3 months since I lost my husband, Jack, and I'm still trying to move on. Your question when will this pain recede -- all I can say is there is no time schedule, we each go through it at our own pace. It's individual. I think what Deb A said is a great help. One step at a time. Also for me, one day at a time, one moment at a time. In the beginning I asked the same question because the pain was so terrible I just couldn't stand it. I thought if the advice here has helped others maybe it will help me. As time went by it has helped mostly to know I'm not alone in my suffering. If you stay with us you may find some help and know you can vent anytime. My name is Karen.
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  11. DEB321

    DEB321 Well-Known Member


    Words seem so shallow at times, but since they're all we have, I hope you know how very sorry I am that your husband, Bruce, passed away. My husband, Bob, died almost two years ago. Time seems to stand still, and move forward all at once. This "new" life that we've been thrown into, SUCKS!!!

    Moving forward is way beyond challenging!!!, TUTTAM (Total Understatement To The Absolute Max)!!! As Karen said, the timeline for moving forward is different for each one of us, but for all of us, it's a couple steps forward, one step backwards, another step forwards, two steps backwards, etc, etc, etc... I think in order to move forward, we must find a new purpose in life, definitely NOT!!! easy to do. I'm fortunate because for many years, taking a dog to classes so he/she can pass the Canine Good Citizen test, and become a therapy dog, has been at the top of my bucket list. I already had a purpose, a goal in life, but needed to feel strong enough before I could work on fulfilling it.

    Around the beginning of the 2022 holiday season, I finally felt I was ready to adopt another dog. In the middle of January, I adopted a very sweet dog, who stole my heart, the minute I saw her picture. I think, hope I'm right!!!, that she is going to make an excellent therapy dog. We begin classes sometime in March. I was surprised at the intensity of my grief when I brought her home. Bob loved dogs as much as I love them. It feels so wrong... Bob should be here with us... I want so much to share this part of my life with him.... It SUCKS!!!

    I talk to Skye, my fur baby, all the time, telling her how much her "dad" would love her, how much I wish he could be here with us... As Robin, who Gary mentioned already, explained to me, to all of us, since her husband, Ron, passed away, life has become a mix of happy and sad. I feel the same way. As much as I hate to sound like a pessimist, I think bittersweet is as good as life is going to get. However, I'll take it any time over the alternative, TUTTAM!!!

    Starting to ramble and get off track, typical for me, so will "talk" about something else. Every single one of us misses the emotional intimacy, sharing all those inside jokes that only the two of us "get," sharing all of the little things in life, cooking together, taking long walks by the ocean, sitting on the beach, watching the sunset, etc, etc, etc. Not having our "person" (physically) with us any longer SUCKS!!! I feel like a piece of me died along with Bob, a part of my history, forever gone... I'm now the sole keeper of all those special moments, all those wonderful memories, those inside jokes... It SUCKS!!!

    The worst is being alone, feeling over the top lonely, even when with friends, my children, etc, etc, etc... It SUCKS!!! Just as you want Bruce back, while I hate!!! being alone, feeling so lonely, I don't want another man in my life either, I want Bob back... Once again, while I hate sounding like a pessimist, but there is no way to ditch this kind of loneliness. The only thing that would make us feel better is if Bruce and Bob were able to come home. It SUCKS!!! (As usual, I'm stuck on SUCKS!!!)

    Just as Robin wants Ron to be proud of her, I want Bob to be proud of me, our GIC "family" wants the one true love of their lives to be proud of them. The best way we can honor their memories is to do our best to live the very best lives we possibly can, without them (physically) with us.

    One of Bob's favorite expressions which he said daily, no matter how much pain he was in, no matter how much he was suffering, was, "As long as I'm on the right side of the dirt, it's a good day." I repeat this to myself often, reminding myself how precious life is, how it can be taken away from us in an instant, and how much Bob loved life. Life is a gift, something to be cherished. Thinking about life being a gift, how much Bob wanted to live in spite of everything he went through, helps me through the very darkest of days.

    All any of us can do, is try as hard as we can to move forward, pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and continue to try to find purpose and meaning, in each and every day. When I'm feeling the worst, being outside in Nature, surrounded by all the beauty God created, taking long walks, now with Skye, helps me slow down, realize, that in spite of the fact this world can be a very scary, lonely place, without the one true love of our lives being physically with us, as much as I want to be reunited with Bob, I hope it won't be for a very long time.

    I know that there is nothing I can say or do to take away any of the total heartbreak you're feeling, but I find it helps just "talking," sharing my innermost feelings with our GIC "family," TGW, (The Grief Warriors, as Lou so appropriately named us). As Gary says, "there is strength in numbers." We will be here to support you every step of the way, give you the biggest virtual hugs, a cyber shoulder to lean on, sometimes even offer advice, but, and this is one of those really BIG!!! BUTS!!!, you can take our advice or leave it, we'll be here for you no matter what. This is a judgement free zone.

    Welcome to our "GIC" family. I'm so sorry you had to find us, but so glad you did. I hope this will become your safe place, as it's become mine. I hope you'll continue to stick around, give us the opportunity to get to "know" you, and you the opportunity to get to "know" us.

    Sending you lots of hugs and love, wishing you peace, all of us peace. DEB
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  12. Van Gogh

    Van Gogh Well-Known Member

    WOW, Debster ( as George first amusingly
    called you)! After you are MIA for a while,taking care of your new dog, Skye,
    you make up for it with your legendary
    " books", welcoming and comforting new
    members like Helen, with your warm,
    funny words: TUTTAM, SUCKS!!!,quotes
    from your dear husband, Bob, Robin, Gary,
    me, and others. I would add Karen, who
    I kiddingly call "Ms. Hum" ( bc it's one of her
    trademark words), who was the first person to greet me on GIC, in July, 2021.
    Ms. Hum gave us Mr. Grief who can
    strike us anytime. But, as Gary & others
    have said, we cannot ignore him when he
    comes knocking. We have to let him stay a
    while. As the daily Center for Loss quotes,
    via email, say, it is unhealthy both
    physically & mentally to bottle up our
    grief over our soulmates. I love my
    friends, like you, DEB, bc unlike most
    people outside The Grief Warriors (TGW),
    we "get it". Thank you for being on here
    tonight. Like many here, our soulmates
    wanted us to be healthy & happy. Linda
    even wanted me to find another woman
    after she died. But, after 25 yrs of marriage, she would have to be someone
    with her own place ( I don't want to get
    married again), and to share walks by the
    ocean, a meal, a laugh, and maybe, even a
    hug. I'd like to hear how others feel about
    this. Lou
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  13. Rose69

    Rose69 Well-Known Member

    Hi Helen, I'm speaking to you from across the oceans, in Italy, wanting to tell you how deeply sorry I am for the loss of your soulmate. Reading all my friends' replies to you has reconfirmed how much they have helped me on this journey I'd never ever thought I would have to face, and they continue to do so. This is the only comfort place I have where I can share my feelings and know that I will be instantly understood, showing me a ray of light in this dark tunnel of loneliness. I know what you mean about still being defined by your relationship with your husband, having been used to your identity as "his wife". I say this to myself all the time, this way of thinking though actually helps me with my struggle, gives me strength and motivation to go on. I feel he is still with me, even if not physically, I am moving forward with him, his legacy will live forever, he taught me and our children so much, we were part of each other, we were one mind, one body, one heart, one soul. So if I'm alive, that means my part of him is still here, I'm left to carry on for the both us, I am what I am today because of our 25 years of marriage. Helen, you and I have a lot in common. My darling C also left this world suddenly, unexpectedly from a heart attack, just over two years ago. He was only 57 and I was 53, no signs of any health issues, fit and healthy, I admit that the shock still torments me night and day. I still expect him to walk through the door, saying: "Hey, what are you all crying about? You've all made a big mistake, I've just been away for a while and now I'm back". I often have dreams about this.
    Like some of my warrior friends have suggested, taking walks in the sun, especially nature walks in the countryside or in a park if you live in a city, definitely help your mind and give you some relief from all that pain and heartache that seem so unbearable now, but we will learn to tame Mr Grief and we will carry on living to honour our soulmates.
    I hope to talk to you again soon. We all here to listen and share with you.
    Sending you a virtual hug.
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  14. Van Gogh

    Van Gogh Well-Known Member

    Rose, when I woke up this morning at 6am,
    I had a feeling you'd be here, the overseas,
    overnight Grief Warrior, welcoming and
    comforting our newest member, Helen.
    Thank you. Like DEB, and Gary. you will
    be famous for your "books" , bc you all
    write from the heart, and the words flow.
    As Linda used to joke with me: "You're no
    slouch in that department!". Soon after
    Linda died , right before Thanksgiving,
    2018, my grief counselor asked me to
    write a list of Linda's phrases, mostly funny ones. I couldn't do it without sobbing. She
    told me to put it aside, and try again
    sometime. Weeks later, I did, and it felt
    good , and made me smile, to quote her and honor her. Now, I say her sayings to friends and strangers alike, to get their
    reaction.,which is usually to laugh. Linda
    loved to make people laugh, including
    me. I choke up when writing this. Excuse
    me while I shove Karen's "Mr. Grief"
    away , so I can finish this post. I'd love to
    hear your take, Rose, on my post yesterday
    about my recent dancing with women, my
    loneliness, and questions about having
    another female companion, as Linda
    wanted for me, when she became ill. Lou
  15. HelenB

    HelenB Member

    I am so grateful that I have stumbled on to this place where I can find fellow GWs (using Lou's term) who understand and share this journey! An image has come to me in the last couple of days and it ties in with something Rose said. I feel like I have been "carrying" my marriage in my arms for the last four years because it was a way to keep it alive, to keep it with me. And I am sure that doing so helped me navigate a lot of murky waters. But what I am feeling like now is that this thing I am carrying is so big that I cannot possibly reach out and carry anything else. My arms are too full. But unlike the days when Bruce was alive, this marriage isn't meeting my needs anymore. Make no mistake, Bruce was THE BEST husband I could ever had asked for, he was my soulmate, the love of my life. But since he died, he has been a pretty crappy husband. He doesn't help around the house, he doesn't keep me company at night when I'm watching TV, he never goes anywhere with me, he doesn't help out in emergencies. But, as long as I continue to carry this load called "marriage" in my arms, I will never have the opportunity to reach out and grab something else.

    Like many of you have said, I have no desire to marry again. But like Lou has said, it would be nice to have someone to travel with or to just watch TV with. The tricky part for me is that I don't feel like I can just take this big thing, this marriage that I have been carrying, and throw it in a closet in order to create new opportunities. That seems disrespectful to Bruce's memory and does not honor the part of me that will always be connected to him. So, how do I loosen my grasp on the "big thing" just enough to be able to grab something else, something small, without dropping it entirely?

    Along those lines, I have thought about my wedding rings. I know that every widow(er) makes their own private decision about how to handle that situation and whatever decision they make is right for them. Since Bruce died, I have worn his wedding band on my left ring finger and my engagement/wedding rings have been put in a drawer. I still wear his wedding ring on my ring finger whenever I go out socially or professionally. It has been both a signal to others ("I am married") as well as a cloak of armour to protect myself from the world. In the last few days, it has occurred to me to try going out into the world without that ring. Perhaps it has been a crutch, one that I needed when Death came along and broke my kneecaps, but one that perhaps is now slowing down my progress. I would love to hear your all's thoughts.

    Anyway, thank you all for your warmth and love that I feel all the way down in Central México! I will be reading all of the suggestions that you have made. I hope that today is a good day for each of you.
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  16. Countess Joy

    Countess Joy Well-Known Member

    That's a great post, Helen. I like how you're thinking about your life, and future, and Mexico?! Hell yeah, perfect for this time of year. I hope it's all you hope it to be.

    Hang in there, George. We see you!

    Back to Griefland ~B
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  17. cjpines

    cjpines Well-Known Member

    Helena, I've read your post and I like how you're thinking and trying to move forward. The best to you, Karen
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  18. Van Gogh

    Van Gogh Well-Known Member

    Helen, you have become a valuable GIC
    member, from another country, as has
    Rose. Thank you so much for replying to
    my question about having another
    companion, after the deaths of our
    soulmates. I like your analogy, and Rose's,
    of "carrying" your marriage in your arms,
    these last 4 years. Using Linda's cane,
    as I walk, is a lot lighter than trying to
    "carry"her. I can hear her making fun
    of herself, saying she'd be too heavy, and
    I'm no Lou Ferigno. I thought I'd lighten up
    the conversation, in more ways than one.
    I must admit my mouth dropped open
    when you said Bruce was a "pretty
    crappy husband",until I read the paragraph 2 more times. As for the
    wedding rings, I took mine off right after
    Linda died, and put our rings in a box
    with our wedding photos. They are in my
    closet. I memorized the photos, so I don't
    have to look at them, but it's comforting to
    know they are there. In a way, Linda's
    cane is my "crutch" . While it's true that
    it helps me when I walk up & down hills,
    its' real purpose is a reminder that
    Linda's spirit is still with me. I point to
    the cane, and talk about her with both
    friends and strangers. Last Friday night,
    as I said on here, I was dancing a fast
    dance with a group of women, and put
    Linda's cane in a safe place. I lost myself
    in the music. The next morning was the
    first time I didn't cry for Linda---but I had
    a pang of guilt that we didn't dance as much as she wanted. Then, I shoved Mr.
    Grief out of my path, bc I know Linda
    wanted me to be happy and enjoy life
    after her death. Lou
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  19. DEB321

    DEB321 Well-Known Member


    I'm so glad you've become a GW!!!, TUTTAM!!! You express yourself beautifully, and have given me lots to think about. Like you, Lou and others, even though I know I should never say NEVER!!!, I NEVER!!! want to get married again. Unlike you and Lou, I need to work on myself more, be happy with who I've morphed into since Bob's death, satisfied with my life, before I can think about having any sort of relationship again. I need to feel "whole," without Bob (physically) with me. The way I feel as of this minute, is if it's in God's plan for me, then I will be in another relationship, even if that relationship happens before I think I'm ready. (Hope the last sentence makes sense. I'm way beyond frazzled tonight, but that's for an entirely different post.)

    I'm working on taking the very best care of myself I possibly can, becoming the very best version of myself, and reaching my goal of taking Skye to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or hospitals, to bring comfort, and smiles to people's faces. When it's my time to leave earth, I want to feel that the part of my life I was forced to spend without Bob (physically) with me, had meaning, that in some small way, I helped to make this world a better place. Living my life to the fullest extent possible is the very best way I can think of to honor Bob's memory. I want more than anything else for him to be proud of me.

    OTOH, I can (almost) hear Bob saying, "Go out there, find another man who makes you happy. I don't want you to be alone, and lonely..." Bob talked about this with me way before he passed away, but what he didn't understand, is that it's much more complicated than this.

    I took off my wedding ring soon after Bob's death. For me, it was a way too painful reminder, of the wonderful life we shared together, but can no longer have. I keep it in the top draw of the nightstand next to my bed. Whenever I take it out, I burst into tears... Sometimes I wish I had it on because I don't want anyone to think that I might be available.

    Way off subject, Skye is driving me bonkers. She wants to go for her before bedtime walk. Unfortunately, she's definitely part hunting dog (I'm guessing both her parents were hunting breeds) from the way she behaves at night. She tries to go after every critter she sees or hears, losing interest in the reason why we're outside. Last night, after one hour of walking around the block a zillion times at a snail's pace, and a little over 2 miles later, SUCCESS!!!, she found just the right piece of real estate to use for her personal toilet. A major miracle!!!, TUTTAM!!!

    I wouldn't mind our night time walks if I didn't live in an area surrounded by lagoons. It's almost gator mating season. This is the time of year when the gators go from lagoon to lagoon, in search of the perfect mate. Gators are masters of camouflage. They do lots of their searching at night or at dawn. They walk along the sidewalks and roads. It's so SCARY!!!, TUTTUM!!! Gators usually won't bother people, but to them, no matter the size, dogs are a delicacy.

    Enough of this. Going to get this night time walk over with ASAP!!! Got to be brave...

    As always, sending you lots of hugs and love, wishing you peace, all of us peace. DEB
  20. cjpines

    cjpines Well-Known Member

    Helen this is Karen again. All day I can't get your comment:"carrying my marriage in my arms for the last four years". And so on. You made me realize after two years I'm doing the same thing and never realized it. It's true my arms are full and I can't move forward. Maybe I don't want to, but I know he's not here and still I keep my marriage alive in my arms. Of course I will always treasure my marriage and what we had. Thank you Helena if there is nothing I can help you with you have helped me more than you know. I support your wisdom and insight. You're going down the right road. Blessings, K
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