Grieving the loss of my ex husband from addiction

Discussion in 'Loss from Substance Abuse' started by Msteele, Mar 16, 2021.

  1. Msteele

    Msteele New Member

    My ex husband died of addiction February 2021. We knew each other for more than 20 years. We have a child who is 11. Although we were divorced for a while I still and will always love him. He was my soulmate. Addiction took him from me and everyone else. He got so lost in it for so long he couldn’t find his way out. Ultimately it was up to him but his body and mind just couldn’t bear it any longer.
    My nightmare has come true.

    Now I am struggling with complicated feelings that most family and friends don’t understand. I feel angry, guilty, and extremely sad for loosing the hope. I will miss him.

    Since we are divorced most people have not reached out and since addiction is so stigmatized most people don’t know what to say or do. So it has been isolating and lonely. I guess I expected more from family and friends. Most people texted me and then a week later nothing. I know people just don’t know what to say but it hurts. Some are resentful for everything and don’t realize addiction is a disease and are not capable of compassion for the addict. That hurts.

    His family is planning a memorial in June. That seems so far away for me, I need to plan something small for myself and my son and a few family members
    *if anyone has any ideas let me know

    I hope you all can find some sliver of peace today.
    Chris M 2000 likes this.
  2. Scorp7

    Scorp7 New Member

    Hi there, newbie on here but I feel your pain reading this post. I just wanted to share an idea for yourself and your sons memorial to your loved one. I realise he was deep in addiction but did he maintain, if only ad hoc, a hobby or interest specifically one that would only mean something regarding both of yourselves and the connection it had with him? Im thinking along lines of a favourite item of clothes or shoes, styling or toiletry products, tv or radio show, music style or artist etc. Something that is unique to the relationship you had insignificant when or how small you think of it as.
    My reasoning is thus.... My husband died unexpectedly beginning of March 2021 and was not at home with us. Typical of the chaos substance abuse filters into a family; we were seperated from the previous December but only in regards to the living arrangements. He had been very unstable and unsafe for himself as well as me and the children. We still had a very loving relationship with video calls and contact; he was waiting to attend court at the end of April and sorting his issues out and we agreed to do this for sake of childrens wellbeing. They were very happy and got to see the best of him so the sacrifice we thought was worthwhile. He was staying at his sisters but due to her own drug use, kicked him out and he was staying with his father for almost 3 weeks. I got a "friend" of the family at my door at 10.30am, I went and identified him and he was already showing rigor, but was in bed and seems he had been dead at least 6 or 7 hours.
    Still dont know cause of death, and because of delays to the coroners post mortem and my constant questions of the police etc. I only laid him to rest 4 days ago. We were married 7 years. He didn't have much of a relationship with any family really, only his mum who passed last year. Bridges had burned a long time ago, and I never knew him to ask them for anything.... Shows when no one bothered to help us couple of months ago. Ive been alienated, blamed, made insignificant and portrayed to not be grieving because we were "split up". Yet I was his wife and legally decisions were final to me. I was fair as to include music and passages at his funeral to respect his family, and as to allow them to visit our home. Our children, do not know them and he would not want them to on pretences. Of the odd one or two that they know of or recognise again I hope the need to aid their guilts will not be at their expense. My husband was step dad to my 12yr old son, and we have a 4yr old boy and 3yr old girl. Ive no idea yet what claims are going to be on his ashes. So, for us, at home, I am going to do this small memorial. He was camo gear mad and hunted with dogs and rifles, kept livestock to hunt and had a gift of nurturing wild animals. Walked miles with the kids just enjoying the scenery and taking a ball and sandwiches out etc. Always ate berries and apples or whatever was growing in his path. I had him dressed in his camo gear and flat cap for his cremation. He was always sketching and colouring so im framing an eagle he sketched and placing that in our garden upon a small wooden stool thats carved and inlaid with bone detail (pot plant stand I think). Im placing his nets and pegs over the stool and his wooden walking stick. He had planted few years back a gooseberry plant which he happily munched picking them off soon as they appeared, and I intend to look after it as he would have tried to. Only small, but what I knew was close to his heart and what I know I can keep his memory alive as little ones get older.
    Hope thats helped a little. Regards Tracy.
    Chris M 2000 likes this.
  3. Msteele

    Msteele New Member

    Thank you for sharing this, it is helpful to know I’m not alone. I’m sorry you had to go through this. I like the ideas you shared very personal and sweet. I wish you and your kids peace .
    Chris M 2000 likes this.
  4. Sherih

    Sherih New Member

    Hello I just wanted to reach out abs say sorry for your loss. I just lost my ex husband as well 3 days ago. We have a daughter that’s is 18. I have not seen my ex for 16 years but our daughter and her dad had a good relationship over text and FaceTime. For the last 8 years . He lived in a different state. He was still close to her . We r going to where he lived to spend time with family and so my daughter can get some of her dads stuff. It’s heart braking to watch her go through the pain. I’m heart broken as well he was my first husband. I’m here if you like to talk
    Chris M 2000 likes this.
  5. Queenj9v

    Queenj9v New Member

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Every word of your post was so incredibly familiar. Except my ex husband has not passed away. He chooses the drugs and the streets and has had zero contact with his children in over 3 years. Just stopped calling, texting, coming around. He’s been in and out of jail. Rides a bike and bounces from couch to tent to who knows where. I feel like I’m holding my breath. Like I cannot exhale until I know he’s either decided to get himself help and try, or if the sirens I hear or the knock at out door is the authorities telling me he’s gone. It’s the absolute worst feeling. Yet I gather my wits and do everything I can to keep myself and my kids moving forward. They are ages 16 and 13 and so hurt by this horrible disease.

    it’s not the same as a loved one dying, but the grief is certainly the same. Losing someone (or the way he used to be) to the pain they medicate so they don’t have to feel when they are using.
    Chris M 2000 likes this.
  6. Chris M 2000

    Chris M 2000 Well-Known Member

    Sorry for your loss.
  7. Chris M 2000

    Chris M 2000 Well-Known Member

    I understand c

    ompletely. Thanks for trying to keep your wits and keep yourself and your kids moving forward. In some ways it is like a slow death.
    Don't forget to include God in your formula. He loves your ex husband you and the kids more than you can know. Call on Him and He can give you strength and peace in the midst of the terrible storm you are going through.
  8. DMarie937

    DMarie937 New Member

    Hello, your story has totally resonated with me. I am so sorry for your loss. I lost me ex-husband 4 weeks ago. We share a beautiful 15 year old boy. My ex WAS and IS the love of my life. I had to divorce to protect our son. We have known each other since 3rd grade. We attended different high schools and became reconnected in our 20’s. I dedicated most of our relationship trying to “save him”. In the end, he was completely gone. The man that I fell in love with became an emotionless, non-sensical, dangerous human being. I had no choice. It broke my heart these past 10 years watching him deteriorate year after year. Making horrible and disgusting decisions. Like, who is this man?? He loved our son more than anything. He just couldn’t keep it together. Now, my worst fear has come true. He was found dead in a small 8x10 room. He lay there for 4 days before being found. My son and I have his ashes. We had a beautiful memorial for him. While life is moving forward, I’m stuck. I’ve never felt grief like this. I’m a total mess. My friends/family (in-laws too) all know and understand the sorrow I am feeling. But, I have definitely come across comments like “ok, time to move on”. Not as blunt but in a roundabout way. I have been in my current relationship for 8 years. He knows how much I love my ex and is not challenging me. But, I’m slowly getting the feeling that he feels I should move on. Well, I can’t. And frankly, I’ll forever have a piece of my heart mourning him. I’m going through the process: did I do enough? Should I have stayed married? Did he love me still?? Does he know how much I loved him? I have been left with zero closure…. Thanks for reading
  9. Roxi

    Roxi Member

    Yes DMarie...he surely loves you and his son! But addiction is a terrible monster that ruined everything!
    I lost my love for addiction too...he was my best joy and my awful pain in my life! But i know he loves me...it's just that addiction overwhelmed him...!
    Hope you can find some comfort here...i know how terrible is your pain!
  10. KayeB

    KayeB New Member

    I just found this site today, googling to try and find something to help me with the pain and guilt I have felt over the death of my husband. He died in October 2022 and I still consider him my husband even though our divorce was finalized nine months before he died. We were married for almost thirty years and I completely agonized over the decision of whether or not to move out. At the time I made the decision to leave, I felt like I was suffocating from his continual cycles of drinking and taking too much valium. I say 'cycles' because while for many years he would get drunk on a daily basis, for those last couple of years he would seem sober for 6 - 8 weeks, but then I would see the signs creep in, him sleeping most of the day, then staying up most of the night while I was asleep. Weekends would be 'lost', with him sleeping through the early afternoon, at which point I would tell him how made I was, and complain that it wasn't fair that I worked all week (he retired at 59, way, way too early, but due to his drinking) and instead of being able to enjoy time together during the weekend, I got to watch him sleep, and then be crabby for the rest of the day. After the argument, he would again seem sober for 6 to 8 weeks until the cycle started again. After he died, I thought back on my behavior and couldn't believe - - can't believe - - how callous I was. The man had a disease, and all I did was rub his nose in it.

    When I moved out, I wasn't thinking about divorce, I just needed to get out of that environment and heal because I felt so lost. I told him I wanted him to focus on himself, and I continued paying all of our bills so that he didn't have to worry about money. But he wouldn't accept that I wouldn't break the year lease I signed for the apartment I was in - - he said he couldn't wait a year. He then got a lawyer, and everything went down hill from there.

    My husband's drinking intensified, and he was back to getting drunk every day. It broke my heart to watch him disintegrate like that. My gut told me that I needed to go back, but my head told me that I couldn't trust myself to do what was right for me as I had spent so many years trying to save him. Well, the divorce went through and I felt completely sick. And, because of his horrible drinking, he suffered several falls, and I would pick him up from the hospital to bring him home, and would come over some weekends to help him with odds and ends at the house, mostly stuff that required going up and down the stairs as physically he was no longer able to. At one point, he fell and hit his head on the ground, requiring someone be with him 24/7. I made arrangements with my job to work from the house - - the home we shared for so many years - - for two weeks, and he showed progress. I was making sure he ate well and made all of the appointments for the nurses and social worker to come and assist him. But the Saturday after the two weeks finished I left the house for the day and when I returned he was drunk. I was fit to be tied. Fast forward a few weeks, he was walking outside and lost his balance and hit his head on the ground. I only learned he was at the hospital because I went to the house to help him close up the pool, but I couldn't find him anywhere. I called the police and that's when they told me they had been dispatched to the house just the day before and my husband had been brought to the hospital. Me and our two adult children stayed at his side at the hospital for an agonizing week, the end of which we had to make the painful decision to take him off of life support. He died with me holding his hand, though I was holding my phone in the other, as I spoke to one of his friends and me complaining how angry I was at what he had done. That he basically killed himself, leaving me and the kids to deal with that. This is what I can't come to grips with - - how could I be so horrible?? And, how could I have let the divorce go through?? He could not handle the addiction on his own. And, worse, his drinking wasn't everyday at the time I moved out, but when I left his heart broke and his drinking got so bad his body just fell apart. I am so grief stricken, somedays I don't know how to cope.
    Chris M 2000 likes this.
  11. MICHAEL2023

    MICHAEL2023 Well-Known Member

    Hello Kaye B.,
    I'm sorry to hear about your husband's tragic, sad death. You have suffered so many small and large losses over the years, and they add up. Alcohol and drug addiction have taken far too many members of my family, so I understand your sense of helplessness, guilt, anger, and the suffering that the entire family feels, no matter who the 'identified' problem/abuser is.

    There is not a thing you could have done to alleviate his disease of addiction, nor prevent the inevitable when the body finally gives up due to toxicity and disease. We were loving and had a false sense of hope. Even with all the devastation caused, love, the most authentic part of the journey, always remains.
    Cling to the good memories. Cherish the good things about him that you see in your children.

    I would also suggest that you consider attending a local AL-Anon 12-step group that could help you to unravel some of your thoughts and feelings in a safe space. At different crossroads of my life 12-step groups have been instrumental in my healing.

    I'm praying for you and your family today.

    ~ Michael
    Chris M 2000 likes this.
  12. Chris M 2000

    Chris M 2000 Well-Known Member

    Dear Kaye, you are heaping an unbearable amount of guilt on your shoulders which is too heavy to carry. Jesus came so we could repent and ask forgiveness for sins. If you feel you were in the wrong, just confess it to God and He will forgive you. You must also forgive yourself for the wrongs you feel you have committed.
    Our son is like your husband, only with drugs instead of alcohol. I know that feeling of heavy guilt and responsibility, but when it comes right down to it, each person is responsible for his own life and behavior. Another person can only do so much to help the troubled person. Don't expect to be able to save someone-that is God's job. But first they must want help. Anyone who does not seek help is not going to be able to be helped by someone who wants it for them.
    I know the feeling of responsibility you feel that you should have stayed and taken care of your husband, but it is easy to look back and think what you might have or should have done after you see what has taken place. At the time, if you did what you thought was right, or what you felt desperate enough to do, don't blame yourself for what you didn't do and couldn't do. Yes, I have compassion for my son, just like you have for your husband, but a person is limited in what they can actually do for someone else. Especially if they don't accept the offer of help. As you said, he could not handle the addiction by himself but he could have reached out for professional help and God's help.
    Of course you are grief stricken-a relationship you had for so many years has ended in tragedy, but think about it. Did you really have the ability to change that situation? You sacrified much for him to show him how much you cared and loved him, but that was not enough. An addiction is a powerful thing that is extremely hard to break. It had him in its grip and he couldn't break free. And you couldn't do it for him.
    Forgive yourself and him so you will be able to function again.
    MICHAEL2023 likes this.
  13. KayeB

    KayeB New Member

    Thank you, Michael, for the considerate words. And, it is so true, how the love remains. My husband will always be in my heart. I know that neither one of us 'wanted' the divorce - - in fact, even though he was the first to raise the 'd' word and bring in a lawyer, he pleaded with me several times that we not go through with it. Sadly, though, those words of his were always spoken to me while he was intoxicated, and I told him he hadn't given me a reason to stay. It was heartbreaking then, and is heartbreaking now.

    Regarding Al-Anon, I had actually participated in six sessions with a group full of wonderful people. They welcomed me, and were so supportive. And I could see the pain they were each feeling from their loved one's addiction. But with my 'identifier' passed on, something about participating alongside these beautiful souls who were living and breathing the pain of addiction in the 'here and now' felt wrong.

    I'm very appreciative of finding this site. Thank you, again, and I will keep you in my prayers, too.
    MICHAEL2023 likes this.
  14. KayeB

    KayeB New Member

    Thank you, Chris. I've read your post several times and will likely read it several more. First, I am so very sorry to hear about your son. You seem very compassionate and your grief must run so very deep. I do believe in the power of prayer and will pray for you and your family.

    Before all of this had happened, I would pray occasionally, but my relationship with God has grown stronger, and I do feel relief from our 'talks'. I met a wonderful person through a DivorceCare group I had joined and started to go to her church. That has become a source of strength. But while I have asked for forgiveness and I know in my heart I have been forgiven, I have still not been able to forgive myself. It's funny how I've been so willing to forgive others and move forward, but when it comes to me, I just can't.

    Thank you, again, and I wish you peace.
    MICHAEL2023 and Chris M 2000 like this.
  15. Chris M 2000

    Chris M 2000 Well-Known Member

    I completely understand what you are feeling, for I struggle with the same feelings.
    Bless you
  16. MICHAEL2023

    MICHAEL2023 Well-Known Member

    God Bless all of our weary, yet strong hearts. I'm so grateful that God keeps us moving forward even when we're not so sure about the whole thing.

    ~ Michael
    Chris M 2000 likes this.
  17. Chris M 2000

    Chris M 2000 Well-Known Member

    You are so very right. Thank you for staying in touch here. We understand and care.
  18. DMarie937

    DMarie937 New Member

    oh, Kaye…I feel your pain. I too lost my ex-husband. He died 5 months ago. He will forever be the love of my life and husband. I struggle with regret, guilt, etc. I’m sure you and your children did everything to help him. I’ll forever feel the same way but I know deep down inside I did all I could. Just know you are not alone. Grief doesn’t ever get lighter, we just get used to carrying the weight…

  19. RebeccaX13

    RebeccaX13 New Member

    I know I am chiming in so late, but I lost my ex-husband February 11, 2024. We didn’t divorce because we didn’t love each other; we divorced because I felt I had to choose between my children’s safety and the love of my life. The divorce was 20 years ago, and I never got over it. Neither one of us remarried. His girlfriend of the last three years made him block my number. Even when our daughter had a devastating health event, he had to call my dad for updates. I think she knew he was in a dark place, was very vulnerable, and she took advantage of it. She had total abusive control over him. It destroys me that the last three years of his life, I only saw him a few times at family events.

    Sorry for my rant. I’m completely heartbroken. I honestly knew it was just a matter of time and we would eventually be back together. I can’t believe I ran out of time.

    And my grief is de-legitimized by society. I’m “just” an ex. His family and friends have been wonderful to me, though. I think everyone knew he and I held each other in our hearts. He will always have the biggest piece of my heart. I honestly don’t think I will ever stop regretting going through with the divorce. Things got a lot worse for him after that. It is so hard to imagine ever being happy again.
    Chris M 2000 likes this.