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Cleaning up after loss of spouse

Discussion in 'Finding it Difficult to Move Foward' started by FoundaGoodThing2002, Apr 17, 2019.

  1. paul tinker

    paul tinker Well-Known Member

    cg123 and Sara. I think your comments are correct. The things left behind hopefully find new purpose in the service of those in need. That is I feel exactly as Kay would see it and want. I have recently had a medical condition that required a hematologist/oncologist. A blood disorder that is serious and likely a virus-induced immune issue. So not life-threatening. The doctor was known to me from my wife's cancer battle. This doctor provided a second opinion with Chemo and Kay's treatment. Dr. Ahmed was so good with Kay and perhaps earlier would have been her primary caretaker, professionally. She remembered Kay and we spoke about grief. Dr. Ahmed lost both her parents to cancer. This loss influenced her career choice. As we spoke was the understanding. On some level is the bond that only grieving people know and share. I have total confidence in this Doctor.

    The things are a time-consuming process. What to keep and what is the best new purpose for those things. In the sorting and deciding is being with our person's choices and in effect with them. Learning them by what they chose and what was considered important. Their point of view, humor, sense of what is beautiful. So much who they are. For me just how special and thoughtful Kay always had been and still is.
    cg123 likes this.
  2. cg123

    cg123 Well-Known Member

    Sending good thoughts are your recent health issue and hope it will be resolved quickly.
  3. cg123

    cg123 Well-Known Member

  4. paul tinker

    paul tinker Well-Known Member

    cg123 thanks for the well wish concern. You know how it goes. Go on the internet and read about a medical condition. That can scare the piss out of anybody. So many very scary possibilities. It's good to get educated. Its good to be prepared. But operating without the sound actual facts is a worry. Deal with the real and whatever is actually needed. Again Thanks for your good wishes.
    cg123 likes this.
  5. edj9

    edj9 Well-Known Member

    It’s 8 mos in any I haven’t gotten rid of ANYTHING. Not his clothes, or cell phones, iPads. Not even his medical equipment or supplies or meds. A helper had washed all his clothes by the time I got back from the hospital after sending him off and I spent an hour frantically rummaging for anything with his scent on it. There’s still an opened can of diet soda with his straw sticking out of it in the fridge that he asked me to stow for later. I cleaned out the fridge around it. I do the sheets when I feel like it or can’t stand the smell or one of my cats pees on the bed. The house is so cluttered and messy because a lot of storage has been filled with his things and I can’t find space for mine, so they just end up in boxes on the floor, or just laying where I last left them. It’s not hoarder level bad, but I’m constantly tripping over stuff. I have just enough emotional bandwidth to keep myself fed and deal with all the bills and paperwork, and very little left to devote to quality of life.

    Is this healthy? Prolly not. But it’s no one’s business but my own. Fortunately, no one has questioned this except me. When I’m ready, I’ll get to everything eventually, or I’ll reach out for help.
    glego likes this.
  6. paul tinker

    paul tinker Well-Known Member

    Edi9. I love you, sister!

    Your post is clearly in we all do this in our own way and in our own time!! We are each individual in all of it!!
    I just have a few guiding principles to share. Disclosure I am in one month at the two-year point. So about eighty percent has been dealt with and some still to do but mostly I just keep. This COVID makes all this harder. So a good time to just stop.

    Guiding principles are.
    1. Easy to toss out but perhaps impossible to replace. No going back.
    2. Some stuff was easily new clothes she never wore. Those went to woman shelter and would be highly valued. She would have totally approved of that.
    3. Pictures never go. Just sorted and but away weel. Many just stay out.
    4. The thing we keep are memories but they trigger more memories.
    5. Anything handwritten. Chrismas cards for example.
    6. Her art and most decorations stay up.
    7. A usable thing found good homes. Some to her siblings and friends.
    8. I am going to set a limit of five large storage totes.

    I may thin that out put only when I feel like it.

    Good post. Most of us struggle with this.
    You will as you say do as you see fit.

    Paul M.
    glego and edj9 like this.
  7. edj9

    edj9 Well-Known Member

    You go gurl!

    Thanks for that. It's very helpful. I might customize that list for my own use!

    I have one comment about principle 4: I welcome triggers. It might be painful, but I need it. I sometimes go though periods where I can't cry (better now that I'm off Lexapro), and just feel miserable and numb ... mizzernumb ... so I actually seek out triggers. I guess it's the mental equivalent of self-cutting, except, no physical scars, must mental ones. And I guess, mental scarring is better than the huge, gaping, mental wound that I now have. Then again, I sometimes stumble (often literally) on something that is just too painful and I have to pack it back away.
  8. paul tinker

    paul tinker Well-Known Member

    Mizzernumb is a good one!!

    I somewhat miss wrote #4. I met that things are specific memories that can allow other memories to flow. A touchstone if you will.

    A question about Lexapro and if to personal then no problem. The question is was this grief specific or long term. The coming off. How was that decided.? Then coming off about how long to be off? I ask because a gal friend is on some heavy meds for bi-polar and this question came about the release of emotions like crying. I think triggers are just a fact. Both anniversary in a formal but then all the others like passing a favorite restaurant. Something you and she shared. No telling what or when.

    Yes, maybe not the cutting. I know you are joking. Tears work fine. Maybe not used to them but the pattern was the same. First the heartbreak, then the tears but then the cleans. The release and sense of better after. I do now form from time to time. In public, I really don't care. I will make someone more comfortable by saying I just do this and it's OK. people will feel helpless to deal but I say no worry just a part of grief.

    I can say this as two years have happened. I seriously had no reason to think this would let up.
    I am always shocked about the power and still am. I did my three-mile walk and get the endorphins to feel better. This last week or two have been a benchmark watershed of most of the day is decent to even good.
    During the worst a therapist friend of my late wife said. There will be along the way one day or hour that was better. Hardly noticeable but better. To note that it did happen. That is hope. The hope that better is even possible. I hung on to that concept during the time there was no hope.

    You have sense of humor at that's good.
    Sorry for your loss. Chat should you feel like it.

    Paul M.
    edj9 likes this.
  9. edj9

    edj9 Well-Known Member

    Oh my. I don't cut myself, but I didn't intend it as a joke! Absolutely not! Cutting is a very real thing, and I would never make light of that. I was just making the analogy, that like cutting, I deliberately induce mental anguish, just to feel something.

    Apologies in advance. This is a long one. But maybe my experience will help someone.

    Lexapro is a rather mild mood and anxiety regulating drug of a type known as a selective serotonin uptake inhibitor. I don't think it's for serious psychiatric problems, like bipolar. It operates by preventing your neurons from re-absorbing, or "reuptaking", the serotonin that they release to trigger a sense of wellbeing. In that way, it's not really a stimulant, or a depressant, because it just maximized use of neurotransmitters that I was producing myself. As I said, it's mild and didn't make me drowsy (at least not after the loading period, which is about a week), or excessively passive, aggressive, or happy, or give me any side-effects. It kept mood-swings and anxiety in check just enough so that they didn't incapacitate me.

    I started taking it at the suggestion of my psychotherapist and psychiatrist quite a long time before my husband's death to help me cope with being the sole caregiver as his health declined. While Chuck was hospitalized, I was sleeping at the hospital with Chuck, and driving an hour each way home to shower and feed the cats, and then another hour back to the hospital, every day. When Chuck was home, I'd be doing all the cooking, cleaning, tidying, helping him to the shower and the bathroom, cleaning up after him when he had accidents, struggling to pick him up off the floor if he happened to slip off his chair, dressing his wounds two or three times a day, fighting with him when he wouldn't listen to his doctor's advice. After his kidneys failed, I was waking up at 4 am three times a week to get him ready by 5 so that we could get to the dialysis center by 7, and every week I would shop for the entire week, so that I could prepare all the diabetic and kidney safe meals. I did manage to hire one helper towards the end, but I ended up having to micromanage him, and make sure he ate, and had a place to sleep, as well. Yadayadayada. In the end I was just running on adrenaline almost 24/7. It was the only way I could compartmentalize the fear, anxiety, and anticipatory grief, so that I could function and handle all the work, logistics, and decision making.

    But after he died, there was no longer the same demand on my time and level of anxiety, and I was finding that Lexapro was actually keeping my emotions TOO even. I felt so muzzled, emotionally, that I couldn't cry for days on end, in the first few months after. Why is that a bad thing? Well, even though I was not crying, the pent up grief would build up over the course of several days, and I think that without the adrenaline to keep me going, I just ended up apathetic and "mizzernumb", so much so that I just COULDN'T work up the energy to get anything done, and I had a LOT to do cuz for the 2 years that I was taking care of Chuck, I let a lot of things go: taxes, bills, insurance, car registration, blahblah ad infinitum.

    And then I read somewhere that crying has a biological purpose. It's like laughter; when studied, it was discovered that laughter had all kinds of health benefits. Well, surprise, surprise, so does crying. When we cry we release toxins in our tears, and it prompts our bodies to produce hormones that eventually help us regulate our own moods. That's why we say that crying is cathartic. It's not just a psychological thing, it's also a physiological thing.

    So with my psychiatrist's approval, I weaned myself off the Lexapro. Even after I stopped I think it took about 2 months for it to leave my system. And it was quite dramatic. Several months of being unable to cry, I started to cry almost every day-- snot-ugly, banshee wail, crying. And it was horrible. When I cried like that, I wanted to die. The only thing that kept me sane was knowing that even though it didn't feel like it, that feeling of total despondence was transient, and that when I was completely cried out, I would feel better. And I did. I began to tackle stuff: I retained a professional organizer to help me with the paperwork; I reached out to my insurance agent, and financial advisor; I went for a checkup, and made an appointment with my oral hygienist, started paying attention to my blood sugar, diet and weight, exercising; reached out to grief groups ...

    I can't say that I'm totally, ok. I still break down and start sobbing at the littlest things, and I'm not half as organized as I was when I was on Lexapro before Chuck died, but I at least feel like a human being, and not an automaton. And I think I'm making progress.
  10. paul tinker

    paul tinker Well-Known Member


    Sorry to take a few days to respond. Your write up is terrific. The service and care you provided to your partner are more than commendable. I did it. My sister did it. Many I know have done it and mostly here. Of the things that life has this service is high on the list. Everything that was needed to do it we are recovering from. The means to recover seem more difficult than they should be but then there is the problem. They are difficult!

    I think you more than deserve recognition for how well you did what was needed. That intense focus did take a toll. Our brain got stretched and is having difficulty finding equilibrium. I am constantly challenged and amazed by this. This is a thought process that essentially recycles life is a five-alarm fire when it's not. Tone down the limbic and life has more possibilities. But good luck with that
    I struggle with this as a woman I care for is deep in it for somewhat different reasons than we are.

    The description of the stressors and all that they are. I know well. You are being remarkably proactive in your recovery but there it is. Not much to fire the whole thing up.

    You wrote in a candid and truthful way! This concept of mental resiliency is a conundrum. I am glad you have some better in it but we do have a way to go.

    Pre COVID were about ten modestly priced classes that all in some way are exactly mental health. Yoga I did but line dancing, acting, voice, tai chi, more formal exercise. These all have the same components. They are social. They have movement. They are designed to engage the brain in helpful but new ways. The opposite of obsession and worry. Less isolation. The regulation of serotonin is good and neurotransmitters are an issue. I would just add the role od Oxytocin as fundamental in our well being. Usually associated with sexuality but actually is released in acts of kindness or petting an animal or positive relationships. Concern for our selves and others.

    Thanks for your incite!! You worked hard to know what you Know.

    Paul M ( in recovery as well all are )