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I'm struggling to cope with the death of my husband

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 03 June 2016
Dear Patricia Marie,

I don't know whether I am looking for advice, help or just understanding. Five years ago my husband died and although everyone says I am coping well, I am not. In public I try, but I am still in shock and grieving – have other ladies had the same experience? Will it get easier?

In 1992 my husband bought a Morgan, and through the Sports Car Club we met many nice people, and three have been especially kind and supportive. They are not local though. My support group here are mostly the age of my daughters, who are both married with children and work – one in Yorkshire, one near Lincoln.

Please tell me it gets easier and I shan't always be near tears and longing.

Patricia Marie says...

Dealing with the death of a loved one is an extremely difficult and traumatic experience, no matter how much time has passed since their death. I feel there is a real sense of loneliness around you. You have lost the physical presence of your husband, and the space he filled within your world continues to leave a feeling of intolerable emptiness. The transition from wife to widow can understandably be extremely painful.

Grieving is a vital part of recovering from loss, but it seems you haven't grieved properly, and at this moment are clearly suffering. Be gentle on yourself, and know that you don't have to hurt forever or manage this alone. Cruse Bereavement are a fantastic organisation providing help for those struggling with personal loss. There is no substitute for learning from others who have experienced the death of their spouse, and the group counselling which they offer could help you share your grief, thereby making you feel better understood and promoting healing. Even better, friendships could be forged, through shared experiences. Whilst the support of friends and family is also vital, they may not fully understand, and don't often know the right thing to say, which is why group therapy is such a valuable resource.

The path of your life has changed, but, whilst always remembering your husband, you do deserve to be happy. It's good to hear about the club you both joined, but perhaps you could now consider joining some local societies, that would incorporate your hobbies, or, indeed, enable you to experience different ones. You may enjoy new found interests which will shift your focus to the future rather than the past.

It may seem at this moment that you won't ever recover from your loss, but by receiving the help you deserve, you will be able to move on from this difficult time. At this moment, life may seem rather grey, but if you look for the colour, it will gradually return.

I recommend 'Death and how to survive it' by Kate Boydell, a unique, practical and uplifting guide to coming to terms with the loss of a partner.

Cruse Bereavement Care: 0808 808 1677 www.cruse.org.uk

Newly widowed

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 28 May 2015
Dear Patricia Marie,

I am newly widowed and feel completely and utterly bereft. I had the most loving husband for over 35 years, and feel I cannot continue to go on without him by my side.

I have a loving and supportive family, but miss the company and love of my husband. I was lucky to have a good, kind and doting man, which makes his loss even harder to come to terms with.

I have had counselling which has helped a little, but nevertheless, can't help feeling my life is over.

How can I cope with such dreadful heartache?

Patricia Marie says.....

You have lost the physical presence of your beloved husband, and the actual loving space he filled within your world is now an intolerable emptiness. I feel depths of sympathy for your grief. I believe we go on living for the sake of our beloved dead, experiencing each moment for them, and with them. If only you were to embrace your husband's spirit which lives on beside you in your every living moment, this would provide great comfort.

You experienced love in a way not many people do, yet the downside of loving so intensely is that the pain is so much more acute, simply because you have lost the love of your life. In the midst of the darkness, it can be almost impossible to believe one can get over such grief, but I want to encourage you to hold on to hope. Celebrate all you had with your husband and keep your precious memories alive. At this moment, life must seem rather grey, but if you look for the colour, it will gradually return. Continue with your personal counselling, and for additional support, do contact Cruse Bereavement Counselling, who offer excellent help and support for those suffering from grief. Alongside the love of your family, hopefully, you will begin to feel better, and start to see your life as being different - not over.

I recommend 'After You' by Maryalicia Post. This memoir is about one women's emotional journey through loss, healing, and happiness after losing her husband of 30 years.

Cruse: 0844 477 9400 www.cruse.org.uk

I hate Christmas

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 11 December 2014
Dear Patricia Marie,
 
I always hate this time of year – Christmas.  My closest friend died in a car accident on Christmas Day five years ago, and every year I am reminded of her and how much I miss her.  She was such a vibrant, happy person and she used to love Christmas. 

I visit her grave every year, put flowers there, and talk to her, and this year I have explained to my boyfriend of nine months that I don’t ‘do’ Christmas, and why.  He seems a bit irritated by this, but has said he will visit the grave with me.  He wanted me to spend the day with his family and children, but I can’t do that.  I have to honour my friend’s memory.
 
Nobody seems to understand.  How can I make them see that I feel it is wrong for me to celebrate this day?

Patricia Marie says...

This time of year brings much sadness to those remembering their loved ones, and the pain is often heightened when others are wanting to celebrate the festivities.

If you can plan Christmas to include remembering your best friend, the day may not seem quite so daunting. Take some comfort from lighting a candle in memory of her - have a photo nearby and tell others of the special times you shared. They will want to be included in your thoughts, rather than feel isolated.

Sometimes we can feel no one understands because we don't open up - so do talk to your family and friends, they care about you and will be conscious of your loss. I suspect your boyfriend is not so much irritated but frustrated by your refusal to enjoy the nice times that you so deserve.

Be grateful for the time you had with your friend and focus on this rather than there absence in your future. Have you considered that she wouldn't be wanting you to be feeling so miserable, or not making the most of the life she can't have. So with this in mind, perhaps you could you try to compromise and enjoy the loved ones that are here with you today.

If at anytime you do feel tearful, that's fine too. Don't be so hard on yourself, look to the future and believe things will get easier.

Over Christmas time professional help and support is just a phone call away. Cruse is an excellent organisation offering bereavement counselling which I feel you could benefit from: www.cruse.org.uk (0844 477 9400) You may also find the below poem resonates with you.

SHE IS GONE

You can shed tears because she has gone,
Or you can smile because she lived,
You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back,
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left.
Your heart can be empty because you can't see her,
Or you can be full of the love you shared,
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
Or you can be happy tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her and only that she is gone,
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on,
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back,
Or you could do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

By David Harkins



Have a dilemma? Please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.


In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

I am bereft

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 30 October 2014
Dear Patricia Marie,

My beautiful old dog Sally died six months ago and I am just bereft.  She was always with me whatever I did or wherever I went,  and as I live on my own she was my companion and I would talk to her all the time.  When I walked her, people would come up and talk to me sometimes - somehow when you have a dog with you it makes you more approachable.

I just feel so lost without her, and so lonely, made worse by the lack of understanding of those around me. I have thought about getting another dog, but just don't think any dog could replace her.

Patricia Marie says...

Many people, even our closest friends, feel uncomfortable talking to us about our losses. Because of this, we are sometimes most alone just at the time when we need support. This applies especially for the death of a pet, as our society often does not acknowledge loss of an animal to be a cause for grief. However, the reality is you are not alone, as there are many dog owners who have to face the loss of there most loyal companion.

Allow yourself time to come to terms with your sorrow.  Recollect the wonderful memories that can never be taken away from you, and in time hopefully you will soon begin to remember your beloved dog with more smiles than tears. Display a photograph of 'Sally' - it will help you to feel connected when she is in your thoughts.

There are many dog rescue organisations desperate for help, where you could perhaps volunteer to temporary foster, or help to look after the dogs at the centre - therefore, benefit from having them in your life, but without full responsibility, although I cannot promise you won't become attached to these vulnerable animals. Attending a place of work will also enable you to make friends and not feel so isolated.

If the only reason you can't face getting another dog is because you feel the new one wouldn't replace the old, of course, no two dogs could ever be the same, but having a different dog could prove preferable to having no dog. Do consider this, and you may just want to begin a new unique and perfect bond with another furry friend, who will benefit from the love and care you could clearly offer.

For a comforting read, I recommend: Goodbye Dear Friend: Coming to Terms with a Death of a Pet by Virginia Ironside.


Have a dilemma? Please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.


In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

I can't cope with my friend's death

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 05 June 2014
Dear Patricia Marie,

My best friend died a year ago after being in a tragic car accident. At first everyone was supportive and caring, but this was short lived. Now, nobody wants to talk about her, and dismissive of me if I try to speak of my very much missed friend, who understood me like no other. I am feeling so alone at this moment and don't know who to turn to. I have started to have thoughts of suicide which scares me. Would appreciate some help.

Patricia Marie says...

How very sad for you to lose someone so close, I am so sorry. When a close friend dies, it can be extremely painful and difficult to come to terms with. When you say people are dismissive of you wanting to speak, I believe it's because they are not sure what to say. Unfortunately, sometimes those closest to us just aren't capable of dealing with death - wanting to help, just unsure how. Make it clear to them there are times you want to talk about your friend - not wanting them to fix things for you, but just to listen and be there for you.

Even if you get upset, its better to express your feelings, and important to remember the happy times as well as the sad ones.

I am sure if your friend adored you as you did her, she would be upset that you are contemplating suicide. Very sadly she has lost her life, however, you are very much alive, and although you can't see it now, there is much to live for. This is hard to believe when you are in such a dark place, but you don't have to deal with it alone. Please see your G.P about how you are feeling, as he can offer a medical check up and organise some bereavement counselling. Cruse are an excellent organisation offering support for those struggling with grief and loss.  Contact: cruse.org.uk (0844 477 9400) For a comforting read, I recommend  'The Courage To Grieve ' by Judy Tatelbaum.



Have a dilemma? Please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.

In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

Trying to cope with SIDS

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 25 April 2014
Dear Patricia Marie,

My niece's closest friend lost her baby of 10 months to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) last year.

My niece who was also a godmother to the baby, is now expecting her first child and although she is delighted, she is filled with anxiety about SIDS. I am extremely close to my niece as her parents both died when she was a teenager and she lived with me until she married two years ago.

This should be a happy time for her, but her fear around something happening to the baby is taking all the joy away.

What can I do to help her?

Patricia Marie says...

I am very sorry to her your niece is so anxious, but given the circumstances, this is fully understandable. SIDS is devastating, and as your niece was closely connected to her friend and baby, she too experienced a loss. At the time, she was possibly so focused on supporting her friend, that it may not have seemed appropriate to let herself acknowledge that loss, but now she is pregnant, its normal that some of her grief is showing up as anxiety about her own baby, which can also reinforce the tragic loss of her parents.

The key to surviving grief while your pregnant is to surround yourself with people who love, comfort and care for you, and this includes professional care, so do encourage your niece to speak with her midwife, who is there to help with any fears.

Am thinking if your niece has not had any counselling regarding the loss of her parents, bereavement counselling would be of great help to her. Cruse Bereavement is an excellent organisation dedicated to helping those struggling with loss. 0844 477 9400; helpline@cruse.org.uk. The Lullaby Trust can also help, 0808 802 6868; lullaby trust.org.uk. This charity does incredible work to support those who have been affected by the sudden death of a baby or toddler.

I strongly recommend your niece reads 'SIDS & Infant Death Survival Guide: Information & Comfort for the Grieving Family and the Friends Who Seek to Help Them', an outstanding book, beneficial to all affected by SIDS.




Got a dilemma, please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk 
Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.

In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

I'm so scared & I can't concentrate

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 24 January 2014
Dear Patricia Marie,

I haven't had the best start to 2014, my grandad is very unwell with Parkinson's disease and my father was rushed into hospital after Christmas with a suspected stroke due to stress. The following week my partner lost a very dear friend to cancer who was just 19 years old. I am scared at the thought of losing somebody and I am in the middle of my exams at university which I just can't concentrate on.

Thank you for your help.

Patricia Marie says...

Am not surprised you are unable to concentrate on your exams and urge you to make an appointment with The Student Services at your university, who can offer you help and support during this very difficult time. I would also recommend a visit to your GP who could refer you for some counselling which would be of great benefit to you.

Having close family who are ill can put a strain on your health and well being, and make one fearful of the future. The tragic loss of your partner's friend being so young is particularly cruel and highlighting your fear of loss. It is understandable that you are feeling so scared given the emotional circumstances.

Whilst we are unable to predict the future, we can learn to cope better with the here and now. In addition to professional help, having a good friend who can support you at this time would make a huge difference to how you feel. Sometimes just being able to talk when you want to about difficult things, can make you feel better and make things easier to cope with.

During this stressful time, whether you go for a walk, to the gym or simply enjoy a long soak in the bath, taking time out is a healthy and very important coping mechanism.

Cruse offer face to face, telephone, e.mail and web bereavement support and counselling, which may be of benefit to your partner. Cruse bereavement 0844 477 9400, helpline@cruse.org.uk

Got a dilemma, please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk
Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.

In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows



An odd couple.

Posted by Tania Kindersley
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on Wednesday, 20 November 2013
This week, I said goodbye to a human and a pony.

The human was a dear relation, one of the tremendous gentlemen of the old school. He was of a venerable age, and it was his time. All the same, there is still a sense of shock, as if in the magical part of brain I believe the old people will go on forever.

The small Welsh pony.The small Welsh pony.

I remember this from when my father died. He was eighty, and his body was bashed and battered from years of race riding, from crashing falls, from breaks and cracks and tears. He was entirely ready to go and in the end he slid away easily, after singing a little song for the Australian nurse to whom he had taken a shine. He made it up especially for her. ‘Dahlia from Australia,’ he sang, and then he went to sleep and he did not wake.
And the big red mare, who misses her tiny friend.And the big red mare, who misses her tiny friend.
I had thought I was prepared for that moment, but I was not. It felt oddly shocking, as if there had been a tear in the space-time continuum.

As this great generation goes gentle into that good night, I feel the same sense of wrongness, of lack, of rupture. They are the ones who remember the war. Some even fought in it. My darling godfather, still bashing on against all the odds, served with the Welsh Guards, and after VE day was sent on hush-hush sabotage missions. ‘I blew up bridges and things,’ he told me once. ‘I rather enjoyed it.’ They knew rationing and deprivation. They were not a perfect generation, but they did stoicism and understatement better than anyone. I am profoundly sad that they are going.

I had not seen my relation for a long time, since I moved so far north, but he was a huge part of my formative years, and I remember his great kindness to the young, and so I mourn him, and I regret his passing.

The little pony exists at the other end of the scale. She was my daily companion. She came to us as a friend for my thoroughbred, and the aristocratic ex-racehorse and the scruffy Welsh mountain person made a most touching bond. The red mare still calls for her and looks for her. I look for her too. The field has a gap in it.

Like the gentleman, she too was old; it too was her time. She went very quickly, hardly needing any help from the vet. She was just a little pony, yet I wept bitter tears for her.

It’s always complicated when humans and animals go at the same time. There is supposed to be a hierarchy. How can a highly educated man, capable of abstract thought and complex reasoning, compare to a simple flight animal, who lives on good, basic instincts? The sorrow becomes complicated. There is a voice in my head which tells me, sternly, that it is almost unseemly to grieve both in the same way.

Funnily enough, I’ve been through this exact thing before. On the night of my father’s funeral, one of my dogs died. I found myself torn between the oceanic grief of losing a parent, which changes your world forever, and the simple, expected sorrow of losing an old canine.

Loch Muick, where I said goodbye.Loch Muick, where I said goodbye.

At the time, my sister said a very wise thing. She said: ‘Love is love.’ I write about that plain sentence quite a lot, because I think it is so important, and I need to remind myself of it. There is no hierarchy of beloveds. The ones who stitch themselves into your heart, animal or human, are as important as each other. The space they leave behind is not graded. It just is.

Yesterday I drove down to Glen Muick, a great glacial valley ten miles west, with a loch the colour of mercury and a ring of indigo mountains at its gracious end, to say my goodbyes. It is where I always go, as if I am committing the spirits of the dear departeds to the very hills. There is something about that vast unchanging landscape which allows me to come to terms with life and death.

I said goodbye to a humble pony, and a grand gentleman. I was keenly aware of the slight absurdity of this odd couple. Yet there was a rather lovely rightness to it as well. Death, like love, is a mystery. No matter how many books I read or thoughts I think, I shall never quite get to the bottom of them. But they must both be marked, and so I marked them, in the only way I know.

So we beat on

Posted by Tania Kindersley
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on Thursday, 08 November 2012
The sun shines, out of a pellucid Scottish sky. The beeches have turned a colour for which I have no word. Scarlet would be paltry and insulting. Outside, men are doing manly things, mostly involving tractors and those huge machines with the vast digging claw at the front. I just ran into two fellows who were chopping up socking great trees. They were so pleased with their own manliness that it made them laugh.

I’m always a bit startled by this sort of thing. I spent most of my life surrounded by metrosexuals and homosexuals and trannies, before I came up here. Admittedly, I did grow up amongst hardy racing people, but all my brothers and most of my male cousins are tremendously camp. The butch male in full cry is mildly surprising to me.

I try to get on. I run errands. I make mushroom soup for my mother, in a blatant attempt to get to the top of the children’s list. I think about work. I do not actually do any work, but I think about it, which is a humming step in the right direction. After my father died last year, I could not work properly for three weeks. All my concentration was shot. I am in awe and wonder of those people who quickly get back to normal after a bereavement. Robert Peston lost his wife not long ago, but there he is, on the BBC, still knowing everything about the economy, his distinctive voice strong and steady, even making jokes with the presenters. That’s real Blitz spirit, I think.

I’m not near normal yet. The world swings on, but mine has a space in it. I really, really miss my dog. I veer between thinking this is perfectly normal and scolding myself for overcooking the whole thing. She was with me every day for ten years, I suppose. That’s a lot of companionship. Because I work from home, and rarely venture far from Scotland, in terms of sheer hours I probably spent more with her than with any other sentient creature. Even in the house, she was my faithful shadow, following me from room to room, patient and questing. I miss odd things, like the sound of her paws on the wooden floor, and the sheer beauty of her. I am suffering an aesthetic lack, so I stare very hard at the hills to get my share of loveliness.

On the other hand, I am aware that this is a most ordinary, small grief. I once looked up the number of human deaths in Britain each year, for a book. It was around six hundred thousand. I remember being astounded by the thought of all that mourning. That’s an awful lot of funerals. That’s a lot of empty rooms. And yet everyone goes on, without making a fuss. I must not make a fuss, I think.

In the flower shop, in the chemist, in the newsagent all the kind village people remark on the weather, which is fine, and ask how I am. ‘Very well, thank you,’ I say, lying. I want to say: MY DOG DIED. But you can’t say that, because it sounds silly, and no one knows what the correct response is. The dog people get it, but everyone else would not really understand.

The horse gets it, oddly. Horses are amazingly telepathic. She follows me about the field, whickers sweetly at me, lays her head over my shoulder, gently pushes her forehead into my chest. She is as soft and dopey as an old dog herself. The furry Welsh pony, on the other hand, has no time for sentiment. She just wants the pony nuts she knows I have in my pocket, and cooks up four different plans to get them. This ruthless streak makes me laugh.

I cast about for a good last line. There must always be a good last line. My old teacher, Mr Woodhouse, taught me that, when he was training me to write history essays. I don’t have a good one, so I’m going to steal a great one. This is what just came into my head, from the end of The Great Gatsby, a book I used to read once a year, when I was in my twenties and quite obsessed with F Scott Fitzgerald. ‘So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.’ Yes, I think; that will do.


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