Editor’s note: A few weeks ago we published an Ask Dr. Neimeyer entitled “My partner died…” It prompted several comments. One from “RD” inspired the author of the original question, “Miles,” to write the following. You can read “Miles'” original question, Dr. Neimeyer’s answer, and RD’s comment at this link:
Thank you so much, RD. I am ‘Miles’. It is not yet 4 months since D died… without him, the world feels a very bleak and lonely place. And scary. I hadn’t anticipated the fear… or should I say terror? Sometimes, my grief surges into a kind of panic attack as I contemplate life alone: in my late 50s, I am having to reimagine my whole life: not the easiest thing to do at the best of time – virtually impossible under the burden of grief.
Tomorrow I am getting a new puppy. D always said I could get one when I retire, or semi-retire: a few years from 60, it’s now or never! The dog may outlive me (DV). But I find the house suffocatingly empty and it is starting to feel like a prison. Eventually I may move to somewhere smaller and cosier, but not yet…
The thing that surprises me is that so many people who have lost their most loved person have felt that life is no longer worth living and have wished that they could also be dead. Not many people write about this in grief books, but virtually everyone I have spoken to tells me that this thought is extremely common. There is a difference, I think, between not wanting to be alive, and planning to kill yourself: I know, for sure, that D would never, ever want me to go down that path. But not wanting to be alive – well that just feels like the inevitable truth for me right now.
Before – life was rich and multi-textured. Now – it feels grey and shrinking. Weekends are long and empty; Christmas was a special time for us – now I’m dreading it; travelling was a big pleasure for us too – now, where would I go, and who with? Like you, I find being with ‘our’ friends very difficult because, yes, his absence is even greater. All I want to do when I’m with others is talk about him, what happened to him, the confusion in my head that this all happened so damn fast – and yet, conversation quickly veers off onto banalities which I can’t focus on. And then I just want to get away and be alone so that I can think about D and let the tears flow – which they do pretty much any time, any place.
D once described bereavement as ‘a long road with no short cuts’. He was right. Most roads do, at least, lead somewhere; at this point, I have no idea at all where Bereavement Avenue will take me. I’d love to just lay down by the side of the road and never get up, if that were allowed and possible.
Thank you for your encouragement. And for the walking advice. I am hoping that a new puppy will get me out more into fresh air, so that I don’t feel so conspicuous walking alone.
I wish you all the very best on your journey; I can tell from your writing that the pain of losing your wife has devastated you. It *is* the price we pay for true, deep love. It’s unbearable, and yet, somehow, we bear it. My prayers for you.