Brittney Gaudino

Acquisition Specialist, General Physics Corp.

This conversation is closed.

If you were to lose your spouse; how would you handle your grief and loss? How will or would you look at future relationships differently?

Possible ponders:
- What ways would you change your life, if any, to re-establish your mental health? Your happiness?
- Would your loss cause you to re-evaluate your needs, desires and goals?
- Reflecting on your relationship; would the loss result in difficulty to commit to another later in life?
- Would you be as open minded to another relationship, eventually?

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    Dec 7 2011: Such a loss is incredibly hard to overcome whether it is through death or through divorce. When my 28 year marriage ended, I thought I might never heal, never really be happy again. I could barely remember how to be an individual anymore. I remember thinking if he were deceased at least I would be certain that he would not pop up in my favourite places so painfully vibrant with his new love and I would not have to live with the dread that he would suddenly be there fully alive while I was bleeding to death- a walking corpse. It took quite awhile fo me to staunch the bleeding because I really believed that mine was the one marriage that would defy the odds.

    Every part of me was conditioned to consider him, his wants, his opinions and his being. Amazingly, when I stopped looking only backwards, when I stopped long enough to see things as they were and not as I had idealized them, when I stopped being certain that I could not possibly be happy again, a new happiness started to dawn. Suddenly I realized that I had another chance at life and an opening in my life for someone who was better suited to the person that I had worked over the years to become. I suddenly became aware that I had a chance to have a partner who believed more closely what I believe, who was more aligned in education and energy level and who wanted to have fun in the ways that I want to have fun- someone willing to read, travel, explore new ideas etc.

    None of this thinking was possible until I had taken the time to mourn what was lost, evaluate what and who I was at this point of my life or until I was emotionally restored. Eventually I could see beyond my devasted sense of betrayal and see that my exhusband had recognized and taken action with a greater wisdom than I had about what was best for both of us and our futures. While I still hate the way he did it, I can acknowledge that he chose life for himself and as a byproduct released me to have a far better life in the long run. Life is now.
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      Dec 7 2011: Debra you always have interesting things to say and talk about. I really like reading your post being that they are always full of wisdom and experience.

      If I may I would like to ask how long did it take for you to, I guess start to look forward to a better future? I only ask because, I'm at the stage in which I feel better but everyday is still a daily struggle and I constantly have to tell myself that things will work out for the best (even when I really have doubts). I really want to get to the point in which I can really saying something like "Life is now".

      I mean I really learned a lot from what happened in my experience and I'm working hard to be an even better person and I realize that I have been given the rare chance to get myself together and create a new life for myself(at the age of 22) and my son. At the same time I do not know what that will look like. I do not see myself being with another person because I'm scared of the pain that I felt before and do not want to put myself through that.

      I guess what I'm asking is how did you do it? How did you get through the daily pain (If its not too personal to say) and get to the point where you can recognize that it was perhaps for the best?
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        Dec 7 2011: Orlando, I lost my husband almost 2 and a half years ago and I am still in, well, a sense of living purgatory- so to speak; but, I know that I must continue with my life and strive to ensure my happiness, strength and overall well-being.

        A divorce and a death are, in my opinion, comparable from a relationship stand-point. Within both unfortunate situations, the person is no longer a part of your life: you no longer share the bond and emotions as you once had, you no longer have their full support, you no longer have the same companionship. In either case, you still need to allow yourself the appropriate and necessary time to heal and grieve properly. There is no designated time frame on how long it will take you to overcome your pain or to be able to move on without hesitation; that's something you need to, something you must, take day by day.

        It has been a difficult journey; but, I do realize that 'life is now.' I am not happy about what happened, far from it; but, I have come to accept it. I feel that by being able to truly accept my loss - with my mind, soul and heart - that I have been able to finally bring myself back into the light, to shine. I know confidently that he would want me to be happy and to continue to live!

        Am I ready? I don't know for sure; but, I feel it is safe to say that I, that anyone, will never know if they're ready until they try. I understand being scared to feel that pain again, I do; but, you can't live your life in fear; everything worth while is a risk - take the risk when you're ready.

        "It is a risk to love. What if it doesn't work out? Ah, but what if it does?" - Peter McWilliam
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          Dec 7 2011: Brittney, I am very sorry to hear that. I honestly would not know how that would feel like and 2 1/2 years is not a long time at all so I'm sure your still very much hurt. But you are right, and I admire the fact that you recognize that you must strive for happiness and strength and that life goes on. I know how hard that must be.

          I always told myself that the difference between a divorce and death is that if my son's mom died there would never be a chance that we will be back together, where as in a divorce there is always that possibility (not to say that we will get back together). So in that sense I'd be lying to myself if I said I could relate to you. But in regards to everything else you stated about sharing a bond, companionship etc I totally understand and that was indeed one of the hardest parts for me. I had to become an individual again. It will almost be an entire year now since my ex and I broke up and this year has by far been by far the worst but best year of my life.

          its the worse year because I lost both my family (my son and his mom is in Louisiana, while I'm here in California finishing up school) but the best year because it has been a life changing year for me, in which I gained a lot of wisdom and insight.

          What I really like about both yours and Debra's comments is that your post gives me a lot of inspiration and let me know that I can overcome the mental struggle that I am going through. I do not mean to compare but Debra and yourself were perhaps in a worse state than I am (Debera being married for 28 yrs and your Spouse being dead [sorry to hear]). Mines was two years but it just recently happened so that maybe why I feel the way I feel.

          Sorry for digress, what I mean to say is that to hear what you two went through and to hear both you of state how difficult it was but yet how full of life you guys are despite what happened really lets me know that how I feel wont define my life.

          Perhaps it is worth the risk because you never know
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          Dec 11 2011: I really feel for you Brittany. Perhaps as we are beginning to heal, the recovery is tinged with guilt and sorrow because we are going through the process of letting the loved one go. That must be frightening and painful at times. I think you are right, the loved one would celebrate the healing and every step the grieving person who is left behind, can make toward happiness. I wish you all the best.
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        Dec 8 2011: It is worth the risk Orlando!
        Loss does not define your life but it can refine your life.

        There is a line from a Leonard Cohen song that says that 'there are cracks in everything- that's how the light gets in!" - If your heart is broken- more light of illumination can get into your soul!

        Everyone is on a different time table for healing Orlando. I am not sure how long it took but it felt like a long journey. I think the first real steps toward healing happened when I stopped blaming my ex and started to try to see the relationship as objectively as possible. No one really believes that their relationship was perfect. We all tolerate things about the other and we justify and we minimize. For years I had learned to live with our differences and it was quite liberating to realize that I had learned a lot over the course of 28 years and that I now had a chance to find a match for the mature adult me, rather than the unformed girl I had been before my education, experiences and growth. I started to focus on what I had gained from the relationship rather than what I had lost and it was a staggering amount! I had much to be grateful for! I had learned so much about myself, my likes and dislikes. I learned about what I truly valued and what I really could not respect. I discovered that I had a lot more to offer a new love! What a shock! (Please read my comment to Brittney below for one promise I made myself keep that helped a lot).

        The hardest part for me is something that you will not encounter. I could not imagine where I might meet someone. My work takes me into hospitals but most of my interactions are with women and gay men both of which are not candidates for my own love life.

        Remember to think about this as a real opportunity to find someone who is FAR better suited to the more fully formed you!

        PS I have loved reading your posts on various questions too!
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          Dec 8 2011: "Loss does not define your life but it can refine your life. " Outstanding Debra !! Thank you for the generosity of your amazing spirit. I appreciate you, Brittany and Orlando for creating this climate of healing for all.
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      Dec 7 2011: Debra,
      Thank you so much for such wonderful insight and wise words! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your experience and absolutely agree with everything you had to say!
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        Dec 8 2011: I wish there were a way to say how much I feel for you in your loss that did not sound inadequate. Brittney, you must always remember that all the love he ever felt for you resides with you still. It happened. It was real. You are more for having been loved by him. I love it that you are aware that he would truly want you to be happy. One of the things that I had to make myself do helped me a lot. I made a promise to myself that I would never turn down an invitation to do anything unless I had concrete other plans with another human being (the TV or a book do not count!) This one strange little rule that my inner healing self made to myself worked wonders! It made me do things I would never have considered before. It made me meet people and go places I would never have had access to before and it forbade me from isolating myself.

        I hope it works as well for you! If wishes could heal your heart- mine would already have been wished for you!
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          Dec 8 2011: Debra, thank you so much!! Ironically though, I have also made that same promise to myself...even though it can be rather tiring lol- but, it is WORTH IT!
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    Dec 13 2011: My best friend's wife died when she was 40. They had been together for 12 years. The first two years afterwards were really, really hard for him. (The first six months was the worst.) The third year was tough too. The fourth year he had reached a kind of acceptance. The fifth year, he met someone. They fell in love. This December 19th will be their second wedding anniversary. They are very happy together.
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      Dec 14 2011: As I cannot begin to fathom how it would feel to lose my spouse of 12 years and attempt to go on without them; I am very glad your friend reached acceptance and is now happy with his new love- this gives me and I am sure many others HOPE!
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    Dec 13 2011: Anthony Minghella wrote and directed the film 'Truly, madly, deeply' starring Juliet Stevenson and Alan Rickman, which tackles this. He quotes part of a beautiful poem by Neruda:

    'Forgive me,
    If you are not living,
    If you, beloved, my love
    If you have died.
    All the leaves will fall on my chest
    It will rain on my soul
    All night, all day
    My feet will want to march
    To where you´re sleeping
    But I shall go on living...'
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      Dec 14 2011: Helena, thank you!
      I love this!!
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        Dec 15 2011: You are welcome Brittney.
        I hadn't read the previous posts and although I've never been very good at expressing myself in these situations, I just want to offer my sincere condolences.

        I second everyone's words of support here and wish you all the best.
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          Dec 15 2011: I appreciate that, thank you!
          I am doing just fine, overall :-)
          My main purpose of this post was to consider other perspectives; living with this makes life complicated and confusing. Although I know that I will move forward on my own terms and at my own pace; sometimes it is difficult to not feel guilty about it...almost as though I am letting go of him.
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        Dec 15 2011: I am pleased to hear that.

        To a certain extent I can relate to that feeling of guilt. All I can say is- in your own time , Brittney. Allow yourself to be wherever you need to be and feel whatever you need to feel. :-)
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          Dec 19 2011: That is precisely what I am doing :-)
          Thank you for the kind and wise words, Helena!
  • Dec 6 2011: Not sure overcome is the right word, probably be more like learning to live with the loss or regain personal balance after the loss.

    I would spend time with family, do charitable actions, take long walks and sit by the ocean, all the while meditating and thinking how lucky I was to have shared my life with such a special person. I think I would purge my life of as many material possessions as possible and live more like a nomad or pauper.

    New relationships are possible, but not comprehendable from this side of the equation.
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    Dec 6 2011: I'd be the end of me. I'd wash my hand with society and go live in a cave as a recluse.
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      Dec 7 2011: I hope there is room in that cave for two Gerald, it would be the end of me too. Women outlive men usually, and the thought of being without my beloved partner, who is the bravest most honourable person I have ever met, is more than I can bear to think about. What do we do? Try not to waste a single minute!
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        Dec 7 2011: How lucky we are to have met such wonderful persons, and to have the honor of sharing our life and dreams with them. The funniest, kindest, most creative and beautiful woman I've ever seen or read about...

        I guess we'll make room for two in the cave, but no more, or it'll ruin the whole idea... Pets are allowed.
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        Dec 7 2011: Joanne and Gerald , you'd probably would have to make room for three (I currently have no partner because I'm still quite traumatized from a previous breakup)

        But I'm glad you two are really devoted and happy. I really wished I met a person like that and I wish I could have a person that made me feel that way

        BTW:nice talking to you again too Joanne. By the time I had a chance to respond to you and Jah in the other thread, it was closed :-)
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          Dec 11 2011: I don't know your circumstances Orlando, but I do know that I squandered relationships when I was younger and I did not understand how important or precious they are to us until I got older. For me it was that perspective thing which comes up in so many of the political talks in which I have enjoyed your company. Just as we have taken the planet and our temporal wealth for granted, so I used to take the love and generosity of others for granted, I am ashamed to say. Eventually I woke up, but of course loving equally is sometimes painful because you are exposed to loss and tradgedy too. I guess that is just life. Thank goodness for caves and pets.
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      Dec 7 2011: Gerald & Joanne,
      I admire your devotion to your beloveds; but, let me ask you this:
      If it were that, God forbid, they pass away- do you not believe they would want you to be happy? Even if happy is with another?
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        Dec 7 2011: Joanne and I would have each other...
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          Dec 7 2011: I love the optimism; but, isn't that then, essentially, still going on with your life? Even if in a secluded cave living as a recluse?
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        Dec 9 2011: How interesting..in one post declaring devotion to "beloved" (spouse)....and immediately in another post making plans to live together with someone else !! I must say this is in line with "open marriage" and "libertinist" practices that is being proposed at the TED conversation on monogamy ?? I wish that participants would have more respect for the subject matter being addressed, other members, the thoughts being shared, and the TED forum, to offer their genuine input to a conversation or participate elsewhere where ridicule has a place.
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        Dec 11 2011: Hi Brittany, joking aside. I think grief is a process which we as individuals have little control over. I think it affects us deeply and in ways we cannot always predict. It transforms us. How life will proceed afterwards is down to the individual and to some degree how much support they might have among their family and community. I think periods of grief are dangerous times when even the strongest of us are vulnerable. How long it may last is anyone's guess. I have been too lucky so far in life and I have not lost a single soul dear to me yet, but someone I love was very sick recently and it nearly broke me. I, who never falter, suddenly could hardly drive my car in a straight line. Difficult times teach us valuable lessons and I have taken several lessons from this experience. I waste even less time on foolish pursuits, especially on a material sense of success. I think about my people and my planet even more than before, relationships, all of them even my neighbours, are transitory and precious.
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    Dec 14 2011: I am 44 now and have been joined with my love for 25 of those years, it is unfathomable to think of a loss of this nature let alone any future relation afterwords. There could and never would be a replacement for the way I feel. I do strive to bring the love and respect I feel for all things in existence to the level of what I am lucky enough to have with my wife.

    Forever Terry Lee Luster I will love you...
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    Dec 9 2011: I don't think the loss of someone deeply loved is 'overcome' as such. It is more a process of 'slow acceptance' of that loss.

    Theories such as the Kubler-Ross model, try to standardise the cycle of grief. This model, which seems to be the accepted norm, states that one has to go through one defined stage before being able to move on to the next (ie immobilisation - denial - anger - depression - acceptance, in that order):

    http://changingminds.org/disciplines/change_management/kubler_ross/kubler_ross.htm

    Whilst I am very sceptical of standardising anything to do with the human condition, the Kubler-Ross model gives a rough idea of the grief stages.

    People who become involved in close relationships too soon after bereavement, often do so from one of the unstable points in the grief cycle - such as denial, or depression. It may seem right at the time, but when the grief cycle runs its full course to 'acceptance', the new relationship is likely to feel very different.

    If I were to lose my spouse, who I deeply love, the last thing on my mind would be any thing to do with theorised 'grief cycles'. I would be in the raw state of grief myself, but I would remain sceptical of the longevity of any subsequent relationship that presented itself, until I had fully accepted my loss of her. I expect that even at this time, any future relationship would be heavily influenced by the person I have lost - including seeking someone who might be like her in some way.
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    Dec 7 2011: When my son's mother and I split it was really difficult for me (there are other reasons besides losing them that made it hard for me but it would not be appropriate to talk about on here).

    Anyhow I took it a lot harder than she did (days after our 2 yr relationship she was already looking for another man). What hurt met me the worse was not the fact that she moved on so quickly but the fact that it seemed like I gave it my all and was completely devoted to her, but it was evident that she did not see things the same way being that she told me several times that she wants to have fun while she was still young. So while I wanted this family life she wanted to go to the club.

    Perhaps the biggest mistake I made was being young and trying to be committed and put my trust in an individual who did not have the same mutual feelings.

    Now to get to my point, I was actually clinically depressed. Like big time. I could not imagine living in a world in which was without my son and his mother because they were literally all I have. The hardest part for me was getting over the guilt. I regretted everything that I ever said to her that was negative and all the times I did not spend more time with my son. indeed the hardest part for me was feeling guilty and not feeling like I was a good person or an even better father..

    But that was in the past,

    Now I am no longer depressed and I actually learned a lot from my past experiences and from how I felt after the breakup. I went to get help and that really helped a lot and if there was anything I can offer I would say this: you will perhaps get worse before you get better and move on but that does not mean you will not get better. You really have to want to move forward and learn from the past.

    As far as future relationships: I do not know if I could do that. I would rather be with my son before I am intimate with another individual. I'd feel guilty starting a family with someone else, instead of being w/my son.
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      Dec 11 2011: Hi Orlando, I hope you will be able to have contact with your son. I suspect will bring you untold solace and joy through your life, if you can participate in his upbringing and have some contact with him, in whatever capacity. I hope you and your ex can move to collaborate on that score. I think what a great influence and role model you would be for him too.
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        Dec 13 2011: Hey Joanne, Nice to hear from you again and thank you for your kind words..

        It is indeed tough being that I am a great father and I love him dearly. I call him every week but there is only so much a phone call can do. but the reality of the situation is that I'm in the rebuilding stage of my life and to be quite honest it is hard and difficult but this past year has by far given me a lot of hope. of course I'd rather have my family but I feel that going through what I"m going through right now is indeed going to help me in the long run...

        I hope to be a great influence and teach him everything that I know...who knows maybe sometime in the future you'll be seeing him give a TED talk about me lol Jk....anyhow we'll see how things turn out...but I'm doing what I can to be in his life asap....hopefully you'll never have to go through what I'm going through..your a good person and I wouldnt want that for you or anybody
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          Dec 13 2011: you are sowing seeds Orlando, good seeds that you will reap again and again through life with him. I bet you are a wonderful father. Thing is with sensitive people, they can be too hard on themselves, always setting the bar too high. Your education is vitally important, not just for yourself, but for your son too. It is not selfish to pursue that instead of raising him more directly, it is quite the opposite. The knowledge you are gaining today, will enrich him and others around you tomorrow.
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      Dec 11 2011: Hi Don, I am sorry you are suffering, I looked up a couple of quotes in the hopes to make you smile;

      Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Kahil Gibran

      One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain. Bob Marley
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          Dec 11 2011: Selfishness and heartlessness are not crimes, in their most common forms, yet they frequently cause as much suffering as other actions which recieve society's harshest punishment.

          I have a friend (a woman friend) who is going through the same thing that you are. It is truly terrible for her, and we cannot do much to aleviate her pain. Its not only women though is it Don, who experience marital abuse, but I know of several men who have gone through it too, and without the social support that women often recieve.