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Grieving the Loss of a Loved One

Grieving the Loss of a Loved One

Faith of the Mustard Seed
One year ago, I wrote “
Grief, Self-preservation and Multiple Sclerosis.” My writing dealt with the fact that, years ago, I was living submersed in sorrow after the passing of my mother and father. I was overshadowed by grieving and I truly believe that grief propelled my multiple sclerosis (MS) into a rapid downward progression.

Once again, sorrow hovers over me. My husband of 41 years passed away on Dec. 19 after seven months of fierce battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. As I write this column, my emotions are at a halt, I am numb. I am told this is a protective stage in the grieving process. It is a stage I don’t recall being in when my mother and father passed, and from my perspective, it is a strange place to be. It is very unsettling to not be feeling any emotions when I know I should be.

I loved my husband very much. I still do. He was my rock. He was always there for me with his supportive, loving, and giving nature. So, why am I not devastated, crying uncontrollably, or trembling, tightly curled up in a ball? I have experienced many emotions over the past seven months, ranging from shock, fear, helplessness, anger, and empathy, just to name a few. And I have cried buckets of tears for months, yet my tears have all but disappeared since I witnessed my husband take his last breath.

His passing was three weeks ago. Since then, I’ve walked oblivious to the world — this is my reality. When the time comes that I feel again (I am told that will happen), my fear is that all the pain I have bottled up will consume me. I know my husband wouldn’t want that for me. He wouldn’t want me to compromise my MS. He would want me to take care of myself and have a good quality of life. I want that for myself as well. Being in a state of depression is not a good place to be. So what can I do to cope and keep that from happening?

The American Cancer Society has shed some light on this question in their article, “Symptoms of depression and complicated grief.” When coping with a loss, they say a grieving person can work through pain with time and the support of others. Eventually, they will be able to grasp the reality of the loss and move on with their life.

The article suggests accepting your emotions as they come — there is no right or wrong way to grieve. It will take time. Feel the pain and emotions in your time frame. No one else can tell you how to grieve and you shouldn’t put expectations on yourself, either. Also mentioned is allowing yourself to cry to help with your healing. Your feelings are valid and need to be addressed, so seek out support. Remember your loved one by sharing memories with those who knew them, or by talking with others that are grieving, perhaps in a support group. One suggestion that stood out to me is to take care of yourself, eat well, and stay active. Again, take care of yourself. Your loved one would want that.

I will never forget my husband. I will forever love and think of him. And I will not let him down — taking care of myself will honor his memory. As I end this column, my tears are flowing, I feel my healing journey has just begun.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Debi is a retired admissions and marketing director residing in Oregon. She is a mother of three grown children and has three grandchildren. She was diagnosed with PPMS in 2010. With her column, “Faith of the Mustard Seed,” she hopes to help and inspire others who are also dealing with MS.
Debi is a retired admissions and marketing director residing in Oregon. She is a mother of three grown children and has three grandchildren. She was diagnosed with PPMS in 2010. With her column, “Faith of the Mustard Seed,” she hopes to help and inspire others who are also dealing with MS.
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  1. Jess says:

    I am so sorry for your lost♥️ be strong for him and yourself. Yes he would want you to be as healthy as possible ♥️ it will take time.. please surround yourself with family and friends as much as you can♥️ may his soul rest in peace. From one MS Warrior to another ♥️


    Debi, thank you for writing such a sensitive and heartfelt personal post. I too lost my soul mate in November and am finding it hard to come to terms with the loss and also the fear of being alone. I have cried so much over the past few months but my MS doesn’t feel any of that sorrow or has relented the pain I physically feel. People say time heals, i await with baited breathe. I will say you are right, talk to people who knew him, look at photos and videos and smile, look after yourself, remember the fun times and know one day we will all be together again.

    • Debi Wilson says:

      I’m so sorry for your loss Noreen. I relate to all you are feeling, especially that we will see them again. I am very glad my husband is not in pain anymore, and it is my strong faith in God that will see me through this. I will add you to my prayer. Thank-you for writing and sharing! Take care, Debi ❤

  3. Pam says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss. The death of my husband and then dog sent my MS into a rapid downward spiral also. But one thing I have learned is that the love for and from them is eternal. You will always miss him, but when you have come through your grief, you will find him and the love again. (((HUGS)))

  4. cynthia says:

    My first husband died 23 years ago….I understand your pain and sense of loss…like half of you is missing. I, too, had what I considered to be strange reactions…I didn’t cry in public , but sobbed my heart out every evening as I wrote thank you notes to people who had been so kind during his illness and after his passing. I know we will be together again….so ”we sorrow not as those who have no hope” You are right about keeping as fit and healthy as possible , too. Take care…I will be praying for you.

  5. Robyn says:

    Dear Warrior Debi, I am so very sorry for your loss. I can read/feel the love you carry for your husband and know you will honor him by continuing to take care of yourself and remember his best wishes for you.

  6. Jackie Topp says:

    I am so sorry to read this, Noreen, and offer my deepest sympathy. If i may be so bold, In some ways I really do understand some of what you are going through – my husband was very ill with depression and chose to take his own life in December. The emergency services were fantastic, but we had to let him go, as his brain was too badly damaged. I have cried every day for 6 weeks and expect to cry for many more – that is a normal way to express grieve, but its not the only way.

    I have the ‘luxury’ of being a bereavement support worker and so I understand the theories around grief. Being able to apply them to myself after such a traumatic experience was and is incredibly helpful. I know what I am going through is completely normal. I don’t sleep or eat well at the moment and am finding it incredibly difficult to find my new status quo, particularly in relation to dealing with my MS. But that is OK. I too have been and am going to hell and back on a daily basis but those days will get brighter and easier. All I can do is carry on as best as I can.
    Looking after my own well being is challenging, but I know I must – after running on adrenaline for too long, i am aware my reserves are failing and my body is heading towards a crash site. I must take care of myself and let others help. I am trying.
    I pray you too will find the strength to move forward, remembering your good times with love always.
    God bless

  7. Teresa Wright-Johnson says:

    The tears flowed as I read your beautiful, poignant column. Words escape me at this time. Take all the time you need and God is with you every step of the way. The love you shared with your husband was apparent. He fought the good fight with faith and courage and he is forever with you. I’m praying for you and your family. God Bless You.

    • Debi Wilson says:

      Thank-you Teresa! Faith, friends and family will see me through, Thank-you for your continued friendship and support! ❤

  8. Laura Kolaczkowski says:

    Debi, I’m jut seeing this post and want to let you know how appreciative I am that you shared your thoughts here. We don’t often talk about grief, and we certainly don’t talk about death in terms that allow people to honor their loved one while taking care of themselves. You will find the way and those emotions will flood back at an unexpected moment of sound, smell or an activity that reminds you he is still with you in intangible ways. Be kind to yourself and keep those warm memories close. hugs, Laura

  9. M Gilly says:

    I am quickly approaching the one-year anniversary that the love of my life took his life. We had been apart – due to work, and I miss him every day – I miss his laugh, his smile and the way he could help me keep things in perspective. I feel pretty lost. While I try to keep a ‘strong’ face on and convince everyone I’m ok, I’m not. I too have fears that the MS will rear its head – so far, only minor issues and I am still able to work every day. I feel very empty – at the end of the day – trying to reconnect with some of my old passions – helps a bit – I play the piano, and that has been healing, but I fear I am now at an age where I’m no longer ‘ in the market’, nor is another man what I want at all – I just feel very alone and sad – who would want to be around that? I feel half a whole. But, I know he wouldn’t want this for me, yet, I am angry that he is gone and left me here to fend for myself. My family understands to a point – they are mostly of the mind that I should be ‘over it’. I will never be ‘over it’ and I will never be the same after going through this. He saw me through the whole MS saga, when we didn’t know what was wrong with me – he worked at therapy with me, kept me positive, and I went from not being able to walk, to returning to full time work, being able to golf again and mostly a ‘normal’ life. But, MS did rob a few essential things – I thought we were ok, but we can certainly be fools in denial, which I was. I agree with the posts to be gentle and take care of yourself – I hear the advice…try to follow it, because, I’m all I’ve got now – except for the cat, but she, while cuddly and sweet as can be, can’t help me if I relapse – trying to teach her to text or dial a phone is not ‘her thing’! I am worried that lately I am not focused at work, and eventually something big is going to slip. But, I only have to get through today, and not fill my head with all sorts of projections on the what ifs….that will only compound the problem.

    • Debi Wilson says:

      Hugs to you, M. Gilly!
      I relate to all of what you said, I am finding out that it is not an easy road. But,
      it is true he would not want me to be sad and compromise my MS. I am sure your husband would want the best for you as well! Thank-you for sharing and stay strong! Debi

  10. Sandi C. says:

    Hi M Gilly,
    Your reply spoke to me. I too have MS and my “best husband in the world” passed away from cancer. Ron was diagnosed 8/10/2010 and passed 4/25/2011–just 8 months later.
    I’ve gone through grieving stages properly I guess, whatever that is. I’ve gotten on with life, I take care of myself and my home. I can laugh and have fun. But weirdly in no way am I ok. I have happy moments but I’m not happy.
    Ron supported me through everything with this disease. I’ve had MS an incredible 30 years now. I was diagnosed at 29 and now 59. MS pretty silent first 25 years then Ron’s death. My MS has changed my life now and it’s getting
    hard—my walking. Always my biggest fear. I have foot drop. I never even knew what that was.
    So you guys, I loved hearing your stories! You made me feel comforted and not so alone. Our disease can be isolating bc no one understands. So let’s keep in touch and fight on❤️.
    Sandi C.

  11. Sharon Loiterton says:

    My beautiful husband died very suddenly on 6 December 2019. He’d only been ill for two weeks and I was so shocked when after speaking to him, got a phone call an hour later that he’d died – I just couldn’t believe it. We waited six weeks to be told by the Coroner that he had died from Churg Strauss Syndrome – a very rare syndrome with between 1-5 people per million, diagnosed with it. It’s hard to believe that he’d only done a 12 kilometre walk 3 weeks before – he was so fit.
    We’d been married for 51 years and he was kind, gentle, generous, loving, caring and he did so much for me – I’m finding things so difficult, and since his death I’m finding walking very difficult.
    I’m just drowning in grief and don’t know what to do.
    I do feel angry about his death because his care in hospital was at times very poor, for so many reasons. I’m addressing that to the Coroner and he will forward my concerns to the hospital and doctors for answers.
    I’ve seen a grief counsellor but it hasn’t helped. My question is, how do I grieve? I can’t talk to my daughters as they’re also grieving and I don’t want to make things worse for them. I don’t like to discuss it with friends because they give me sympathy and really don’t understand – I know I’ve been guilty in the past for being one of those people – you have to live it to know what it really is.
    I can’t get out of bed in the morning and lay there crying and crying, and that doesn’t help.
    To be honest, I feel my life in a lot of ways is over – I’ll never have a holiday again as I did with my husband, as I have problems with walking, and carrying things. I’m so lonely, as my husband and I would talk regularly during the day and I could say anything to him and he never judged me. If I was upset by anything he would discuss it with me and help me to cope.
    If anyone has any ideas, especially the stages of grief, I’d love to hear what you have to say.

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