I lost my wife to cancer last year; she was 46. She was my best friend, lover, my son’s mom and one of the greatest people whom I’ve ever known. Q

It is a surreal experience. For me it started as shock. I did not eat a meal for almost two months. Lots of people were around and I kept busy doing random things. Then people go away and the random tasks are done, and it’s quiet and strange.

I chose to move forward, focusing on my son, fitness (I started running), we did a charity drive in her honor, and we focused on being more social. I have a boy to take care of and responsibilities to be met - but I think this transition is where many grieving people fall into trouble.

I’ve lost my dad and my grandmother, both of whom I was very close to. But this hit different.

This column, “No Love is Ever Wasted”, captured my feelings well in a unique way.


"Grief, I've learned, is really just love. It's all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go."

Jamie Anderson Felix Revello de Toro - Woman, 1965

> “I love talking about her, by the way, so if I cry, it’s only a beautiful thing,” Garfield explained. “This is all the unexpressed love, the grief that will remain with us until we pass because we never get enough time with each other, no matter if someone lives till 60, 15, or 99.”

“So I hope this grief stays with me because it’s all the unexpressed love that I didn’t get to tell her,” he added. “And I told her every day. We all told her every day. She was the best of us.”

- Andrew Garfield about loss of his mother

Huberman made a nice episode about grief https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzOvi0Aa2EA

Good quality information in there, saying this after years of trying to overcome a lot of stuff and never really finding anything of value. This was interesting. Hope others find some help in it.

ps: I always assumed that grieving is supposed to be done with others, they buffer the loss, share it with you and make your future make sense because your pain is not unheard and thus your emotional self is somehow intact and allowed to be. Without this you may end up as a fake shell unable to find any form of true connection since you've been alienated at your deepest moments.


The Strangeness of Grief - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21939131 - Jan 2020 (20 comments)

The hardest part of grief for me is the guilt and the anxiety. Yeah for keeping the catholic guilt but not believing so not getting the benefit of 'universal love and forgiveness' and afterlife aspects.

I went down a rabbit hole when my mom died of theories of time not being linear just so I could take comfort in all those shared moments still happening, indefinitely.

On the subject of Grief (and in general Emotions), a study of the works of the Roman Stoics, Cicero and Seneca (and earlier Epictetus) are a must.

In particular; see Cicero and the Emotions : Tusculan Disputations 3 and 4 by Margaret Graver. - https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/C/bo364132...

A good review here - https://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2002/2002.09.15/

I wonder if the reason why some people surround themselves with awful, selfish people is because it makes it easier to grieve them once they leave or pass away.

They'll say all nice things at the funeral but actually it takes no effort to hold back tears. Many people will have the opposite problem; they want to show tears for virtue-signalling purposes but find that they can't.

I found The Grieving Brain by Mary-Frances O'Connor really helpful. It gave me a frame for why grief is a necessary part of our brain processing the loss. It made it much easier to move through the pain.
I’ve been lost to grief for the last several months - when I realised, finally, irrevocably, that my wife was never going to recover from the mental straitjacket she is now in. That the woman I married fifteen years ago no longer exists.

Backstory: She went to hospital one day in March last year, she had hyponatremia (low sodium) and they gave her saline solution roughly twice as fast as recommended - they wanted to turn beds you see, like a restaurant turns tables, hospitals are run for profit. She went into a coma, resurfaced a couple of days later, and then they discharged her as fast as humanly possible - oh you can’t walk now, but you’ll be fine in a week or so, they lied. I used to think that having “excellent” insurance would cover me and mine, but it’s not the case. Insurance just pays when something is available to be paid for. When the hospital decide their time is more important than your life, well, you lose. And you lose big.

Since then, and never once before, she has had a smorgasbord of mental problems, but since January, it’s mainly been crippling fear and paranoia. She thought people were in the house, that the dog was a robot spy, that I was dead and replaced by an AI. She’s convinced she’s going to be dismembered by “them” at night, and that she’ll be dragged off to “a hearing” to determine her fate. She is not getting better.

I have lost the light of my life, and in doing so, feel lost myself. Purposeless. Dead-man-walking. I break down in tears, uncontrollably, randomly. I sometimes wish I were dead, except then who would look after our son ? So I live. I have learnt to live with overwhelming sadness, to present a mask to the world, to cope. Badly, but better than not being there for him at all.

I phone her, every night. Now that she’s been moved closer (30 mins away, she used to be 3 hours away) it’s possible to visit in the week - in fact I’ll be going tonight, not just at weekends. But that just rips open the suppurating wound and adds a fresh layer of salt. To see her. Like this. A woman who did a joint JD/MBA, reduced to this.

I have tried therapy to try and sort myself out, but what use is therapy against the harsh reality of what has happened, what will continue to happen, what cannot be escaped from. What use is talking against brain damage ? How does talking about it change reality. It can’t. It won’t. What has been written on steel cannot be erased, consequences, like us, be damned.

I will not desert my wife - no matter what hardship I feel, for her it is thousands of times worse. She has periods of lucidity when she knows the agony of all she has lost, when she talks, wistfully, of how she always saw herself growing old together, bickering like only old, married couples do - and not locked on a ward put on a cocktail of drugs that keep her sleepy and docile. I am her only contact with the outside world, and she needs that. She will have it. So I force a brave cheer, and talk to her for the allotted 30 minutes, and her life is not quite so dreadful for that short period.

This is what I can do, but the toll is terrible. I walk out of that pleasant ward with my soul in ribbons, trying to pull myself together for the short but intense drive home. It is what I can do, it is not enough, but it is what I can do for her.

I am flying my son to the UK this weekend because he deserves some time in a house that isn’t as dreary and doom-laden as his own. I can’t stay because I need to be near her so she doesn't think I've left her. I can't take the time off work anyway because they’re busy, and I need my job to fund her healthcare, so I’ll catch the next flight back and repeat the task in a couple of weeks. It’s a long flight, but he’s looking forward to the adventure. For me, it’s just another nail in the coffin - not being able to provide for him as I ought to be able to, but misery is not a zero-sum game, he’ll enjoy the time away, and that is enough.

Grief is heavier than a mountain, it sits on your shoulders, and weighs you down in everything you do, or fail to do. Grief that won’t fade with time, that is renewed each evening, and twice per week in person, is not anything I would wish on my worst enemy. I sincerely hope no-one that has read this far (or anyone else for that matter) ever suffers like she, or like me.

I felt sad for her father's death but then didn't make it through the great length with which she talked about a cat that you knew was going to be dead anyways.