Dear Lainy, Darla, Marion and Clare
Thank you for your lovely replies and for the support you provide. I think of you often and known that we share so much and understand each other well. It has been a tough time for me again this summer and there are still lots of tears when I am alone with my thoughts and memories. I feel calmer now that I have left London where all those terrible events took place and can relax in surroundings that held happier memories.
Take care everyone and thank you again.
With love
Pauline

In these past few sunny July weeks in London I have thought of you as always, Darling, and have felt again the overwhelming sadness that the memories of July 2008 always bring. I find those memories so terribly painful that I try to push them away, such is the terror that I find there. I try to replace them with thoughts of happy times together but, of course, those memories can't be avoided and so I sink to near despair once again. For those events are part of me and will be for ever, marking the end of our happy lives together and the beginning of my 'lesser life' where I struggle to find meaning and where the concept of happiness is just a memory, occasionally recalled in dreams.
I have built a life of sorts, Darling, with the support of a few very good friends. In fact, people who don't know me well, think I'm fine. They don't see my sadness and loneliness because I choose not to show these to them. I have kept my surroundings as they always were - in our home very little has changed and I keep to familiar routines for I find security in this. I continue to work and to help with the grandchildren, who are growing so beautifully. I go to Italy at the same times and these give structure to my life.
But, what I need to tell you, Darling, is that there is a deep sadness and emptiness inside me where the love and happiness that we shared used to be. I still think of you all the time and am constantly aware of how shallow the world is without you. But mainly, what I need to express is how grateful I am to have been loved by such an exceptional man - so clever, so erudite, so interesting, so funny, so sensitive, so dynamic and so insightful. How amazing to have been loved by a man who was always the centre of every situation, challenging ideas and frameworks and guiding and supporting people to help them move forward in their lives. You were a hugely attractive man with a wonderful personality so no wonder I am still in love with you now as I was 31years ago when we met in another world ....another life.
I am writing this letter in Italy, looking from our kitchen window at the beautiful Tuscan countryside, framed by the Apennine Mountains and I recall the many happy summers we spent here - walking in the hills and sitting outside in the evenings, chatting and drinking wine late into the night, planning our retirement and looking at the stars.
Thank you again, my Darling, for all the happiness and richness that you brought to my life for 27 years. You are still my inspiration and my guiding light.
I love you now and for ever,
Pauline x

I will quote John Donne to express my love this time:

All other things to their destruction draw,
   Only our love hath no decay;
This no tomorrow hath, nor yesterday,
Running it never runs from us away,
But truly keeps his first, last, everlasting day....

Coming back here has made me feel I want to contribute in some way again. I thought I needed time away from cc but, actually, I now realise I need the warmth of your support, Marion, Darla, Lainy and everyone and, hopefully, I can give something to others who are suffering too. Only we really understand what we have all been through.
How terribly distressing it is to read of so many others still suffering and, if I'm honest, I am stronger but am still suffering too.
I just wish you were closer rather than all that way across the ocean!
Sending you my love from a very beautiful and very hot Tuscany.
Pauline xx

Dear Marion, Lainy and Darla thank you for your comforting replies. I felt that it was more than a dream too, Lainy. I often think of our meeting in Barcelona, Marion and, of course, I often think of you, Darla, as you know.
I have been absent for a while as I found it hard to focus on cc for a while but I will be back now and will try to contribute in whatever way I can.
Thank you again.
With love
Pauline xx

Oh Julia, I'm so sorry to hear about Susan. I have just read these posts and am so sorry for your loss and also that I didn't check these posts sooner.
     Although I only met Susan once I thought she was a lovely, interesting, vibrant woman and also a very brave and determined one. I know you will miss her terribly and I hope you have a lot of support from your loved ones. You were an amazing support to Susan throughout her illness and I could tell from that one meeting that she thought the world of you as you did of her. If you would like to meet up for a coffee and a chat at some point, I will be there.
Take care!
With much love
Pauline xx

Darling,
         Four years have gone by since you left me to struggle in this sad and lonely world without you. I don't think I'm getting much better at this struggle and I imagine that it will always be thus. I just get more used to this hollow feeling at the centre of my world.
        In the last few days I have tried to remember some of the many happy times we spent together, instead of focusing on those terrible last days which I now find too unbearable to recall. Those happy times seem to be part of another world, almost like a dream.
       This reminds me of a beautiful dream I had a few weeks ago when I was feeling very low. I suddenly saw you from behind and it was really you in every detail - your head, your hair, your back - such detail that I can never recall in real life. I called and called to you and suddenly I realised that you had heard me and I knew you were going to turn round. And you did..... and I saw your beautiful face once again and it was as though you were standing right in front of me. As you turned you looked at me and as you recognised me a wonderful, bright smile lit up your face. No words were spoken but for one brief moment it felt like you had come back to me and for that brief moment I felt a glimmer of happiness and it comforted me in the days and weeks that followed.
        I miss you so much, darling, please try to find your way into my dreams again!
        With all my love forever,
               Pauline
Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory;
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.

Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heaped for the beloved's bed;
And so my thoughts, when thou are gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.
                      Percy Bysshe Shelley

Hello darling,
                Three years without you - how can that be possible? What have I done, and what have I become? Sometimes these days it feels that our life together was a dream. The memory of being loved and of loving someone so much, of trusting someone so completely, the companionship, the laughter, the caring for each other.....it all seems so far away now - another time, another world and a happy one.
               I can't really explain what life without you is like. It is becoming harder and harder to express myself. I keep my feelings to myself, I tell people I'm ok, I keep busy and seem pretty normal, I think.
               But, actually, the void you have left in my life is as huge as ever and, as the memories of our happy life become increasingly remote, so the things that fill my life are largely mundane and meaningless.
               I try to avoid thinking of what might have been and of how we now should be enjoying that longed for retirement together. Instead I still focus on next steps, which are generally uninteresting and unimportant. I try not to think about the future and dread the lonely old age that may lie ahead.
              And so to my next steps - a month in Tuscany soaking in the beautiful sadness that for me now fills the landscape around our house. And then? Another autumn, our birthdays, Christmas, another cold hard winter. And what then? More of the same.
              It's very hard to find meaning in all of this without you, darling. I know that the answer lies in the grander scheme of things and, although I still struggle to find a perspective, I will try, in your memory, to begin to make a more significant contribution to society than I do at present. For all you have given me during our years together, you deserve that from me.
            What a wonderful man you were and how I miss you.
                      With all my love as always,
                            Pauline

Here is the poem that closely reflects my feelings this year:

When I too long have looked upon your face,
Wherein for me a brightness unobscured
Save by the mists of brightness has its place,
And terrible beauty not to be endured,
I turn away reluctant from your light,
And stand irresolute, a mind undone,
A silly, dazzled thing deprived of sight
From having looked too long upon the sun.
Then is my daily life a narrow room
In which a little while, uncertainly,
Surrounded by impenetrable gloom,
Among familiar things grown strange to me
Making my way, I pause, and feel, and hark,
Till I become accustomed to the dark.
                                    Edna St Vincent Millay

Thank you everyone for your kind replies. It is so helpful to know you are all out there in different parts of the world undestanding how hard life can be. I am forcing myself to work and to keep busy but this is getting harder and harder and is not helped by the fact that the UK has virtually come to a stand still due to snow so I can't get into work at the moment.
               Teresa, Italy is so beautiful and Verona is certainly no exception. I am keeping away from Italy at the moment as I have found it too hard without Anthony lately. However, I have told myself that I will go if I am not going to be alone, so perhaps we should do this together next year. Everyone is welcome! Darla, we always seem to go through these stages together, don't we?
               Anyway, thank you again. I am thinking of you all!
                             Keep in touch!
                                  Love
                                    Pauline

Hello everyone,
                      Time is running on again and I am wondering how you all are. I am struggling to keep going. The adrenalin that semed to accompany my grief to keep me moving, wore off in July and, I am now prepared to admit, that what has followed has been very hard. I seem to have lost my desire to keep busy and would gladly curl up and hibernate from the world.
                      I am finding it very hard to face the fact that I have to struggle through all those anniversaries for a third time. This month Anthony and I both had our birthdays and mine would have been an important one this time as it was the date we had agreed I would retire. We had so many plans and I have not been able to avoid thinking of what might have been. So what next? Another cold winter, another Christmas, another new year, another wedding anniversary and another spring with memories of Anthony's pain leading to the terrible trauma again of his final weeks to be followed by another lonely empty summer. I feel I have been brave and have done all this twice now and am finding doing it all for the 3rd time somehow even more difficult, without that adrenalin to force me on.
             So there we have it. This is all so hard and some days I feel I just can't be bothered. There have been a lot of tears!
              It would be lovely to hear form you all, my friends as I know you are going through it all too.
              Take care and do keep in touch!
                              Love
                                Pauline

10

(14 replies, posted in Grief Management)

Dear Claude,
               I am very sorry to hear about your father's prognosis. Of course, with cc it is very hard to predict how long your father may have with you. He may do a lot better than the doctors think and there may be other treatments he can benefit from.
               There is so much time for sadness later. In my view this is the time to be positive and to reflect on how much your father means to you, to think of all the things you want to say to him and to plan how you can make the time he has left as happy and as meaningful as possible. I realise you are in shock at the moment but in a little time, hopefully, you can avoid thinking of the future and live in the present, creating beautiful memories that will help to sustain you all in the difficult times that may lie ahead.
              With very best wishes,
                    Pauline

Hello my friends!
                     How are you all? I am thinking of you and, especially, of you, Darla as the second anniversary of losing Jim approaches. I hope you will try your hardest to replace the painful memories with beautiful ones of the good times spent together for so many years.
                    I am still in Italy, surrounded by such beauty and history that is hard to describe. I have tried to keep myself busy since Anthony's second anniversary and to be a bit more sociable. This has helped a bit and next week it's back to the UK and work. I find these transitions very hard and am having trouble facing the thought of another academic year beginning and the same routine continuing - onto the tred mill again! I have decided not to give it too much thought and I suppose I'll just have to get on with it.
            I would love to hear how you all are so please keep in touch!
                       Take care!
                          Love
                             Pauline

Darling,
         Time is going by without you, darling, and I find it hard to grasp that two whole years have passed since you were here with me.
         Where does time go? I keep myself very busy and work very hard. I think you would consider this very sensible but the world is so empty without you to fill it.
         You were such an interesting man and such an inspiration to me. I was always happy surrounded by your love and enveloped in it. Now, without that love, I feel a lesser person and one who is grasping at life but finding little meaning in it.
         I know that this is because you always were the best part of me. You challenged me, encouraged me, taught me and opened my eyes to the world around me. You gave me a perspective, a framework, a structure to my life. Along with this you added your warmth, your tenderness, your kindness, your sense of humour and your love. You were proud of me, grateful to me and you loved me. You made me feel strong, confident and protected. For 27 years our world was filled with love and laughter. We were never bored or depressed, just happy.
        I read a comment in my hospital diary that you had made when we were told that your cancer had spread, "Well, I suppose I'll have to accept that I'm mortal after all", you joked to me and the doctor. How brave you were, darling. How was it that you never complained or expressed self pity? Do you see what a lesser person I have become: self indulgent and self absorbed?
       My life now lacks the intellectual perspective you gave it, it lacks your love and laughter and is filled with emptiness. I go along filling in time. The present has no meaning, only the past has that. I see no future, just a series of endless next steps.
      In the last few weeks I stepped off this conveyor belt and the present became a reality for a while as I sank myself into you again, desperate for a hug, some words of comfort, a little joke perhaps. Then the pain and torment of those terrible last few weeks came into focus and it was unbearable, of course. However, I managed to replace this with memories of more positive and beautiful times, with the help of some old photos and momentos. And so I have come through again, beyond the moment where you took your last breath, to the first hours after your pain was over when your struggle ended and mine began.
     Poetry and music have helped to sustain me over these past two years and, during these past two days in Italy, I have read some poems that we both loved and others that now hold meaning for me.
     Here is part of a poem that expresses the pride I feel in the contribution you made, both intellectually and politically, to move humanity forward with a vision which was, as your friends and colleagues have said, far ahead of its time.
..." Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields,
     See how these names are feted by the waving grass....
     The names of those who in their lives fought for life,
     Who wore at their hearts the fire's centre.
     Born of the sun, they travelled a short while toward the sun
     And left the vivid air signed with their honour"...
    And this poem expresses my ongoing love for you. I will never say goodbye, darling, but will keep your love alive, forever inside me. I am holding you in my heart and will never let go.
    " I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart).
       I am never without it ( anywhere I go you go, my dear, and whatever     is done by only me is your doing, my darling).
       I fear
       No fate ( for you are my fate, my sweet) I want
       no world ( for beautiful you are my world, my true)
       and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
       and whatever a sun will always sing is you
        here is the deepest secret nobody knows
        here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
        And the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
        Higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide,
        And this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart.
        I carry your heart ( I carry it in my heart)."

            With all my love forever
                        Pauline

Dear Margaret,
                     It is good to hear from you. Please don't ever feel you are intruding. You have lost your husband to this terrible cancer too and we are all here to support each other. I am sorry you didn't have access to a forum like this seven years ago. We really find it very helpful to link with people who understand how we feel and I hope you will too.
                     I wonder if you are a teacher as you have this end of term problem too. For me it coincides with the anniversary of the last few weeks of my husband Anthony's life and I find it such a difficult time, compounded by everyone else's joy at the start of the long summer break.
                    Like Darla I still don't think I have really grasped what has happened and, even though Anthony and everything that happened to him, is constantly on my mind I still feel very confused about what has happened.
                  I thought of going to the hospital today where Anthony spent so much time. I thought I might just sit in the cafe by the main entrance and watch people pass by and let the memories flood in. However, I still feel unwell and didn't want to pass on my germs. I then thought of going to the garden of the hospice where Anthony died but I thought this would be too painful. In the end I looked at some photos of happier times and felt a bit better.
                  As Darla says, Margaret, we have a lot in common, so please come back here at any time and tell us how you are.
                   Take care
                      With love
                        Pauline

Thank you Teresa, Darla, Marion and Julia for getting in touch with me. I really value your support. I just wanted to let you know that I have taken it very slowly this week, partly because I have got a bit of flu as well, and am feeling a bit stronger again. I have reflected  and have spent some time doing some work on the albumn I have been making of our life together. I can't often bring myself to do this but it helped this time as I remembered lovely, happy times.
                  I am going to Italy on Tuesday and have had supportive messages from my neighbour who were worried when I told them I wasn't going this week as planned. It is good to know that people understand.
                Thank you again everyone for your support. Let me know how you are!
                 With love,
                      Pauline

Hello everyone,
                    I am thinking of you all as usual and hoping you are getting along as best you can. For Darla and I this is our very difficult time of year, isn't it, Darla? Anthony and Jim were both living their last weeks 2 years ago at this time.
                    This terrible time coincides for me with the start of the school summer holidays. On Friday the schools in Leicester, where I work 4 days a week, broke up. Everyone was wishing each other happy holidays and asking where people were going. I remembered how this day used to be when I would rush excitedly home from school to see Anthony and get ourselves ready for our drive over to Italy for the summer. That first evening in London, prior to setting off, would usually involve a rather spicy curry from the local take away and a few glasses of red wine, either French or Italian. A few days later we would set off and spend a night in France and another with Tony's brother in Switzerland en route to our home in Tuscany. Such happy times!
                   On Friday, I returned from Leicester at about 6.00pm and I arrived at St Pancras station where I get the local train home. However, this time I didn't want to continue my journey. I didn't want to go home. I sat in a cafe in St Pancras thinking of the empty summer ahead, of going to Italy once again alone and just cried for the life and the love I have lost. After a while, I pulled myself together and came home. I had a plane ticket booked for Italy for tomorrow but realised I just didn't want to go. I have come off the conveyor belt that keeps me moving and takes me nowhere and I just want to stand still for a while and cry.
                So that's what I'm doing. I will go to Italy next week but for now I am reliving the last days and nights I spent with my lovely man. So much pain and torment, a few beautiful moments and such overwhelming sadness.
                I will be back soon to speak some more.
                                With love
                                         Pauline

Hello everyone,
                       How are you Teresa? I have been thinking of you and everything you 've been through. It is so hard and I hope you are getting a lot of support. How are all of you Darla, Janet, Sue, Joyce and everyone? It would be lovely to hear from you.
                        I continue to fill my time with work and other things but I know I'm not really getting anywhere. I still think of Anthony all the time and wonder how all this has happened. For Anthony's  second anniversary I am trying to get his last book published, which will be a meaningful memorial as as people will learn from it and Anthony's ideas and work will live on.
                        I can't believe another year has nearly gone by without him and all I have done is fill in time. I have tried to avoid going back to the calendar to look at what was happening each day at this time 2 years ago but I still recall the events and the trauma returns. The long days and warmer weather bring such sadness and I have no perspective on the future. I doubt this will ever change.
                       I hope you are all ok and I expect you keep busy as I do. Do you find that you always have to have a next step planned? I never live in the present, only in the past and the near future.
                      Take care everyone and do keep in touch!
                            With love
                               Pauline

Dear Teresa,
                  I am so sorry to hear that you have now lost your husband as well as your son. The sadness in life is so hard to bear and you are having to bear so much. You have been a great support to all of us and now we are here for you, understanding how you feel and ready to help in any way we can.
               You sound completely exhausted with all you have been through. Please try to get some rest. You have given so much and I'm sure your support helped your husband to carry on for that extra 18 months. I am pleased you had that time together and hope there will be lots of lovely memories for you to cherish as time goes on.
              I am thinking of you at this time.
                   Please take care. I hope you have a lot of support around you.
                          With love
                             Pauline

Dear everyone,
                     I can't believe it is so long since I posted on here. I thought it was just a few weeks ago! I keep so busy that I lose track of time and do tend to forget when things happened and when I did things. This isn't good and I must work at it!
                      I hope you are all ok. I am alright but do just keep busy and still can't think beyond the short term. The future frightens me so I just carry on filling time, with something in my mind seeming to tell me that Anthony hasn't really gone and that he will be back. I suppose I still can't believe that the world can really go on without him. I still look for him in crowded places because it seems that, if so many people are there, then he must be there too.
                  Last night was the first time I have spent a general election night without Anthony. He would have been there with me expressing his views and discussing it all with me. I watched it all alone and tried to imagine what he would have been saying. I hate the fact that the world still goes on and that he misses so much - it is so unfair! He kept predicting this huge crisis of capitalism and never lived to see how it would unfold.
                  Work is still my life line and I often spend several hours a day travelling by train to get to Leicester, where I do a lot of my work. One positive thing is that I have forced myself to get back into reading again. For so long I found myself saying to people that I couldn't concentrate to read. Eventually, I decided just to force myself and it has worked. I still lose concentration while reading so it is a slow process but I am sticking with it because otherwise I think my mind will turn to mush! So far the books have to include themes of death and grief that I can relate to!
                   Anyway, enough about me. How are you Darla, Joyce, Sue, Janet and everyone? I an thinking of you all!
                    Take care!
                      Love
                       Pauline

Hi everyone,
                I hope you are all ok! I have been working very hard and have had a horrible dull headache for the last 5 days that just won't go away so that's getting me down a bit because it's hard to work well and very hard to sleep. I can't even have a relaxing glass of wine at the end of a hard day!
               Spring might be finally on the way here. We have had some sunshine and the weather is just a little milder. The spring flowers are late though! It will be a relief to get this hard winter over. I feel as though I have been hibernating for months and months!
             About that get together. You could all come over to Tuscany in the summer! It is very beautiful and relaxing and I will be there throughout the month of August. So, what do you say? I know it's a long way, especially for you , Janet, but what a chat we would have!!
          Take care everyone!
                 Love
                   Pauline

Dear everyone,
                     I hope you are all ok. I am now back from Italy and have had a busy week getting back into work again. Italy was beautifully sad as usual and I thought of how wonderful things would have been if Anthony were still here. My neighbours were lovely and came to see me a lot. I arrived in a snow blizzard and got stuck on the road up to our house. My neighbours came and rescued me, which was so typically lovely of them.
                    Today has been a good day because I met Julia (lalupes) and we had a really good chat. It was so lovely to meet her and I hope we will meet again. What a pity it is that more of us can't get together sometimes. It is really good to speak to people with this common experience!
                    Please keep in touch everyone and let me know how you are.
                    Thinking of you all as usual.
                           Take care!
                             Love,
                                Pauline

Dear all,
            How is everyone? I hope you are all ok. It's good to hear from you, Sue. When is your skiing trip? I hope you will really enjoy it! Be careful though!
            Time seems to move on so quickly doesn't it? I don't know when we get used to being on our own but it is so lonely, isn't it? I don't think I will get used to it ever! Sometimes I think I will just go mad from spending too much time without Anthony! Part of me still expects him to be here when I get back home from work on a Friday, for example. I just can't get my mind around the fact that this is for ever! I still sit in coffee bars and watch people and wonder why guys of a similar age, who look a bit similar to Anthony, are still fine while he is dead. It doesn't make any sense at all.
             So, anyway, I work and work and keep busy! I am off to Italy for half term next Friday for a week. I haven't been to the house since October and so I will be glad to be there and to soak up all those memories of our lovely life over there once again.
              When are some of you going to come over and join me there? You know you are all welcome any time!
              Take care everyone and do keep in touch!
                     With love
                         Pauline xx

Dear all,
              Thank you for your kind messages. I do feel better now and it is a relief to feel healthier. I don't think I've done too badly health wise since Anthony died as I've only been ill once a year at that awful holiday season and I'm sure the whole stress of the build up to Christmas and New Year is a factor in it.
               Looking back, I was very depressed throughout December and these really low periods seem to come in waves. Something lifts and then I get busy again until I start to sink once more. I guess that's faily normal in grief, isn't it? Winter makes things worse as well. Spring may bring some relief!
               Darla, I hope you will do something for your anniversary and that you will remember the good times. You sound a bit down at the moment and I do hope you are ok! You have a good point, Janet. At these times we should try not to focus on the sadness because they are anniversaries of beautiful, happy times.
               Joyce, you are so good with all your projects and always seem to be positive. How do you manage it? I wonder how you are doing, Sue? I suppose you are busy with the new business. Let us know how you are! Keep positive Janet and enjoy the good weather and the holiday season! You can't imagine how grey London is at the moment!         
             Take care everyone!
                       With love
                           Pauline

Dear Janet,
                 I am very pleased to hear that you are feeling a bit stronger. It certainly is a continuous process of sinking and swimming, isn't it? Someone said to me that it must be exhausting and I think it is, don't you?
                  How are you Darla? Do you still feel a bit better to have got over the Cristmas/ new year period? I am ok but got a bit ill after new year and had 4 days in bed. Not as bad as last year. I think it's a reaction to the holiday period.
                   How are you all? Are you ok Joyce and how are you Sue? Have you started your new job? How is it going? I am still working all the time!
                     Anyway, take care, everyone!
                              Love
                                  Pauline

Dear Janet,
               I am thinking of you on Joel's anniversary. This has been such a difficult time for you and it must be made even harder by the fact that it is around the Christmas and New Year time, which is hard enough anyway!
             You are incredibly strong but you have the right to let go a bit sometimes. Go easy on your self and stop worrying about everyone else for a few days!
             Take care!
                  Love
                    Pauline

Yes Janet, it is very hard and I feel so sorry for you going through the memories of all those awful days again. All I can say is that I am thinking of you and understand your pain. Perhaps you will feel a certain relief after 16th when you know Joel's suffering ended.
                      You have been amazing all year and still are! I hope you will get lots of support at this time. Ask for help if people aren't forthcoming! I think I should have done, although I know it's not easy.
                       Keep in touch! You are a great survivor!
                           Love
                             Pauline