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We're in our 70's, married 56 years, and have 3 adult children and 7 grandchildren. When I talk to my husband on phone I cry (not characteristic for me). I try to keep busy, but his absence preys on me.

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You don't have to "let go" of the relationship but you have to let go of what it WAS and change your expectations to what it IS.
He is STILL your husband
Even if you divorced he still is a major player in your life, helped shape who you are as a person. You can not ignore or change that type of influence.
One of the women in the support group that I go to (Have not met in a while officially) coined a phrase that I think is appropriate. She called herself a "Married Widow" sort of says it all. Still married but he is not there physically, mentally, emotionally. She would go visit but it was not the same.
You need to refocus on who YOU are. Keeping busy is one way. But it will take time. Grief is not just an emotion that happens when someone dies. But this is a death just the same, a death of a marriage, of a bond that has held strong for 50+ years. Let yourself grieve. Give yourself time. Don't be hard on yourself.
You have done the best that you can, and you have done what is best for him.
Be kind to yourself. If you can though try not to cry when you are on the phone with him, he will not understand the tears. (even more reason to cry..) but it may upset him after you hang up since you do not know what his reaction is after the call.
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Reply to Grandma1954
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Mrsrubee Sep 22, 2020
Love that phrase, "married widow." So aptly describes the situation.
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Once the basic practicalities (powers of attorney, health care directives, all the paperwork) are dealt with, I think you probably *shouldn't* look ahead too much. You'll miss what you've still got.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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You are already grieving the loss of this relationship - the way it was. may I suggest meeting with a counselor or therapy group that deals with loss. You don't need to break off the relationship, but you will need to find new ways of living with the changes.
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Reply to Taarna
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I’m so sorry. They call this disease the long goodbye because we caregivers are in a continual state of grief - mourning the person and each wretched step in this progression. I found talking to a therapist very helpful and also support groups - folks going through the same process but at different stages. We could all help each other. My husband is in a nursing home under hospice care. When I see him, I tell him how much I love him, how wonderful he is, and I sing some old songs. I know his essence is still in there somewhere. It is a lonely life and I wish you the best.
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Reply to Franklin2011
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I'm so sorry for what you are going through. Sounds like you are grieving not only the loss of who your husband once was, but also your life as it once was. Sadly things at this point will never be the same, and it's ok to grieve. But try not to get stuck there. There is joy to be found even in the midst of dementia. You may have to look hard for it sometimes, but it's there.
Sharing with others that are going through similar things can certainly help too, as it's always nice to know that you're not alone, and that others understand. This forum is a great resource for you, and I would also recommend looking in your area for a local support group for caregivers, as I know in my personal case, that has been a real Godsend. Of course now they are meeting on Zoom, instead of in person, but it's better than nothing.
The husband you married is still in there, and he still loves you very much, and I know he's grateful that you have stood beside him through this trying time. You're stronger than you think you are, and again, you are not alone. God bless you as you travel through this next chapter with your husband.
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Reply to funkygrandma59
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Tashi5 Sep 19, 2020
Hi funky grandma- I like your style! ....and your good heart.
Happy to read the upbeat way you look at the situation,
and you give good useful advice.
Its a joy to see your message- thank you-stay safe-Tashi5
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I am so sorry you are going thru this. There is no right or wrong way to deal with what you are going thru. However I agree with Taarna, that finding a counselor will help you, in fact tremendously. We are never taught life lessons on how to deal with issues like this in our lives. Personally I don't think you need to let go, but try to take care of "you" more, and discover things that will help "you" to enjoy life more. I suspect you are dealing with some depression at this time because you have been so focused on the health & well being of your husband. Focus on your own health & well being, drop any guilt, and you will find more answers because you will have more strength to cope. Wishing you the best...
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Reply to blondinthesky
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My mom's dementia has deepened in the past 6 months, especially with being isolated in a new SNF. For the past few years I have been her care advocate taking her to medical appointments, haircuts, etc. We would always stop for a meal at her favorite restaurants or pick up a treat for her to enjoy later.

Now each time I go somewhere or eat a treat I have a pang or guilt knowing I can’t share that with Mom. But I have to remind myself that she probably wouldn’t remember our trips, and at 93 had had a lot of treats! So focus on recalling the good times, cherish those memories instead of regretting what you can’t change about the now.
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Reply to Frances73
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Aa a daughter of a mother with dementia since 2010. To see her decline makes me sad, angry, confused. I gain support from my sisters and family. I worry I will be the same..57,,,mom is 98. Read and research...
Take care of yourself and I am setting myself up so my kids don't have to go through as much as we have already.
It's always the safety and well-being of my mom. Some people in the family thinking about what is left for them. As the financial conservator I told them to stop ✋ all that stressing...mom will out live you. But honestly I plan on spending all of her money 💰 on her. I have calculated her care and life with increase of cost for another 5 years. I have not come to terms with her dementia but as much as the struggle is I have come to awaking. I digress.
Take care of yourself first so you can enjoy what time you have with your loved ❤ one.
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earlybird Sep 16, 2020
Trish,
My mother is 98 as well. The decline is heartbreaking and so sad. I still have not come to terms with my moms illness/decline. I get support from my family too, but it is so hard sometimes. Good for you for spending her money on her. I am spending all my mothers money on her and don't care what others in the family think. It is her money and I will use every last cent for her.
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What would you want him to do if your positions were reversed?
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Reply to Riverdale
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I think Grandma1954 said it very aptly when she wrote: "You don't have to "let go" of the relationship but you have to let go of what it WAS and change your expectations to what it IS. He is STILL your husband. Even if you divorced he still is a major player in your life, helped shape who you are as a person. You can not ignore or change that type of influence."

It reminds me of a friend of mine who told me she was thinking of divorcing her lovely husband so that she "would not have to worry about him at all." I pointed out that he had been a part of her life for quite some time and I guaranteed that she would STILL think about him after the divorce, especially since they owned a business together. (She decided to stay with him.)

With the aging process, each of needs to "let go" of how things used to be - for ourselves as well as our spouses. It is quite an emotional adjustment to do this, but it is a necessary task.
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