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Coping with Loss/Dealing with the death of an EX

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My ex-boyfriend died over a year ago. We dated as teenagers and I am now in my 30's When I got word that he was dying I was out of touch with him a few years but during our relationship and friendship (relationship itself was only a few months however we were first loves and remained friends for 12 years and there was always a deep connection and even some romance to our friendship. he wanted me to marry him but due to lifestyle and religious differences i refused). We lost touch because I needed some space and refused to take his calls for a few years. His family reached out to me when he was in the hospital dying and I was able to make it to go see him, however when i got there he was pretty much gone and died just a short time later. I did not go to his funeral because my husband and I had plans with his family that day and I was afraid to tell my husband how much this person meant to me (at the time it was just 3 months before our wedding. I feel haunted by this on a regular basis. I cry about his death and the loss in secret regularly. I did come clean and tell my husband once how much it was hurting me and he was supportive, but I continue to struggle in silence. I have some contact with the ex's family and I long to spend time with them I just don't know how appropriate it is, and I don't know how to let go of all the pain. I have very strong feelings and though I am not "in love" with him still he is a very important part of my history and I felt responsible for him. I regret letting him go and never getting to say goodbye.

Answer
Dear Ariel:

Reading this was like reading a part of my own history.  I, too, lost an ex-boyfriend.  I learned that I had to trust my judgement.  I knew that we weren't meant for each other, yet, I cared deeply for this guy.  I know this is very hard, Ariel, but you need to forgive yourself. I think you are feeling guilty for your decisions.  If you and your husband are happy and you have no regrets about the decision you two have made to commit to each other, then you made the right decision not to marry your ex-boyfriend.   Your shoulders are just so wide, my dear, and you cannot carry the burden of everyone's troubles on them.

I commend you for being open with your husband about this situation.  Perhaps if you explain to him that you feel the need to talk with your ex-boyfriend's family it would help give you some closure and it would help his family understand that you always loved their son but you weren't 'in love' with him.

There really is no 'right' answer to a problem like this.  I found that out when trying to deal with it.  When I talked with friends, each one of them had a different perspective on the subject and a different answer.  I just prayed for guidance and one day realized what I needed was closure.   We have two choices in life; sit back and let someone else make our decisions for us and then if they make the wrong decision, suffer the pain of paying for someone else's decision or letting our brain and heart guide us and be prepared to face the outcome.  I prefer the latter and I find it easier to face the consequences of my own mistakes then someone else's.

It sounds as if you're torturing yourself when you say you cry in private.  It might help you to find someone you can feel comfortable with opening up and talking about your feelings.  I think talking with a trusted friend helped me more than anything else.  You haven't done anything wrong; you're just reacting naturally to losing a long-time friend and I believe you need to talk about it openingly.  You're feeling guilty about not having contact with your friend for so long.  You stopped communication because you loved another man and you felt it would cause friction with your relationship with him.  I think you made a wise  choice and you have nothing to feel guilty about.

I wish you well and I sincerely hope you find closure with this.  You
are a good person and you most certainly do not deserve to suffer.  

Coping with Loss

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Joanne Flint

Expertise

Dealing with the death of close family members and loss of a friend. Dealing with betrayal; how to accept it, deal with it and move on.

Experience

I lost my parents, who died less than eight months apart and a newborn son three months following the death of my mother. A year following this, my brother died suddenly and a 19 year old cousin was crushed to death in a car accident on his birthday. Now I am facing the impending death of a very good friend. I have also dealt with the death of a husband. I have found that talking with people with similiar experiences has helped me and I have been told that it has also helped them greatly.

Education/Credentials
A licensed nurse for twenty four years with several years working on a Psych ward as well as being the Executive Director and Director of Nursing Services for a Group Home for mentally ill and mentally retarded.

Awards and Honors
Awarded top clinical and top academic grade at my nursing graduation. Also was a member of the English Honors' Class while attending a local college.

Past/Present Clients
I don't share information about people with whom I talk, unless given permission. I am not a doctor, but I have given insight and hope to people just like myself.

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