View Full Version : Not just death.....
April 4th, 2012, 06:04
Hi. My darling husband, Jim, died very suddenly on the 8th Dec 2011. He'd been working in Abu Dhabi for two years, after several redundancies at home in Scotland. He was quickly promoted to a very senior position in his company, and although he found the work very challenging and stressful, often to the point where I felt (and he said) it was making him ill, he loved his role and how important he was, although he hated the life there, living in a hotel and so lonely.
Consequently he became rather distant with me physically on the rare occasions when he got leave. He didn't want me to visit him there and I managed to go over twice in the two years he was there. He always insisted that he hated living there so much that he wanted only to come home when he had leave. I always assured him that I wouldn't interfere with his leave and that I loved him so much that I just wanted to spend as much time during my long school hols as I could with him. He said, in return, that it really wasn't a problem and if I really wanted, I could visit. Which made me feel less than welcome......the last time I went over, last October, I noticed that his apartment was totally missing anything personal- no photos, nothing to show who lived there or where he came from. I thought it was very strange but didn't want to say anything.
We were married for 25 years last July. There was a mix-up with his passport and he couldn't get away. This, I know, is true. One of his friends told me that Jim was very upset over that.
We spoke every night on the phone and emailed all the time. He was always very loving on the phone and emails and I kept all of them, much as you would love-letters. He told me frequently how much he loved and missed me but that he couldn't consider coming home to be dependent on me as it would be even more difficult for him to find a job at 62.
Then, on 8 Dec, he died. He'd sent me an email earlier to say that he was feeling rotten and was going to bed, which I read after I'd phoned him at 8.30pm his time, at which time he sounded terrible with a really bad chest infection. Our last words to each other were, as every night, "I love you." He died at 2am.
We got him home and had a funeral to celebrate his life and tell him how much our son (22) and I loved him.
Two months later, my son and I decided that we should go to Abu Dhabi to sort out Jim's bank affairs and for James to see where his dad lived and died.
It was the first morning, when we visited his hotel, that the manager told us that Jim was not alone at 2am that morning. He had a "visitor," a Chinese woman. It was a bombshell. It turns out that all of Jim's workmates were aware of, had met "Amy" on odd occasions, although none were close to him or knew the nature of the relationship. She seems to have been known to him for nearly the whole time he was out there.
The coroner's report states that he was dressed when he died.
I am devastated. I went to Abu Dhabi mourning the death of my husband, the centre of my whole life. I am now left wondering if I'm mourning the end of my marriage, of which Jim didn't feel the need to tell me.....
I can't get past the fact that she was there, for whatever reason, at 2am when he was so ill six hours previously that he was going to bed. The hotel manager didn't know her, said either it was the first time he'd seen her or he had only seen her one other time- his English was not too clear and James and I weren't sure.
I am totally destroyed by this. I loved and trusted him totally. I've put away all of his photographs. I can't face going back to work and I just start crying without any warning. I am seeing a counsellor but I can't find the answers to what I really need to know.......
April 4th, 2012, 07:10
hi clarabelle so sorry for you loss of jim i was so sad to read your story you are not only grieving for your husband but also beating yourself up over the thoughts of what may never had been with another woman. of course jim loved you in this loneliness at having to work abroad he may have been suffering depression and not realised it he obviously didn't want to be there but must have felt it was the only way to earn a living.he may have reached out to someone for support as a friend that doesn't mean he didn't love you it may have helped him in dealing with this life he felt he had to do abroad but ultimately he was their for you and your son alone doing a stressful job not for himself and that is love.try not to have these thoughts you are speculating and it will overshadow the love and all your wonderful memories you must have had over the years i pray you find peace in rememberingl the love you shared hazel
April 4th, 2012, 08:32
Hazel, Thank you so much for your words of comfort. The same thing has been said to me before but I just feel that we didn't have the agreement within our marriage to make "friends" with other people- I know that Jim would have been equally devastated had I done this. I've been desperately lonely too and had to have time off work in September with the stress of worrying about Jim's life- I even thought that he might be considering suicide at one point. It's just the not knowing the nature of this relationship, although deep inside I know that he definitely didn't betray our marriage.
Thank you for taking the time to post to me. I realise that you will have also suffered a loss and I am sorry for your loss.
April 4th, 2012, 09:06
hi clare the first thing most of us do when we have lost someone is to beat ourselves up over something even if there is nothing we will find something to do this and you have latched onto this and you are probably building it up in your mind until it is a million times more a problem than what it ever was.not knowing an answer creates our imagination to take over and create all sorts of scenarios that never were.men don't talk of feelings very much do they and you feel he may have contemplated suicide IF he had ever reached that low he knew you loved him and your love would have helped him overcome it he may have talked with this other woman as sometimes it's easy to talk to someone who is not involved in your life and that alone may have helped him.i think you feel anger and are depressed you were not with him at his parting you were not able to you weren't to know what was going to happen.
perhaps you may try to lose the negative thoughts and as you loved him try to be grateful that at least someone whoever she was looked in on him in his illness just to see if he was alright hazel
April 4th, 2012, 09:48
Hi Hazel. Do you know, you sound just like the little voice inside me that's been saying these very things. I'm sure that you can imagine, it's hard to imagine someone that you love totally having a friendship about which you have no idea. But Jim was always described as "private." We used to agree that we told each other everything at the beginning of our relationship, nearly 30 years ago. I didn't realise it had changed- he still told me so many things. It's hard to imagine him having anything to talk about with someone who apparently didn't even speak very good English. Jim always used to get frustrated with me and say that I took the wrong meaning too quickly. I'm aware that this could be the case here. You've given me some comfort today. Thank you so much.
I read your post too. I know that you're suffering too. My thoughts are with you too.
Love, Clare x
April 4th, 2012, 10:10
hi clare your relationship didn't change it's just when your down and depressed you don't want to upset the ones you love and have them worry about you so you keep it to yourself and when you don't talk about it it gets worse thats why men can sometimes talk to people not involved.if a man is a faithful person it's the way they are and they don't just suddenly change they love one person and their lives revolve around the relationship.you know what sort of man jim was keep faith with that give him the respect of all the years he has loved you and worked hard under difficult circumstances to show this.years and years of the ups and downs of life all the love cannot be erased by this short time of doubt you owe his memory more than that he obviously loved you very much.
thank you for your words in my own struggle we both know what the depths of despair is like may we both overcome hazel
April 4th, 2012, 10:16
Hazel. Thank you. You don't know what you've done for me today. I'm going to think very hard about your wise advice, which seems to make such sense. I hope we both find peace.
April 4th, 2012, 13:17
Shalom in Yeshua Clare, first can I say that I am truly sorry for the death of your husband and I can see the distress that has resulted from your suspicions. Hazel has said some of what I wanted to say and I am glad that your have found comfort what she has told you.
What I would like you to do is focus on the loving life you both shared before Jim went to Abu Dhabi. Until you discover all the facts and who this woman is, try not to think the worst. It will only bring further doubt to your whole marriage.
I would also like you to think about your son James. Like you he must be confused and wondering about his dad. I can totally understand your feelings, but by putting all of Jim's photos away you have in effect told your son that his dad was guilty of something. This may tarnish his dads memory and also add to his grief.
At the end of the day Jim may have always been the Jim you knew and loved. Until you discover otherwise cling to those memories and thoughts. I will keep you and James in my prayers and pray that you find peace.
May God bless you
April 5th, 2012, 02:41
Shalom in Jeshua, Tom. I have seen you post so often and I admire your wisdom and compassion in taking so much time to help other people. I am truly sorry for your loss too. Your wife was a very lucky woman.
I do realise that I am being somewhat selfish in my grief and that I should be thinking of James too. He's been so great but he has warned me to remember that it's his dad he's mourning and I've agreed that I should be more careful in what I say about Jim.
I'm adamant in my mind that Jim would not have totally betrayed me- it's just the rejection that I felt every time we saw each other and I wonder now was it due to her- he asked me to come to India a year ago yesterday to celebrate our 25th Anniversary and then told me the first night that he had another life of which we weren't a part and then proceeded to go into the office from where he was working every day, leaving me alone and so confused. He was so stressed in that job and I could see that. He looked like an old man and I was shocked when I saw him. he'd always been so full of life..... But we had some nice evenings together so it wasn't totally bad. We could still always make each other laugh...
The trouble is, I have no way of ever speaking to this woman. We went to the police in Abu Dhabi because a gold chain that Jim wore and which I'd bought him for an anniversary a long time ago was taken from his body. The police assured me that "Amy"- whose name was actually something completely different- couldn't have taken it (but blamed, "possibly", a cleaner in the hospital.) He said they'd tried to contact her but she'd left the country....
It sounds like a really horrible script for a film- we are just ordinary people. I don't understand how it could all have turned out such a seedy end. I loved Jim as much as it's possible to love another person- I even, I think, put up with a lot of things over the years that not everyone would have done, but yes, I have to think about the good years and the love we had for each other because that's all I've got to hold on to now.
So Tom, thank you for your advice and I know that's what makes sense now. James experienced a lot of ups and downs with his dad too and his guilt now is that he didn't speak to Jim often enough in the last two years. I'm reassuring him that his dad loved him as much as ever anyway and was proud of him. I'm afraid that I'm starting to worry that I'm "spoiling" him the same way I did with Jim and that I need to be firmer with him and encourage him to find a happy future.
God bless you too, Tom.
April 5th, 2012, 04:58
Shalom in Yeshua Clare, thank you so much for your response. I want to assure you that you and James will be in my prayers this evening. Be kind to each other and understand each others emotional mood swings, and allow for these. You are both grieving.
Reading what you have said it appears that Jim was in such turmoil, probably trying to do the right thing without hurting anyone. Even himself. You must trust in your own instincts. I have advised many here in this forum that our loved ones can hear us while they are in Sheol. May I suggest that you sit quietly one evening and then talk to Jim as if he was sitting with you. Tell him what this situation is making you feel like. Tell him everything, your fears and your concerns.
Then when you have finished tell him that you forgive him for having this double life, whatever it was, and then focus as you have just on the happy times you shared together. Then try to put events in Abu Dhabi in the back of your mind and try not to remember them again. You can do this and it will help you heal.
Finally don't worry I am not sure you are spoiling your son. I don't think you can 'over-love' someone. Children of what ever age are a work in progress. They thrive on love and then love them some more. Tell him how much you love him. Keep re-assuring him. There is a difference in being soft with him, but I am sure your know what is right for him and don't need me to advise you. I wish you both peace.
All things are in His loving hands
May God bless you
April 5th, 2012, 05:26
Shalom Tom, just wanted to say for clare, thank you for the God given encouragement you have given Clare.
April 5th, 2012, 06:46
hi clare i was going to send you a message today to see how you are and i have read your messages you say jim looked like an old man and he may have been an old fool as well women abroad latch on to men they find who are lonely and vulnerable and that is what jim was.IF this woman was any more it would have definitely passed at his age he may also have felt the weight of his years and been going through a mid life crisis these women know how to feed off the vulnerable.the advice of others here are better than i can give you i only have my lifes experiences but as tom says try to put it out of your mind. say he had a friend that looked in on him when he was ill .we can all speculate and come up with the wrong conclusion and so keep reminding yourself he was only there for the love of his family and to his family he would have returned one day if he had lived.you loved him very much i can tell that so in your love speak to him and say whatever
occured abroad whatever you may have done all that you were to me whatever you said or didn't say to me for all the years we spent together i love you i forgive you i know always in your heart you were mine alone hazel
April 5th, 2012, 09:48
Chrissie, Hazel, Tom,
Thank you all for your encouragement and kindness. For the first time I feel that I am with people who understand without judgement. All that you say makes such sense to me. Your prayers will help so much.
I'll remember you also in your grief. One thing is clear- life and relationships and death are complicated for every one.
I'm going to sit down and talk to Jim tonight. I hope he'll hear and understand.
Once again, thank you for taking time to give me advice...and love.
Love, Clare x
April 7th, 2012, 05:26
Shalom in Yeshua Clare, I have do hope that speaking to Jim was a healing spiritual experience.
All things in His loving hands
May God bless you and James
April 7th, 2012, 07:28
Shalom in Jeshua Tom,
Do you know, for the first time since I found out about it, I feel at peace. I've thought about what you said, that it's not fair to James to take away all evidence of his dad and I've spoken to James also. I'm also feeling that Abu Dhabi didn't really matter after all. Also I can find some sense in an email that Jim sent to me a month before he died, where he said "I'm sorry for everything. I love YOU.xxxxxxxxxx" I think he was in torture. I just didn't know what I could do to help- I'd always rescued him before.
You have helped me a lot and although I have talked to Jim in silence, I'm still waiting to know that he's all right now.
I see that you've posted a thread. I'll reply to you too. Maybe, in some small way, to offer you some comfort too.
God be with you, Tom,
April 7th, 2012, 13:13
Shalom in Yeshua Clare, I have just replied you your personal message. I praise God for your shalom, this day.
May God bless you
April 10th, 2012, 19:04
hi clare just a quick message to you to see how you are and if your ok i was thinking of you over the holiday i hope you and your son spent time together and were able to give one another the support you both need hazel
April 11th, 2012, 17:36
Hazel, I've been thinking about you too. James and I spent a quiet day. I didn't have too good a weekend and cried a lot. I'll send you a private message. How about you? I think "significant" days are going to be hardest for us?
April 12th, 2012, 18:02
hi clara my messages arn't appearing in private messages any more i suppose it's me i am not too good on the computer you seem by the messages i have read coping a little better that gives me great comfort to know. you may be able to mourn his loss without all the turmoil in your mind and that is good it.s like me in all the worry i have had with darrens family i want to be able to put it all aside so i can just think of darren and how to live each day without him.i hope your son is coping i don't know why they call it (spoiling) a child i think it's impossible carry on showering him with your love. it's a wonderful gift of life to have a child and is a lasting testement of the love you and jim shared
April 15th, 2012, 04:23
Hazel- I'm going to try to send you a private message. The forum seems to be playing up and I keep losing messages when I'm halfway through sending them.
April 16th, 2012, 10:29
hi clare how are you i have been throwing myself into decorating my son said it's no good sitting in darrens office using it as a shrine so i have moved the office into the next room i had tears when it was half done and wanted to change it all back again i've put everything as it was only in another room i suppose it is a small step forward how are you thinking of you hazel
April 16th, 2012, 18:08
Hi Hazel, I sent you a couple of private messages but I don't know if you got them. I'm coping. It's funny how we all seem to want to change things- you moving Darren's office, Chrissie and I painting. I wonder why we're doing this? I'm thinking about you a lot. How are you bearing up? Sometimes I think I'm getting "better" but then I fall apart again. Are you the same? Spoke to Chrissie for a long time last night on the phone- it was so lovely. You're in my prayers. God bless, Clare x
April 16th, 2012, 18:14
hi clara i,m painting as well how strange we are all doing the same things yes i think i may be turning a corner but then i feel so sad it comes out of the blue i am due another solicitors letter it's about time and then that throws me back down big time but i feel able to do things i wasn't able to a couple of weeks ago all my friends here have helped me so much thanks a million thinking of you hazel
April 16th, 2012, 18:17
clara i just thought i wonder if the painting is a way of us coming to terms with the knowledge that we know our lives have to be different in some way hazel
April 20th, 2012, 13:46
Hazel- I keep trying to talk to you and my computer deletes my post. I think that decorating is a way for us to take some control of our lives, you're right. How have you been? Any more hassle- I know you were dreading the next onslaught? I've been following your posts to Roo- I just love your threats to send him pizza. I think the poor man's been put off them for life! But you've been so compassionate. You're a lovely friend and I'm so glad we've met. I've talked to Chrissie a few times on the phone now. I did send you my number- if you want to talk, just lift the phone. I'd love to speak to you. Thinking about you, with love, Clare x
April 20th, 2012, 15:24
hi clara how are you today i have heard nothing this week i bet next week i will get more stressful news you just can't get optomistic with people like they are
i,m fed up with looking a mess half the time i can't be bothered you get to think what's the point but i made an effort today as i went out to lunch it's so vain to look in the mirror and think i want to look like i did before darrens illness but grief hits us inside and out doesn't it i've left the house in a mess with the decorating come to a standstill but i will pick it all up tomorrow when i come home from work
everyones computer has been playing up this week i shouldn't say except mine as that will be tempting fate and mine will play up this is darrens computer i didn't use one before only a long time ago when i worked for a catering company i remember when the head office rang me up to say they were sending someone down to teach me to do the bookwork on a computer and they would be with me for 2 hours i said i need help for 2 months not 2 hours i'm not good with gadgets
i watched a dreadful documentry on the telly early morning and i asked my daughter if she watched it she was in hysterics at me as it turned out it was just a film and not true
hope you are feeling ok this evening clara i send all my love to you hazel
April 23rd, 2012, 16:53
Hi Hazel, do you know, I think you've got a wicked sense of humour and we're starting to see flashes of the real you coming through! If we can't laugh......! I've sent you a private message but I'm nearly at my wits' end with the decorating. Never knew my house was so shabby till I started and with each bit I get done, something else comes up.....this is going to be so gorgeous, one day! And then the grief hits me out of the blue.....you the same?
Lots of love and hugs, Clare x
April 23rd, 2012, 19:31
thanks for replying to my private message clara i went to bed early tonight but here i am up at 130 and i saw your message isnt it strange we all seem to be there for one another the exact moment we need it most thanks came down for a coffee and i thought i would come on to see if roo was up and saw your message your house will not be in as much mess as mine you can't get in the living room my office that was darrens has now been moved into the next room its finished took 3 overhead projectors and gave them to a nursery school still a mountain of equipment all over the place half of it i have no idea what it is cried when it was half done wanted it all back as it was the hardest was taking down all our diso nights posters we had done over the years we kept each one and darren had them all on the wall just 2 rooms to do now ceiling painting tomorrow night
it will be very moving tomorrow as we all light our candles for francis i hope roo will be able to feel all our love night clare love hazelxxxx
May 5th, 2012, 14:40
I just wanted to add my thoughts and prayers for you. I am so sorry for your loss of Jim. It sounds as if you were each other's best friends, and the separation caused by him having to work afar must have been tough, to say the least.
I agree with everyone else here. Nothing can change what was and still "is" between you and your husband. You know in your heart that he loved you with all of his own heart, and that is the only thing that matters.
I'm glad it was suggested that you share your thoughts with him. I've received amazing inner peace, comfort, and insight when I've talked to Shaun. I don't know how to explain it. It's like things just become crystal clear somehow. I know he's helping me, just as Jim is helping you. We have a tough job ahead, all of us, but it can be made easier if we'll allow ourselves to be helped and healed by love. It's the one thing in this crazy life I'm sure of, and yet it's the one thing we can't touch or see with our human eyes. We can only see it manifested in how we treat each other.
Wishing you and your son much comfort and inner peace,
May 7th, 2012, 16:07
Marjatta- thank you for this lovely message. Yes, I think that I have made my peace with Jim since coming onto the forum and now I feel, finally, that I can grieve for the lovely marriage that we had for most of our lives together and put the bad feelings in a box, as it were, out of the way.
I am sorry for your loss of Shaun too. Somehow we all get so much strength to go on from talking to each other on here. I think that we can also make lasting friends- Chrissie and I are now crying and laughing together on the phone in "real" time and we're going to meet up one day soon. It's almost like some good coming out of such sadness.
I will take your advice and keep talking to Jim. Sometimes I feel that I'm nearly there but am maybe blocking him out just when he's getting through to me. I think I need to learn to listen more carefully.
Sending you much love and wishes for comfort too,
May 8th, 2012, 11:43
Clare, just wanted to add my support, and agreement with Marjatta. I didn't lose a husband to death, but a Mom. But losses of any kind, shared experiences of any sort, link those who have them, I think.
I have found tremendous comfort in sitting quietly at the end of the day, with a cup of tea and a photo of my Mom. I just wait for Mom's words to come into my thoughts, and quite often they do! A few times, I have watched the loveliest light from the sun as it goes down, the most incredible colours playing on the sheer curtains that cover my balcony window. The special light comes about 8 o'clock those nights, and I acknowledge it as my Mom's way of letting me know she's here to spend a bit of time with me. Such a feeling of comfort! In those moments, I don't feel so alone, and don't miss her so much. It could all just be my imagination, but what a wonderful comfort imagination can be!
And what I choose to remember, as your messages show you are doing, too, is the good times. That's where the comfort is, isn't it?
My Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease (dementia) in 2007, and died in 2010. I cared for her at home for the 3 years, not being able or willing to leave my mother's care to strangers in a strange place. My Mom was not really a "social" person, didn't have a wide circle of friends. My Mom and I were each other's best friends, and it was such a hit to lose her. It has taken a long while for me to even be able to think about her without crying, but I am getting there! And when the tears still come, I let them. I've earned them.
We went through every stage that dementia threw at us, from the early days of mild forgetting, through all the difficult behaviours, to the final months when all I could do was hold on and just will that she be at peace. I also worked full time during those years, at a really horrible job I couldn't quit (for many reasons) so life was a challenge, to say the least.
It seems that some of us are not "blessed" with only one crisis at a time, but several all at once, aren't we?
I learned a lot about the disease, about dementia, and learned even more about myself. I have told people that all it takes to get through hard times is every ounce of grace and kindness and courage you possess. That's all it takes!
And if we're very lucky -- if we are blessed with the grace of awareness -- we come out of our own darkness with the kindness to offer a hand to others who need us for a bit, and the courage to just go on, to companion others through their difficult times.
Clare, I think you are showing tremendous grace, and kindness, in letting your son remember his Dad with love. And you are showing courage in going on with love being what you choose to keep for yourself, instead of dwelling on questions that can't be answered and pain that seems to not end, but doesn't take you anywhere important.
I've read your earlier messages, and admire the positive turns you are taking on the path. For whatever help or support I can be with what life hands you next, please consider me one of those in your corner. I'm here for you.
May 10th, 2012, 18:08
I have told people that all it takes to get through hard times is every ounce of grace and kindness and courage you possess. That's all it takes!
And if we're very lucky -- if we are blessed with the grace of awareness -- we come out of our own darkness with the kindness to offer a hand to others who need us for a bit, and the courage to just go on, to companion others through their difficult times.
J's daughter, those are the most quotable, wisest words I have read in a long time. I will hold them next to my heart as a reminder of how beautiful and strong we can all be inside and how faith and hope really can carry us through anything.
Clare, I am so glad you are starting to find more inner peace. You seem to have all of those qualities that J's daughter so eloquently described.
May 24th, 2012, 10:32
jannie's daughter, Thank you for these words of comfort. I'm trying hard but sometimes it still gets to be too much. This week has not been good. If I think about it, I have to convince myself of a version of what Jim did that I can make myself accept and live with. Sometimes, like now, I'm not doing too well. I've asked for further information from Jim's workmates- someone must know more....and it's not helping that every time I see my mum, she accuses me of stealing something else from her, things that have sentimental value for her but which mean nothing to me- my dad's Will from 25 years ago, and my grandmother's from 40 years ago, her deed to her grave and now the deeds to my dad's business, which my brother now owns. My mum has 5 children but it's only me she accuses and keeps on till I start to cry. At the moment I can't see her. I can't cope with the nastiness. If anyone else comes in, she switches back to being normal, although all of the others have seen instances of this extreme behaviour. It's making it harder to deal with Jim's death all over again. I know I just have to ride this out.....thank you for your support again- Tom told me you'd be here for me. Lots of love, Clare xxxx
May 24th, 2012, 10:41
Jannie's daughter, may I also say that I'm sorry for your loss. You've been through the mill too. I'm afraid that I'm finding it hard to find grace and kindness all the time and for the moment, my siblings are taking responsibility. Your post is absolutely lovely. You sound like a lovely person to know.
From all that you've said, you deserve it. It sounds as if you are finding some peace in your life now. I always say that the worst thing that a person could feel is that they could have done more for their loved one before they died. You did everything. I hope to find that courage from somewhere to apply to my mum while I've still got her.
Lots of love, Clare xxx
July 22nd, 2012, 06:05
hi clare saw you on line how are you and your son doing chrissie and i are always thinking of you you have been in our thoughts and prayers it was only a couple of days ago when we said wonder how clare is
how have you been coping just lately we are all still in the ups and downs of the days but getting to a better place i am still in the same dillema as before let us know you are alright love to you hazelxxx
July 22nd, 2012, 06:19
I've just sent you a private message. I'm afraid I'm not coping too well at the moment. It's all very well saying I can forgive and move on, but you know what it's like- with distance from an event, you can look at it more clearly and I don't think I can ever get over the circumstances of Jim's death. Still, maybe it's still early days and with time I hope I can come to some sort of acceptance.
Chrissie made me laugh with stories of your children with you- I'm so glad you have that comfort. Funny, I don't know how you feel, but death has no fear for me now. I hope that your circumstances have eased. Look forward to hearing from you. I wish I could come and meet you and Chrissie in London too!
Lots of love, Clare xxx
August 2nd, 2012, 07:36
This is my first post to the Forum. In fact I joined specifically because I saw your posts about the loss of Jim, and I just had to respond. My heart totally goes out to you. Your whole scenario rings many bells, for many reasons, both personal and professional!
I have read and re-read your posts and what strikes me here is that there seems to be a silent assumption that Jim was unfaithful during his time in Abu Dhabi. I cannot see anything in your words that says this is a 'definite' and I feel it is very important to revisit this point.
In your shoes I would have all the same fears and doubts but ask yourself - do you know, absolutely, without doubt, that Jim's involvement with Amy was anything other than platonic? Take out of the equation anything to do with assumption and feeling and belief.
Has anyone, for example a workmate of Jim, told you Jim was "seeing" Amy in a non platonic sense? If you do not have the 'absolute' the let us not assume, because we may be wrong; I see it in my work every day, and assumption is what ruins people's relationships and marriages, and in this case it appears to be the key (not the assumption but the doubt) that 'holds you' from moving on and grieving fully in the way you need to.
Let me back-track a little. What will tell you now is irrelevant yet relevant if you get my meaning.
My partner, who means the world to me, is in the Middle East too. He spends much time in Abu Dhabi; it's his 'other home' too.
Sometimes he comes home and seems distant. Sometimes we don't make love much. Sometimes we argue. Sometimes we don't understand each other on his visits, and need the distance back before we 'see' what really went on. And I am a counsellor so I feel I 'should do better'! But no matter what happens between us, Clare, we are close, and I feel that you and Jim were the same.
But Clare, the type of relationship I have when my B comes home, is all 'normal' and makes sense in the context of the distance and the work he does out there. I don't need to question his fidelity, it's an absolute. I hope he knows mine is too though he has often worried about this or that male contact in my life... it's totally unnecessary as we are that close... I think you and Jim had this kind of bond.
The contact between you was consistent, and even though he was so ill on the night he died, he went to bed having emailed you and he also did not fail to take your call. This says a lot about the relationship you had. Doesn't it?
In your position, now, you feel that the distance and lack of resonance when Jim was home, 'may have been' an indicator that he was with someone else. Clare, think back. You don't appear to have felt this at the time. You feel it in the light of new knowledge about the night Jim died and his now acknowledged friendship with Amy. I would feel the same. But be careful, for it may be projection of something untrue, in the light of what you now know.
The questions about Amy will remain to some degree but be mindful, if you can, to hold on to what you KNEW about Jim and not what you did not know. Be mindful not to let supposition creep in and destroy the quite obvious bond you shared. The things you KNEW about Jim are the truth.
When men are overseas in places like the Middle East, it is not easy.
Abu Dhabi is to me a 'nice' place, I enjoyed visiting, but it's a stark environment to work in and he would probably have lacked meaningful liaisons with others. To get by on a day to day basis he may well have made friends - JUST friends - with someone and I think we also need to forget that this 'someone' just happened to be female. Again, it's projection. Because she is female does that mean there was an infidelity? No. Of course not.
Imagine now that instead of hearing about Amy, you heard that Jim was with Peter the night he died. How would this feel? Would you have thought that he was unfaithful to you via his liaisons with Peter? No.
I'd take from this that here we have a man who was far from home, who felt appallingly sick that night and who picked up the phone to one of the few friends he had out there. The person 'Amypeter' (!) recognised he was in real trouble and came to his apartment, and took charge. He was still dressed, he felt appalling.... she helped him.
Why had Jim not told you about Amy?
Because, in my view, quite feasibly it's because you knew he was a private kind of man who didn't 'need' others.
He felt that there was an unwritten 'contract' between you that you would be together and faithful, and just 'together alone'....and that assumptions may be made about the true nature of his friendship.
But maybe it WAS just friends and she just happened to be female but could have been anybody. Isolation and being away from home can draw us to friendship or 'false friendship' even, with people we would not otherwise choose.
Expat communities are full of this ... back home, these communities and friendships would not stand a chance of survival, but the starkness and isolation of being away creates these unusual liaisons and we certainly cannot deduce they are affairs or anywhere near that.
They are often bridges to retain sanity while away. Infidelity is often the last thing on a man's mind when he has someone at home and from how you describe your contact with Jim, I would not assume he had any infidelity inclinations.
He possibly just needed 'friends' to get by, (most likely non sexual friends!) and like any other human, he needs conversation and company but this could possibly just as well have been George, Harry or Pete. Couldn't it?
There is also a tendency to distance oneself a little from loved ones when there is this massive distance between. I do it myself. If I am feeling down or a little vulnerable I don't turn to my partner usually. I internalise it or share occasionally with local friends, because I do value my partner SO much that I would not want him to feel bad for how I am feeling, when there is absolutely nothing he can do because of being so far away.
Also, (and this is just how it works for me) it can make me feel worse for unburdening real issues that I have, with a man who is so far away...it renders me more unhappy. What can he do from there? So I don't do it because it is counter-productive.
I look to other resources to get me through those days. I am quite sure Jim had to do the same; he shared where he could, but would not always have wanted to burden you. He also may have distanced himself a little because it was the only way HE could cope.
There is a lot more I could say, but the reason for writing is only to throw into the mix that a) he was seemingly a really good man, b) he was consistent and constant towards you, c) he clearly adored you, and d) he 'got by' in the other life in the other place...he did what he needed to, to get by and stay mentally fit enough to do the work in an austere environment physically and emotionally (even the heat there, Clare...it's very, very oppressive).
And e) I don't think you need to worry so much. Amy was quite possibly an acquaintance he feared telling you about in case it came across wrongly.
I hope I have helped you just a tiny bit. I will also try and copy/paste this directly to you but it is a tad long, so may not work.
August 2nd, 2012, 09:44
Chrissie Gumek has just phoned me to tell me of your post to me. I have just read it and I am very touched that you have taken so much time and trouble to send me such a lengthy and very enlightening message.
So much of what you have said has hit me with a shock of recognition. Here, finally, is an unbiased view of what could have happened and which sounds so much like the husband whom I adored but whom I frequently have almost felt I've hated over the last 8 months.
No, there has been no-one who could tell me anything that they knew what the nature of Jim's relationship with "Amy" was. The only man who told me said that they'd been seen together occasionally in a bar. I knew that he went out on specific nights- Tues and Thurs, with "the boys" and this man confirmed this. I spoke to him every other night. I know that Jim would never have told any of his acquaintances there anything- he used to say that they were colleagues, not friends and he was the boss of most of them. I know that at home he never talked about anything personal with anybody other than me and the few friends that he had here tell me that he was so devoted to me but never discussed personal issues. He used to be annoyed that I was too close to my friends and found it hard to accept that that is in a woman's nature to talk about personal things.
The mental distance between us has always been something that has bothered me. You have put that into perspective too, telling me of your experience. On the phone and in emails, he was always the man I loved so much. It was just when we were physically together that he seemed more distant. I put it down to the difficulties of distance plus the fact that we both have to take medication which inhibits "closeness." I never wanted to embarrass him by making it an issue-since he could only see a doctor when he was home and I didn't want him to take any extra medication.....
I just can't accept the idea of him having a "friend." I know it sounds selfish but the whole circumstances are just so seedy. What a horrible, seedy end to a life. I have asked a friend of long standing who Jim had recently employed over there and who brought him home to me to try to find out more as he had not been there long when Jim died. His reply was that things are different there, that Jim loved only me and that I should get on with my life. I asked him if any of the men there longer would be willing to speak to me if they could tell me more but he didn't reply and I had said that I would not make a pest of myself by asking again. So, here I am. I really have felt that Jim had abandoned me totally.
I hope that you don't mind, but I will send you a private email to ask you just one question that bothers me above all others and which will convince me that I'm right to feel that he wouldn't have had a physical relationship with this woman. I am deducing that as a counsellor you will be used to this...
But, your very kind email makes so much sense. You have given me so much to think about, a version of what could have happened that somehow fits in so much more with the man I knew than the over-riding despair that I've felt, no matter how I've tried to convince myself that I could overlook the circumstances of Jim's death.
Thank you so much for this. Also, I wonder do you need to talk on the forum too? The people you will meet are the loveliest, most genuine people you could wish to give comfort- and we talk by phone too, once we've established our friendships, if you want! We share tears but a lot of laughter too!
With many thanks for your kindness,
August 2nd, 2012, 09:56
PS, Clare! See, I cannot forget you and your posts.
I am supposed to be getting on with work but instead I am now back, having mulled over what to say to you about Mum. (And as an aside, I see you've just replied to my post about Jim.... Thank you. I will read it when I have finished this).
I also have the same experience as you, in regards to your Mum. My Mum died in 2000 after a short but terrible period in which she accused me of just about everything and tried to harm me physically. Just as you too describe she was 'sweetness and light' with others and reserved her aggression for me.
This one is easier to recover from, I think, than your issue with Jim. It's plain that Mum is ill. You know this already. The 'Mum' you see now is not her true self. She in her true self would not want to hurt you, I am sure. The Mum you see now is Ill Mum. She no longer knows herself.
She 'picks on' you because she has you mixed up in her mind, possibly with someone else who exists in her neurologically-damaged world. It is often the case that if someone becomes brain injured or suffers dementia (my mum did but was just 59 at death), then she sees as the 'baddie' the one who was closest to her when she was healthy! That's what my Mum did. She even tried to kill me...but that was NOT my 'Mum', on that day!
Remember the Mum who was 'normal' for she cannot help what she is doing and she doesn't know it's 'you' when she does these things.
August 2nd, 2012, 10:54
Thank you once again! My brother and 3 sisters have been so supportive to me. Mum is happy just now- her sister and husband are visiting from Canada and the "episodes" she's been having for the moment are more to do with forgetfulness, which is getting more and more pronounced. We're lucky, we're such a close family, but as you say, I'm the one who takes her out most and whom she trusts with her worries.
Your mum was so young- what an awful experience for both of you. I imagine that for the person suffering from dementia, it must be so confusing and therefore very frightening to live through. You've obviously suffered a lot. I admire that you're putting it to such good use by counselling other people- and then to take time to come on here and help too!
August 2nd, 2012, 10:58
I am so glad and relieved that maybe my message about Jim has helped you a little. I know it's a long haul and a death overseas will always be more complicated; there usually are many questions and it's so much harder to extract answers.
Let me try and help a little further.
The distancing that you experienced when Jim was home, happens in most such relationships and it certainly, without a shadow of doubt, happens in mine. We exchange very 'close', very intimate emails and texts when B is away. We talk of all the things we will do and how we will feel when he is home. But it happens sometimes that when he IS home, we cannot share any of these things....they just...don't happen.
I have a lot of experience of counselling men (and partners of men) who work away and these men are usually in hostile environments. I don't mean war or conflict necessarily - although this does feature for some - but 'hostile' can also mean, a very different culture, a different set of expectations, a different way of life, and a hellish climate. Believe me, Abu Dhabi fits on all these counts. As affluent and comfortable as it appears, it's a strain to get by there in an everyday scenario.
Jim was a brave and strong man to work there and stick at it. he will have made some emotional changes (and may not even have been aware of that) simply in order to get by.
It seems perfectly natural that the men who work there but have families at home in Europe, create a distance even if they try not to. If I can, I will try and ask my partner to come and contribute to this forum! I know he will be interested because we have really experienced the difficulties you speak of, when he's been home, and we have only just begun to talk about it. I suspect he can shed some light too. If you like, when he is home, come and see us.
We have had days when he's been home and I have wondered where all the affection has gone? We have had days when we had nothing to say to each other. We have had days when we have done our own thing simply in order to create the space again, to share emotions (by email or sms even though he was in UK!).
Even worse, at all these times we have known that the time together is precious and that only adds to the tension because we feel we're wasting it.
But this, ALL of this, however the 'distance' manifests itself, is normal and happens to 90% or more of all couples where the man is working in 'hostile' environments. There are a lot of clinical journal articles around this subject. I will see if I can send you one. A lot are written from the standpoint of military couples but in fact it's not always the 'military' element that creates the distance ; it's the alienation of two different cultures and lifestyles.
Distancing happens because when we are apart we need to cling on to what we have but at the same time we feel we need to forget what we have, because the more we cling to it, the harder the alien environment becomes, to live with on a daily basis.
At a distance it is often easier to be open, to say things, to share 'I love you's and to make plans and promises.....that's the clinging side of it all, the emotion-sharing. But DOING these things once we are reunited is hard because the reality of it is that we are living very separate lives. The adjustment can be hellish for both parties.
When we are together again we still have the same needs, but there is the natural barrier of everyday life... and remember, this man needs to readjust to being home. NOW the UK is his hostile environment! He will have struggled with fitting back in. His emotions are closed off. Then we close off our own emotions because we fear being hurt or because we fear we cannot get back what we had.
This distancing was never about you, nor about weaknesses between you; everyone has the same to some degree, when returning home from overseas. It's a case of starting again from scratch, and by the time we have re-negotiated the 'contract' and started to feel close again...well, you know the next bit! It's time for him to go again.
He could have felt like a fish out of water on each home visit and possibly very, very cross and upset with himself internally, that he let you down, that he didn't open up, that he was unable to make everything good in that precious time. He'd have wanted it all to be easy but it just couldn't be, because time apart is very difficult and makes every homecoming quite an anxious time.
His other life in Abu Dhabi is a 'make do' life, Clare. Nothing out there is any 'competition' for what he had with you. When he was home with you I doubt he had the urge to make calls to Abu Dhabi every 2nd day...
The Middle East bears no relationship to what you had with him. It is a life of necessity, of getting by, and of doing his job, managing men, and just adapting.
My partner too, by the way, also has no 'friends' overseas, just colleagues, and he also is in a leadership role. :) So he too doesn't share personal things much, and when you think about this mere fact, how can they suddenly switch back into full sharing mode when they return? How can they suddenly lower all their barriers?
You hate the idea of sharing Jim. I understand that. And I agree if you really 'shared' him but I think you didn't because I suggest that Amy was an acquaintance, not more.
Please take a moment to consider that. I am sure you did not want Jim to be lonely and depressed; what he had with Amy was most likely a get-by, something and nothing. She is no more sharing him than his colleagues were. Again, do you feel this because she is female? I don't see that you need to feel more threatened by her than you'd be if he had a male friend or acquaintance.
She is not a threat to you in any way that I can see - his colleagues say he was devoted to you. I don't think they're hiding anything, necessarily. I think their refusal to talk is because they simply know no more about it, and they don't know how to console you when they haven't any facts. They don't want to make something out of nothing. They can't tell you what they do not know.
I would encourage you to consider Jim totally loyal to you. So loyal, that he feared telling you he had a platonic contact. He knew it gave room for misunderstanding. But without a friend out there, it's very very lonely. I am sure he talked about you and your son all the time. Even to Amy. I'm sure she is nothing to be afraid of. If she was, she'd have been seen at his apartment a lot. She was not seen. Only on that night.
Think it through?
I don't think he was an unfaithful man; he doesn't show the signs.
It may help you to write Jim a letter telling him that you are upset, that you wish he had shared the Amy part of his life and that you would have understood it was platonic. I am sure in your mind, in the next few days, you'll find an answer.
I encourage you to hang on to the Jim you loved. Everything you write tells me he wanted that and that he protected your feelings because he knew you couldn't cope with him having 'a friend', even a platonic one.
I encourage you to see again the wonderful, warm and good man who never wanted to let you down. He only had a friendship, that is all, and you would not have wanted him to be entirely isolated.
I wonder why you keep feeling this death was 'seedy'. I don't see 'seedy'. I see 'lonely'. It was a lonely way to die but this is sometimes the way of the career these men choose, and Jim is not alone in that.
I won't ask you the question as it is not my place. But I'd also say that if Jim's will provided for you and your son, and doesn't name the other person, you have your answer.
In his position, if he was unfaithful even in his heart, without venturing to add any 'was it or wasn't it physical' to the equation - then it would have been very, very easy for him to make a new life and leave you out of it entirely.
I see no signs he ever did that. I think he died a faithful and loving man. But that's just what I see from what you have shared. I appreciate there will possibly be things I don't yet know.
I will email my B and ask him if he can read this forum and add some insight into how men feel when they are away from home, and what the 'distance' thing was like for us, when he returned to UK.
August 2nd, 2012, 11:18
Thank you once again. I'm sitting here with tears running down my face. Your words make so much sense. Poor Jim was tortured and hated the job so much. He said to our friend Gerry over there, the night before he died, that he'd decided that he was going to resign and come home, that he couldn't stand it any more.
Even when he had leave, the company were on the phone to him constantly. He spent most of any leaves he had sorting out problems over there. Just that last time he came home, in September, he said he'd told them not to contact him unless it was an emergency and he had more time to spend with me. They still did, fairly frequently. We couldn't even go away from home.
He said nearly every night, how unhappy he was and how he was applying for jobs at home. Even after he died and I was able to access his emails- he'd told me how but I didn't do it before he died, he got so many notifications of HSE Manager jobs over here, I could see that he reaaly wanted to come home.
You've made me look at the situation in a new light and I'll need time to consider all that you've said......I'm taking our son on holiday on Saturday so we're going shopping just now....and yes, Jim left us well provided for and all legally sorted. For that, I've always been grateful.
I would be grateful for your husband's "take" on life over there. I wouldn't choose to do more than visit, myself....
Thank you, speak soon, C,
August 2nd, 2012, 11:32
What can I say. Hugs to you and your boy.
You know where I am.
I have emailed B to see if he can add a man's perspective.... it will probably take a day for the forum admin to authorise his membership but I feel sure he will want to say something.
I am glad to have helped and I will PM with the answer to your private question later.
August 9th, 2012, 14:38
hi, you need to try and vpush the what if's and maybe's to the back of your mind, i lost my 29 yr old wife who was my childhood sweetheart back in april, and the constant thinking about what i should have said, or what i could of done, nearly destroyed me, i often thought about suicide, and now im glad i didnt as it wouldnt have been what she wanted. its very hard to say and hear, but they are gone, nothing I or you say or do can bring them back, we just have to push on, an i always hang onto the thought that one day the pain will fade away, and i'll be able to look back fondly. obviously you can always speek to councilors or get mediaction from the doctors, the latter helped me quite a bit. but keep strong and remember your not alone.
August 12th, 2012, 12:36
Jase, thank you for sending this message of support to me. You are obviously a very special person. Your wife was so lucky to have you. I'm sorry for your loss too. I know what you mean when you say you had the thought of suicide. I think that we all must feel that at some point in the grieving process. I have come to really believe that our loved ones who have died are only a breath away and are still with us and aware of our suffering. We just have to speak to them and they hear. It's just so hard getting through the process.....
Thank you for your support. I'll think of you too now.