Grief, not of something lost, but something that will never be

by GrammyJo
(Washington state)

Forty years ago I fell in love with a man in my workplace. It was instant chemistry! We worked together for two years and grew very close. Both of us were married (I in a troubled marriage) so we never pursued developing a real relationship, except to have a meal together now and then and keep in touch discreetly via email, etc. We lost track of each other for 15 years, but reconnected online a couple of years ago. As we reconnected, I learned that he now lives only a couple of hours from me.

Since that time, we have met for lunch a couple of times but have still managed to keep our relationship on pretty much a platonic level. My husband passed away from Alzheimer's nine months ago, but he was "gone" for several years prior to his actual passing. Well, the platonic aspects of my forty-year relationship with this man (conducted mostly remotely) have gone by the wayside and we spent a night together, which was absolutely amazing.

He's still married (a somewhat loveless marriage) and has no plans to leave his wife, though our love is genuine and completely mutual. I know I need to let him go, but I find I'm incapable of doing that. Since our night together I'm an emotional mess - paralyzed. I can't sleep, I have no appetite, my house is a mess (and I don't even care). I know I shouldn't continue to spend intimate time with him, but I'm like a cocaine addict who was hooked with that first hit. I feel anxious, lost, and don't know how to get on with life without him. I have loved him for so long and don't know what to do or how to let go. Help!

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Nov 01, 2019
Grief and Moving On
by: Betty from GriefandSympathy

Dear Grammy Jo,

Thank you for writing to us and we are very sorry for your loss. To lose a husband to Alzheimer's is a difficult time, many years of illness and their loss, eventually, leaves many regrets of what might have been. You grieve for loss of the happy marriage you expected, but mixed with guilt, because of the difficulties of his situation and your feelings for him.

It is good that you have a close friend. However you now have more guilt and uncertainty because of his wife. If he has said he will not leave her, you have to consider if this relationship is really what you want long term.

At the moment you are not in a position to totally rationalise your feelings. This lack of concentration, difficulty sleeping, unsure of what you want to do,are all part of the grieving process. Often people do not understand the depth of their feelings when they lose someone they did not think they had loved anymore. You cannot switch off the years you had together as easily you think you can.

To complicate all this you now have another difficult situation which at the moment you are finding you cannot distance yourself from in order to make sensible decisions about.

Do you want to be a part time mistress? Give yourself space and some time until you can think more clearly again. The fact that you have written to us shows you are unsure.

We wish you well for the future in whatever your pathway.

Betty from

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