scuba diver jumping

Moving Forward After Loss

David Gillette – Executive Producer

In the aftermath of my wife’s death, I was not sure what I felt. Life went on. We had been married for 40 years and she departed within 30 days. My kids went back to their jobs. My neighbors and friends were concerned about me but their lives went on too. We had Advance Directives in place, and I followed her wishes. I was not carrying guilt, just regret. I missed her day in and day out. I began to think about several conversations Stacia and I had along the way. We talked about death and living when her parents, and then mine, died.

She always told me, “Life is for the living, so do what you can while your loved one is alive, and live your life to the fullest.” 

So I decided I couldn’t waste time. I quit my job and focused on running (my lifetime hobby and therapy) and started scuba diving. Both have sustained me. Still I had many times when I could have gone for a week or more without talking to a human (my dog listened but that doesn’t count). So, I forced myself to go grocery shopping daily and I took myself to lunch. I didn’t interact with a lot of people, but at least I was in the same room with other people. I also tried grief counseling group therapy. I made it through one session. I felt I had enough grief to carry without sharing someone else’s. I also found myself sitting at home every night finishing an entire bottle of wine.

I eventually started dating as I was just lonely. I found it hard to be my old self. I was trying to push to far too fast and it caught up with me. I wasn’t ready for a relationship.

So I made some mistakes but I continued the struggle to find a new life, while remembering what I had with Stacia. After two-plus years I eventually found the right person for me. I tell people I am twice blessed. I am now married to a smart, funny, wise woman who brings joy into my life everyday. We don’t ignore our past lives, we talk about them all the time. But we focus on the now.

So I am sharing my story so you in hopes that it may help you in some way. I don’t think I have done anything particularly wise or unique. I don’t think I have the key to knowledge. If I have any advice it is to persevere.  Find out what works for you and embrace it. Live to the fullest but know you must grieve and accept loss.

See more of David’s story in his blog about the sudden loss of his wife Stacia.

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Further reading

Episode 47: Caregiver Grief and Burnout

Caring for the dying or critically ill can cause significant distress for health care providers, but even more so for family members in the role as a caregiver. Marianne shares about the complex challenges facing caregivers and ways to cope.

My Guardian Angel

We've had three interviews with Stevan Lemke about his journey with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis - a lung disease that required a transplant. Stevan shares with us about his unusual inspiration to make a life change.

Episode 46: Left-sided Strokes

A stroke is an injury to the brain caused by a change in blood supply, such as from a blood clot or burst in a vessel that feeds the brain. Learn about left-sided strokes and the impact it can have on the body - physically, cognitively and...

Episode 45: Research Updates

What lifestyle choices increase your risk for chronic disease? To answer that we take a look at findings from the Nurse's Health Studies, which has 280,000 participants, many who started in 1976, and is now in its third generation.

street leading off to silhouettes of trees and dark unknown

Episode 44: “Mom’s Assisted Death”

In this episode we talk about how a daughter responds to her mother's search for assisted death. Her story is an informative one if you or a family member are considering assisted death.

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