A Memorial to My Husband

Monday, September 7, 2009

Wealthy Widow or Not...

Just some thoughts rambling around in my head the last few days.

It is sad that so many people automatically think that if you are a widow you are a "wealthy widow" because of the insurance money, house, possessions, etc. This is not always true.

So if anyone wonders, "Yes", I consider myself one of the wealthiest widows alive because I had the unconditional love and protection of a good man who was also my best friend and who sacrificed much in his life to protect our country in the United States Army for 30 years.

My dear husband: It's been a little over a year now since you left me that early Sunday morning. I love you and miss you today as much as ever. You are on my mind and in my heart every day and always will be and I know you are still watching over me.

I love you Rea Bradley Ellithorpe.

Mrs. Rea Bradley Ellithorpe (Monna)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Angel Day - 1 Year Ago

Rea Bradley Ellithorpe 08/1/1955 - 08/17/2008
SGM U.S. Army Retired / Deceased

I thought of you with love today but that is nothing new
I thought about you yesterday and days before that too,
I think of you in silence I often speak your name
All I have are memories and your picture in a frame
Your memory is my keepsake with which I’ll never part
God has you in His keeping I have you in my heart.


Mrs. Rea Bradley Ellithorpe

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Beginning of the End - August 2008

Rea Bradley Ellithorpe (SGM Ret. US Army) 08/01/1955 - 08/17/2008

I have been attempting to write this blog post now for a week or more and today I am going to try to get through it.

One year ago yesterday, August 7, 2008 was "the beginning of the end" for my husband and I. I wish I could just sleep away this month of August.

We were planning our wedding for August 13, 2008 and he was admitted to the hospital on August 7, 2008. We didn't realize or want to even think of the possibility that he would never come home from that hospital trip.

August had always been a good month for both of us. His birthday is August 1st, mine is August 13th and 2 years earlier in August of 2006, we had starting living together and the date of our marriage was also going to be in August. Instead August has turned out to be a month I will now dread for the rest of my life.

We did go ahead with the wedding in his hospital room on August 15, 2008 with my daughter, my 2 grandchildren, my best friend of 40+ years there and a friend of my daughter's who married us. Considering how sick my Rea was and the pain he was in, we were both very happy and he suffered through the pain to make that day very special for both of us; especially for me because he always wanted me to be happy and looked out for me in every way possible. After the ceremony and everyone was gone, I could see the toll it took on him to try and ignore the pain. He was given some pain medication and I left my "new husband" to let him sleep.

I came back later in the evening to be with my new husband. I didn't care that ours was not a normal wedding, I was just so proud and happy to be Mrs. Rea Bradley Ellithorpe.

Saturday, August 16, 2008 was not a good day for Rea. I could see that he was exhausted, still in a great deal of pain and the fight for life was draining from him. He had told me when he first went in the hospital, that no matter what happened, he was going to hang on until we were married. I still did not want to believe that he would never come home with me.

He wanted his hair cut and I contacted his best friend Jerry who came and cut his hair for him on Saturday afternoon. They were able to spend some time together. Through the pain and agony, Rea and Jerry laughed and clowned around as they always had. Rea was exhausted and we left. I drove Jerry home and went home myself to get some rest. I was going back to the hospital the next morning, Sunday, August 17, 2008.

About 5 pm, August 16, 2008 Rea called and asked if I was coming back that evening. I just sensed something in his voice, so I drove back to the hospital to spend the night with him. Those last few hours between 6 pm, August 16, 2008 and 3:15 am, August 17, 2008 is something I have not and probably never will tell anyone exactly what happened. Those hours are mine and Rea's last moments together. My dear sweet baby passed away at 3:15 am on August 17, 2008.

I became a bride and a widow in a matter of a few days and entered the "widows fog" that still surrounds me from time to time. That moment of 3:15 am on Sunday morning, August 17, 2008 seems as if it happened only hours ago and then at times it seems as if it was a million years ago.

Would I do it all over again? You bet I would, even though the pain of losing him is as great today as it was that Sunday morning. Rea was the best thing that ever happened to me. We loved each other very much and we were good together. We had only about 4 years together but I would not change anything about those 4 years even to escape the pain I am feeling now.

My heart is hollow and empty. I feel I am just existing but I am attempting to go on with a different life without him physically being here, but he is with me always 24/7. One of his last wishes was that I go on to be there for our daughter and our 2 grandchildren and I will do that for him and for them.

I will finish this post with a poem I found a few days after:

Love Shared.
Listen for my whispers in the night as they come across the miles to where you sleep.
I will be the lightness in the dark to comfort you and hold you as you weep.
Never will you be alone again, for you hold a special place within my heart.
Always will you have a home with me, you are close to me e'vn though we are apart.
Forever in tandem, our lives are tied by a silver strand that crosses o’er the miles.
Sharing conscious thoughts and Godly faith we help each other find again our smiles.
© May1998Brenda "Rion" Sewell

All my love forever my dear sweet husband. Rest in Peace with no more pain and torment.

Mrs. Rea Bradley Ellithorpe

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day - June 21, 2009

Today is Father's Day all around the country (I am not sure about other countries) and many families will be joining together to show their appreciation and love to their fathers, grandfathers and even some great-grandfathers.

Some of us will be spending this day alone remembering the previous Father's Days before when our loved one was still with us. No matter whether you are a widow or a widower, it is another holiday we have to endure alone again.

I had a very special sign from my husband this morning on this Father's day. I was outside checking his rose bushes that he loved so much and a butterfly came up to me as I bent down to smell one of the roses. It only stayed for a minute but it reminded me that my Rea is and always will be with me.
Photo credit: http://mrg.bz/qnEK0e

Just because your loved one is not with you physically you can still honor them on this day by starting a new tradition.

* Take flowers to the cemetery and release balloons in the air to celebrate the father he was and the previous Fathers Days spent together.

* Light a candle for him or her, which is what I will be doing later this evening and writing a note to add to the box of other holiday notes I have written since my "dear sweet one" has been gone.

* Go ahead and buy that Father's Day card and write exactly what you are feeling on this day. Men can also buy a card for their wives and tell them how much you appreciated them for making previous Father's Days special for you.

The first letter of each line of this poem spells out; Happy Father's Day

How can I touch you when you're far away?

A poem is not as salient as a kiss.

Poems but poorly presences convey,

Perhaps because of all that words must miss.

Yet write I must because you are not here,

Father farther from my eyes than heart,

A face more frequent than it might appear,

Tempered by the tyrannies of art.

How might I be with you in ways that are

Equal to the passion of my yearning,

Reaching for a grace beyond the bar

'Ere there's any word of your returning.

So may the time between us quickly pass,

Days of longing that long cannot last,

A time when but through words we may embrace,

Yet know that soon we will be face to face.

Poems For Free Thank you for this poem.

Photo credit: http://mrg.bz/oj8K7J

I want to remind everyone to enjoy, love and embrace every one of your family members. We never know when it will be the last time we have the chance to say "I Love You."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

I have been thinking a lot in the last few days about Memorial Day and my husband. Although he did not die in action, he did die as a result of his 30 years of service to our country and our freedom, as did many, many other men and women.

I am so proud of my husband and the sacrifices he made. I always made a special effort to tell him how proud I was of him. I have also started at every opportunity that I can, to thank any one who is in the military or was in the military for their service and sacrifice too.

Until you live with someone who is in the military or has been in the military, you have no idea of the horrors and cruelty that they see and go through and are left to deal with the memories, most of the time on their own. These men and women relive these memories, sites and sounds in their minds over and over. It is something they can never really erase from their minds.

My husband told me of some of the things he endured, saw and had to do during his many years of service in the Army. I now have those visions engraved in my mind too. I did not live through those moments like he did but they are now with me forever as they were for him. Hearing the stories and living through it are totally different. I don't have the nightmares and the sleepless nights like he did but the visions I do have are real enough.

Every day we see on TV the things that our service men and women are going through but we just kind of pass the pictures on the screen out of our minds when the news report is over. They cannot do that.

On this Memorial Day, please take it upon yourselves to remember the ones we have lost and make a special effort to "THANK" the ones who have served and are still here with us. Please don't take for granted what their sacrifices provide to each and every one of us every day of our lives.

I thank each and every one of our service men and women who we have lost and those who are still protecting our freedom even now. May God be with you and protect you.

To my husband, Sergeant Major Rea Bradley Ellithorpe:

I miss you and love you now and always. I am so proud of you for the sacrifices that you made risking your life for our country and our freedom. I am also angry that this sacrifice has taken you away from me so soon.

Rest in Peace My Love. Your pain and torment is over now but my pain is still very real while trying to go on without you.

Part of me died with you that Sunday morning of August 17, 2008. My heart is always with you and you are always with me until we are together again.

Memories Of Sergeant Major Rea B. Ellithorpe

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Medications to Cope With Grief - Yes or No?

There has been a lot of discussion lately on the Grief groups that I belong to concerning the use of medications while you are going through grief. I would say the opinions are about half and half.

Some believe that medications should not be used because it delays the grieving time and some believe there is nothing wrong in using medications to help you cope with the pain and grief you are going through.

While each of us grieve differently and have different opinions on the subject of medications, it ultimately comes down to what your doctor believes is best for you and your situation. Your doctor will know best, what medications you can be put on, if any and determine if an anti-depressant or an anti-anxiety medication will react in some way to other medications you may be already taking.

I suffer from clinical depression and have most of my life, so if I am to function at all through this time of my life, I have to take both anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. More than likely because I have a history of depression and anxiety, I will have to continue with medications for the long term.

Situational depression such as what people experience when they lose a loved one is most generally a temporary condition. You can choose to "suffer through it" or talk with your doctor about temporary help with medication. If you do not have a past history of depression, a short course of medication may help you through the rough times.

As with any anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication make sure you are closely monitored by your doctor. It is not advisable to simply stop these medications; you have to taper off of them gradually.

I believe it is firmly "embedded" in most people's minds that if you have to be on an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication that there is some kind of mental problem and they shy away from the idea of taking the medications. While clinical depression is a medical condition, it does not mean you are crazy or ready for a psychiatric ward.

My doctor explained "clinical depression" to me in this way:
Imagine you are driving on a road with lots of hills and valleys, you drive down into one of the valleys in the road and your car stalls. You cannot get it started to be able to continue with your ride. With clinical depression there are chemical imbalances that react somewhat in the same way. The chemicals in your body drop down and you are in one of those valleys and you are unable to bring yourself out of it without medicinal help.

Situational depression is a reaction to the death of a loved one, losing a job, an illness, children moving out of the house and many other reasons can cause situational depression.

If you are completely against medications to help with your depression and anxiety through your grieving process, Neil Nedley, M.D. has written a very interesting book if you are seeking an alternative to medications.

Dr. Nedley gives you a well-referenced, in-depth comprehension of how depression affects the person mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Depression: The Way Out

So whatever your beliefs are, remember you have to do what is best for you to get through this time of grief.

If you are trying to deal with your grief on your own, there are plenty of Yahoo Groups that you can join to talk with people who are going through the same thing that you are and know exactly what you are feeling.

The two internet grief support groups that I recommend and belong to are:


Veterans Widows

I am lucky to have the support of my daughter, son in law and my two grandchildren and close friends but I also needed to talk with people who were feeling the same as I was.

I don't think I would have made it as far as I have without the support and comfort from the people in both of these groups and I thank each and every one of them for being there for me when no one else was able to be around.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Signs and Messages From Your Loved One

This is a topic I am a little reluctant to write about because some people may think that it is crazy. They make think the grieving person is out of touch with reality and ready for psychiatric help. This is not true, so do not worry about them.

Of course I am sure there are exceptions to this. If a grieving person you know is acting totally out of character, erratic in behavior and it seems as though they have lost total touch with reality or suicidal, then by all means step in and seek help for them.

If a grieving person tells you they have had signs or messages from their loved ones who have passed on, regardless of what your beliefs are, it is real to them. It can also be a way for them to deal with their loss. They want to keep the spirit of their loved ones close to them in whatever way they feel comfortable.

Unless you are a widow or a widower, you would never understand the peace that it brings to feel that your spouse is still right there with you in spirit watching over you and still letting you know they are there to guide you.

I am not ashamed to admit that since my husband has passed away, I have seen and felt his spirit with me still and I have seen signs that he is still here with me. I am not crazy, I am not losing my mind and I am not ready to be committed to an institution. I find great comfort in any kind of sign I see, feel or smell that reminds me he is still with me.

Some of the things that have happened in my home since I lost my dear husband cannot be explained in any other way. I choose to accept that these signs are from my loving husband and welcome them anytime he wants to make his presence known to me.

I have talked with many widows and widowers who have also had similar experiences. Some have told me of their grandchildren talking with their deceased spouse who would tell them things that there is no way the child would know unless the deceased was relaying a message through the child. It is believed that a child's mind is less cluttered than an adult mind and they are more open to contact with someone who is deceased.

The signs and messages that widows and widowers see, smell, hear and feel are very personal to us. Many, including myself may not want to even mention it to anyone for fear of being thought of as crazy or "losing it".

I am opening up a whole new world here with this topic but I want widows and widowers to know they are not alone in this. I am not talking about anything like mediums, spiritualists, voo-doo or seances; those topics are a whole different subject and meaning.

Okay, I will be brave here and tell you some of the things that have happened since my husband's passing that cannot be explained any other way:

* My husband and I had our cell phones programmed to play "our song" only when we called each other. A few times that I have had to make a tough decision and I did not know what to do, the phone has rang playing "our song" and has played at no other time.

* I woke up one night to find my husband's favorite blanket spread out over me. When I went to sleep the blanket was folded neatly and laying on the corner of the bed.

* My husband loved to play jokes on me and still does. Many times I will go to look for something and it has disappeared; to be found located somewhere else at a later time.

* His new LCD TV was one of his prized possessions. A few times I have been awakened to find the TV on that I absolutely was positive I had turned off before going to bed.

* I went to tell my husband's best friend of his passing. Later on he told me as he was sitting outside later that day thinking of his best friend being gone, a butterfly landed on his shoulder and sat there for a few minutes and then flew away.

* As we talked about this a few days later, we determined that at approximately the same time, I saw many, many butterflies fluttering around my husband's Jeep. I have seen a few butterflies since that time but not so many as I did at that one time.

There are many other things that have happened but I will not go any further in describing them. Judge me as "crazy" if you will but I believe he is still with me and watching over me.

I hope that you never have to go through the experience of losing a spouse but if you are ever in that position, be receptive to the fact that they can and sometimes will let their presence be known to you if you believe.

If you would like to share any of your experiences or stories, your comments are welcome. If you would rather not, I understand because it is a personal and touchy subject.

I invite you to visit ADC Stories if you are interested in other experiences of ADC (After Death Communication).