My name is Rachel Rumbelow. My husband died suddenly last year and I have learned how to love life through my grief. I'm doing amazingly well for only being 14 months out because of a few processes I use. Ask me anything!

Rachel Rumbelow
May 14, 2017

Grief is a harrowing experience for anyone. The pain and torment that felt unending in the beginning have turned into a new zest for life and a new relationship with my husband and myself. I am currently working on several grief books and have started sharing my experience: www.rachelrumbelow.com 


Update (May 14, 11:17PM EDT):

Rachel Rumbelow says:

Thank you, everybody, so much! I appreciate how open you all were and how thoughtful and good your questions were! I hope we helped somebody feel a bit better or at least validated in some way.  

I will definitely be doing another one very soon about the paranormal series my husband and I did with our film company. Hope to see you there! 

Important links from the AMA: 

Know Sepsis Symptoms like the back of your hand! www.sepsis.org/sepsis/symptoms/

My blog where I discuss my grief and my new life: www.rachelrumbelow.com

Preorder my books here:  www.patreon.com/rachelrumbelow

Soaring Spirits International (a Nonprofit that helps widow(er)s): www.soaringspirits.org/

The film company my husband and I ran together: www.renegademotionpictures.com

What is the Vibe of this AMA? What is AMA Vibe?

This AMA has finished, no more comments and questions can be posted and votes submitted to those. Check other similar AMAs here or host your own AMA!

Conversation (142)

In three easy steps and under a minute you could be hosting your own AMA. Join our passionate community of AMA hosts and schedule your own AMA today.

Let's get started!

Hi, I admire your strong heart :) What do you think is the best cure for loss? I've lost someone, but not actually dead. It's just too hard to cope up with longing.

May 16, 10:45PM EDT1

Thank you. 

I know that longing and that yearning. They can just consume you. What helped me most with that was to go over what I still had in my life that I was grateful for. I would also let myself just let it out, I would look at his pictures and watch videos of him. I would write him emails and text messages. In your situation, you might try just typing out an email and saving it in drafts but not sending it. You have to get that yearning out, otherwise, it will stay inside of you and fester. I hope you find peace soon. xoxoxo

May 18, 12:15PM EDT0

Do you find writing about your experience to be therapeutic?  

May 15, 2:12PM EDT2

100%. Writing gets those thoughts out that can drive you crazy. It captures the thoughts you don't want to lose. It helps you clarify things to yourself and others. The therapeutic side effects are endless and life-changing. 

May 15, 10:20PM EDT1

Sorry about your loss, my question is, Doing this AMA is helping you at all or are you trying to help others?

May 14, 11:30PM EDT1

It's both. The more I talk about it, the more it helps me and I hope that talking about it also helps others. Every time you tell your story, it becomes part of the community you're telling it to and you become less alone with it.

May 15, 1:07AM EDT0
Show all 3 replies

Did you both have any legal documents like living will or a will so sudden issues did not disrupt your life dramatically?

May 14, 10:56PM EDT1

Some things we had in place and others we didn't. I advise that everybody get everything like this in order for their families because sorting through paperwork while you're grieving is like trying to grab a glass when your hand is asleep. 

May 15, 1:28AM EDT1

Do you believe life after death?

May 14, 10:47PM EDT1

I do, yes. I'm not sure exactly how it works but at the very base of it, we know that energy never dies. We also know that our body is animated by all types of energy. So, when our bodies die, that energy still lives on somewhere. The question is, does our consciousness go with it? I believe it does. I really do. I can't explain how but I've seen too many things to believe otherwise. I don't necessarily believe in ghosts but I do believe that husband's energy is out there somehwere, wherever that is and his consciousness is intact. 

May 14, 10:52PM EDT0

Did prayer help at all?

May 14, 10:07PM EDT0

I'm agnostic but in a similar vein, meditation helped quite a bit. 

May 14, 10:11PM EDT0

How did you find out about your husband's passing?

May 14, 10:00PM EDT1

He had been in the hospital for about 4 days with sepsis. The doctors and nurses were very confident that they had gotten to it in time and told me that when he was released that I was going to have to take care of his IV antibiotics, which he would need for at least a month if not longer. So I would go home every night to get some sleep. 

They were so confident that they got to it in time that the schedule of tests on his wall had a stress test scheduled for the Monday after he died. He died on a Saturday morning. February 27th, 2016. It took a long time for me to enjoy Saturdays again. 

So I was home and got a call from the nurses that they were doing CPR on him and to come in straight away. Even then, I felt confident that they had revived him and the thought that he was dead never crossed my mind. 

I was panicked though and got my friend to drive me. I rushed up to his floor and ran into the nurse's station out of breath letting them know I was there to see my husband. 

I expected that he would be laying in bed, embarrassed or at the very worst in a coma. When I said his name, the nurse looked at me with sad eyes and pointed to a woman behind her. 

This woman had different scrubs than the rest of the nurses. They were bright and cheerful. She had short gray hair and kind and compassionate eyes. I knew immediately that she was hospice. She didn't even have to say anything. 

She didn't even have to say anything. I knew from the look in her eyes. I fell to my knees and started saying "no" over and over again. Somehow she had a hold of my hands and helped me up. I don't even remember walking but the next thing I knew I was pacing back and forth and begging with the doctor that he could still be saved somehow in a conference room next to the nurse's station. 

May 14, 10:18PM EDT1

"She didn't even have to say anything" - that is very powerful, thank you for sharing your experience, one day, sadly, I will have to remember your words.

May 15, 11:19AM EDT1

Time heals they say, True?

May 14, 9:50PM EDT1

I mean...it does get better but I think it would be more correct to say that time builds endurance to the pain and helps you find a different perspective. That's when you start feeling what some would call relief and that's when you can start building a positive road forward while still nurturing the grief in the background that will always be there with you.

May 14, 10:02PM EDT0

When did it sink in?

May 14, 9:49PM EDT1

That's a good question. I think it was a gradual thing for me. Even still today sometimes I will sit here and all of a sudden be filled with this incredulity that he's dead. Like, how can he not be here? But that is nothing like it was at first. 

I remember in that first week especially but also in the first few months, I had this feeling that somehow I could still pull him out of the sky. Like it felt like there was something, somehow I could do to bring him back. Or that it was all a dream and I would wake up with him next to me in bed.  

It felt like if I could just think of some way to work my way around physics, he could come back. You really do believe that in a way. I mean, logically you know you can't, but emotionally, there is this sliver of belief that there is some solution to bringing him back if you could just find it.  

I would look at pictures of him and try to will him to come out of the photograph. I really had this feeling that it could be possible if I willed it enough. Eventually, that feeling dissipated, dissolved. But it was never a single moment where I feel like it sunk in. It was something that happened in the background as I grieved and now it is an accepted fact of my life. He's gone. But I still have our love and my memories of him and I am actually able to enjoy those memories now. That's incredibly valuable. 

May 14, 9:58PM EDT0

How important is family when greiving? Should we ask them for help or greiving alone is important?

May 14, 9:33PM EDT0

I think both. Sometimes being around people made me feel more alone. It depends on your mood and how your day is going, I think. What helped me most was a balance of friends and family and seeking out other widow(er)s (who eventually become friends). Having that mix of people gives you a choice when you don't want to be alone but also don't know if you can handle being around people who don't understand (by no fault of their own). 

May 14, 9:59PM EDT0

What do you do for a living now?

May 14, 8:52PM EDT0

I am trying a few things. I am a freelance writer, I just opened a raw pet food delivery business in Ontario and I make jewelry on Etsy. I think writing is my main goal right now but I do enjoy my day being divided into different things. 

May 14, 9:03PM EDT0

In your opinion is grief important to experience for Humanity's sake?

May 14, 8:42PM EDT0

Yes. I 100% think this is a correct assertion. It's a horrible experience I wouldn't wish on anybody but also, it makes you see the world differently. That can be good or bad or both, really. But it has been at the heart of some of the most beautiful writing/art/films/music. If we didn't grieve, life wouldn't have as much meaning. 

May 14, 9:04PM EDT0

Were there things that your husband took care of that after his death you had to deal with and kept you confused and lost? TIA.

May 14, 7:05PM EDT1

Yes, we ran a film company together (www.renegademotionpictures.com) but he was the face of the company and did the more complex stuff. I was more admin and web stuff, which is where I am most comfortable. I have since had to take over his role to get the scripts he left behind made and it is a really scary feeling to not know exactly what I'm doing and if I'm screwing up his work that he left behind. Luckily, I am working with some really good producers in California who respected Steven and who I share a mutual respect with and I know that they have my back and they have been such a big help. I am so incredibly grateful. 

May 14, 8:53PM EDT1

What an amazing story Rachel, thank you!

May 14, 9:19PM EDT1

It must be hard to move on, finding a new companionship. How do you communicate this desire to your children and how did they take it?

May 14, 11:12AM EDT1

I don't have any biological children of my own. My husband was a bit older than me, though we did talk about the possibility. However, I have INCREDIBLE stepchildren who I still very much consider family and who have been so loving and supportive. I cherish them. I haven't really discussed the subject much with them but when the time is right (or if they're reading this haha) then I will. I know that it will probably be a bit awkward but they are such good people, they will ultimately be happy for me. 

May 14, 8:55PM EDT0

What kind of activity helped you cope afterwards?

May 14, 9:48AM EDT0

Yoga was one of the biggest things activity wise that helped me. Meditation, writing and reading other widow(er) experiences also helped me a lot. I would scour the web for every blog ever written by every widow(er) ever. Haha. It was a good way to get to the next moment. 

May 14, 8:56PM EDT0

Have you made any major changes to your life after your loss and if so, what were they? Thank you for your answer.

May 14, 6:05AM EDT0

Yes, I have changed careers, I am now a freelance writer and doing a couple of startup businesses including a raw pet food delivery company. 

I eat so much healthier now and do a lot more yoga and meditating. I used to take a lot of things personally and I don't have time for that anymore. If somebody has a problem with me, I try to let it be their problem, not mine (it's still a process but I'm getting better at it all the time). I say what I think more.  

I push myself past my fears and try new things like a True Story Open Mic Night at a pub down the street from me. I get up there once a month and tell a story. I would have been petrified to do that before.  

I'm making my life fuller and richer because my husband was my everything and I don't regret that. Not in the least. But now he showed me how short life is and how easily it can be taken away. Knowing that, I know it's all worth a try, even if you fail, you win.  

May 14, 10:09PM EDT0

with all its pain and sorrow, death is unfortunately inevitable. Maybe what we need to do is always prepare, live every day as your last, every new as your first?

May 14, 3:49AM EDT0

This is something I have learned since my husband's death and why I am doing things like this. I am making myself overcome fears, try things that I thought I would never be able to do and just love life and see the beauty in it brighter than I ever have before. However, it is has been a process and to think that you can be prepared for this kind of loss is a precarious thing. I don't think anything can really prepare you for it. You just have to get through it and then try to learn from it as you make it a part of yourself. I fear going through it again, but I know I will get through it and love life again if it does. 

May 14, 8:58PM EDT0

Losing a loved one.. What do you do about coming home to find an empty home?

May 14, 3:07AM EDT0

This was one of the hardest parts at first. C.S. Lewis wrote the famous line in his book, A Grief Observed - highly recommended - "No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear." It's the absolute truth. 

Your heart beats with pure anxiety and you feel like you might have a heart attack. You lose your breath, I can't tell you how many times I almost passed out. It is torturous. 

A lot of things would fill me with that feeling but the ones that filled me with it the most were going grocery shopping and coming home, knowing he wouldn't be there but still having that feeling like he should be. The empty home, you can't avoid it. You just have to keep reminding yourself to breathe. 

May 14, 1:55PM EDT0
Show all 4 replies

Do you know if support grief groups exist in your area? Have you attended one? Great questions by the way.

May 14, 1:40AM EDT1

I attended several support groups, yes. I highly recommend doing that to anybody who is ready for it. I needed it. I reached out for support groups in the first month because it was too painful. I needed to share with others who understood. I did a formal support group and an informal one that is a local chapter of the organization, Soaring Spirits.

Both helped me immensely. It brings a lot of relief to know that most of the things you are experiencing in your grief are normal. Validation is such a powerful tool with grief. I have also made lifelong friends who are also a part of why I'm doing so well so quickly. 

May 14, 1:58PM EDT1
Show all 3 replies

How do you know the difference between grief, depression, and frustration?

May 14, 12:45AM EDT1

Having experience with both lifelong depression (my husband was actually a huge part of me getting to a better place with my depression) and the grief of my husband, I can definitely tell you that you know the difference. A lot of the feelings may have the same descriptive words; sadness, anguish, melancholy, numbness, anxiety, etc., but they 100% feel different. 

To start, there is a deep, gut-wrenching, painful yearning with a loss like a spouse that nothing I have ever felt compares to. It is a yearning that is hard to describe. It's in your bones, it's in your cells. Every single part of you is yearning from the depths of despair to have your person back. My husband's absence filled every part of me. 

Also, the anxiety is different. This one is harder to put into words. The anxiety for both is definitely earth shattering and I am not saying one is worse than the other but with grief, there is this sort of a mind altering aspect to the anxiety. You feel like the grid is starting to unravel. It leaves you breathless and feeling like your heart could easily pump out of your chest. 

Both depression and grief are absolutely horrible to experience but they are definitely different experiences. 

May 14, 6:51PM EDT1

You put in words what I could never have done, and thank you for that.

May 14, 8:11PM EDT1
Top Contributor
Marisa Donnelly