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Category Archives: Death of a Spouse

Finality – A Year of Grief and Loss

A good friend of mine had lost her father and we discussed the finality of death and how hard it is to accept along with the grief and deep loss felt.  I thought I would post my reply here because this might help others.

My spouse, the most beautiful love I have ever shared, passed away a little more than a year ago now.  She was with me during my transition and during my operation.  So very supportive.  She passed away about 6 months after that operation.  This last year has been horrific in the pain of the loss and grief felt and accounts for the lack of posts on this blog site.  I know I’ve promised to write more here – enough so that I don’t dare promise anything except that I will try.  There are a lot of things I would like to write and I will.

Here is my response to the feelings of the finality when a person you love dearly passes:

Oh the finality …. I found there are two very distinct parts to that.  I spent 3 hours or so with Lisa’s body in the hospital after she was pronounced dead and before they came to pick her up (oh boy this is difficult to write…).  And then just before she was cremated I viewed her body for about 1/2 hour after which she was brought right to the back and cremated.  It was so hard leaving there, I walked backwards out the building looking at her the entire time until I could not anymore – my last sight of her physical-ness – ever.  Her brother was there with me and came rushing up to support me as I was stumbling and collapsing.

Even though this is so very hard to bring this memory back up – it ‘proved’ beyond a doubt that Lisa had passed – I knew from a visceral level that she was gone – no way to come back.  And that brought closure for me – in a way.
But then, more than a year later, I still grieve so intensely.  There seems to be another part of me that still battles that ‘finality’.  Some other aspect of myself.  From my experience it never goes away, instead I am just learning how to live again, how to get back my sense of purpose and enjoyment of life, but now living alone.  Everything seems ‘just under the surface’ and grief and loss strike at any time – still.  I have found that time helps with coping, but does not diminish the loss or grief and in a way the finality either.  Like you mentioned, we just learn to life like this now.
I do talk to Lisa all the time and in the first person.  I tell her about my day, ask her for help or guidance, etc.  I’m trying to learn how to live with her, together, but in this new ‘state’ of being or relationship.  That does help.
That was my response.  There is so much more about grieving and loss of a loved one to write about.  I will try…
Much Aloha,
Sifan
(much tears)
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16 Months (Past One Year) Post Opt (WooooHooo)

Lisa: a beautiful being

Lisa: a beautiful being

In my last post I thought I was ready and able to start writing again, since the loss of my precious beloved Lisa.  I guess I wasn’t all that ready.  This is coming up on nine months since she passed away and the grieving and loss is just as intense as it was then.  I am a bit stronger, I do have times now where I am enjoying life and times where I feel good and feel like I have my feet firmly on the ground and accomplishing things and proud of it.  It is like waves in the ocean (huge ones):  there are times when I’m struggling to get air and being tossed around like being inside a clothes dryer and there are times that I’m peacefully, calmly and confidently floating on top.

I had promised to write two other posts, one on the ways that Lisa has come to me and is present in my life and the other about handling grief and the process that I’m going through.  I have started both of those posts, but have not been able to finish – partly because of the continuing intensity of this grief.  Someone told me that the intensity of grief is a testament to the greatness of the love shared.  I firmly hold that as true.  Lisa and I had an intense love and life together.  It’s the type of love that as a teenager I had dreamed about, the kind one finds only in novels and great plays.  But it happened – it happened to us.  Terms like twin flame and soul mates don’t come close…

Leaving flowers at Lisa's memorial

Leaving flowers at Lisa’s memorial

It is a week to my 16th anniversary (and the day before my anniversary will be 9 months since Lisa passed away ….).  As a result, my 1 year anniversary of my SRS and becoming who I am inside now on the outside, was a pretty hard day with vivid memories of Lisa and I sharing the hospital room and her being constantly by my side plus all the times in Chonburi getting out and around.

Since the last post, I’m now dilating only once a week – I picked Sunday nights.  There were times when I missed a week and didn’t have any issues or problems the next time I dilated.  Some people I know only dilate only once a month.  I might go to that after my 2nd year anniversary but don’t think that would be a good idea right now.

I’ve traveled to the mainland twice this year already and will make another trip in Dec.   I think it’s important to visit Lisa’s and my family more often then we did before, especially after her passing.  During the first trip I held life celebrations for Lisa with everyone and together we scattered some of her ashes in places that were very special to her.  The second trip was just to be together with them, revisit some of these place but also to reminisce and just be together, as a family.  My trip in Dec will be along the same lines.  Although, this will be the first time back in Minnesota during their winter – not sure how smart of an idea this is, but the grand kids have been remembering me and I want to be there more often for them.

On the way to the airport when I was leaving Minneapolis to come home the last time – I got rear ended on the interstate.  I saw my doctor and she prescribed a month’s worth of therapeutic massages, twice a week!  I like this doctor!!  Those are wonderful, so relaxing and has helped my stiff neck and back that I had after the accident.  I have one more to go.  But I think I’ll come back once a month (on my own) from now on.  These really help reduce stress and relax the body.

Lisa and Mazie

Lisa and Mazie

Another major thing that happened is our (Lisa and my) cat Mazie passed away.  Mazie was a very affectionate and loving.  After Lisa passed away, Mazie would cuddle with me in bed and would always be on my lap when I got home.  It’s very interesting that Mazie came to us (appeared at our back lanai) after Lisa’s mother Mazel passed away.  Hence her name – Lisa named her after and in honor of her mother.  And now, Mazie passed away about 2 months after Lisa did.  She was here for Lisa!  This picture of Mazie on Lisa’s lap says it all.

Last week, a good friend of mine decided she is going to move to the mainland and would not be able to bring her cat along and asked me if I would take the cat (named Bella Marie).  Bella is 7 years old, a mix of Tobi and Siamese and is very loving as well.  At first I wasn’t sure I was ready.  Bella knew me from the times I would visit, so everything went exceptionally well when she was came to stay with me.  She is becoming just as affectionate as Mazie was – sitting on my lap and laying at foot of the bed at night, occasionally coming up and cuddling next to me.  And amazingly, she is toilet trained!  She is an indoor cat, so I don’t have the messes I had with Mazie trekking in all the dirt.  Bella is a huge help with my grief and loss of Lisa (and Mazie).  It’s great having her around the house.  Another loving being is now sharing the house with me!

I’m keeping myself busy – maybe a bit too busy.  For a couple of weeks I helped a good friend of mine with her business – spiced cacao.  I helped package, label, count and load everything up for a ‘Made in Maui’ huge event.  That was a lot of fun and met a lot of friends there.  She also took me out to a couple of Rotary outings, one was a Halloween party put on by a well known doctor here – that was awesome.

I’ve also been elected to the board of  Maui Pride.  For me this is a huge honor.  I’ll be helping with their events and planning.  They have monthly hikes, monthly dine outs, special events, etc.  Their largest event, the Maui Pride Fair, raises enough money to be able to hand out a dozen or so scholarships to LGBT students here.  They also help other organization on island with their fundraisers like “Woman helping Woman” and the AIDS foundation.

Through on of their events – a dine out – I met a wonderful couple.  A couple of weeks later I get an invite to their wedding!  It was beautiful.  They are both chefs and you can just imagine the festivities and food afterwords.  Well, last week was a birthday of a mutual friend, I was invited over to their house.  There were five of us women and we had a wonderful time.  It is so great to be accepted by them and to enjoy their company.  Now, I’ve been invited to share Thanksgiving with them.  What an honor!

Ok, on to transition and what’s it’s like for me at 16 months.  Again, so much has been eclipsed by Lisa’s passing, followed by the loss of Mazie our cat and also all three topical fish (basically every living thing in our house except me!).  It was just one thing after another.  Then that was followed by losing a number of precious items, like the ring from Lisa’s finger (that I took off of her in the hospital after she passed away).  So it’s been pretty tough.

It is nice only dilating once a week – that takes off a huge burden.  My breasts have been sore now and then, just like they were when a growth spurt occurred – and they have grown a bit more.  I had one scare however.  I had my first mammogram and they called me back to get an ultrasound.  It turns out I had a swollen lymph node and not to be worried.  However, this does point out how important it is to be checked.

So, a bit of TMI  (too much information) – stop here if you don’t want TMI ….

Everything ‘down below’ has healed well and functioning perfectly.  As a young boy I could never understand my mother when she always told me to clean myself very well down there.  What was there to clean any more then any other part of my body?  Well … things are sure different now and I now understand what she was referring to!  There are so many folds and creases down there that it’s a lot harder to clean.  I’m not sure what they call that white stuff that forms in the creases but it does not smell good.  Twice I asked my doctor and she showed me yet another crease or fold I didn’t know about, where this hid …. I’ve got ’em all now.

Big news is that I had my very first orgasm.  It was a small one, but it was one none the less!  A lot of trans*women have experienced their first orgasm at around 4 or 5 months post opt. But I had urinary problems when I came home from Chonburi and then a urinary infection back home that took months to clear up. A couple of months after that, the love of my life, my spouse Lisa passed away (she is a nurse and was with me in Chonburi for my operation).   I had a dream where Lisa came to me.  She wanted so much to give me my first one.  So, in a way she did.  Just like Lisa, an orgasm’s effects lasts for days after – sort of a glow – just like Lisa always had.  This is just one of many ways Lisa has been showing up – but that is for another post, perhaps another blog site.

So there were lots of factors contributing to not being able to orgasm when others had.  But, it finally happened.  Just wish my beloved Lisa would have physically been here with me ….. miss her so terribly much …

Those who are post opt and have not yet had an orgasm,  you need to be patient – it took me a year. And ‘yes’ to what most others have posted about this – it is different, both physically and mentally.  As a male we were used to ‘forcing’ it, powering through and everything was very focused (mentally and physically).  This is not the case now.  It’s now more about letting go, feeling the entire body, not being focused at all.  Instead being patient, not forcing anything, being open and sensing ‘all’ your feelings.  Here is an accurate but somewhat strange comparison:  for those of you that have had SRS surgery, it’s like the first time you had to urinate (usually they make you do this before you can leave the hospital).  You find out really quick that you can not do it the way you did as a male – you can ‘not’ force it out.  You have be patient, relax, no stress or strain and allow it to flow.  I’m glad I have transitioned.

Well, in the interests of getting this finished and posted, I’m going to finish here.  I can include more details in the next post.  Wishing everyone happy holidays!

With Aloha,

Sifan

10 Months Post-Op

Posted on
Sifan 7/10/2015

Sifan 7/10/2015

I’m not sure what to say, accept that I feel I need to post something.  Today marks 10 months since my SRS and birth into the physical reality of who I am.  Yesterday however, was the 3 month anniversary of when my beloved Lisa passed away.  This post will primarily cover transition.

The entirety of these past three months have been spent in grief, morning and loss.  People say I’m doing better, but it feels even worse than at first.  Nothing in my entire life has been this hard.  This is one of the reasons I could not post until now.  Not sure I’m ready to post now either but I feel I should.

I think I will be creating separate posts to cover the main things I’m going through and experiencing.  Those include the continuing transition (or perhaps it’s post transition now), the grief and loss of my spouse and what I’m going through and what is helping and the many ways that Lisa is showing up and making herself felt.  This last one is quite amazing.  Lisa is being felt by many and I have heard from a lot of people.  This has been an immense relief and comfort to me.

It does not relieve the grief and pain of loss.  After all these years of cuddling every night, all night long – my body experiences this loss so terribly.  But my spirit knows Lisa is with me and I experience her constantly.  These two things continue along at the same time – loss/grief and comfort.

Of course Lisa’s passing has completely eclipsed my transition.  I am very grateful that during this period of memorials, life celebrations and lots of public exposure that no one has ‘clocked’ me, no ‘he’ nor ‘him’ or sideways glances or inappropriate comments or remarks.  Actually I haven’t had anything like that for more than 1/2 a year now.  I’m not sure if that is because of looking more like a woman, acting more like a woman or because of my confidence in being who I am.  I think it’s all in the latter – confidence.  I’m not even thinking about whether I look like a woman or will I be ‘passing’ ok today, etc.   Thanks to my dearest Lisa, I have a confidence now that carries across.

As far as post op recovery is concerned:  wow, they are right – looking back, 6 months was the magical time!  As I stated in an earlier post, it almost happened overnight, the night before my 6 month anniversary.  I no longer used the seat cushion, the remaining pain went away, dilation was much easier, and on and on.

Since then, I have even ridden a bicycle!  Now that was something that the thought of before would send very unpleasant shivers up and down me.

I had a granulation between my labia on my right side that used to bleed now and then back in the months after I got home.  I was very concerned and was going to have my doctor here remove it.  The advice from Chonburi was to just leave it alone.  But I wondered what would become of it:  would it remain as a protrusion?  Would it fall off?  Would it just go back in?  Well now I have the answer – it goes back in.  It’s gone and everything looks good there.

However, my doctor noticed something else – it looked like a ‘Y’ shaped frenulum split my clitoris in half!  Sent off a picture to Chonburi and they said ‘oh oh – that needs a revision’.  Ouch.  The clitoris has ‘legs’ that come down inside the inner labia on a woman.  Apparently those legs are along the inner sides of the inner labia instead of underneath.  These are sensate, but not to the point of pain or it being a problem.  My doctor here said that unless they were effecting me, to not worry about it at all.  She also said to look at it this way:  I have ‘extra’ sensate areas – be glad !!  So, I have a normal clitoris, clitoral hood, frenulum etc., then directly below the frenulum I have these two longish bumps on each side between the upper inner labia that are also as sensate as the clitoris.  I’m happy with that!

For dilation, I’m now down to once every 3 days.  I am on the largest dilator, have been since before the 6 month mark.  I don’t have any problems, no pain and it’s been easy and fast to get to depth.  I will wait for another 2 months (my 1 year anniversary) before I cut down to once a week as recommended for that time and then for the rest of my life.  Trying to figure out what day I’ll do my dilations on when I get to once a week – hummm – Mondays? – nay, those are bad enough ….

I have finally stopped shaving the upper 1/2 of my face!  The electrolysis has progressed far enough along that she now cleans up anything from about midway from my chin to my lower lip and up, then has started on my jaw line and chin and below.  There is nothing to shave above that!  At last – this is soooo good.  However, hair is still growing on my chest and stomach and that is starting to really bother me.  It has slowed down and others have said that it will eventually stop given about 2 years or more of HRT.  But I’m starting to think I might have her do electrolysis there next if this continues.

I’m also having electrolysis on my eye brows and finding that very very helpful.  She applies a topical to numb the area – it’s still a bit more painful than other places but it’s a huge difference in how I look and I don’t have to pluck anymore.  What a relief.

One of the concerns I had recently was how to shave my back.  Lisa used to do that for me – in the hard places to reach, but now ….  Turns out at my doctor’s office they now have waxing and massage.  So I signed up for a waxing for my back, my ears and my nose.  Yes, nose!!  I was pleasantly surprised!  They use a topical to numb the inside of the nose and it really (for me) was not painful at all.  So this will become part of a tri-monthly routine for me now.

My breasts have grown a bit more – I’m a 42B and filling that in pretty solidly now.  I’m glad I did not get breast augmentation when I was in Chonburi – as they had recommended against it and said I would fill out a bit more.  I did and am very happy with what I have.  Mine are ‘on the sides’ a bit, so when I put on a bra I have to pull or tuck them in (and get ‘side’ control bra’s).  This makes them look a lot better as well.  One thing I learned the hard way however – a mosquito bite just under the bra band in the middle of my back is the very worst thing to have!!!  Can’t reach it plus the bra rubs it raw.  ACK !!!!

Finally, my hair is just below my shoulders and slightly wavy along the sides.  I love how it is styled and layered.  Just right.  Ya, I still have high spots on each side of my forehead and therefore have bangs that cover them.  I wish I could use other styles but I do like this one.  I’ve had my hair up and also in a ponytail – always wanted to do that.  I didn’t think I had that much of a ponytail until I caught a reflection in a cornered mirror – wow, it was nice and long – a ‘real’ ponytail at last!  Now if I could just get more hair to cover those high spots ….

I’m settling on a style!  I’m mostly wearing mid to long skirts with tank tops (here in Hawaii) along with cork wedge sandals (1.5 -> 2″) and almost always earrings and a necklace, sometimes a bracelet as well.  I don’t like pants but will wear jeans when I have to (like going to the summit or taking hikes).

Well, here you have it – my first post about transition after Lisa passed away.  Finally, I was able to write.  Hopefully shortly I will write about how Lisa has been showing up to me and others plus a post about grief/loss and coping.

With much aloha,

Sifan

My beloved Lisa has Passed Away

Beloved Lisa

Beloved Lisa

It is with such great sorrow that I’m writing this post.

Friday, April 10th sometime in the night/early morning, Lisa passed away in her sleep from a heart attack.  She had always said she wanted to die in her sleep, being cuddled by me.  She got her wish.

The night before, when she went back to take her shower, she asked me if I was coming to bed too.  When I said yes, she exclaimed “Yayayayayay, I can’t wait for cuddles tonight”!

We were so very close, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  We tightly cuddled each other every night for the entire time we have been together.  I’m also a very light sleeper and am awakened by almost any sound or her movement.  So I can confirm that Lisa passed away very peacefully and quite.  It was at 6:20 that her body rolled over onto me that I knew something was wrong.

I gave mouth to mouth, called EMC and gave CPR until they came.  But she had passed away a while before she rolled onto me.

Sifan & Lisa at Chonburi

Such a beautiful, strong and powerful person.  She had so many daemons from her past that she was fighting.  She had overcome the last one just the week before and her awakening and life was starting to blossom.  These struggles are what gave Lisa these powerful abilities to see clearly, to forgive and at the same time to speak her truth without excuses.   Everyone saw a very kind and loving person.

So many people have commented on the huge difference she has made in their lives.  More than a thousand people have posted or left comments for her.  A typical post says they never shed tears for the people in their life that has passed – but here is a woman they have never met in person and they are balling their hearts out for Lisa.  Lisa has that kind of effect …

As is the case almost all of the time – Lisa aspired to be what she was  – but never saw that she was actually there.  She was the person she was trying to be.  I had told her this many times, tried to point out the love others had for her and the respect they held for her.  Again, part of her childhood conditioning, derived from some horrible events in her childhood prevented her from accepting herself and these comments were not understood.

Just weeks ago, the little girl inside her that was traumatized way back then, was finally able to leave her dark cave and instead inhabit a beautiful bright girls room filled with dolls and toys and happy colors.  Lisa’s deepest parts had finally been rescued.  She related this to me a number of times along with a joy of moving past probably the most intense part of her life.

It was all of these trials that forged Lisa.  What you experienced in Lisa is a triumph of life succeeding where others would have drowned.  Her beauty, her personality, her insights and talents to write, to create videos and help others find their path, are all attributed to her struggles.  These are what forged her and allowed her to give us light.

Her intensity for awakening was so inspiring.  Her ‘Sharing Joy’ video is probably the most open and free expression of her spirit and of her awakened self.  When she first crossed that gateless gate – this is how she was  – for days.  She is so precious ….

More of Lisa’s work can be found at her YouTube site “One Spaciousness” and her WordPress site “One Spaciousness” and her FaceBook pages.

Lisa smelling the roses

Lisa smelling the roses

My love, my kealoha, your presence is felt, your love surrounds me.  I know you are at peace and are what you strived for – at one with the nothingness, which is everything.  I feel her surrounding me, others have stated the same for them.  She is here, everywhere.  And that is something, along with her life and being, that I am in celebration of.

Something Lisa always said and I also felt and would echo back to her:  “I love you more than I loved you yesterday.  And yesterday I had loved you the very most I ever could.  How can our love keep growing, growing beyond what I ever thought possible, growing beyond what I thought was the most I could ever love.  Yet here I am – I did it again!”

There are so many memories I want to try to get down on virtual paper – I will post those over on my blog “Sifan’s Journey”.  But here’s one:  every time I come home – every time – I would stand on the lower step into our house, close my eyes and pucker my lips.  Lisa would come out and kiss me, then we would come into the house and hug.   Every time ….  I am still doing that and can feel her especially during those moments now.

Lisa and Sifan as Easter bunnies in SL

Lisa and Sifan as Easter bunnies in SL

We actually met on Second Life, a virtual world that connects people from all over the world.  We still ‘played’ together there.  That allowed her to express her creativity in many beautiful builds that I will maintain and everyone can enjoy.  She was able to express her inner child and work out her issues here too.

My dearest Keahlo, I love you sooo deeply.  I miss your physical touch so intensely…  In what ever you are going through right now, don’t be scared, be assured I am here, loving you forever and giving you comfort in what ways I can.  You have heard me tell you “I am here” so many times – and you know I am and you have taken comfort and relief from that.  Please hear me now my love, I am here, always will be.  And I know and feel you as well.

Forever cuddles my love – forever …..

With the greatest love (and cuddles) ever,

Your kealoha, Sifan