I will share my story in how I came to be in this club. My wife, Christy, died the Friday after Thanksgiving this year. Christy was 50 and I am 51. We were married six years in August 2017. Both of us were on our second marriage and thoroughly enjoying being completely committed to each other. We dated for a while about 25 years ago and were fortunate enough to reconnect back in 2009.
We both were ill of health over the fall/winter holidays in 2016 and I almost lost her to a couple of cardiac arrhythmia episodes then. She had lost some notable weight over the past couple of years and seemed to have some a dehydration issues. She ultimately had a pacemaker/defibrillator implanted in January and seemed to be doing much better although she had been having some trouble with cold symptoms for a few days prior to her death.
Christy went up to Michigan to visit with her family over Thanksgiving and went into the hospital Thanksgiving day and she died on Friday before I could make it to the hospital. Her listed cause of death from the physicians was Sepsis/Septic Shock. I am still waiting on an autopsy report, but the pathologist told me one of his initial findings included severely narrowed arteries to the heart.
Christy died just months after my mother died of lung cancer back in July of 2017 in the care of Hospice. This took a big toll on both of us as my mother was in our house for several weeks before she had a fall and had to go into a Hospice care facility for several weeks prior to her death. Christy and I spent our whole summer caring for my mother only to lose my wife so soon after.
I was in absolute shock for several weeks after Christy died, just in a fog. I have cried some, but don’t seem to have much of that release in me for some reason. I wonder if I know how to grieve but I know I am extremely lonely and sad. In my free time I typically sit around staring at the TV or watching birds on my deck with a tear in my eye. I think it is still to soon after her death for me to process some of it. I am not in denial, but some days I do wish she would ‘come home‘.
I am keeping up a good routine with daily activities, and have generally returned to work albeit working from home most days. My two step kids seem to be doing okay, but I know they are hurting too.
How do we make it through such tragic and sudden losses? I am trying to find some way forward and wish there was an instruction manual for this awful time.
Dear James T, first of all, my condolences. It sucks that you have joined our group. Nonetheless, it is good that you are here. My wife passed away very suddenly and unexpected on our kitchen floor. Our young adult kids were there and did CPR. Obviously to no avail. She was simply not there anymore. Your experiences and responses are all normal. The way forward is simply to move forward (I don't mean that in the way that our friends like to say to us widowed types). For the moment, put one pant leg on at a time. That is an accomplishment. Be supportive of your step kids.
You wonder if you know how to grieve. Are you a reader? There are many good books that might put some of the shock of this in perspective. Are there any groups you can join? My son and I went to 3 sessions of a group grief thing and then 3 sessions of counseling for the both or us. We both got some benefit. My daughter was not interested at all in any of this. Prepare yourself to deal with well meaning friends who will likely say terrible things. You will learn to forgive their ignorance. In the meantime, tell them what you do need.
Come here and tell us what you want and need. We've all shared this path you are now on. It's not easy but if you are like many of us, you will learn to live again; it will take a lot of time though. You are in my thoughts tonight. Take care of yourself.
Thank you IBelieveInYou, I am sorry for your loss as well.
I have been to see a counselor for 3 or 4 sessions and it has been generally helpful although I think I am just spinning my wheels during a few of the hours there. I have gotten a little better on a few topics like feeling like I am erasing signs of my wife in doing the simplest things like cleaning her vanity sink (not getting rid of her stuff, just cleaning it). That was one of the first awkward things I thought about, shortly after taking all of the towels in the bathroom to the washer, and needing to put out new towels on her hooks because I could not bare to see the empty spots. That was a tough conversation but it was revealing and the discussion was good (yet towels are still in her spots for my benefit).
I do plan on signing up for a local young widow/widower group sponsored by the local Hospice and am starting to explore a few books. I will do this day by day and one leg at a time as you suggest.
I am so very sorry for your loss. I also lost my husband suddenly at the age of 51 to sepsis. He had four fractured ribs that led to pneumonia, ARDS (airway distress), sepsis and finally, cardiac arrest. This was just a week after the accident that he was supposed to recover from completely. It has been 11 months now, and I still don't know if I know if I am grieving correctly either - I don't know if there is a right way or a wrong way - it just sucks. Yes, I was and still am in shock to some degree. I do not cry much, but I am sad and angry at times. I do not let it control or consume me though. He would not want that. I try to stay positive as well as I can. I have gone to counseling and widow groups, which have been very helpful. I have also done a lot of reading, which has also been helpful. I take it one day at a time. Some days are better and some days are not so good - but I am managing. You will too. I just miss him dearly. Keep talking to those in your situation - there are a lot of us. So many stories - so many losses. I never realized......
Thank you Lions fan. I am sorry for the sudden loss of your husband as well.
Grief is a funny thing that everyone seems to be able to spell but not understand, but I agree it just sucks.
Thanks for the encouragement and the suggestion that widow/widower groups can help. I plan to join a group soon.
I also agree that there are so many stories it is very shocking.
Hello James. I am sorry to meet you in this tragic way. I lost my husband suddenly and unexpectedly on December 3, 2015 - he was 61 and I am 57. You are early in your grief journey and, if I’m honest about it, this is the most difficult thing I have ever endured. That said, you are in the right place. If you are a reader I can recommend “Its Okay That You Are Not Okay” by Megan Devine or Radical Survivor by Dr. Nancy Saltzman. Please forgive those that say ridiculous comments - they know no better. Before I became widow, I did not know what to say either and was likely one of those people to others.
Stay close to your children and please return here for an open ear. We will listen. There is no judgment and it is a place where you can gain strength during the most difficult times.
Mrs. M. thank you for your condolences and I am sorry for your unexpected loss too.
Thank you for your recommendation of the Megan Devine book. That is the first one I have started and will look into the Saltzman book as well.
My step children are both out of the house, one is nearby and one lives in Michigan, several hours away. They are 21 and 22 years old. The oldest, my step daughter, seems to be good at times, then this weekend, she is calling Christy's cell phone in the middle of the night just to listen to her mother's voice message. Very sad, but I am trying to be supportive as I can.
I hope to find better days and take it day by day. I hope you can as well.
Hi James T,
I'm incredibly sad to read your story. I know "thoughts and prayers" seem to be somewhat hollow thing to say to someone in our position, but I do appreciate the gesture. I'm a day behind you. My 49 year-old healthy husband passed 11/25/17 from pancreatic cancer, or what we were told was pancreatic cancer, but was really "poorly differentiated carcinoma of unknown primary". On Nov. 5th we were raking leaves, everything was normal - we were joking with our neighbors, and enjoying the morning until bam! he had sudden intense abdominal pains. I got him to the ER, a week in the hospital and numerous tests the week after that confirmed cancer, and a PET scan confirmed it was in his pancreas, liver and lungs. I had to rush him back to the hospital the day after Thanksgiving, he was bleeding from his liver and they couldn't get it to stop, and the cancer was "everywhere". I signed the papers to remove him from life support and he passed about 90 minutes later.
I know I'm still in shock and have barely processed him being sick, let alone passing away. (I have a REALLY hard time using the words "die", "died" and "dead"...I just can't say his name and those words together). My grief counselor has been wonderful and is helping me see some things as gifts. Things like him finding a permanent job two months before he passed after 2 years of unemployment, he was feeling so much better about himself the last 6 months because he was temping before he was hired permanently. Instead of being angry that things were finally looking up for us, then two months later he's gone. I've found myself yelling "what's the point?!" over and over, but my counselor is helping me accept it as a good thing. He could have gotten sick while he was out of work and that would have been much worse.
I'm feeling a little guilt about being able to get out of bed and function each day. I think I'll be chatting about that with my counselor. But I also ask my husband to help give me the strength to get through each day, and maybe he IS helping me! I like to believe it at least.
I wish you peace, light and love. To all of us here.
"Thoughts and prayers" are my least favorite phrase in the English language. So trite, so meaningless.
My husband was out of work when he got sick and that added to his depression. But he was feeling positive about the future when he had his stroke. The day before the stroke he wrote his medical social worker that he was feeling better than any time since the whole thing started. Your post helped me see that as a blessing. (Truth be told, he was a 58-year-old network administrator and was unlikely to do much more than scramble from contract to contract for the rest of his career.)
I'd spent six months in denial that he could die. They were so optimistic about his cancer treatment. When he was diagnosed with moyamoya (rare brain disease that carries high risk of stroke) the doctors were similarly optimistic -- he would have two surgeries and then be fine. I have since found out that MM is not that simple and that most people who have it continue to have TIAs and/or seizures.
That last day after the stroke, he was loopy but did not seem terribly frightened and he went status epilepticus shortly thereafter so was not even aware (I hope) that it was the end. I also had to authorize removing the ventilator and that is its own set of awful, as you well know.
Unknown primary is terrible cancer. I have a friend whose husband had this. The problem is that different types of cancer respond to different drugs and with unknown primary, it is hard to know what might work.
Thank you Denverkim. I am sorry for your loss too and that you are so early in this too.
Shock barely describes the cloud of trying to process all the things that happened too soon. I am uplifted that you are finding comfort and some uplifting insights in speaking with your counselor. I also understand not being able to use the D words in relation to our significant others. The first time I had to accept that is filling out the paperwork for my counselor, when I had to check the box on marital status... Really I am a widower now.... Damn that was a crying moment.
I think survivor guilt is something that I am impacted by too, in that I still get to get up every day, although many days I wish I could sleep until noon.
Peace, light and love to you and all of the others in this community - great words you have there.
Hi all. This past August, I lost my husband of 35 years after a 2-year battle with Cancer (Pancreatic); he had just turned 62 (I am 57). It was awful watching him wither away during this time; he went through 51 hard rounds of chemo in addition to radiation treatments. Towards the end, I prayed that God would just take him home so he would not have to suffer anymore. I didn't want him to have to live through another hunting season (his passion) knowing he could not physically do it; it killed me to see him watching the RV shows on television (as this was his dream after we retired). After he passed away, I held a huge "Celebration of Life" for him - very non-traditional. Since then, while I've had my melt downs, I am also at peace, knowing that he is in a better place. I found myself feeling guilty because of this peacefulness/acceptance that he is gone and he told me that I have been grieving all along, since his Cancer diagnosis.... makes perfect sense to me. Anyways, I am enjoying reading the forums here and anxious to receive a book that was recommended by several on this site (can't recall the name at this time).
Welcome, Dez, and I can understand your feelings. My husband died at age 78 of acute myeloid leukemia 6 months after his diagnosis, but the ravages of a predecessor disease (polycythemia) and the meds used to manage it had taken their toll. He was really going downhill the last 2 years- weaker, able to eat less, losing weight. Regardless, we still got in some wonderful trips in 2014 and 2015- just had to be careful and not wear him out. He used to hike the Appalachian trail but by the time he died he was down to 117 lbs. and I think he was feeling worse than he admitted to most of the time.
He died in November, 2016 and it was a relief, really. I'd have the old, healthy Ron back in a minute but the Ron who died peacefully at home under hospice care was ready to leave this earth. I've done far better than I ever expected since then and I, too, feel a little guilty. I think part of it is being freed from being a caregiver- it was a privilege to take care of a man who had taken care of so many others- but now all I have to worry about is keeping the bills paid and the lawn mowed. I enjoy cooking for myself, my body is in better shape than ever because I've extended my gym workouts a little (and I'm almost 65) and I have some wonderful travel planned. I keep expecting Ron's death to unexpectedly hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks and it hasn't, although I did sense my alone-ness more this year at family Christmas gatherings.
We're all different.
So, we're all different. What's wonderful is that this group is non-judgmental. No one gets told to snap out of it when it's a major task to just get out of bed and get dressed, and no one gets criticized when they find bright spots in the new life they're beginning to build.