I have no idea if any of this will make sense, but my husband just passed away on August 10th after an 11 month battle with pancreatic cancer, and I guess I just need to "get it out". We lived a seemingly ideal life, 3 kids (17, 10, 3), two good jobs, the house, the cars, and then WHAM, diagnosis of stage IV cancer, with optimistically only 1 year to live. My husband was a private person and had moved to the states from UK as a young adult, so our social group was rather small, but all we really seemed to need was each other. We told close friends and family about the diagnosis, but didn't share it publicly, and tried to live our days as best we could with love and joy.
The first 5 1/2 months were "ok-ish", chemo was hard on him, but we maintained a new normalcy. The last 5 1/2 months were horrible, he had wasted away, couldn't eat, was sleeping a lot and had to be hospitalized for 2 weeks in February, but through it all he kept his sense of self. What astounded me was the number of people who simply seemed to disappear from our lives. We were never social butterflies, but all these people we thought were friends, and close colleagues were MIA. Even a text asking how he was doing that day, or talking about a shared interest or event, anything, would have been appreciated. It got me so mad, and then when they told us there was nothing more to do and that he needed to go on hospice, it was a fast descent. We only told a few close friends and family, and then within 3 weeks he was gone. Love of my life, father of my children, my better half, just gone.
He had decided early on that he wanted to be cremated and we had talked about no funeral, which surprised his family (who all live several states away), but we aren't religious, funeral homes and wakes were most definitely not his style, and I couldn't imagine subjecting my children to it. Not to mention that if I had to see people show up at a wake or funeral who couldn't virtually "Show up" for him this past year, I am afraid I would have gone full blown ballistic on them. When word got out that he passed everyone seemed to come out of the woodwork about what a great guy he was, an amazing person, yada yada yada....but where were they when he was alive? Even now people that were supposed to be his closest friends have never sent anything (even a premade Hallmark card is better than nothing), no phone calls, no texts, no private messages. I just can't reconcile how you can act like that, and I am struggling with my anger at them, which I know is partly anger at the universe that this amazing person died so horribly at only 44, but still, there is repressed rage there.
So I guess I was wondering, is this something others have gone through? Both the disappearance of friends and family, and if so, how did you deal with your anger and disappointment?
I've not been on Widowedvillage in years, but your message came through my email just now. Many here will understand your pain and have experienced similar anger. It can be a blinding anger, can't it? My husband died 5 years ago, and he was blessed with an outpouring of love and attention during his brief illness. What I found difficult was that when he was gone, everyone disappeared. Since I wasn't sick, I guess that was permission to be "done" visiting? or caring?
It's been difficult. I gave up my job when my husband went into hospice. Though it would have been VERY difficult to have returned to my job, sometimes I realize that that energy and forced scheduling (via job requirements) of producing something for a cause would have been good. It is apparent to me that I need to look outside of myself to keep going. Too much turning inside (which seems inevitable when alone) becomes unhealthy mentally and then physically.
I wish I had great words of advice. I have found much solace in volunteering in a large hospital -- both in retail in their gift shop and in the cancer center where the greatest warriors fight their battles. I have learned so much. I live too far away to volunteer as much as I'd like, so maybe a major move is in the future? I keep wondering. I also think it is SO HARD to let others know we need help and in which form we could use it. That is my major stumbling block. I haven't figured it out yet.
Best wishes to you. I wish you Peace in whatever means you find it - outdoors, children, music, and more.... Pat
My Dear Surreal17,
I am so very sorry for your loss. What you have shared here makes perfect sense. I also lost my husband to Pancreatic Cancer. Your story sounds like a mirror image of my experience. It is a vicious, insidious disease, and I hate that anyone should experience it's horror.
My husband, Ron was diagnosed at stage 4 in 2015 and also survived 11 months. He fought hard and never gave up until his last breathe. He re-joined the universe on September 22, 2016. I've had almost a year to process my grief and the variety of emotions that go along with it. What I have come to realize after many sleepless nights - people are afraid of facing their own mortality. They honestly don't know what to do or say when confronted by such devastating realities. They would rather do or say nothing, than to do or say the wrong thing. I even had people tell me they didn't realize he was terminally ill, even though we had told everyone his time was limited. It was just there why of dealing with it.
We did have a close circle of friends that were their for us, but so many did not want to "intrude" or "bother" us. In the end, Ron did not want people to see him. He was just too exhausted to try to make them feel better, and he did not want to continually be saying his good-byes. I became the gatekeeper as well as his caregiver.
After he passed, everyone told me they were here for me. However, after about a week the phone stopped ringing, the doorbell fell silent and there I was, left alone to deal with my grief. For friends and family, his passing was a very sad event that ended after his memorial service. They went home to live their life - as they should. However, I went home to a totally different reality. My new normal was just beginning. I seems as though I've been on a roller coaster of emotions this past year.
Your loss is still new and painfully raw for you right now, and I imagine you are still in the "fog" of grief. Please be patient with yourself and others. Give yourself permission to feel all the emotions that come to the surface. Let the tears flow, and do something nice for yourself everyday. This is your time to grieve, and it will take as long as it takes. We all have a different timeline for healing. You will find your way to peace again. Today, just breathe and know that you are not alone. Reaching out to other widows has helped me quite a bit. I hope it helps you as well.
You have started a discussion that has bothered me for 8 years now. My husband passed away in November 2009 after a 5 1/2 year cancer battle. The last couple of years he was home most of the time and the last year pretty much confined to home because it was too difficult for him to drive and I had to keep working. I get so angry when I think about how many hours he spent alone and nobody was visiting him or offering to bring lunch or take him out to lunch or whatever. He had several close friends with flexible schedules and certainly his family could have come by! He would get the occasional phone call but one sister lived 10 minutes away and worked 5 minutes away and not one time did she come visit. In retrospect I should have contacted them and asked that they come by even for a few minutes now and then but I didnt. It has also forced me to look at myself and what my weaknesses are towards people who are in similar circumstances. Have I changed my ways...not as much as I should but I am a work in progress. I ran into a friend of his a few months after he passed away and he said " I didn't know he was so sick" and it took all of my effort not to tell him if he had bothered to check on him he would have known. When his sister became ill and was dying their sister moved in at the end to take care of her and on one of my visits she told she didn't know how I managed their brother by myself. I looked her square in the eye and told her I had no choice! I was trying to keep my cool and hold my anger to a minimum. I guess if my husband had not helped everyone so much it would be easier to accept but he was always first in line when anyone, and most of all his family, needed anything. I have kept in contact with his family for the most part but I don't put a lot of effort out for them sadly. I get your feelings and I think they are valid. While I may have moved on to a certain extent, I still have the anger and resentment in me and I think it may always be there.
You are not alone. This has happened to me too. Not exactly the same but very similar. I do not know if your situation created fear in them or if they feel that they may catch what you have or whatever. Even in everyday life, people ask "how is it going?' very casually but they are not really interested in hearing that you have a problem. Since my husband has become ill and died (Sept 16 will be 6 years) I have really learnt some hard lessons. However there have been at least one person that really rose to the occasion so I am grateful for her.
Take one day at a time and do your best for yourself and your family. You will eventually learn to navigate this new world. Peace be with you.
I know what you are talking about as I'm sure do most of the people here. I don't know why it is that people do this - maybe it's just too uncomfortable and they don't know what to do or say, never realizing that just being here without doing anything is enough. It's still very early for you in the process. I can't say my family disappeared, but our friends sure did. I think that may have been a "couples" thing; we were a couple and then well, we weren't. And a lot of people don't like to have to look at that either. My brother-in-law was and still is there for me - and it's almost 7 years. He's an amazing man - almost as amazing as my husband was. A couple of Don's friends came over to see him in last days; but one of the came the night of the day he died and was shocked that he went so fast at the end.
I send you big hugs and you have the found the right place to "get it all out".
Oh where oh where do I begin? Lets just say that Arlene was REALLY good so these people and REALLY extended herself for them. Not one person that was currently working at the job that she was working at showed up at her funeral and she always went above and beyond for them. I have had friends and relatives tell me that they were going to have barbecues and then never got an invite. I have had dumb things said to me and this passed June, I made multiple posts about the 2nd anniversary of her stroke and then 8 days later on the day she passed. Apparently Facebook Likes count as support in their eyes. Not of them one could say anything, they were great at posting selfies of themselves with groups of friends and drinks and food in front of them. I never get phone calls and I only get texts when people need something from me or when one sibling seems to think that I'm going to stick my head in the oven. Passed that, I never get asked for a cup of coffee or a burger or anything and I would really kill for that every once in a while. On the major holidays that I DO get invites to, not one of my relatives has ever came over and asked how I am holding up...EVERRRRR! They make me feel like I am a 2nd class relative and I sometimes I feel like they wouldn't notice if I just went away.
I have not been on here in ages, but I saw this come through my email and feel that I have to respond. Reading your entry was as if I was writing it. My husband passed 4 1/2 years ago. He was pretty much homebound the last ten years of his life, he lost both of his legs, and his kidneys failed (Type 1 Diabetes). The last few years he never felt well or had a good day. All of our "friends" disappeared shortly after he lost his first leg, because he could no longer do the things we all had in common - he had previously been an avid bowler and motorcyclist, etc. I know we are partially at fault because we were always satisfied with just being together and didn't cultivate close friendships with many people, but the few I thought would visit or keep in contact didn't either. He was in the hospital the last 2 months of his life and even commented on how no one came to see him. We too had discussed Cremation and no services, and that is exactly what I did. We both believed Services, etc. did not bring "closure" and that they were a horrible experience for the family to get through. I don't think I could have handled it. I was his caregiver for that last 10 years, while working full time (50 hours a week) and had absolutely no outside help. His Sister, who lives on the next street over, never came to see him or check on him. As to getting over the anger, I still really haven't gotten over it. It still breaks my heart, and I am no longer in contact with any of those supposed friends. He too was the type that was always there for others, would give them the shirt off his back and his last dime, and not one of them were there for him. The only difference now is that I don't think about these things all of the time, only occasionally, and they still make me break down and cry. HIs life was so hard for those years, and passing at only 55 was just so unfair. He was the sweetest and most giving and supportive person, he did not deserve everything he had to go through at such a young age. The only thing that helped me get through everything is the support group of other young and middle aged Widows that I joined. Even today, through Facebook, we all continue to support each other and each achievement. I just wanted you to know that you are not alone. I'm sure many of us had a similar experience. I am so sorry for your loss. Surprisingly, it does seem to get better with time, but I think we will always miss them.
Absolutely went through similar feelings, experienced a similar level of disappointment during my husband's illness (13 months with stage 4 colon cancer) and after his passing. Death is scary and most will choose not to face it. Luckily there will be a few special people who step up and overwhelm you with kindness, but unfortunately for most I think it's the exception. I think you just have to not focus on the disappointment as much as possible. I think most people don't know when/how/where to help and the contact you do have with people will remind them of loss and their own mortality, especially young people with children. My advice is to cherish those who stepped up and forgive those who didn't. You will forever have empathy for those who have had to walk a similar path. There is nothing that makes me more emotional than talking with someone who has lost their spouse to a long-term illness or left widowed with children. This experience will make you a kinder person. Not everyone has had that perspective and personally I chose to give people grace whether or not they deserved it. After the loss of my husband, there were a lot of relationships that changed in good and bad ways. I personally just tried to adapt, forgive and more forward as much as possible.
I lost my husband seven months ago, and I can say that this is when you truly learn who your friends (and family) are, and who aren't. He and I were together for 28 years, married just shy of 26, and I have never once received so much as a card, text, phone call or email from his family. It's as if I never existed. I know in my case this is more about after, but even nobody in my family has been here since he died, and only one family member came when he was ill after we moved. So it has been very hard on me, being here alone afterward. Thankfully we had many wonderful friends in the place we came from that have kept in touch and try to keep me lifted up, even if most of it has to be from afar. I deal with the anger and disappointment at times, but then realize that I'm the only one thinking about it and I'm the only one that it's hurting, so I have to try to move past it. During those times, I try to focus on the wonderful marriage I had, and how my husband would be upset on my behalf and in my corner if he were here.