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This site is run by widowed people, for widowed people

Widowed Village connects peers with each other for friendship and sharing. The moderators, administrators, and others involved in running this site are not professionals.

Please don't interpret anything you read here as medical, legal, or otherwise expert advice. Don't disregard any expert's advice or take any action as a result of what you read here.

We're friends, not doctors, financial or legal professionals, and we're not "grief experts." But we are here, and we've been "there."

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Long-Term Illness

For those widowed by cancer and other illnesses or long term conditions that required caregiving.

Check the 'Help' tab for more guidance or send questions to widville@gmail.com.

Patience (Diane) is your group greeter.

Members: 662
Latest Activity: 4 hours ago

Discussion Forum

Looking to Put Together Resources for soon-to-be-widowed

Started by Mozzie. Last reply by goingon (Cynthia) Jan 15. 38 Replies

I found being the spouse of a terminal person very frustrating.  We were getting care at a prominent hospital, and there were social workers, but I didn't feel like anyone ever gave me useful…Continue

Grief and release at the same time?

Started by Germaine. Last reply by Bobbysgirl Dec 11, 2015. 45 Replies

I am aware of two different forces acting from within me.  One is the downward weight of grief. The other is an upward energy that comes from the release from caregiving.  After 16 years of part time…Continue

Retreats?

Started by katjames. Last reply by katjames Jan 18, 2015. 12 Replies

Has anyone been to any retreats in the last few years that were especially meaningful and good????   I know there is Camp Widow, but I'm wondering if anyone has any organization they can recommend.…Continue

I'm Lost

Started by MickeysLove (Sandi). Last reply by my roses Dec 9, 2014. 19 Replies

So, 4 days ago marked the 2 month period.  I had joined a support "group" where you go and sit with other people and talk about whats bothering you. I had went 2 times, I'm not going anymore - I…Continue

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VOLUNTEER
Comment by Soaring Spirits on November 19, 2015 at 1:38pm

I appreciate your offer to help out in the chat room. I've set up 'events' here in WV so others who maybe haven't tried chat will know it's a place they can pop into on those holiday dates (Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, New Years Eve).  You can comment within those events any time you can spend in the chat room to help us cover it. I'll be around most of the time, except for Thanksgiving afternoon.

My son and I created a new tradition for our first Thanksgiving. It was just 2 months after Vern died and with no other family here and just the two of us, we decided to go to a restaurant. Jer made the selection - a Mexican restaurant at Sam's Town that my husband loved - and we've done that every year since. (And we share memories and toast Vern with our margaritas!)  One year he invited a friend who was alone to join us; this year my regional group co-leader will be joining us. It's been a really good thing for us and something we look forward to.

Christmas is casual for us - and we did that even before Vern became ill. I'll have things in the frig that we can grab and make a plate whenever hungry (worked well for them to fit in during football game time-outs). 

Comment by goingon (Cynthia) on November 19, 2015 at 10:00am

Terry, I'm not doing anything special on Christmas, but I'll be recovering from hand surgery.  I can be in the chatroom if I can type with one hand... or maybe I can figure out how to use my dictation thingy on the computer... I want to do what I can if it helps.  

Comment by Terry on November 19, 2015 at 9:57am

goingon....I have a feeling the chatroom is going to be a valuable resource to many of us this Christmas.  Although my stepkids, grandchildren and I are going out for brunch on the big day, I have already volunteered to work Christmas Eve and Boxing Day (Canadian holiday day after Christmas).  When I'm not at work I know I will be relying on the support of everyone here.

Comment by goingon (Cynthia) on November 19, 2015 at 9:42am

Oh - I can be in the Chatroom on Christmas, or Hanukkah I meant...

Comment by goingon (Cynthia) on November 19, 2015 at 9:41am

Dianne -

Hi.  Glad you jumped in to ask!  Don died Nov. 12, 2010; We obviously didn't do Thanksgiving; I wasn't feeling very thankful.  I didn't do Christmas that year; in fact, I don't think I've had anything for the holidays since he died, but last year and the year before I did light the Hanukkah candles; He was raised Catholic and I was raised Jewish, but he was the one who liked lighting the candles, and I was the one who wanted a tree!  I'm going to CA this Thanksgiving to see my mom.  Her Alzheimer's has gotten bad enough that the facility where she lived wanted her moved "upstairs" to the locked unit, but it was so depressing, we moved her to a board and care where she seems happier.  Anyway... then I'm going to Texas to meet my new grandson, and see his big brother and my daughter, etc. The "holidays" have come to be just another day to me.  

That's me; how are others here doing?  Dianne, I can be in the chat room for a few hours if you need anyone to just be there.  Let me know.

Comment by Dianne in Nevada on November 18, 2015 at 11:37pm

It's been quiet in here.  How's everyone holding up with the holidays approaching?

Comment by Bonnie on October 25, 2015 at 9:09pm
I did accept your friend request Cynthia and sent you a message. My response to your post was too long to send. I know we will both always wish our husbands were here to hold us and tell us things will work out. But I do have my husband's voice in my head telling me to soldier on and that helps keep me going. My father died of cancer, so I know how hard was for you and for Don. My husband died of a stroke and congestive heart failure, complicated by advanced dementia. It was quick and he was spared the painful journey you and Don had to endure. I think I was in a kind of denial that even though I knew how frail he was I thought he would go on for a long time and was not prepared for his death when it happened. I'm looking for the book your recommended.
Comment by goingon (Cynthia) on October 25, 2015 at 11:33am

Bonnie -

Yes, I do want Don here to enjoy our grandchildren with me.  I also wish he were here to hold me and comfort me and tell me everything will work out... 

I'm sorry; I don't know what your husband's illness was, and if he died from that or from complications?  Don had rectal cancer.  He did everything you do - surgery, radiation, chemo.  When we got the diagnosis, I said, "You are not allowed to die".  He said he wouldn't, but his body was just so worn out from 30 years of Crohn's, he got so tired and that little 2% of the the tumor that was left (more later) metastasized literally overnight; the oncologist said they call it "wildfire" with it does that.  Fortunately for Don, the end was very fast - from bone marrow biopsy to his last breath was 7 days.  He died at home; we did have hospice for 3 days but for some reason, we got a bad one.  They should have left morphine in the house for someone dying from metastatic cancer; I had to fight to get it for him; that should never have happened.  And here I am, 5 years later, still pissed off about it. 

My dad was a medical doctor, and after Don died, he said almost everyone with inflammatory bowel disease - Crohn's Disease which Don had, and less often, people with colitis - will eventually get some type of colorectal cancer.  Don's brother also has Crohn's disease, but his colon and rectum were removed when he was in he's 20's, and from there, his case was not as bad as Don's.  He did get a type of colon cancer (although he didn't have all of his colon...) but it was a non-aggressive, slow progressing type, and they were able to remove it all.  Don's surgeon, although he was the best surgeon for this type of surgery, couldn't get the last 2% of the tumor because it was attached to his iliac artery and if he had tried to "scrape" it off, Don was so frail, the surgeon was afraid he'd bleed out.  So I asked if they could do a graft - have a vascular surgeon remove the part of the artery where the cancer was and replace it with a graft from another artery, or a cadaver artery... but the surgeon said Don probably couldn't withstand another surgery and he may not come out of it alive.  Well... 

Don's dad died 2 weeks after Don.  He told his caregiver (assisted living) that he was leaving and he wouldn't be back but it was okay because he was going to be with his son.  He was 97; that night he had a massive heart attack in his sleep.  When my dad died, he'd been sick for a few months and was in a wheel chair; he couldn't put his weight on his legs, and needed help for everything.  He had congestive heart failure.  One day, he said "I can't do this anymore; I'm done" and he went to bed and 3 days later he died.  I think people can do that - make up their minds to die and they do.  It hasn't worked for me.  I wouldn't commit suicide because I couldn't do that to my girls; but many many nights I've asked G-d (if there is one; I don't know) to please just take me, but I keep waking up.  

There is a very good book called Vision Trips and Crowded Rooms (or Crowded Rooms and Vision Trips) written by a social worker who compiled accounts given by people who were at a deathbed.  Medical professionals, family members, social workers, caregivers - The stories are amazingly similar.  And when Don died, what I saw... well, it challenged my belief system.  

Thank you for your response; I'm going to send you a friend request, but you don't have to accept it!  No pressure... 

Comment by Bonnie on October 24, 2015 at 11:28pm
Cynthia, I'm glad you jumped in. I hesitated at first to even say that I am happy that Ed was spared the pain of grief that I am experiencing because it almost seemed like I was saying I was glad he had died and I would do anything to be able to go back and have him with me again. But he had been so dependent on me for so long. I know now that his illness began long before the stroke in 2009 and the rapid decline after that. But he functioned so well and with such dignity that I was the only one who really knew how much he was struggling and how many things he simply could no longer do. I worried a ong time that something would happen to me and I didn't know what he would have done. His only child, a daughter, didn't understand his illness at all and her attempts to limit him, infantilize him, control him upset him a lot. So it was just the two of us walking through his decline but we did it together just as we did so much else and I am grateful that I could. I feel so lucky to have had such trust. My son--his stepson--misses him a lot too, and we all miss him at holidays, birthdays and special times. I know you rejoice in those grandchildren but keenly wish you could still share that with Don. My husband had to be in Assisted Living and was not happy about it even though I was with hiim most of the day every day. The day before he died, as they came to help him to supper (he had a walker) he turned to me and said, "Now don't you forget me now, because I'm getting out of here soon." I just looked at him and said, "There is no way I could ever, ever forget you." I had just a while before realized that he could no longer even read as he couldn't understand the language, he couldn't follow the thoughts, but he was as lucid as could be when he said that. I think he knew that he was moving on. I didn't understand that it would be so soon but I think he did. I know my mother knew when her time came, and i can cling to that and believe that he is still around me and we will be together again. I am not conventionally religious either, but Ed's death and my parents' deaths and that of a very close friend convince me that it can be a peaceful passage when the time comes. I am comforted that I was able to know that it was for both my parents and for Ed. He always believed that life was a great gift and I am trying to honor that anf find the way to go on now without him. I feel that I can honor him in that way although it is so very hard.
Comment by goingon (Cynthia) on October 24, 2015 at 9:31pm

I've been reading the exchange here.  I stopped working when Don was diagnosed, just his surgery to have the tumor removed.  I was fortunate that I was a psychotherapist in private practice and could refer my clients to other therapists (who wouldn't have to cancel when there was trip to the emergency room!) and I was teaching in a grad school psych program; I told my department head my husband had cancer, and she just said, "Do you want me to take your class tonight?" which was so very compassionate of her!  She found someone to take my classes for the rest of the term, and she told me "just let us know when you're ready to come back."  She also came to Don's memorial service although she didn't know him... People can be so kind and so good.

But I was so glad I stopped work and was there for Don.  Yes, I went out without him - to the market, to get my nails done... I tried to live life as "normal" as possible, and so did he, except he stopped working.  If he hadn't I would have made him anyway!  He apologized to me for dying first, but as both Bonnie and Terry have said, I'm glad that he went before me, because I wouldn't have wanted him to be alone without someone to take care of him.  He would have managed; he had a very "make do" attitude, which can be good at times, but with cancer, well... Make do isn't always the best way to go.  But what you have both said just resonated with me so much that I had to jump in here.  I know Don was grateful for what I did for him; but as I've already said (somewhere...), he would have done the same for me.  But I do think I can better manage with the grief and the feelings.  He would often push his feelings down inside of himself, until I dragged him to therapy and he finally understood how unhealthy that was, especially for someone with a chronic bowel disease.  But I miss him so much!  It will be 5 years next month.  Our second daughter had her second baby on Thursday.  They are in Texas and I'm in Arizona.  I will be going down there in a few weeks, but it would be so much better if I had Don to share the joy of this birth with.  He knew our first grandson, and he really enjoyed him.  This is our 4th; all boys!  They are a lot of fun and I love them all so much; but it's just hard that "grandpa" isn't here to enjoy them with me.  I do feel Don is around me sometimes.  I've some very strange experiences, and I've have dreams that when I work up, I could still feel his lips on mine.  We were not religious people.  But watching him that last morning before he died?  He was seeing something no one else could see; I knew in my gut he wasn't hallucinating, but he kept reaching up to the ceiling.  Then he suddenly said, very lucid (and he hadn't been lucid for 3 days) "Well I guess so" and then he took his last breath.  Thank you for letting me jump in here and share. 

 

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