I'm new to Widowed Village. My husband of 39 years died in July, 2016. Even as I type this I still can't believe it. He battled cancer 3 times, and his doctors wanted him to have a stem cell transplant to prolong his remission. Well, he didn't survive the stem cell transplant . I am still filled with regret about our decision , anger with the doctors, and extreme sorrow over my loss. This new reality is forced upon you and its shocking and confusing. I don't know what to do with myself. I'm scared about my future . Where will I be in 5 years? Where will I be when I'm really , really old? Mike and I had it all planned out and now its over.
It's so sad to read about what a hard time everyone here is having adjusting to the changes life has thrown at them. I'm in Costa Rica after a week-long cruise starting with transit through the Panama Canal, followed by snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, birdwatching and wine-drinking. Some of DH's ashes are in the Panama Canal and I dropped some off the boat as we were anchored near a national park. There were 4 widows on the cruise (out of about 60 passengers- this is a small-ship line). I'm 64, two were maybe in their late 40s (happened to be cousins and were traveling together), one was 82 and was with her son. The 82-year old was delightful- about the only thing she didn't do well was stay upright on a paddleboard and she resorted to sitting on one her son paddled. I think she's been widowed for a long time.
I don't know what the magic formula is, or why the 4 of us were gleefully romping through jungles despite our losses but I'm grateful and wanted to let you know it can happen. I hope that all of you get there. I still haven't dismissed the possibility that it might all hit me like a ton of bricks sometime in the future (DH has been gone only 5 months) but I'll enjoy what I can, when I can.
Did your DH pass from a long illness? My husband had early onset Alheimer's and I feel that illness has played a big part in my grief journey. I had to accept the reality of his diagnosis and his death long before it actually happened. It was 9 month last weekend but it feels more like almost 2 years.
My struggles are the future, the loneliness and the lack of that bucket list. I was leading a happy and fulfilled life before. I accept that I can't have THAT life again but oh... wouldn't it be wonderful to have a new good life and carry the happy memories of the past along with me?
In one sense, it was long- he was diagnosed with polycythemia 10 years ago, which meant his bone marrow was making too many red blood cells. We knew it was likely to morph into something bad and he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia last July. So, the slide downhill was swift. We'd actually had a wonderful trip to Iceland in August, 2015 although he had less stamina than I did so I went out and did some things on my own.
I guess I always had a bucket list. I joke that since I was in HS and a couple of teachers took a group of kids to Europe in the summer and it wasn't in my parents' budget (they were saving to put 5 of us through college), I've spent the rest of my life trying to make up for that missed trip! DH was 15 years older and I think I always kept one eye on the horizon. He didn't tolerate warm temperatures very well and we knew this destination would have left him restricted to staying indoors. So, while he was alive and well we went to places we both loved. I have India scheduled in March- also not a place that interested him but that I loved on my business trips.
What's interesting is that every once in awhile as I was hiking through the jungle or in other odd moments I'd remember what DH's face looked like after he died (peacefully at home). It wasn't traumatic, it was just that at that point it was a shell that used to contain DH. I hope I never lose that memory of what I had.
I have often wondered if long illness makes it any easier at the end. My John suffered PD for 10 years then got cancer. We both were realistic about his death coming sooner than we ever expected and he was "gone" for so many years due to the PD. I think I got used to feeling alone, but always aware of his presence in the house. It is SOOO empty now. I miss him. We were best friends and constant company to each other for 44 years, married for 42 of those years. John died at home in his bed. The end--last few days--were so ugly. I am learning I do not need to remember those few days when I have so many years of good memories to pull up instead. This is NOT how we imagined our "golden years" but it is the hand we were dealt. I HATE it but will work very hard on making the best of it. I still cry, but not daily now. John would tell me I was being rediculous! So I plaster on a smile and face the day head on. Alone....
Where is the magic pill that makes our new lives bearable? I wish I knew.
So many of us are suffering. Personally, I feel so alone. It has been 7 months since Alan died suddenly and I don't think I can ever get used to it. I have had a few days here and there where I felt like I was going to make it. But those are few, and mainly they were days where I was focusing on other things because I have a busy job and 3 kids to take care of. I wonder when it gets better?
I do think a long illness helps in a few ways. We get the chance to get everything in order, to say what we want to, sometimes even if they don't understand. I have no guilt and very little regrets. Watching our loves suffer through an illness also means that death can be a friend. They are no longer suffering, they are free.
There are worse things than death... for me.. it was watching Alzheimer's take my husband away.