I lost my wife on January 20th after a quick illness due to colon cancer. It has been a major roller coaster ride since the day she died. Until the last 30 seconds of her life I fully believed we were on the path of recovery. Would like to discuss with some of you that are in this very early stage of grief.
Veneblue, How long were you married? As far as being unexpected mine was almost as much as yours. My wife, Sandra, had been sick but we thought it was a tough period but that we were on our way to recovery. The last thing we were told was that she had an infection around her colon and that she needed to have a drainage bag installed to have the puss taken away from that area and that she would be given antibiotics to clear up the infection. The bag was installed on January 10th and within 2 days we saw dramatic improvement. She actually said on the 12th that she felt the best she had in months. So therefore our thinking was remove the puss clear up the infection and recovery here we come. Then on Saturday night the 14th she really got sick. Started throwing up. I kept her bowel cleaned out but she was throwing up 4 to 5 times a day. Even with that I kept the faith all the way until she quit breathing on the 19th. The paramedics were able to get her heart restarted but the next morning even on life support she quit breathing again and it was over. I am so sorry that you are going through all of this but I know exactly how you feel.
Venusblue, If Sandra had lived until this August we too would have been married for 20 years. I am older that you. I am 62. We met later in life and Sandra was the love of my life. We did everything together and that in part is the reason why this is so hard on me. I miss her so much. Everyday I need to been able to talk to her and get advice from her. Until she got sick she did everything for me and I am just not equipped to handle the day to day operations of the house. She was such a great cook and I hardly know how to cook anything.
Sorry for your losses. What a lousy club to be a part of, but thank God it exists.
My story is a little different. I lost my wife 2/17 after battling for 8 years with endometrial and rectal cancer. My loss was not so sudden, we were told 3 1/2 years ago that the average life after diagnosis is 2 years for her newest cancer. Her diagnosis came less than 1 month after she lost her sister to the same cancer. Their father passed from stomach cancer the year before that. It's been a long long road.
I had years to prepare for this, but it's like preparing for a plane crash. No matter how well prepared you are it is like nothing you could have expected. The more I read here, the more sense I am able to make of my own process. At times I feel nuts (talking to birds to see if it's her), but most times I am most hurt by the fact that I can't find her. I can't find a closeness to her. That is what's so brutally painful now.
I do not think that we can be prepared. I "knew" that my husband of 22 years would pass before me, he was older and had COPD and chronic kidney disease, but I did not focus on it. If I thought about it at all, I thought that we had years left, and that it would be a slow decline - dialysis, full time oxygen, stuff like that - plenty of time to "prepare." Nope. He caught the flu and went into the ICU on Jan 20; he recovered enough by Jan 22 that we started talking about him coming home; he started sliding the next day, and he died just after midnight on Jan 25. I have had people tell me that since he was much older than me and had significant health issues, I should have been prepared. I am still waiting for them to give me instructions on that, because I would love to see that step-by-step guide. When the reality hits, it's a whole new world.
I talk to my husband all of the time, and I point out things of interest to him as I drive or walk around. He especially liked birds, so I point out those to him. Because of his COPD and inability to catch his breath, he had been unable to go walking with me for a few years - an activity that he really regretted missing out on. Now, when I am actually interested in taking a walk or going on a bike ride (which is not often these days), I make a point to invite him along - there is nothing stopping him now. I talk to him and point out the beauty and the animals that we see. Two times so far, I honestly felt that he was walking or riding with me. It was a gift that I will gladly accept.
I found that if I am crying and sobbing and really sunk into my grief - which sometimes we just have to do - I cannot feel my husband at all. Like there is a wall between us. But when I am quiet and calm and reach out to him, I can feel him. Maybe I am crazy, but I can live with that kind of crazy.
It's hard to put into words just how different this feels from what I prepared for. It really is a whole new world. I'm more free to do things, like walking (if the weather would cooperate) or even just to move around the house. The last months Vicky was so anxious, if I wasn't in the room with her she would panic. To the point where I couldn't go to the bathroom without rushing or being anxious myself. I wanted to comfort her 24 hours a day. She was not able to walk much for the last few years and we made everything work as best as possible. This is all so fresh and I have the kids and dog to take care of. The distraction is ok at times, but I still cannot bring myself to move forward with things. Things that need to be done. Social Security, Thank you notes etc.
I think if you had asked me if I was prepared, prior to my husband becoming ill, I might have said, "Sure, I know it's coming someday." Only because I could see myself doing the day-to-day, and moving through the grief along side my "regular" life. Kind of like I did when my grandparents or my friend died. I was wholly unprepared for how all-consuming losing my husband is. That I cannot manage the day-to-day, and there is no more "regular" life.
Just do what you can when you are up for it. I have been tackling the paperwork slowly. There is a pile staring at me as I type this, but it can wait until I am ready. I notified the places that need to be notified, or I had my mom do it for me, and the rest can just be patient.
Joanna, I was drinking a glass of milk just before the race started and it made me think of Sandra and I wanted to write to you about it. Sandra drank very little milk because it always caused her problems. She loved milk shakes but rarely drank them because of the milk in it. Her problems started very early in life. She had surgery when she was just 3 days old. She told me what it was called but I don't know how to spell it so I will just say it was surgery on her intestines. That caused her all of her life to only be able to eat so much at any one time. If we went out to eat 95% of the time she came home with a doggy bag. Way back in the beginning, when we first started dating I can remember her asking me, can I have whatever I want? To me it sounded like a foolish request but she explained to me why she asked me that. Growing up as a child, she was one of 7 brothers and sisters. Therefore, going out to eat as a family was expensive even way back then with cheap prices, by today's standards. Then after she married her first husband would get upset if she ordered something that he thought was too much. I can remember as late year as her asking me that question. I always said yes you order whatever you want. She always thanked me for buying her meal. To that I always said baby, it's your money too. Over the last 8 to 10 years she had a fair amount of digestive problems. She always had Rolaids or Tums around to defeat heartburn. Joanna, it is times like these that I miss her so much. It was so comfortable being around her. We could just curl up together in the afternoon and hold each other during our afternoon naps. I want that again so bad. If I bore you with these stupid Sandra stories just tell and I will try to quit sending them to you. I just talked to a guy a little while earlier that had his wife die within the last month but she had been sick for 8 years. Could you imagine that? That would be hard to take.
I will write more to you later. Thanks for listening.
Kellygreenstat, You just prove what I have said since this happened. It doesn't matter if you had a long time to prepare for death or if it comes immediately you are not prepared for it. My wife went through about 5 months of this illness that we knew of before passing away. We believed that we were on the road to recovery. We knew it was going to be a hard battle but we were going to come to recovery and still have many years ahead of us. Had my wife lived until this August we would have been married for 20 years. I had already thought ahead to what I was going to do for her for our anniversary this year. Like you, I miss her so much. I need to be able to talk to her several times on a daily basis and get her words of wisdom. At 6 weeks now it seems as I am missing her more with each passing day. I have been told that the heart does not fully accept this for about 6 months so on occasion I still think she is coming back. My brain says no, but my heart doesn't want to accept that.
It's heartbreaking to hear so many people say they are still waiting for their loved one to come home. Things are different for me and I don't know why. Maybe it's coming, maybe not. Maybe because we lived like this for so long and she slowly lost her abilities, it's hard for me to remember what she was like before all of this. The woman left nothing on the table. She lived every second of her life and we were blessed through all of this. I'm sure this pain will evolve over time, as it seems to have over the years leading up to now. I wouldn't trade places with anyone. It is my own.
Kellygreenstat, Due to the large amount of time you have to live with your wife's illness I think you had already started the grieving process before she died. It is selfish of us to want them back and to think that is possible but I think that is just the human nature in most people. Because of the grieving you were able to do in advance you may find that your grieving process at this point may be shorter and easier than most. I hope that things continue to go well for you. To me it is a major roller coaster ride. Very much up and down.
I could agree that I've been grieving for a long time. I was a complete wreck over a year ago. I sought out counseling and antidepressants and they helped me become more stable. I've continued with counseling though I came off the meds in November. I really don't want to go back on them, I didn't like the way they took me out of my emotions. I don't want to give the impression that I am doing well though. I continue to get hit with stray thoughts that leave me wanting to howl like a wounded animal. I still cry harder than I ever have and I don't feel any relief from it whatsoever. I still can't seem to do the necessary things that may result in financial or emotional problems that I won't need. We are on the same roller coaster, maybe on different turns. maybe not...
Kellygreenstat, Good luck to you. It is a hard and long road. People that have never been through this will try to rush you through it. Don't let them do that. You just take as long as you need. How long were you married?