Hello. I first want to express my sincere condolences for your loss. I, too, lost my husband to cancer. He was 49 years old and we fought for 21 months. John died on May 24th of this year. 142 days ago. The gut wrenching sadness you feel can be all consuming I know. I tried to remember where I was 10 days after John passed away. I was in the middle of planning his memorial service and my son was graduating from High School. The days and months that followed were a whirlwind. I thought I had a good handle on what was happening over the Summer months....and I probably did to some extent...but I remember so little of those first days, weeks and first few months. I am just about 5 months into this place I never wanted to be. This club I never wanted to join. This space being just Shirley and no longer John and Shirley. It's still surreal. I do see happiness in my days now- once in awhile here and there. I am able to watch a show or read or something for awhile, go out to dinner with friends etc and not be consumed with constant grief. I have found these last few weeks have been harder, though. Maybe I have come out of the fog I was kind of living in and going through the motions of during the first 3-4 months. I find myself longing for the days before John was sick. Almost like I am remembering him in his prime more than in the days and weeks and months of being sick. I miss my life with him. I miss the normalcy we lived going to and from work and taking kids to and from activities, I miss family dinners and grilling out and having a glass of wine on the deck and talking about our day, or our upcoming weekend or plans for the future. I miss giving him a hug and a kiss and laying next to him in bed, watching a movie with him or going to the coffee shop to sit and chat over a cup of coffee. I miss going for walks with him or a drive in the car. I miss everything about him. He was the love of my life and my everything. And I still cry every day. But I also know I need to move in a forward direction as well. I enjoy spending time with my kids, taking the dogs for a walk, I still sit on the deck and yesterday after mowing the lawn I toasted him with my beer and sat on the porch swing enjoying the weather. I've recently started volunteering and am enjoying that work. You start to appreciate so much more of the world and the life around you. I won't say it's easy and I know I still have a long ways to go....but I know there is a life that I need to live. John would want that. Your husband would want that for you. A friend who lost her husband to cancer four years ago said there will come a time when I can look back at those family pictures and smile and not break down crying. I'm not there yet. But I'm hopeful. I'm hopeful I can build a life on what he has given me. Compassion, love, kindness,....I will continue to live for him- for my kids- and for me. I am thankful for the 21 years of marriage we had, the 2 plus years extra of knowing each other, the kids we had together, the time we had during his cancer diagnosis and the things we were able to do. The goodbyes we were able to say. The love we were able to show each other. I miss him deeply and terribly. But I know, no matter how dim it is know, that there is a light at the other end of this sadness....and I am determined to get there. I wish and hope the same for you.
It's been just over two weeks for me. My Bill's battle with cancer was only two months long and he was only 49. The family and I are, in a way, still trying to figure out what the hell just happened. Not denial, just shock, I guess... trying to wrap our heads around it. The first week was so busy with the distraction of planning the memorial, I think the second week, once we resumed the routines of work and school, was harder. I'd be getting through the day, but once or twice an hour at least, it was like I'd "remember" what had happened and what my situation is now. I'd cry for a few minutes, then pull it back together again and resume my day. I started thinking of these times when reality would reassert itself as my "Oh, yeah... Oh, shit" moments.
These last few days, most of the time I feel like I'm holding it together fairly well. My "Oh yeah... Oh, shit" moments aren't as frequent, so I think that reality is starting to settle in, but it's like now I have to figure out what that means for me. Who am I, now that half of me has been ripped so rudely away? And how in the world am I going to do all this by myself without even the comfort of having my love to curl up next to at the end of the day? You're exactly right. It is gut wrenching.
I'm also overwhelmed at the amount of work to be done. Paperwork like the stack of medical bills, and handling of accounts. Realizing that eventually I'm going to need to go through his paperwork, and sort through his other belongings. I'm afraid to think too much about it at this point.
ShirleyB has better words of hope than I can offer, but I hoped it might help to share what I'm experiencing, being on the same timeline as you. Hugs to you, dear one. Be gentle with yourself and don't be afraid to reach out.
I think I may only have "better words to share" because I'm five months out and you are only two weeks, Optimisticrealist. I was trying to really remember where I was at two weeks out and how the Summer was a blur. And I so remember the paperwork. All the paperwork and dealing with medical stuff and trying to figure out things around the house that John always took care of etc. Changing accounts and taking names off and closing accounts etc. You sound like you have it together a bit better than I did at two weeks- although I agree that you need to get back into the routine of school, kids, work etc. Kudos to you. Sincerely. 49 years old. I just can't wrap my head around it sometimes. We had lives planned with these men of ours. Its tough figuring life out without them here.
I am so sorry for your loss. My husband Frank died a month ago after a 14 month battle with stomach cancer. For me too the sadness is overwhelming. I told a friend yesterday that "each day I wake up to a big bowl of sad sitting in front of me." I feel like I am doing as well as I could: I get up, I get dressed, I write thank you notes and organize papers, I check in with friends, I cry. But I am so, so sad. I know intellectually it won't be like this forever. It can't be. But I'm not sure exactly how to navigate through it, or learn to live with it.
The other strong feeling I am dealing with is a longing, a desire to stop remembering/picturing him as he was when he was sick. When he comes to mind (as he does hundreds of times a day) I want to remember him strong and active and so full of life. I want to picture him bouncing through the door and calling out my name, not so thin and tired and sick as he was at the end. He had a good death---if death can be good---with nothing left unsaid between us and his family here loving him. But it still is a very sad mental image of a very strong man laid low by a beast of a disease. I hate that.
NancyD I so agree with you...trying to remember them as strong able bodied men, not sick and having trouble breathing and simply no longer looking like they did while healthy. I struggle with that still. When I remember John strong and healthy though I am even more sad. I see what I have truly lost- this incredible love of my life. Some days I wonder how I'm going to live 40+ more years without him. The whole thing is still so surreal to me sometimes. And friends, even though they are there for me- they truly cannot understand. Who could- except another widow... I scream and cry sometimes and wish for my life back sometimes. I think it's all part of how we grieve.
Yes, ShirleyB, it feels surreal to me too. I cry a lot. I'm kind of amazed how much I can cry! I do think that this great grief is the price I am having to pay for the great love I had. And while I would never in a million years CHOOSE what I am going through, I'm still glad I had him in my life for as long as I did. I just, like you said, wish I could have my old life back.
ShirleyB thank you for sharing, I fell the same as you. Right after he died I thought that I might have those 40+ years alone and it took my breath away. I too struggle to find comfort in remembering him healthy and strong, looking at pictures-because it hits me hard what I have lost. But allowing the image of his face when he was dying to be the only one I see is agonizing. I feel like it was no longer him, how could it be? he was always so full of life, so happy, welcoming every day with expectation and pure joy. he taught me how to be happy with the simple pleasures of everyday life. I miss him so much. I too want to wake up from this nightmare of almost 6 months. I fantasize he is going to pop up and say "gotcha!" with that silly grin he always had, when he managed to trick me (which he did a lot), ready to run as I was chasing him to slap him for being such a clown.
All you wonderful ladies sharing your story i am so grateful to not be sitting here with my thoughts going round in my head, i started a journel to put my thoughts on paper and im finding that really helps me. I knew my husband was not going to survive but i think i blocked out all the info the Doctors kept telling us and so when the end was close by and i took him to hospital i felt i had lost the control and im struggling to come to terms with that. My husband was in the Navy for 34 years when he retired back in 2014 ive always been the organiser in the house so the mountains of paperwork i seem to take in my stride its just the feeling that i should have known he was sicker than he was and been more prepared.
I, too, knew my husband was not going to survive, and yet the end took me by surprise. I find myself obsessively reliving the last day (that I didn't know was going to be his last) over and over in my mind: Would I have done anything differently if I had known he was going to pass in his sleep that night? Probably not. I don't even remember exactly what I said to him that day which makes me sad. He was in bed, resting quietly, all day, and I went in and out of the room checking on him, giving him a kiss or a hug every now and then, sitting there as a few other family members stopped by to say hello. An ordinary day and I assumed there were going to be a few more weeks like this. I think that probably all my obsessive thinking and remembering is just what my brain has to do to come to grips with what happened. Realizing that he is gone. Realizing what I have lost. I just can't seem to wrap my mind around it. Like you, Kimmy, I'm starting to write about it, and I think that will help.
I have started seeing a wellness councillor who is helping me understand the bigger picture. I am by no means religious but find her so comforting to talk to i feel safe with her and cry for the whole time im there. She is helping me learn to be compassionate to myself and understand that what i did for Owen during his illness and prior are all selfless and compassionate acts. Yes i wish i had another day another minute another second to hold him and tell him i loved him but the care that we showed our partners through their illnesses were acts of love that they knew we were giving them.
I still write in my journal as i love to put thoughts to paper, i have poems around the house that have meaning to me and im determined to be the person he knew i could be, he had so much faith in me and its taken his passing to make me realise that yes i can and will go forward with the many hiccups along the way and self doubts but i will do it
Love to all
Dear Kimmy, thank you for your words, they speak deeply to me too. I am sorry for your loss. My husband died of cancer in May, so it's been almost 6 months. I still cannot believe it and cry a lot. But I too know I have to continue, live my life, remember our love and make the best out of what I still have.