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Sometimes It Will Feel Like Everything Is Falling Apart

When it finally hit us that Ken was likely to die pretty soon, hope continued to blind like being wakened by a flashlight following major surgery for multiple gunshot wounds. We were stuck in a hospital room across the country from our home, our friends, and our kids. Ken had been in that room for almost a full six months of stem cell transplant complications. We were exhausted. He wasn't going to get better.

Still, it was almost impossible to discuss what his impending death meant. To me. To him. To our young family. To our children. Discussing it would have meant that it was real and true. Talking about it felt like giving up on hope.

In the end, we didn't talk too much about what his dying meant to me or to him. It was one of those things that was just too terrible to face; it was a time where words just couldn't do the talking. But, there was one reply he gave me that I will never forget, one reply from my husband, a trained and born therapist whose world of work navigated the world of emotions. His words were inexplicable, obvious, hard to grasp, disturbing, comforting and true all at once.

"Ken, what if everything falls apart after you're gone?" I asked.

His simple reply was this:  "Sometimes it will feel like everything is falling apart."

Sometimes you feel like everything is falling apart. When you are there, in that feeling, you can know that you won't always feel that way. Emotions come and go and change. What a gift he gave me. He didn't try to falsely assure me that everything would be OK, or tell me that I would survive or happily move along. Ken told me what he knew from experience. If my life ever felt as though it was ruined, and it probably would, the feeling would not be permanent.


Sometimes it can be hard to imagine you will ever feel differently than you do right now. What difficult feelings are you holding now? Write them out where you can see them. Sometimes you feel this way; you may feel this way now, but it is likely that these feelings will not last forever.

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Comment by Jill on January 13, 2012 at 8:22am

I am glad if my husband's wise words of advice can be of help to anyone so thanks for writing to let me know they've helped you, Badwidow and Eileen. Susan, thanks for this lovely message. I always wished my husband would have said the kinds of things that Keith said to you near the end. I have sometimes wondered if perhaps Ken wasn't confident that I would be OK, and that maybe he didn't know what to say to me. A couple of people came to Ken as he lay dying and told Ken they would take care of me in various ways. These men held to their word and I will always be grateful. Peace to you and thank you for responding.

Comment by Susan B on January 13, 2012 at 8:04am

...mirrors our last months, weeks, days, as well. Those things too huge to talk about, mere words would not suffice. In his last 10 days, finally at home from the distant hospital after 10 weeks, Keith spoke little, just enjoying the peace of his home again. Meanwhile, I had a merry-go-round of visiting relatives, friends, work buddies coming in and out. All were trying to be low-maintenance, but the stress was overwhelming. I shut down sometimes, numb that this was the culmination of months of hard work, that the end of our lives together would be within days. Would it be mercifully peaceful as the Doctors hoped, or would he have a bleedout, as they feared might happen? Mercifully, we had a family member who was a nurse and she helped me prepare for what might come. Then another nurse relative stepped up and came to be with us in Keith's final days. His final words to me were that our friend Steve pledged to be of whatever help he could be (and he has been!) and that I had been a wonderful life companion. He told me he knew I'd make it, and there were friends to call on for help if I needed any. He was right. I'm doing OK, just missing him terribly.

Over our 25 years together, we'd had our ups and downs, but the past year had drawn us much closer. We pledged to put the BS behind us and we did. Two strong wills can struggle for independence and can as easily unite for a common goal. There have been times, especially early on, when everything felt like it was falling apart, but then it didn't. I fall back on those wonderful feelings when we were pulling together like two old mules in harness, against the heavy load; much can be gained in the heart.

Comment by bad ass widow on January 10, 2012 at 7:11pm

Thank you for sharing this.  When you are mired down in that hole that everything is falling apart, you forget that it will go away.  Thank you for reminding me.

Comment by Eileen on January 10, 2012 at 6:11pm

I am feeling incredibly anxious tonight, much more than my usual self.  Your words are straight from heaven to my heart. And I realize that that anxiety, for me, is sadness in disguise and as my wonderful, beloved Aunt Bea used to say, "This too shall pass".  May God bless all of us and give us help and support during those times when it does indeed feel like everything is falling apart.


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