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I lost my best friend & husband, Rick, on April 17th of this year to Acute Myeloid Leukemia. We have two boys who are 10 & 12. When this saga began with his illness in March I did my best to keep the status quo going. I went to work, the boys went to school and Rick managed the best he could at home as he was in-between jobs. I didn't know it at the time but he was really sick and resting most of the day. Once he started back to work all he could do was come home and rest. I wanted him to quit his job so that he could take care of himself, I offered to work a 2nd part-time job to make ends meet. He wouldn't hear of that, he wanted to take care of us best he could. He actually went to work the day he went into the hospital.

Once he was admitted into the hospital, I still tried to keep the status quo. The boys went to school, I was only going to take a few days off and get his treatment setup and flip-flop between work and the hospital everyday and go home in the evenings to spend time with the boys. I did go back and forth from home and to the hospital for the boys sake but Rick was too sick for me to leave him for any considerable amount of time. Once he was placed on the ventilator I actually considered working part-time as FMLA is unpaid but someone started us a Go Fund account so I stayed at the hospital. Twenty days after being admitted, he died. We had discussed what we could think of before chemo had started and the drugs took over his mind. I thought I had listed everything and was going to do everything he wanted me to. I was by his side everyday, I went home every other day with the boys and I took care of everything best I could.

A week later we had his memorial service, four days later I went back to work and the kids went back to school. They finished school the best they could and I went to work everyday the best I could. Some days that involved crying before work, going into an empty office and crying during work or sitting in my car crying for 10 minutes after work because I couldn't call him on my way out from work. I tried to cook, and clean, do the shopping, help the boys with homework and take care of everything as if our life was the same, as if we were the same. Then it happened, my bottom fell out and I started a freefall. All the emotions I thought I missed somehow hit me like a ton of bricks. Anticipatory grief my foot, more like delayed grief!

I couldn't get out of bed on some days but I was expected to be at work, so I went in late a few days. That didn't go over well. The boys wanted to stay at home, my mom was coming out trying to get them out of the house, some days that work, others it didn't. Then my son sent me a text at work that said he felt dead inside, he just couldn't feel anything without his Dad. That was the final straw, I completely lost it at work and couldn't keep myself together anymore. I was exhausted, still am, emotionally and physically and so are our sons. I went to the doctor the next day and I couldn't stop crying when she was asking questions about how I was doing. Reality hit that not many people had been asking that question and I had been trying to keep up the status quo that we were okay, "we are managing" had been my answer. But I didn't have the strength to do it anymore. I broke down in my doctor's office and admitted to myself that I am depressed with grief. I can't keep it up and I won't. I took a break to take care of myself and my boys.

I still feel so broken down. The 3 month anniversary just passed and I stayed busy with my sister and niece. The boys hung out with friends and overall we all had a good day. It's been a mix bag of emotions since I've been home but the boys seem to be allowing their feelings come out with me. They will just come sit and talk and have a good cry. We cry together many days but it's helped. I'm not feeling as overwhelmed, the anxiety is still with me but the paralyzing sadness has subsided some. I pray this is our rock bottom and we can start coming up.

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Comment by Hopeful30 on August 1, 2015 at 7:04am
I couldn't say it better than anyone else has already. *hugs*
Comment by MissingRKK on July 28, 2015 at 5:40am

Your grief is so new, it is completely normal to feel the overwhelming sadness and it is very healthy to let the tears out. I am so sorry for your loss--so sorry. Take your time, grief is a powerful entity and it takes control of us for a while. As overwhelming as it can be, going with the grief, letting the pain out, will take you on the road to healing, bit by bit, with steps forward and many backwards.  Be as gentle and kind to yourself as you can be. I sent you hugs and wishes for peaceful moments of grace and beauty to hold on to during the hard times. HUGS to you and your boys.

Comment by breistl on July 25, 2015 at 9:46pm
bis4betsy I appreciate your comment because helps to know I'm not the only one. Everyone is different but it's nice to hear from someone who is parallel to your path. I'm learning how to take care of myself for the first time. I'm a caretaker, a doer out of nature so this is a new phase of life considering my needs first. I'm still attune to my boys and we roll together best we can.
Comment by bis4betsy on July 25, 2015 at 8:29pm

I had a hard time reading this post because it reminded me of my own journey.  I thought I could just keep it together but thankfully the hospice nurse would not leave my house until I made an appointment to see a therapist. I'm so thankful she could see through my veil and help me face my new reality. 

This is an incredibly hard thing to overcome.  Even when you take small steps  and it seems like you have made little progress, keep moving forward as much as you are able. You don't have move fast, just keep moving. Remember you're not only grieving for your own loss but for your children's loss.  Every day is a new day to start again.  Be gentle with yourself as you figure out what works for your family. 

Comment by breistl on July 24, 2015 at 11:28am
Thanks Callie. We are in counseling, started that in May but its funny when you're trying so hard to be strong you don't realize where you really are. When I told my therapist that I'm taking a break because I finally acknowledge I am depressed he told me good. He had been trying to tell me to slow down but I wasn't hearing him. Now I get it.

I've had the boys start to journal. They do it every once in awhile but I am just relieved that they will at least talk to me and not just hold in everything. My family and friends are very supportive but its still hard because they want their Dad. I'm just waiting for time to move to allow the rawness of it all to subside. We have good days and bad days. We have just had a tough few weeks but I think we're going to be okay.
Comment by Callie2 on July 24, 2015 at 10:44am
I'm very sorry for your loss and for your children's loss. Grief can be paralyzing and prevent us from functioning but we have to deal with it and allow it to flow. You didn't mention if you received grief counseling for you and your children but I would suggest it if it is available in your area-maybe through Hospice at your local hospital? They may be able to help ground you a little by letting you know what to expect. It's got to be very difficult to have to work and look after children and grieve too! While some things need to be taken care of, allow yourself the flexibility of delaying things that you can put off until later. I found it helpful to make a list of the absolute needing to be done on a particular day and another for things that were less critical. Enlist the boys for their help with things and tell them you really need cooperation to get through this sadness and reassure them that you will. I like the fact you are allowing them to cry with you as this helps with the healing process.

My grandson was 12 when his Pop-pop passed and he had a rather strong bond even though it was not biological. He wrote a letter to him in heaven then threw it away but his Mom found it and allowed me to read it (of course, without his knowledge). Twelve is such an influential time in a boy's life-- they are no longer little boys but have not approached manhood yet. The child in him requested over and over again to please come back! He tried bargaining--if you would just come back, I would even try to eat fish! Maybe something like writing a letter would help them to express their inner feelings and allow them to deal with their grief. I know that losing a grandfather is not quite the same but if it is their first experience in losing someone very close, it can be devastating.

I am hoping you have also family and friends to offer support. In the meantime, I encourage you to be kind to yourself! I have learned to lower my own standards and recognize that things won't be perfect or the way they were when my husband was here. I just tell myself that I will do my best. Hoping you find your peace soon. Hugs to you!

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