I’m 38 and lost my husband Thursday to rectal cancer

Discussion in 'Loss of Spouse' started by Erikajones38, Feb 3, 2019.

  1. Eva,
    I'm going to keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Those first two-three weeks were a living hell. I atleast now expect to wake up in hell. I absolutely hate that you are going through this but we can go through it together, hour by hour, day by day.
     
  2. DJF

    DJF Member

    It's now 10 weeks since my wife died and the past week has been the worst so far and I am not certain exactly why. I am doing the same things - trying to put one foot in front of the other each day, not isolating, talking to people each day - but I have been totally overwhelmed a number of times each day and the "one foot in front of the other" approach has at times been like walking through mud. At best, I feel neutral and can get on with things but I have become very conscious of time passing and it seems to pass slowly in the mornings. And despite having 2 sons and a grandson to live for (I visited my son, wife and grandson today and it was good to see them all), life seems to stretch out ahead without any joy; a thing to be endured a day at a time (minutes at a time sometimes) without being able to share it with the one person I want to share it with.
    Is this "feeling sorry for myself" ? I know my wife would tell me to pull myself together but knowing that is not the same as actually seeing her and hearing her do so.
    I am meeting a guy on Tuesday that I know vaguely and who lost his wife some 5 years or so ago and just as with this forum, I am hoping he will tell me that it does ease somewhat and perhaps tell me how he dealt with his early bereavement and give me hope if not any new ideas about what I can do differently.
    Maybe this is a typical pattern; go into autopilot mode for the funeral and dealing with the business of death; embark on the next few weeks with the help of friends family and lots of phone calls; but then come up again the cold slap of reality as the days drag on and the phone calls dry up and you are really left to your own devices (in my case, for the first time in 36 years).
    It is a holiday weekend here in the UK and I don't think that helps since right now, holidays are a thing of the past to me. I cannot imagine how I will ever feel that I can go somewhere and stay in a hotel room by myself and enjoy wherever it is I am. But maybe that too will become possible. I guess I need (or think I need) some sort of roadmap that will confirm that I have a year or two of feeling the way I currently do before the pain starts to dull. I guess I am thinking of it as some sort of prison sentence that has to be served but there is some sort of release.
    My love to all of you. This is an awful journey we are on.
     
  3. DIF,

    It's Memorial weekend in the U.S. and I am hating every extraordinarily long minute of it. Memorial weekend, if you haven't lost a loved one is a time to celebrate summer in the U.S. by having cookouts, going to the lake on your boat, camping-you know fun stuff. For me this weekend started off Friday by the bank coming and getting our boat, it was only in my husband's name and I can't operate it without him nor would I want to so I told them to come get it. Cried my eyes out afterwards. Today I had to spend finishing cleaning out the garage of our home, I have had to sell it. Again, more crying. And to make things worse are all these people popping fireworks, doing their family get together, getting to hold hands and more with their spouses. It's so agonizing to be on the outside looking in. That was my life up until April 6th, 2019. Now I feel like a stranger in my own town, state, country. All the celebration on Memorial Day/weekend now seems so disrespectful. My daughter and I made a memorial wreath for my husbands grave site. The monument will take three months to be placed which is really bothering me that he doesn't have a monument on memorial day. Nothing actually makes any sense to me anymore. But yes this feels like a very unjust prison sentence.
     
  4. DJF

    DJF Member

    Dear Kristy,
    I so feel for you and did you say that you are having to sell your home ? If so, that is piling agony on top of the despair that I know you are feeling and I hope
    your daughter is close by because you will need her support as well as a shoulder to cry on.
    I so recognise the "outside looking in" feeling and no longer being part of the vast majority (or so it seems to me) of humanity going about their business and enjoying life, holidays, etc.. I have felt a bit like a ghost during the past week and while a moment's thought will tell you that just about everyone you see will have their own troubles - maybe nothing like yours but who knows - it doesn't seem that way and it just increases the idea of the child outside the shop window looking in on all the things he/she can't have. This is the terrible feeling of isolation that personally I think is the most destructive of all the crap we have to go through since it will tell you not to bother and don't pick up the phone or force yourself to talk to people. That is one of the main reasons I use this forum. While we cannot avoid making this awful journey by ourselves (and loneliness and separation is a huge part of our grief), others have also had to trudge this road and hopefully we can get some sense of hope from them. Hope is all we have when faith doesn't work and love seems to have died.
    Love, djf
     
  5. DIF,

    Yes I had to sell my home but I also wanted to. I couldn't handle being there, I could picture him plain as day in every room. My daughter is close by and has been a huge support, so has my son. He moved in with me in my new house I rented while I transition into being alone. Not sure he wants to live with me as long as that transition will take. This forum has been a life raft for me as well. I hope you are doing ok and made it through the holiday alright.

    Peace to you,
    Kristy
     
  6. DJF

    DJF Member

    Dear Kristy, I am so pleased that your children are close by and are able to support you in this awful time. My elder son, wife and son (4 months old) are about an hour and a half drive away so they aren't at the ends of the earth and they have been hugely supportive but I am conscious that they have their own lives and with a new baby, they have lots of things going on. And my younger son (who is in the Armed Forces) is based nearby and when he is back at base, comes home often and he has been a tower of strength to me as well. I am so grateful for their love, help and support and I have no idea how I would cope (have coped) without them and indeed other family members and friends.
    Yesterday, I met a man (who I knew vaguely) who had lost his wife some 3 and a half years ago and we shared stories and that was helpful and then later on I ran into an old friend of my wife's who was hugely supportive during her illness and I broke down. And that was fine and she completely understood. The past week or so have been particularly bad for no clear reason I can put my finger on and you are dead right about this forum being a life raft. I think I am looking for reassurances that no one can give (apart from the fact that it the pain does dull given time) and there are times when the emptiness is so overwhelming that I just need a shoulder to cry on and this forum is certainly that. This morning I feel a bit brighter and since I have a few "things" to do, I hope I can just get on with them with the sort of neutral, blinkers-on approach that seems to suit "tasks" and prevents my mind wandering too much. Of course, at the end of the "tasks" I have no one to say "Well done", or " Now we need to do that", and just writing that makes me feel the dark waters reach out but I'm just going to have to find a way to handle that and it seems to me that the best way for me to do that is just to continue to do what needs to be done, focus on the moment (a hell of a lot easier to say than do) and over time, trust that I get used to it. Not exactly a recipe for a blissfully happy life, but I would settle for anything other than the god-awful emptiness that has hit me numerous times a day over the past week.
     
  7. DJF

    DJF Member

    Kristy and all.
    I just want to tell you all that earlier today I had to go through a number of photos in order to select one that would be suitable for a little tribute in our local community magazine.
    I really wasn't looking forward to this but I forced myself and came across a number of photos (with our sons when they were children, by herself, holiday pictures etc.) and I found myself smiling at some of them and remembering her with huge warmth. This didn't last long before the sense of loss swept over me but nevertheless this is the first time I have been looking back with anything other than pain and for a while I was enjoying a warm feeling of remembrance. This gives me real hope that it might be possible to come to a point where thinking about my wife brings more pleasure than pain. I don't know how long this will take or whether there is anything I can do to accelerate this but I wanted to share this with all of you that are going through similar awfulness.
     
  8. DIF,

    I am so happy you were able to smile and enjoy looking at some photos! I am so looking forward to not falling apart every time I see his beautiful face. I am having a hard time in the evenings after work, well it starts after work is over and on my way home. I'm so exhausted from from all the grief. I can't believe I can seriously cry for two solid months, every single day multiple times a day. I am wanting a break from my misery.
     
  9. DJF

    DJF Member

    Dear Kristy,
    I too wish "a break from the misery" and today was the first time I thought that there might be one. We'll see what tomorrow brings, especially in the morning when I walk the dogs which has lately been a tough time and, to be honest, sets the tone for the day. For me, the evenings haven't been as bad since (a) I get tired and usually fall asleep in an armchair and (b) I think I might have done my day's worth of crying. What I will try (but possibly not tomorrow in case it doesn't work again) is to go through the many packs of photos that we have from pre-digital days and try to organise them into some sort of date sequence (we just have a drawer full of them). We did this with some of them some years ago but it was incomplete and it was a task we always said that we must do. If today's experience is repeated then it will be a wonderful way of finding good things to think about as alternatives to the blackness. I will let you know how I get on. As I write, I can picture 2 photos I found and after scanning in and cropping to make head and shoulders pictures, sent off to the lady who is doing the tribute. And I am nearly smiling as I write this ! These were photos that brought back memories of times forgotten and somehow they worked their magic when other photos of my wife around the house didn't. Maybe that's the point. We need to be reminded of good times we have forgotten to give us a glimpse of hope.
     
  10. DIF,

    Maybe this weekend I will also try looking through my boxes of old photos. I use to love to blare my music on the way to and from work. Now I ride in silence as every song sets me off. I’m thinking about trying to listen to either comedy podcasts or comedy on Sirius radio. I love comedy shows so maybe I can do that instead of the silence which I also hate. I will check in with you to see how tomorrow goes for you and let you know how I fared.
     
  11. DJF

    DJF Member

    Kristy and anyone else following, I have to tell you that the feeling didn't last and Thursday and a lot of today (Friday) were as bad as ever despite me trying to do the same things - seeing people, keeping busy, etc. But I am feeling a lot better now and certainly one reason is that my son is home for a couple of days. Another reason is that I managed to make progress with an outside job I have to do and that was the result of asking for help. And yet another was getting a call from a friend at lunchtime and I basically cried on the phone to her.
    But what I wanted to share with you all was some of the things I learned from a visit this afternoon from a friend who is a clinical psychologist with particular experience of bereavement. We talked for over an hour and I wish I could remember everything that came up but at the end I felt a lot better and said that this felt like counselling and it was really helpful. So I offer the following from what I can remember that rang true with me and really helped.
    First of all, the grief process takes time and there is no right or wrong way to do it but it is necessary to express your grief and bottling it up is not a good idea. (At least I don't have an issue with that).
    I told her that one of the things I find really hard is doing any task (working outside, gardening, etc.) which were almost always joint endeavours, because there is no one to offer advice, checks and balances, etc. In addition to the loneliness and isolation of this, I told her that associated with this is feeling fearful about lots of things (how will I do x,y,z, what if y happens, etc.) and she told me that this was understandable because having had a shock from my wife's death, my anxiety levels were raised (or something like that) such that I would naturally view such what-ifs with heightened concern.
    This made sense to me.
    I also described the past 2 weeks or so as alternating between a sort of grim neutrality (with the odd burst of distraction and even laughter) but with an inevitable return to an empty house and the new normal of emptiness. She said an amazing thing which I knew was true as soon as she told me. She said that my looking on the emptiness as my new normal was WRONG. I am still in "churn" as she put it and I have yet to find my "new normal". I found this so hopeful and when I told her about my experience with my wife's photos, she said that that shows that there is the possibility of a life where looking back does not bring more pain than pleasure.
    Finally I told her that I was having a real problem with this business of "letting go" and the fact that I did not want to let my wife go. I do not want to forget her or stop thinking about her so I don't know what I should be doing/thinking. She than said that in recent years, this notion of "letting go" has been challenged/re-thought by psychologists and the thinking now is that grievers don't have to go through some sort of conscious "letting go" process. Rather they find a way to hold on to their memories and in some way (almost spiritual) find a way to carry their loved ones with them in a way that is not full of misery, and yet allows the griever to build a new life (another fearful thought but one that is certainly happening/going to happen). I found this the most hopeful thought of all and while I have a long way to go, as I write this I am not tearful and while I am not smiling either, I feel a lot better than I have done at this time of night for a while.

    Love and best wishes to you all. This is a terrible road we are all on and all we can do is share our hopes and fears but I am (almost !) 100% certain that there is some sort of light at the end of the tunnel.
     
  12. DJF,

    I so enjoy reading your posts!! I do not have any clinical psychologists friends to call upon so it is helpful to hear your friend's responses to your difficulties which are so similar and familiar to to me. I had one counseling session with a grief counselor/clinical psychologist and then she went on an extended vacation. So it has been three weeks. I see her next Monday evening which is good because Monday afternoon I close on the sale of my home which is going to set my progress back i already know. Every day that it gets closer I become more anxious and upset. I do like the thought that this might not be our new normal because it sure doesn't feel like it should be "normal", it feels like I have fallen into the depths of hell. I tried looking at old photos, that didn't go so well for me. I know that there are definitely some differences in which we all grieve. I personally have had to distance my self from everything that represented our relationship because I just cannot control my grief when I am in the presence of our photos, the car we always took trips in (I traded it for a different vehicle-SUV), the home which I had to sell anyway but I couldn't stop hysterically crying in that house with every room containing so many wonderful memories. I am so overwhelmed with the pain of loosing him it's just like constantly reopening the wound for me. But for many others they cannot bear to part with their loved ones possessions, leave the home, get rid of the boat or RV. I will look forward to a different new normal than what we are enduring right now, so thank your friend for me!
     
  13. DJF

    DJF Member

    Kristy,
    I did indeed thank my friend for you and showed her your post and she was really grateful that I did so. As for me, I saw my two sons over the weekend as well as my grandson so it was really nice. Today it was 11 weeks since my wife's death and apart from some emails, texts and a phone call, I haven't really spoken to anyone and it has been a long day. I have spent most of it in the garden doing various jobs which used to be my wife's domain and tomorrow I have a couple of remaining financial affairs to sort out which I have been putting off - not because they are hugely difficult or worrisome (well no more worrisome than other stuff that I have had to face) but because once again, my wife tended to handle most of the financial stuff. Today I have been struck by how many of the things I have to do were either joint enterprises or she did this and I did that. Now I have to do all of it and while we aren't talking huge amounts of effort, it just emphasises the aloneness. Still it does mean that I am tired in the evening and I am grateful for that. But today I found myself thinking again in terms of a prison sentence stretching out in front of me. I have no idea if this is a helpful thought or not. (It certainly doesn't bring any joy). On the one hand, it means I see each day as something that has to be endured and gotten through and on the other hand, a prison sentence does come to an end.
    Love to you all.
     
  14. Hey DJF,
    Well I made it through the closing without crying thankfully, I'm sure they would be thankful if they knew. So that's the last of "our" stuff basically. I am tremendously sad today, the home we had built together just especially for "us" now will have strangers living in it. They will bathe in our Jacuzzi tub, sleep in our bedroom, watch TV in our living room, eat in our kitchen, and make memories for themselves in our home. Every part of this is like being kicked over and over again. I'm just sitting in my office bored and lonely, nowhere to go, nobody to call. I was so glad when a message popped up that you had posted, brightened my evening! I have no idea what time it is in the U.K., I suppose I could look it up. Ok so its 1:30am in London. I guess that garden work didn't wear you out too much since your up late. I personally almost never fall asleep before 1am, then I get up and go to work at 6am. It's the American way, not sleeping, just working. Last night was awful, I had done really well all weekend and then bit the dust at the end. I sat in my closet crying my eyes out around 10pm. My son was home (he moved in with me temporarily while I "adjust") and I hate for him to hear me so upset. I fell asleep watching an old Meg Ryan and Nicolas Cage movie "City of Angels". I just don't know what I will do once the Estate is settled, once I have unpacked every box and filed every paper in its place, then what? The isolation is terrible, I so wish I had of made some friends over the last decades. I just dedicated my life to work, kids, and my husband who was my very best friend. I really didn't see the need to widen my circle. Now my circle has a gaping hole in it.
     
  15. DJF

    DJF Member

    Well done Kristy over getting through the closing (I guess that is a stage in selling your home) and I think that is one of those "first time events" that we are all going to have to get through. I've had one of those as well. Today (or yesterday to be precise since it is now 1am on Wednesday 5th June) would have been our 36th wedding anniversary and I managed to get through it far better than I thought I would. It helped that in the morning I got an unexpected call asking me to out for lunch and without thinking, I said yes (I must have read somewhere that you should accept all invitations). The lunch was very pleasant and I didn't feel any need to tell him about the anniversary (I did later in a thank you email) nor break down and having tackled one of the remaining financial tasks in the morning and then doing some gardening work in the afternoon, all in all, the day went ok. I exchanged some texts with my sons and while the evening was the usual affair with just me and the dogs, and falling asleep in front of the TV, it wasn't as bad as it has been lately.
    I do know what you mean about your "circle" having a gaping hole in it. My wife and I were both basically private people at heart who fitted together and while we weren't anti-social, neither of us felt the need to go out a lot or entertain at home a lot. We had our common interests but also individual interests and circles of friends and of the two of us, I would say that my wife was the more "social" of the two of us although I think she would say the opposite if she was here. And our most common interest was with our children. In short, while I am no expert, I think we were like most married couples who stay the course; we put a lot into building a home, raising our children, sticking it out through thick and thin and we became a couple. Then, out of the blue, that has changed in the worst possible way and it is hardly surprising that I (and you and all of us) are lost.
    I also know what you mean about not wanting your son to hear you so upset. I feel the same way but I cannot stop myself sometimes and I have just had to break down in front of them some times (and I have even phoned my elder son to do so when the pain became unbearable). But I have a few female friends (mostly, but not all, friends of my wife but they all have been kind enough to keep in touch and ask me how I am) and I am not scared to let it all out if that is how I am feeling. Do you have anyone apart from your son that you can share your pain with on the phone or in person ? I think it is essential to be able to do this and I know from personal experience that just as the 64 things reference I mentioned in a previous post said, comfort can come from unexpected places. Some friends of my wife have been fairly distant, whereas others have been much more inquiring and then there have been other people who have helped out of the blue. I think you just have to show them how much you are hurting (not hard in my case) if that is how you are feeling. I have found that the question "How are you ?" or "How is it going ?" is a pretty good trigger ! Since I am retired, I don't know how you handle this in a work environment and I can easily imagine that there could be more feelings of potentially embarrassing yourself and/or others such that you might spend a lot of effort bottling things up and that isn't healthy. It all depends on the job and how secure you feel in it. What is your relationship with your immediate boss ? Is he/she sympathetic ? Do you have colleagues you can be open with ? Do you have people/friends you can call when it all gets too much ? I think you need to use all the "tools" you can to get through this and that may mean acquiring a "tool" that you don't currently have and that in turn means doing something by yourself and if you are like me, I find that a scary thought for all the reasons previously mentioned.
    For all I know, there might be hugely beneficial advice we could both use elsewhere on the griefincommon website and it anyone else is reading this and can help, please do so. My earlier attempts at searching threw up a few hits but to be honest, I find this sort of shared diary a lot more helpful right now.
    Love to all.
     
  16. DJF,

    Hello, So I have my daughter, she's 25 lives with her boyfriend of 4 years and I have called her when having a break down but I know it's hard on her seeing me like this and my kids are grieving the loss of their step dad as well, Sam was very involved in their lives more so than their biological dad. So I don't want to worry or over burden them with the massive downpour of my grief. Now of course I say that and I literally just got off the phone with my daughter crying and now shes coming over and I am both happy and feel guilty shes coming over. At work my boss and my employees have all been very supportive, my boss has listened to me pour my heart out but now they are pulling back which is normal. They aren't asking and I'm not telling. I have to hold myself together at work because I work at large trauma hospital and patients need to feel confident that the person taking care of them isn't a basket case. So I must hold it all in until I get in my car to go home at least which I am happy if it doesn't start until I'm all the way in and leaving the parking garage. I went to dinner tonight with a friend (mainly of my husbands), she also was my real estate agent that sold my home. She is so nice and well intended but it was very hard to field her questions about how I am doing and what can she do and do I have any plans this summer with out crying in the restaurant. So no not really, I don't have a choice of people my age to divulge my pain to. And I would rather get it out so to speak with people that are in my same position because nobody else really understands the depth of it all.