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Lost my Jackie Paper


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My husband was my best friend since I was 18. He's been my rock most of that time, and I’ve been his. That’s about 32 years, and we were married for over 27 years.

He was diagnosed with adrenal cortical carcinoma stage 4 in Feb 2015. We learned in 2016 that he'd been given 6 months. He’d don6 rounds of EDP chemo in 2015 and started a series of immunology drug trials in Oct 2015. The primary tumor was always inoperable; it had grown around the inferior vena cava. In April 2020, just after our 27th anniversary, we learned the tumor had grown into the inferior vena cava and had formed a blockage/thrombosis.

Since the end of May this year, he’d been in and out of hospital with UTI, c diff, and aspiration pneumonia. He’d had delirium most nights and some days during that time. In the end, we agreed hospice was the answer. He started it on a Sunday and died early the following Saturday at home, not in pain.

We have 3 dogs. I work, always have. I used to write fiction, but that stopped once chemo started because I couldn’t concentrate anymore; he was my coplotter and alpha reader. I knit and weave, when I can concentrate; he also did fiber stuff, so we have more stash and tools than is sane. Three dogs and one human makes for a lot of canine entertainment; he’d calm them down when they started driving me nuts.
 

I also play Elder Scrolls Online, which my husband and I used to do together, so that’s kind of bittersweet. He’d play video games, and I’d watch and help out. So no more Assassins Creed, Horizon Dawn, MWO, GoW, etc. I don’t really have the video game hand eye coordination, and it’s more fun with someone else. I joined a guild in ESO, but haven’t been doing guild events since September because I get so grief-tired.

We kept each other stable and grew up together. I’m 50 now. He was 55. 

I know this “carrying the grief boulder” has just started. I know my life will never be the same.

I feel like I can’t trust any decision I make. I got a kitten, on trial, and I’m loving her purr and antics, and she and the dogs get along fairly well (although the Princess feels her throne has been usurped). I flipped my recumbent trike on a my first group ride with the UU bike group, my first ride at all since before my husband died, and I’m physically hurting and bruised. (Hoping they’ll let me ride with them again.)

I have a psychiatrist and a therapist to help me with my anxiety, panic, and ptsd. My primary care is supportive. I have friends, but none of them have had a loss like this. One friend is pushing me to find a meeting to attend in person...

I'm a non-theist pagan in the heart of the Bible Belt at a time when a lot of people where I live are actively turning against science. 

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Welcome, I'm glad you found us, although we often say here we wish it hadn't been necessary--but it often is.  Sounds like your husband's passing was rather recent, and I'm sorry to read that it was a long road for you both.  While I am not familiar with the gaming references, I am familiar with UU (Unitarian Universalists, for those who don't know; my grandmother was raised UU before converting to marry my grandfather) and by extension, I'm familiar with CUUPS.

It's okay to not feel confident in your own decision-making right now.  It's often a good idea to hold off on any decisions in the first year, especially when your lifelong mate isn't with you anymore to back you up, support you and be your sounding-board.  I'm glad you have your professional supports, as well, as those are important.

I'm sure others will be along to comment, as well. 

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Welcome also, tho it’s a word we wish we didn’t have to use.  My heart breaks for you as you went thru a long encounter with cancer as I did with my husband, starting in 2009.  He passed in 2014.  While we had those years, it was not the same.  Sometimes it seemed it was when he got good spells.  I know the exhaustion it takes from you.  How it’s never off your mind.  Watching them change.  He did clinical trials too in hopes I would help others but not himself.  

Kieron is right. This is very new in the reality of it.  We think we are prepared, but we aren’t.  We go into shock mode to protect ourselves til we can start to deal with all the emotional and physical changes, pressure to make decisions that can wait and in general get in touch with our new found grief. 

I, too, am not religious so I don’t have that kind of support.  I wish I did, many find solace there.  Fortunately this place has so many caring and empathetic people that can be here for you as you start this part of the journey.  I don’t know what I would have done these past 6 years without them.  I hope you find the same.

just being able to talk to others that really get it so helps.  So sorry for your loss that led you here.  💔

 

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I am so sorry for your loss.  They are part of our heart and soul, we become so entwined over the years, our connection so great, it's a huge thing to try to process their loss.  My husband had barely turned 51 when he died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack, diabetic complications.

Pretty much anything and everything one can feel or think is "normal" in grief.  Here you will find support and we want to be here for you if you want us to.   You didn't mention how long it's been since he died, I got the impression it's been a while although not that long ago.

This place has been a lifesaver for me...all of our friends disappeared in short order (death makes people uncomfortable as it confronts them with their own mortality), and my siblings cared but couldn't begin to understand what I was going through, not having experienced it themselves, so it really helped finding this place shortly after he died.  It helps to express ourselves and not bottle it up, esp. when you know the listeners understand and get it.

I want to share an article I wrote of the things I've found helpful over the years, in the hopes something will be of help to you either now or on down the road.

TIPS TO MAKE YOUR WAY THROUGH GRIEF

There's no way to sum up how to go on in a simple easy answer, but I encourage you to read the other threads here, little by little you will learn how to make your way through this.  I do want to give you some pointers though, of some things I've learned on my journey.

  • Take one day at a time.  The Bible says each day has enough trouble of it's own, I've found that to be true, so don't bite off more than you can chew.  It can be challenging enough just to tackle today.  I tell myself, I only have to get through today.  Then I get up tomorrow and do it all over again.  To think about the "rest of my life" invites anxiety.
  • Don't be afraid, grief may not end but it evolves.  The intensity lessens eventually.
  • Visit your doctor.  Tell them about your loss, any troubles sleeping, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks.  They need to know these things in order to help you through it...this is all part of grief.
  • Suicidal thoughts are common in early grief.  If they're reoccurring, call a suicide hotline.  I felt that way early on, but then realized it wasn't that I wanted to die so much as I didn't want to go through what I'd have to face if I lived.  Back to taking a day at a time.  Suicide Hotline - Call 1-800-273-8255 or www.crisis textline.org or US and Canada: text 741741 UK: text 85258 | Ireland: text 50808
  • Give yourself permission to smile.  It is not our grief that binds us to them, but our love, and that continues still.
  • Try not to isolate too much.  
  • There's a balance to reach between taking time to process our grief, and avoiding it...it's good to find that balance for yourself.  We can't keep so busy as to avoid our grief, it has a way of haunting us, finding us, and demanding we pay attention to it!  Some people set aside time every day to grieve.  I didn't have to, it searched and found me!
  • Self-care is extremely important, more so than ever.  That person that would have cared for you is gone, now you're it...learn to be your own best friend, your own advocate, practice self-care.  You'll need it more than ever.
  • Recognize that your doctor isn't trained in grief, find a professional grief counselor that is.  We need help finding ourselves through this maze of grief, knowing where to start, etc.  They have not only the knowledge, but the resources.
  • In time, consider a grief support group.  If your friends have not been through it themselves, they may not understand what you're going through, it helps to find someone somewhere who DOES "get it". 
  • Be patient, give yourself time.  There's no hurry or timetable about cleaning out belongings, etc.  They can wait, you can take a year, ten years, or never deal with it.  It's okay, it's what YOU are comfortable with that matters.  
  • Know that what we are comfortable with may change from time to time.  That first couple of years I put his pictures up, took them down, up, down, depending on whether it made me feel better or worse.  Finally, they were up to stay.
  • Consider a pet.  Not everyone is a pet fan, but I've found that my dog helps immensely.  It's someone to love, someone to come home to, someone happy to see me, someone that gives me a purpose...I have to come home and feed him.  Besides, they're known to relieve stress.  Well maybe not in the puppy stage when they're chewing up everything, but there's older ones to adopt if you don't relish that stage.
  • Make yourself get out now and then.  You may not feel interest in anything, things that interested you before seem to feel flat now.  That's normal.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone just a wee bit now and then.  Eating out alone, going to a movie alone or church alone, all of these things are hard to do at first.  You may feel you flunked at it, cried throughout, that's okay, you did it, you tried, and eventually you get a little better at it.  If I waited until I had someone to do things with I'd be stuck at home a lot.
  • Keep coming here.  We've been through it and we're all going through this together.
  • Look for joy in every day.  It will be hard to find at first, but in practicing this, it will change your focus so you can embrace what IS rather than merely focusing on what ISN'T.  It teaches you to live in the present and appreciate fully.  You have lost your big joy in life, and all other small joys may seem insignificant in comparison, but rather than compare what used to be to what is, learn the ability to appreciate each and every small thing that comes your way...a rainbow, a phone call from a friend, unexpected money, a stranger smiling at you, whatever the small joy, embrace it.  It's an art that takes practice and is life changing if you continue it.
  • Eventually consider volunteering.  It helps us when we're outward focused, it's a win/win.

(((hugs))) Praying for you today.

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