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Lost My Wife to Cancer


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6 weeks ago I lost my wife, Leslie, to cancer.  I miss her so much.  I feel lost without her.  I depended on her being there. I am doing all the things I am supposed to. Exercising, getting together with friends, seeking out ways to express my grief.  It helps when I am in those moments, but when I am alone it hurts so much. We were married 53 years and went "steady" for 8 years before that.  It was love at first sight when we met in high school. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  I am emotionally unstable off and on.  Meaning I cry.  I wll forever love her.  I sure hope this gets better.

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I’m so sorry for your loss.  I know you’ve heard that a lot, but we really get it here.  If crying is unstable, welcome to the family.  I don’t mean the flippantly.  If you didn’t cry you would be without the biggest release of your pain.  By the years you sound like most was spent with your wife.  Just like many of us.  Now we are cut in half and trying to survive.  

I’m glad you found us, but not for why you did.  I hope you will find the comradely here helpful.  There isn’t anything I have seen that is not 'normal' in this situation and yours is so new and raw.

I’m not the best greeter, but I do hear you.  Others will too and be along.  It is the hardest thing to do.  You are forever changed.  But you are not alone here.  💔

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4 hours ago, TheBear said:

I am emotionally unstable off and on.  Meaning I cry.  I wll forever love her.  I sure hope this gets better.

Crying when you're in pain is NOT evidence of emotional "instability" and grief is NOT a pathological condition. You are reacting in a normal and healthy way to losing the love of your life ~ and only six weeks ago! I would be seriously concerned about your state of mental health if you were behaving in any other way, especially at this point. Please, please give yourself permission to feel ~ and express ~ whatever it is you are feeling in response to this earth-shattering, life-altering event in your life ♥️

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TheBear:  I am so sorry to read why you have joined this Forum, but I feel now that you have you will learn how to begin your path towards dealing with your grief and pain.  I hope you will continue to read what others have shared here.  Probably the most important thing I have learned here is to only take one day at a time and please know you are in a safe place with people who care what you are going through.  My thoughts go out to you.  Dee

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Welcome, and glad you found us and sorry for the reason you had to.  Let me reinforce what Marty says here.  The feelings you describe are natural and to be expected, after experiencing this major and life-altering loss.  This is the time for the emotional washout, along with getting mad, angry, and whatever else comes up.  53 years of life with her is almost certainly half of your life, if not longer.  And at 6 weeks, yes, I'm sorry to say, it's going to ache like this for a while longer.  I think it is a different sort of challenge for us guys in some ways.  Sometimes it helps to do something physical, like build something, make something, or exercise --which it seems you are doing.  And It does get easier, yes, but not in a progressive, predictable way.  You'll always find yourself shifting forward and backward, then sideways, then feel upside down one minute, and inside out a minute later.  Just take it moment by moment, if necessary... especially in the nighttime hours.

Even getting together with friends, as healthy as that is, it just reminds you of what is gone, especially if the friends are married or involved.  I remember it well.  Friends took me out to dinner, a day or so after, and while I could listen and respond, I was in a mental space light years from the table.   I remember they noticed I would be too quiet for too long, and would ask if I was okay.  🙄  "Okay" as in, not about to dissolve into a puddle, or likely to walk out screaming?  That kind of "okay"?  In situations like that, which were not frequent and tapered off as people moved on with their own lives, I would feel a sense of panic on the edges of my awareness, this crushing awareness of what is essentially an amputation, feeling that "phantom limb" syndrome --but of the heart, rather than a limb.

 

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4 hours ago, Kieron said:

I would feel a sense of panic on the edges of my awareness, this crushing awareness of what is essentially an amputation, feeling that "phantom limb" syndrome --but of the heart, rather than a limb.

You summed it up succinctly.  I didn’t do anything with anyone.  I felt I couldn’t.  Even getting calls to bring me dinner would make me anxious.  I just knew I couldn’t be with people yet.  I did get a 'care package' thanksgiving dinner and my first real social contact was Christmas Day walking my dogs at the park with a buddy.  So it took 2 months before I could be with someone any length of time.  Back then I wanted to come home alone.  Now it’s years too long doing that.  There’s just no comfortable or painless way thru this.  

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13 hours ago, TheBear said:

 I am doing all the things I am supposed to. Exercising, getting together with friends, seeking out ways to express my grief.  It helps when I am in those moments, but when I am alone it hurts so much. 

I feel you with this part of grief. Being alone is when the crushing pain sets in without a buffer. For me it's been 10 days since that awful night I found my husband unexpectedly. I too wonder if this hurt will get any better. As much as I want to blast this pain into submission it's not something I feel we are able to avoid or control during our early stages of grief, but with everyone's support on this forum I think we can both find an outlet or solace in the words and experience from those who have been where we are but are now on another section of this journey. If anyone is able to help guide us through this topsy turvy maze of grief, it would be them. I come here often when waking up in a panic attack at odd hours of the night. I hope this gets better for both of us, I am holding your hand in spirit and walk with you on our way to healing.

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16 hours ago, TheBear said:

6 weeks ago I lost my wife, Leslie, to cancer.  I miss her so much.  I feel lost without her.  I depended on her being there. I am doing all the things I am supposed to. Exercising, getting together with friends, seeking out ways to express my grief.  It helps when I am in those moments, but when I am alone it hurts so much. We were married 53 years and went "steady" for 8 years before that.  It was love at first sight when we met in high school. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  I am emotionally unstable off and on.  Meaning I cry.  I wll forever love her.  I sure hope this gets better.

My heart goes out to you, you've been with her forever.  For me, I went w/o love all my life before meeting my George in my mid 40s, he was my soulmate and love of my life, I didn't see how I could live w/o him.  He was barely 51 when he died, that was 15+ years ago.

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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