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After an extended hospital stay, my husband of 35 years passed away. He was supposed to get better, but whether through the carelessness of a hospital staff member or an undiagnosed condition, he needed emergency surgery which contributed to his physical decline, and finally death.

He suffered tremendously the last month that he was in the hospital. Only I, my son and his wife were there to comfort him. My last memories are of me feeding ice to him because he was dehydrated; then his nurse chased me out of the room because housekeeping wanted to mop the floor. He died the following AM.

After watching him suffer I'm feeling tremendous guilt. What could I have done to prevent his death? Had I been there, could I have saved his life; because I wonder if somebody gave him too much morphine or turned off the respirator. Should I have asked more questions of the Drs? Did they think that I didn't care? That day, when I called the ambulance to take him to the hospital for low blood pressure, should I have told him to sit down and relax, just give it a few minutes to see if he started feeling feeling better. Wasn't I a good wife? I was his care taker for almost a year while he had colitis, a lung and heart conditon. By the time he went into the hospital I was exhausted, both physically and emotionally from coping so long and with so much.

Now, six weeks after his death I feel like I'm a member of the walking dead. I feel that my life is over and there is nothing to look forward to. My son has his own life, and I'm left alone to cope with my husband's death and my feelings of loss. Our culture is very lacking in support systems for dying. Just like everything else, it seems that money is supposed to be the cure for losing a loved one: The first thing that almost everyone asked me is how I would do financially with his passing, and the attitude of most of the people around me are "you need to get on with it." My own elderly mother said, "Isn't it a relief that he passed away. Him being so sick, and all." Even AARP has composed a list of things to do on their website when someone dies -- mostly a list of clerical things that the survivor needs to do. Oh, and let's not forget the Drs. who want their final bills, and the tax people who wanted to know if I had insurance coming. We have become a society devoid of human feelings. Why is that? 50% of the married population will experience the loss of a spouse. Why am l supposed to pretend that I'm doing fine; that I'm strong; that I can overcome the loss of a loved one, get a good paying job and have my financial ducks in a row overnight? Well, I can't, and I may never feel 'fine'; in which case Im a casualty too.

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I don't know what to say, but I don't want to leave you alone in this. I am so sorry for your loss. Of course you can't get on with your life as if nothing ever happened. It will always be a part of you and the missing him will continue. But you did everything you humanly could for him. I, too, feel guilty...I ask myself, berate myself, for why didn't I insist he get another doctor, see a cardiologist/quit his job/do something, anything that would have had a different outcome than it did? Why didn't I stay home that weekend? Why didn't I see? As if it's somehow my fault. But I love him more than life itself, and he knows that. He is everything to me, my life, my world. And your husband is your life, your world. We did all we knew to do, and we couldn't read the future or change it. We are good people with incredible losses.

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I'm sorry for your loss. I just want you to know you're not alone. I know how "stupid" (I would rather use a stronger word but I won't here) people can be. How can the death of someone you love be a relief??? Someone said to me once something like: we all knew he would die! What????????? Is that why that person didn't call or ask how he was???

You have done the most you could - you have given your husband all your love, ans isn't that the most presious gift any person can get? I know people want you to look ok, but not for your sake, but because your depression and tears make THEM feel uncomfortable. Well who cares about them! (yes I am a little angry) Let yourself grieve, and take care of yourself.

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