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When Do The Nightmares End?


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Last year at this time, he was in the hospital. That's when we found out about the cancer....just a few days before our wedding. I wanted to postpone the ceremony until he felt better but he was insistent and talked his doctors into releasing him, they relented and we drove from the ICU to Vegas and the wedding took place as planned. The next 9 months was a wild whirlwind of ups and downs, radiation, chemo, surgery, multiple doctors appointments, tests, hospital admissions, prayers, dashed hopes, and hours and hours spent researching nutrition, drugs and treatments. We even managed to squeeze in 2 more cruises. Every moment of every day and many many sleepless nights I focused all my time and energy on him and what else could I do to help him fight for his life. Somehow I thought my love and determination could buy him more time. I was wrong, at the end of December he lost his fight. Surrounded by loved ones, with his favorite music playing, and as I was talking to him about happy times and good memories from our many travels together, he died in my arms and my world shattered.

I've always been a strong, capable person, but this has devastated me. I feel so lost and often find myself just sitting and staring at a wall. My concentration is shot and I have no interest in anything anymore. Sleep is no escape, I take pills to get to sleep but each night I am haunted by nightmares. They are all different but in each one he dies in front of me in different ways. I keep putting off going to bed because I know it's just going to result in another terrible dream that keeps the loss so fresh that as I'm approaching the 3 month mark, it still feels like yesterday.

Has anyone else experienced this?

How long until the nightmares end?

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Dear Thistle

I am so very sorry for the loss of your husband....the joy of a wedding and the sadness of a death came far too close in time. I am sorry. My husband died two years ago yesterday. I have had a lot of support during that time...from this forum, a grief group early on sponsored by Hospice, and some individual grief counseling. I wonder if you have support as you walk this painful path. If not, I hope you consider it and that you keep coming to this group as you will find very supportive people here who have all walked through the loss of a spouse/partner. As for your nightmares...I have on occasion have them and I know the feeling of fearing going to bed for having another. Thankfully it has not been an ongoing thing...and if it were...I would be seeking some individual help with them. You are quite raw and fragile right now, worn down from care giving, and sleepless to a large degree. This is time for you to take care of you...and I hope you might get in touch with a Hospice support group or a local grief counselor to have someone to work with. I returned to see the grief counselor I work with just last week as I approached the second anniversary. It was so helpful just to share and talk with a non-friend non-family skilled person. I do hope you return to our forum.... I know people will reach out to support you here also. Peace, Mary

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I've been and still am in that boat. It's honestly never ending. Luckily, they slowly become random than an every day event. I believe it's frustration we tend to vent out in our dream state so I believe. I can't say it becomes better, but it does become some what bearable.

If you ever would like to talk to someone personally, I'm here.

Best wishes, xoxo

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I'm so sorry for your loss. You sound alot like me, in that I lived every moment trying to find a way to save my Larry. Research, new treatments, new medicines, experimental trials and wouldn't for a moment give up hope. But then it all spiraled out of control, fast and furious, ripping our life together into shreds. I lost him over six years ago and the nightmares still shake me to my core. They aren't every night now but they feel just as real as the day I lost him. I wish for you some peace and comfort. Deborah

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Dear Thistle,

The nightmares do end--or at least become fewer over time. I am sorry you find yourself here--but you are in the right place. We will listen--try to advise when we can--and share our stories about getting through the day.

It has been about a year since I was where you are now. The numbness will ease--but then it is going to hurt. But it does get better slowly. I function pretty well most days. But there are days I just stare at the wall. And that's ok. You need that time in neutral sometimes. Listen to your soul and listen to your body. They will help you through this too.

Now to the practical: first, establish a routine. Go to bed at the same time every night. Get up at the same time every morning. Eat a good breakfast, a good lunch, and a good dinner--not huge amounts, but healthy food. Grief requires energy. But stay away from junk food. Make the bed every morning. Take a shower every morning. Do the dishes with every meal. Do the laundry. And drink lots of water. I can't explain it, but grief dries you out. Avoid alcohol and non-prescribed drugs--they will just make things worse.

Take a walk every day. The exercise will generate endorphins that will help you feel better.

Get out and talk to people. Arrange to have coffee with them. Be as social as you can stand to be.

Cry when you need to cry--just let the tears come. You are going to be sad. You are going to be angry and frustrated. You are going to act out. This is all normal. People may look at you funny but they have no idea where you are unless they have been there.

Visit here frequently and write here frequently--but also find a physical grief group in your area. Most hospice operations can point you in the right direction.

Right now, just focus on getting through the next second. That will eventually expand to the next minute to the next hour to the next two and so on. But somedays you will wake up and find yourself right back at the beginning. That's ok. We call those grief tsunamis--and all you can do is ride them out. They become less frequent over time--and the intensity also seems to decrease over time. But they arrive on their own schedule and the intensity varies.

Self care is the main thing for you at this stage though. Make sure you eat good food, drink lots of water, and sleep eight hours every night. Make sure you exercise every day and keep to a daily routine. Sometimes you won't and that's ok. just try to have good habits as much as you can. When I start going backwards on those things my own state of mind suffers.

We are here when you need us. Hang in there.

Peace,

Harry

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Thistle,

I am so sorry for the loss of your husband. What a lot you have been through in such a short time! I don't remember nightmares, I remember not being able to sleep, so I can't address that. We get better at coping with this eventually but in the meanwhile, it's hard. Please keep coming here, you'll find much understanding and support here. I'm sure there will be others here that will respond shortly.

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Thank you everyone who responded, I do appreciate your kindness, caring and understanding. I will try to follow the advice you offered, although some of it will not be easy.

I do feel the need to vent a little, so here goes...

This is a hard week for me and I just wish it was over. Today marks 1 year since the diagnosis, and 3 months since his passing and in a few days it'll be our first wedding anniversary. We were together (inseparable) for 9 years but only married for just shy of 9 months when he passed. Plus his birthday is in 2 weeks. Add to that the fact I just found out my sister has colon cancer and will have surgery in a couple weeks. I tried to go to a grief support group meeting but found out when I got there that it's next week. So I sat in my car in the parking lot and cried.

Despite paperwork from the doctor, work has denied my short term disability claim so even though I am not emotionally or mentally ready, I either have to return to my high stress job, or be terminated.

I know that he's gone, but I'm having a hard time letting go. I feel that he's being erased little by little. Changing things from his name to mine, cancelling various subscriptions and things like that. I feel bad doing these but I have to since he passed before we got the wills done and his estate is in probate. I'm just having a hard time of it.

My hubby was such a wonderful guy, and the best friend I've ever had. Everyone liked him, everyone! He had a brilliant mind, so intelligent, an educated professional but so down to earth, never pretentious or haughty. He had a fabulous, dry sense of humor and always made me laugh, a kind heart, gentle manner, and dignity. He had the most amazing smile, and beautiful blue eyes that made me melt. He was a peace-loving, loyal, generous, trustworthy, practical man who totally rocked a quiet, dignified macho-ism. Confident yet humble. An avid foodie and an excellent cook. A musician who had an uncanny ear for music and could pick out an off beat or missed note. He was very techno-savvy, loved gadgets, built his own computers and understood all kinds of electronics. He loved jeans and flip flops but looked stunning in a suit and tie. He loved to travel and experience different cultures and together we took 11 cruises and visited 32 countries, often finding a little restaurant away from the tourist areas to sample local cuisine. He was a fabulous photographer who took amazing shots but hated to pose for the camera. He was a hard-working man who in 30 years, never called off work, even during chemo, until the cancer landed him in the hospital. He was in my eyes, perfect! I loved him with all my heart and I miss him so much.

If you're still reading this, thank you! As a catharsis I wanted to tell everyone what a great guy he was, he was my everything.

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Dear Thistle. about 1 yr ago my Mike was diagnosed and gone in about 6 weeks, so I understand your loss, and am so sorry! Keep coming to our site often, and grief support groups, they really do help! I also live in AZ, and dont believe your job can deny you the time off that YOU NEED....please I am no expert on this, but please look into this further, a high stress job on top of what you are dealing with, is really rough! Best Wishes Dave

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Your husband does sound like a wonderful man, I'm sure you miss him terribly. You have a lot on your plate right now, and with your sister going through cancer besides...try and put off anything you don't absolutely have to do right now. Have you seen a lawyer and seen if what your job is doing is legal? How can they just ignore the doctor? Have you talked to your doctor about their response?

Remember to take one day at a time and breathe, this is undoubtedly the hardest thing you'll ever have to go through but you're surviving one day at a time, even with all that is thrust upon you. We've all been there, our details just vary, but this place is a wonderful support.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had a meeting with my boss after my disability claim was denied, I told he I was not ready, (in fact I cried for half the meeting) she said I had to return or be terminated. So I went back and worked the past 3 nights and spent at least half of the time in the bathroom crying and the rest of the time I was pretty nonproductive. What did they expect when I told them I'm under doctor's care and was not ready, did they think I'd snap my fingers and be well again? That all of a sudden I'll be happy and cheerful in front of the patients? If only I could...I'd have snapped them long ago!! I hate feeling like this, with a dark heavy cloud suppressing me and following me everywhere I go. I WANT to feel normal again but that's a long way away, and I feel like I have to fly cross country while all i have is a little bike with training wheels that I'm peddling as fast as I can, I'll get there but it's gonna take me more time.

One of the reasons it's so hard to return to work is that's where I met my hubby. I've been there about 11 years and he'd been there about 30. Everyone knows and liked him, and that place has so many memories contained within those walls. Plus he was a patient there several times. Everyone I see offers condolences, or mentions something that makes me cry, and some just ask me "how's your husband?" and immediately the wound is reopened and the tears start falling again. It was so bad that of the 3 nights i worked, I had to leave early twice.I don't think the boss is going to be very understanding of that.

My boss wants me to come talk to her in the morning before I go to a computer class she signed me up for. I don't have a good feeling about this meeting and fear I'll get fired. They have someone there who can fill in for me, who does an excellent job but they tell me they can't hold my position. Bull Hockey, they could if they wanted to. I fear this'll end with me getting fired, after I told them I wasn't ready to go back.

Oh wel, just throw that on top the pile of other problems and issues I'm trying to deal with. If I get fired, I get fired, I'll just take some time to get myself together and apply elsewhere when I'm ready and can figure out what else i can do. The only issue is the medical insurance, i'll lose that if i get fired.

I figure at some point I'll reach the limit of problems and issues I'll have to deal with, but it seems they keep coming... his illness and all that involved, the traumatic accident that broke his back and left him paralyzed and lead to his untimely death, probate, being told that the marriage doesn't matter because it's less than 2 years so in this state it falls under predator laws and his assets -which he'd said would be my retirement- will go to the one person he specifically told me he did not want them to go to even though we lived together for 9 years, all of his electronic equipment breaking down at the same time (computer, cell phone, TiVo, the TV, etc including his car - all suddenly and unexplainable on the fritz within a couple days). Dealing with the probate lawyer, dealing with the tax lady and financial advisers, with my house being broken into, the death of my dog whom I had for 15 years, trying to cancel all of his online accounts when he had no list of sites and passwords, dealing with my first wedding anniversary as a grieving widow, and knowing his birthday is in a couple days. Add to that my son's house burned, the child custody battle my other son is in, let's see, what am I leaving out. It is just too much stuff to deal with when the only thing that occupies my mind 24/7 is that my best friend and soul mate is dead. I'll never feel his arms around me or see those blue eyes and the angel of hid jaw that always made me knees weak. My best friend, my lover, my traveling buddy is gone, no more gourmet meals, no more trip planning, no more concerts, no more movie night or game nights at home, no one to talk to, to bounce suggestions off of, no one to hold me, to just be with or to love.

Life for me has completely lost it's point, and my outlook is gloomy and hopeless. How in this situation and I supposed to go to work and act like everything is fine, to smile and be cheerful? I started seeing a grief counselor and a support group but it's going to take time...time I don't have as far as employment is concerned. It's like a bunch of thugs said oh, there;s a grieving widow, let's go kick her and push her around.

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Thistle, it is clear that you are on overload in so many areas. I am so sorry. One thought just about your insurance should you lose your job--you should have access to a cobra plan where you keep the insurance plan but pay for it yourself I know being jobless should that happen makes paying insurance difficult but it might be an option. I wish you the best with your meeting. Maybe your boss will surprise you and support a plan that works for both of you.

I am so sorry that so much hurts right now.

Peace

Mary

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Thistle,

In addition to Cobra, if you have done your best to do your job and they fire you, you should qualify for unemployment. Only when a person blatantly doesn't try or quits or does something illegal do they usually deny benefits. This should give you some time to heal while you're looking for a job. A different job might not be such a bad idea with all of the memories you have there. Honestly, I feel there should be some kind of protection for those who've lost a loved one, they should give you an option of taking a leave of absence. My employer did when George died, but I couldn't afford to stay out and I knew it was a hardship for my employer since they were a small company and depended on me so much, so I only took two weeks off. It was hard when I came back to work but my coworkers had been briefed on what to expect and how to respond to me so that helped tremendously. I'm so sorry you're going through this!

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Dear Thistle,

I am so sorry for your loss. I know what it is like to loose your best friend, soul mate, lover, I lost my wife of 33 years to Multiple Sclerosis February 25, 2011. On that day I lost my job also. I went onto unemployment, and now I am in nursing school though the Career Center at unemployment. Pauline suffered many years with MS and I was her sole care giver for over about 12 years. After she passed I was the same way, I could not sleep, eat very well. It took a toll on me. Everyone goes though grief different, and what may work for one may not work for you. It took months to get my body well enough to be able to start school. I am the oldest in my class, but I am always in the top 2%. Pauline wanted me to make a life for myself, and after 33 years together it was not easy. It is still not easy, I have to keep a sharp focus on my studies, or I would not make it. I went to Hospice support group meetings every week for over 10 months. My Hospice counselor had meetings in 2 different cites in my area. They really helped me a lot, and also having a good support group of friends, I only have a few, but the ones I do have are very understanding, and are there any time I call.

Did you try the Family Medical Leave Act, for your work? I believe that this falls into that category. You may want to look into it, or call an Attorney and seek some advice about this before you loose your job.

God Bless

Dwayne

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