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Longterm Illness And Death...how To Deal?

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My husband passed away on March 16, 2015. He had stage 4 cancer for over three years, this included 8 surgeries, one radiation treatment, and three stages of chemo drugs. We have two children, age 7 and 9. Both my parents have passed away and my husband's father passed away...this was all before the cancer was diagnosed. So, basically, it's been just us. We have fought the cancer with all our might and prayed with everything we had inside us. My husband wanted to live so bad, and we were just crazy about him. He loved us so much. The years have been exhausting for me, for us, and we had to accept a new " normal". That new normal often meant me being alone while my husband went to the cancer center, or the days when he wasn't well. But, our relationship grew deeper and those silent times became the most precious. My children have seen suffering at all different levels, the emotional and physical. They have been through so much. There have been a few "scares" along the way where I thought we would lose him, but he seemed to always make it. We just hoped and prayed. He had a major neck surgery, where they had to take out large tumors that were getting ready to grow out of his neck and into his skin and skull. They took about 24 inches of muscle and skin from his thigh to replace the large hole in his neck from taking out the tumors. I am telling you this because I want you to understand what we have been through, mainly what the kids have seen. He started decline more after the surgery, and became weaker. Again, we have had scares in the past, and we thought he would make it out of this one. I think my husband's determination, fight, and most of all, faith always convinced me that it would be ok. That morning I woke up and saw him on the floor. I can't go past that in my mind, I know what happened exactly, but I just can't deal all the details in my mind that haunt me. I keep thinking, "that wasn't my husband". My husband was not cancer and he was not the man that they brought downstairs and took to the ER. He was a Marine and the most precious human being I have ever known in my life. He endured so much pain for so long, just to be with us another day. Then came the day after...that's when I had to tell the kids that daddy died. Who does that, you know? I am stuck in my words when people ask, "how are you?" I feel like I am on an isolated island. I mean, I had to sit down on the couch with my children and tell them daddy is not coming home from the hospital, and that he died. The cries and their pain is something I can't explain as a mother. It has been a month now and it's been tough. Honestly, I don't know how I am feeling. I think maybe for so long, I just didn't feel or something. Or maybe it was complete exhaustion as a caregiver and then not going into death with a "clear head". I was already beaten, now this takes it a step further. I can't seem to open my eyes in this dark. When I walk downstairs and see my husband's picture, I can't even look. I nurture my children and their pain, and that's all I have the strength to do right now. I feel like a robot, and I wonder why I can't feel. I go to church and I can't even worship. What is wrong with me?

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There is nothing wrong with you. I lost my Carmen 3 weeks ago today and I'm going through the motions too. Everything you've said is how I feel inside. It's hard to deal with this I know. Time crawls by and people try to help but there's nothing they can really do. Hold onto his memory. Keep talking to friends and family about it. Get it out. Grieve with your kids. It hurts but you are not alone. I'll pray for you too.

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I'm sorry about your loss, Lori.

My beloved wife Tammy passed away on March 6, 2015. She had suffered with systemic lupus for 24 years. The past 8 years or so have been traumatic. Surgeries, life threatening infections, a cardiac arrest, hemorrhaging, MRSA, clots, falls... on and on. And I was always there for her. The last few years in particular I was Tammy's caregiver as well. Losing her feels like my life has ended. And unfortunately for all of us who have lost the love of their life... our life as we knew it has ended.

First off, as Jeffrey said, there is nothing wrong with you. You are grieving the loss of the most important person in your life. We all feel an emptiness. Not only have we lost our best friend, soulmate etc. but it feels like our heart has a huge hole in it. All we can do is take one day at a time... one moment at a time, really. I look at pictures of Tammy and cry like a baby. I think about the day she passed and question my every move. I mean, Tammy just came home from a hospital/rehab stay... she was supposed to be doing better!

All I can tell you is that this journey is the hardest thing any of us will face in life. For me, it's extra difficult because I don't have any real in person support. I think having your kids with you has to help in a lot of ways. Certainly it isn't easy though.

Posting here, among people who have also felt the pain of losing their beloved spouse will help you.

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I am so so sorry. There is nothing wrong with you. You are an amazing wife and mother that has been through so much, more than any person should have to go through, and so did your husband. I hope you'll consider having you and your kids see a grief counselor so they can help you know where to start with the grief. It's good to express yourself here. Maybe you can look for some children's books to help your children in dealing with death. Have you noticed any changes in their coloring, behavior? These are things to talk about with a counselor. You can probably get a referral from their school.

This is the hardest thing to make your way through. Remember to take care of yourself, even when you least feel like it, your overall health can be a help or hindrance in your recovery, so it helps to eat something healthy, drink lots of water, go for walks.

You were his caregiver as well and that brings with it all the more to adjust to now. We will gladly walk this journey with you if you let us.

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