Loss of wife to cancer

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  • #21288
    jamie62
    Participant

    My wife (49) died of cancer three weeks ago. The end of her life came very quickly after a a 20 month battle with stage 4 bowel cancer. I have a 14 year old son. The depth of my grief has surprised me. I thought that I had been preparing for her death, however, the depth of pain has come as a shock. My grief feels like this:
    I stand behind you all day, sometimes I will move closer to you and sometimes I eyeball you from 2 cm away. With my constant craving for your attention I hold a false promise that once you finally deal with me in the correct way, everything will be returned to you as it was before. I’m the voice in your head that won’t go away. I’m the one who produces that anxious feeling that you will somehow forget her and move on. I need you to know that I am here for a reason and that is to ensure that this pain is dealt with for however long it takes. To be honest I am going to be here with you till the end of your life. So, you need to know that I am going to have to be dealt with. Josie is gone and she’s not coming back but know that she too, grieved, before she left. She’s probably still grieving now.
    I’m that faceless presence you’ve had since October 2020. Remember how we used to talk about the time when she was gone. Remember how you tried to push me away? Remember how you used to think you knew how this would feel? Well, of course, you were totally unprepared for the pain that was going to come from the loss. I’m here to help even though at the moment you feel like you never want to hear from me again. I’m sorry but I am the price that you pay for loving her. You did love her didn’t you? You just didn’t know how much until it was all over. How could you really understand the price you were going to pay for such love?

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  • #21369
    jamie62
    Participant

    Work has felt more normal during the last 2 days. Starting the day with a ride gives a sense of reality and is a good thing to do. Yesterday I found myself crying as I rode my bike. Not a bad thing. The day was as good as I have had, however, once back at home things started to fall back to sadness. Eddie and I argued about some minor things, he was feeling unwell and disclosed that since our counselling session, he has had some moments of reflection and I assume, some sadness. I am really worried about going to Adelaide this Friday as plans for Edward staying overnight have slipped through. He wants to stay home by himself and I am ok with that provided I know that he has someone else here with him. I didn’t go to the Church meeting last night, not sure that it is going to be for me, in fact, going to church has made me feel sadder.
    I am looking forward to joining the grief support group next month. There has been small, but discernible change to the way that I am feeling. Sleeping is still a massive issue as I am finding myself waking before 12:00am and then really struggle to get back to sleep. Probably need some more help from Dr Steve.
    Probably also important to reach out to people, the phone calls have stalled and it seems like it is going to be up to me to make the contact. This is understandable because people are moving on. Yesterday I found myself talking to Josie. I would like to be able to do that without the tears. Interesting email from Jan about how my writing has bought back memories for her. Projecting my grief onto her has not been a good thing and I respect and understand this. Today was the first day that I didn’t cry at work.Edward (14) was really angry at me last night. It is the first time since Josie’s death that he has expressed such deep anger. I think I handled it well. In the end he broke down into heavy tears, he has been fighting them for some time. I hugged him and gave as much comfort as I could, Josie would have been pleased, I think.

    #21368
    VM- cookie
    Participant

    Dear @jamie62,
    Thank you for sharing your story.

    It is normal to feel sadness after losing someone, and it is good that you are able to lean on others for support during what must be a challenging time.

    It has been a while since your last post- so just checking in to ask how you’re doing?

    Keep writing and sharing your thoughts with us- we are here to listen. If you would like to talk to someone, feel free to contact Griefline at 1300 845 745 between 6am-12am AEDT.

    Take care.

    #21303
    jamie62
    Participant

    Thanks for your support.
    Here is my journal entry for today.
    Yesterday was the 4 week anniversary. Is that a milestone? 4 weeks that seems like an eternity ago. 4 weeks since you were here with us in your living breathing self. 4 weeks since our lives were transformed into this state of mourning and grief. I went for another bike ride and started the day in a reasonable state of mind. Doctors appointment with Gretel, I found it disconcerting that she didn’t acknowledge your death but maybe that is her coping mechanism. Mum arrived which was comforting for both Eddie and myself. I found myself pleasantly distracted when Eddie and I went to see the new Elvis movie. 2-3 hours of being transported to someplace else. Then at the end of the movie there is a clip of Elvis losing his life. The screen fades to black with a small peep hole of light that gradually dies. Is this how Josie experienced her last moments? Could she hear us telling her it was ok to let go and that we loved her so much? The scene caused me much pain and I left the cinema in tears. Edward again proved how sensitive and caring he can be as he rubbed my back and gave me words of comfort.
    Is every Thursday at 12:12pm going to be a reminder of her death. Am I going to relive that moment in time as I move to class?
    Today is Angus’ birthday and we are meeting him and Scarlett in Fitzroy for lunch. This morning the sofa that Julie and I chose for Josie some 6 weeks ago will arrive. 6 weeks ago we were making decisions about providing a new sofa for Josie to lie on. Today it will arrive to a very empty space. I am sure it will provide me with a bittersweet feeling. 6 weeks , 4 weeks, 3 weeks, anniversaries and milestones everywhere.

    #21302
    jamie62
    Participant

    Thanks for your support. Here is my journal entry today.
    Yesterday was the 4 week anniversary. Is that a milestone? 4 weeks that seems like an eternity ago. 4 weeks since you were here with us in your living breathing self. 4 weeks since our lives were transformed into this state of mourning and grief. I went for another bike ride and started the day in a reasonable state of mind. Doctors appointment with Gretel, I found it disconcerting that she didn’t acknowledge your death but maybe that is her coping mechanism. Mum arrived which was comforting for both Eddie and myself. I found myself pleasantly distracted when Eddie and I went to see the new Elvis movie. 2-3 hours of being transported to someplace else. Then at the end of the movie there is a clip of Elvis losing his life. The screen fades to black with a small peep hole of light that gradually dies. Is this how Josie experienced her last moments? Could she hear us telling her it was ok to let go and that we loved her so much? The scene caused me much pain and I left the cinema in tears. Edward again proved how sensitive and caring he can be as he rubbed my back and gave me words of comfort.
    Is every Thursday at 12:12pm going to be a reminder of her death. Am I going to relive that moment in time as I move to class?
    Today is Angus’ birthday and we are meeting him and Scarlett in Fitzroy for lunch. This morning the sofa that Julie and I chose for Josie some 6 weeks ago will arrive. 6 weeks ago we were making decisions about providing a new sofa for Josie to lie on. Today it will arrive to a very empty space. I am sure it will provide me with a bittersweet feeling. 6 weeks , 4 weeks, 3 weeks, anniversaries and milestones everywhere.

    #21295
    jamie62
    Participant

    Thanks for your kind words, yes I am keeping a journal and am finding that it is helping me. I have a good support network and have been leaning on people with regards to talking over how I am going.
    Kind regards
    Jamie

    #21294
    VM- thanasis43
    Participant

    Hi @jamie62, thank you for sharing your story, which has really moved me. Your words are such a powerful expression of what unimaginable grief feels like. You have actually articulated what many people would struggle to say. Is writing one of your coping mechanisms? I would continue to lean into those instincts if this is the case for you. The amount of insight you have gleaned in only three weeks is actually very surprising. Often it can take people several months just to recover from the shock that you have described. Know that this insight will only serve to help you on your journey through grief, which is at its most heavy right now.

    Grief is, indeed, the cost of love. Even knowing the extreme pain that the loss is causing for you now, my guess is that you would not change all that you experienced with your wife.

    Mary Frances O’Connor is a neuroscientist who specialises in grief. This excerpt is from her book ‘The Grieving Brain’:
    “The first one hundred times you have a wave of grief, you may think, I will never get through this, I cannot bear this. The one hundred and first time, you may think, I hate this, I don’t want this—but it is familiar, and I know I will get through this moment. Even if the feeling of grief is the same, your relationship to the feeling changes. Adopting the mindset that grieving is a form of learning, and that we are all always learning, may make the winding path of grieving more familiar and hopeful.”

    She shares many other useful insights into how and why we respond to grief the way we do that may help you.

    The Griefline website also offers useful resources, such as this one on understanding the symptoms of grief, and how to navigate your way through: https://griefline.org.au/resources/understanding-the-symptoms-of-grief/

    Losing a partner when you have a child only makes grief all the more complicated as it comes with the pressure to feel strong enough to support them, but remember that vulnerability is a strength too. Do you have people you can lean on during this time? Please lean on them if you and know that you are always welcome to call Griefline too.

    Keep writing, keep talking. We are listening.

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