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Sudden & traumatic husband loss

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Home Forums Loss of a loved one Sudden & traumatic husband loss

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  • #23061

    Tomorrow is 9 weeks since my husband suddenly died on 16 August. Can’t believe I’m writing these words.

    So my husband lived with crohns & ulcerative colitis for 19 years and had annual colonoscopy’s to stay on top of everything. Had been following his specialists advice and drug treatments for a long time to make his life kind of manageable. He still worked full time as was I. Had our two daughters (one is 19 and one is 15 years old). Were living our lives. On 26 July 2022, colonoscopy found bowel cancer. After various more tests and scans, appointments etc discovered it had spread to his liver. For a little while there, doctors were worried it had spread to this throat but no it hadn’t (stupidly we were both so relieved)! Specialists fast tracked chemo treatment which started on 10 August. My husband planned to do whatever treatment would be needed – he planned to live. The following Tuesday 16 August, after his abdomen kept becoming more painful, his specialist advised they would admit him into the private hospital at 11am and they would be helping with his pain management. On our drive to the hospital (a 20 minute drive), my husband turns to me and tells me his tongue is swollen and could barely talk. Internally, I’m really concerned, outwardly, I’m saying to my husband it’s okay we’ll be at the hospital shortly and they will get on top of it. We arrive at the hospital, I get the wheelchair, collect my husband from the car and wheel him into reception. I then tell the reception nurse about the swollen tongue and not able to talk and that he’s in a lot of pain. Suddenly about 12 medical staff descend. I can also see that my husband is struggling with low blood pressure – he never has an issue with blood pressure. Over the course of 30 minutes of assessing him in the reception area, they then decide to take him up to the ICU and run more tests to see what is going on with his abdomen. I’m worried but thinking okay that seems reasonable, I want them to really help with his pain management so he’s not in much pain at all and is comfortable.

    I get up to the ICU and for the next 2 hours, my husband gets taken for a CT Scan and they do a number of other tests. In between doctors tell me they think its a bowel blockage most likely and when they finalise the tests they will aim to take him into surgery to remove the obstruction – sounds reasonable and they have a plan. They also tell me they have given him something for the pain. Everytime I get into his ICU room, he tells me and the doctors he has this pain in his back. He thinks when they transferred him from the wheelchair to the bed, they pulled something in his back. I keep going in and out of his room, because the doctors and nurses are still doing medical stuff – injecting drugs and checking what is happening. The last time I went to check on him, I didn’t go into his room – the doctors were busy injecting drugs and treating him. I went back to the waiting room.

    In between this I messaged my daughter (19 year old) to come to hospital so we could give him some moral support as he was having a really hard day. My daughter gets to hospital around 12.30pm but because he’s been in and out of his room and only 1 person can visit at a time (and his room was behind the secure ICU doors) I ended up just going back and forth between his room and the waiting room. A bit after 1pm two doctors come to see us to say, its not a bowel blockage, he has two perforations in his bowel and at the moment, they need to stabilise him before they perform any operation. Once he is stabilised, they will take him into surgery. Still thinking, okay this seems reasonable.

    Then at 1.30pm we hear this announcement over the PA system saying code blue code blue ICU 4 (so ICU 4 is my husbands room) – I say this to my daughter and run towards the nurses desk where I can see about 20 nurses have congregated and I can see behind the secure ICU doors there are another 10 medical staff rushing towards my husbands room. I’m crying at the nurse nearest the secure doors to say let me through that’s my husband in ICU 4. They walk me back to the waiting room, I tell my daughter what I saw and we both start praying and asking for a miracle.

    Eventually, maybe it was 40 minutes later, the two ICU doctors and a nurse come to the waiting room. They explain to us that at 1.30pm my husband went into cardiac arrest, he was oxygen deprived for up to 5 minutes so they don’t know to what extent he has brain damage, he is on a ventilator and that they are still doing tests. They say he is too unstable to perform the operation on his bowel perforations. I’m still stuck on the cardiac arrest and oxygen deprived part of the conversation. A million thoughts are racing through my head. The doctors head back to him. One of the ICU doctors and his oncologist and a nurse then come back another 30 minutes later to tell us that there is no hope. We will need to switch life support off. The logical part of my brain, says out loud – so how long will it take for him to die? They reply minutes. I then say, you can’t do anything until my/our other daughter gets to the hospital. They leave the room to us. My daughter and I just hold each other and I say I will have to call my brother to get my younger daughter to the hospital.

    So then I call my brother and tell him my husband is dying (and what has happened) but before he dies, I need him to bring my younger daughter to the hospital but he can’t tell her what’s happened (I have that responsibility). My younger daughter gets to the hospital sometime before 3pm. I fumble my way through telling her what has happened to her dad at the hospital today and then the ICU doctors come in and also explain what has happened. I tell my younger daughter (who also has anxiety) that she has a choice, she can see her dad and be with him right at the end or stay with her uncle and aunt (in the waiting room) – both options are okay. She decides to stay put – she could not face seeing him in this state. I just needed to make sure she had the choice and that she was at the hospital.

    So then from 4.30pm til about 4.45pm my husband slipped away. We (my older daughter and I) held him, told him over and over again that we loved him. I told him to let go of his pain and we would be okay. It felt like an out of body experience. Everything was and is surreal about that day. Then we were ushered out of his room so they could do the final tests and pronounce time of death at 4.55pm. We didn’t get to go back in to see him. I didn’t get to talk to him properly in hospital that day before everything happened. I didn’t get to kiss him and tell him I loved him so much when he could hear it.

    Then after about another 45 minutes we had to go drive to his parents and break the news to them (they are in their 80’s). Then break the news to his siblings over the phone as they live interstate.

    While he had bowel cancer, he had barely started his chemo treatment. His death was sudden. Unexpected that day. Turns out he had gotten sepsis. Most likely he already had it when we were driving into the hospital that morning. I thought we would get through the 6 weeks of chemo, have more tests and see where everything was at.

    We are stuck. This mountain of grief. It’s all consuming. Worried out of my mind for my girls, but my younger daughter especially so. The grief constantly takes my breath away – have to keep reminding myself to breathe. I get up to feed our dog and my younger daughter who lives with me. I am doing the stuff that needs to happen. Everything is an effort. Nothing is straightforward. Then there is all the other stuff, death admin paperwork. Then there is my work which pretends to confuse sympathy with empathy and support and so now I find myself on leave (without pay) as well. Then there is – so what do I do now? There is only before when he was with us and now the after – he is not with us. This world feels so much more greyer and emptier. Feel like I have lost hope. The whole world is just continuing but we are so stuck.

    I’ve read a few posts – feeling everyone’s pain and loss.. Sending love

Viewing 10 replies - 1 through 10 (of 13 total)
  • Author
  • #23113
    VM- thanasis43

    Hi Scully,

    Firstly, I wanted to thank you for sharing your story with us. You never know who it will help next and I appreciate just how hard it can be to put traumatic events and a loss like this into words. I’m so very sorry that this has happened to you and your family.

    I’m not surprised to hear that everything still feels surreal. Your brain is still processing the sudden loss of a person you clearly loved, and spent (by the sounds of it) at least twenty years with. This is a huge adjustment and it will take some time before you stop doing the things you got so used to doing like picking up the phone to text him, or expecting to see him walk through the door.

    It sounds to me like everything is still setting in for you and thoughts of what happens next are becoming a bit overwhelming. During those moments, I would encourage you just to think about what you need to survive the next five minutes, the next half hour, the next hour, and take everything one step at a time.

    You’re right. Everything feels like a tremendous, heavy effort in grief, especially early grief. Do you have people around you that are offering support, or who you could turn to for support? I suggest thinking of the people who you always feel better after seeing, even when nothing feels wrong in the first place.

    I wonder if you have already checked out any of the resources on the Griefline website? Sometimes a good starting point is just reminding ourselves of the strengths we have to draw from:

    This article ( is also a good one to read during early grief.

    Please keep talking here and also know that you can call Griefline on 1300 845 745 to chat (or cry) to someone. The online support groups may also be another option for you. We are here for you and sending strength and love.


    Dear Scully,
    Shocking and devastating ….shattering and sudden….
    Yet here you are!! Sending your love to us all, this is a strength you hold, thankyou so much….you are a gift to all around you, this is all we can do, hold tight to your girls, they are your precious world….
    We are here to help, to listen, to love you through this….
    Thinking of you …..


    Thank you for sharing Scully. I’ve recently lost my brother suddenly when he took his own life, he had tried once before 17 years ago because of severe mental illness and was resuscitated but acquired brain injury because his brain was deprived of oxygen.

    Lately he was becoming more aggressive and arrogant towards me and my Muma, so I left the house and was living in my bus so not to be a trigger for him at home. He was coming off clozapine as well which is what happened last time, his medication was reduced drastically and when that happens suicide ideation can happen.

    My brother was a spontaneous man to begin with, so with the schizophrenia and brain injury he was completely vulnerable to these thoughts and impulses. As well as losing our beloved older brother a year before his first attempt. Which is why he ended up spiralling down in the first place.

    This time his decline was much quicker and more sudden. He will be deeply missed by all, he won a lot of hearts in his short time here. The shock and trauma of it all is overwhelming some (most) days. This time I’m being proactive with my grieving, I regret not seeking resources and counselling when our older brother passed and my other brothers first attempt happened.

    Self-care, talking to friends, family and strangers, finding new resources and connecting with others whom have shared experience.

    Stay king to yourself,


    Thanks @harv,

    those are wise words, “self-care, talking to friends, family and strangers, finding new resources and connecting with others whom have shared experience”. That’s a great sentence, and so true.

    I was feeling very low recently, and without even really thinking stepped up to help someone who I thought just needed a hand with a bag to their car. I turned out to be someone really struggling, and the fact that I’d reached out to them made their day, opened a conversation between us, and completely turned around my mood. Talking with a stranger, which in turn reminded me I’d been slacking on my self-care.

    , it’s been a few weeks since you bravely shared your story – how have you been coping? Tell us how you’ve been, we want to know if you’re okay.


    Hi Scully,
    Thank you for sharing your story with us all and I really feel the sadness and shock in the words you have written and would like you to know that there are many people here for you when and as needed. One thing that really resonated with me was how you described your work environment, where your colleagues are pretending to confuse sympathy with empathy. It often happens that people are unsure of what to say, how to respond, sometimes saying nothing or saying to much and the bereaved person is left having to navigate all of these interactions on top of their loss. It is during this time that finding the right support for you is so vital. I hear that your whole world has turned itself inside and out and upside down and that during this time you will be caring so lovingly and supporting your children as well but it is so important that there is support for you too. Of course, that support can come in many different guises – it can be friends, family, neighbours, strangers, forums such as this, online resources and professional grief counsellors to name but a few. It really is one moment at a time as you grieve the loss of your husband and everything that he represented – your dreams, your relationship, parenting of your children, your future together. It sounds like taking the time away from work even though it was unpaid and a financial sacrifice was necessary to allow you to feel and grieve in a safe and more comfortable space.

    In ensuring you take care of yourself in the coming weeks and months below is a link to our well being Toolkit. I hope it is helpful for you.

    EAST – Connecting to Healthy Routines

    Sending support and strength – we are here for you.


    Dear Sully, I am so glad you shared your story – everything you wrote sounds so familiar to me. My husband died on 6-October after a few days in hospital following a bicycle accident. At first, he was just in a ward for observation. After nearly 48 hours his blood pressure dropped dangerously low. The doctors moved him to ICU and he was put on a ventilator to stabilise his condition. The doctors discovered he had sepsis in a cut on his leg. They pumped him full of antibiotics, then they amputated his leg, but it was all too late because the infection spread throughout his body. I also felt right until the end that everything was going to be ok, but then suddenly it wasn’t. When he died, I was totally numb, I felt empty, and everything felt pointless. After a few days I descended into a black hole and contemplated suicide. I got help and decided to live, but it is not easy. Grief is hard. My friends are a great support, but it is not possible to fully comprehend how hard losing your partner is… until it happens to you. I really hope you are doing ok. I wish I could give you a hug. I am thinking about you.


    Dear @daybyday, I’m very sorry for your loss of your husband. You are so right that it is not really possible to fully comprehend anyone else’s experience of loss and grief as this is such a personal and individual experience. Hopefully the forums provide you with a safe space to share your experience, how are you going and to connect with others. The thing that stands out to me from what you have written the strengths you have that have helped, and will continue to help you as the days go by. Reaching out and getting help and support takes courage, especially in our darkest moments. Seeking support is a sign of strength and will. The other strength I believe you have is your caring nature, which comes through in your kind words here on the forum. I can tell that you are a person who genuinely cares for others.

    You may be interested in these articles about the role of strengths in recovery from grief –

    Grief Recovery Part 1: In Search of Lost Strengths

    Grief Recovery Part 2: Recognise and Engage Your Strengths

    VM – OnAJourney

    Dear daybyday
    Thank you for sharing – losing a partner so out of the sudden is incredibly hard. And I can totally relate to what you say about people around us not fully comprehending how hard it is to lose a partner. And the whole experience of grief is very individual and different for everyone. It is great that you have supportive friends even though they might not be able to fully understand what you are going through. And I know it can take courage to reach out for help, so good on you for getting the help you need to manage through this challenging time. Please know that you are not alone. And do reach out to our helpline if you need to talk.
    You might also want to explore some of the resources on our website:

    Coping with Grief

    Coping with Loss

    Please do look after yourself. I hope you manage to be gentle and patient with yourself. Remember, you do not have to do the journey all at once. Sometimes all you can do is manage hour by hour and day by day. And we are here with you and for you.
    Take care.


    Thank you. It’s been a long, hard few months. I have a brother who lives in the same town as me (he is married and with adult kids with their own families) – he has been fantastic. His wife I feel like she avoids me and avoids interacting with me – just too hard for her I suppose. I also have a sister interstate (but who has her own health issues so can’t be with me), who calls me everyday and lets me vent or whatever I need. We (my girls and I) now have a regular GP and I’ve started seeing a psychologist (have been to 3 appointments so far) which I’m finding does help. My girls are on the cancellation waitlist as well. I listen to an assortment of grief podcasts when I can’t sleep, until I drop off in the wee hours or I watch a world movie on SBS until I drop off from exhaustion. I’ve relocated from our bedroom into the lounge room downstairs to make a makeshift bedroom of sorts. Life is very different and feels so strange. Nights are eerily too quiet and that’s when I probably overthink everything and the grief and sadness take over. I’m a doer – I like being really busy – so mostly I try to keep really busy to the point of exhaustion.


    Dear Daybyday

    Thank you. I am heartbroken for you – I understand your devastation and deciding to live. Our road is a hard one. Wish I could give you a hug too. Sending you lots of hugs.

Viewing 10 replies - 1 through 10 (of 13 total)
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