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Jay W

Four Months Today

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Jay W   

Lost my wife of 35 years because of cancer. We had no family and her relatives are in Europe. I am at a total loss. Tried drop-in groups and grief counselling but it makes things worse. I spend about 95% of my day alone. As we were a private couple we have very few friends so I can talk to nobody. I don't know what to do and am devastated and feel there is nothing left for me.

I miss her terribly and my mind keeps going back to the way she declined and how brave she was prior. I am angry, I feel guilty because I could have been a better person to her throughout our marriage. I feel  bitter at the cancer clinic because she was a patient there for two years, saw numerous oncologists and when she died not one word of sympathy came from them. Nothing. She was just a number.

She had lung cancer and nobody knows why. She was very athletic, ate better than me, never smoked and was healthy up until her diagnosis. The clinic dropped the ball on several occasions and it was me who took her to the Emergency department when she started acting strange. A scan showed the cancer went to her brain. The oncologist said he was not surprised and when I did further research I found out that an earlier scan would have shown the cancer in its infancy stage. I asked why this was not done and the answer was it is not in the protocol.

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KMB   

Jay, Reading your story brings tears to my eyes. Cancer is such a terrible disease and takes the lives of so many. it would be the greatest accomplishment of this world,  if cures were found for all the different types of cancer, for any disease really. So many people would get to live longer lives and there wouldn't be so many others dealing with loss and grieving.

I am sorry for your loss. 35 years with your wife seems like a long time, but we know that know matter how many years, it was never long enough. I had 25 years with my husband and I wish everyday he was still here for 25 more.

I know how lost and confused you must feel. How alone and lonely. The pain is indescribable. Grieving is so very difficult when we find ourselves trying to cope mostly alone. My husband and I were mostly a world unto ourselves also. We had friends but not too much in the way of family. We basically enjoyed just being together, day in and day out. We were everything for each other.

I miss my husband every second, just like you miss your wife. I'm going into my second year, and I feel no different than I did in the beginning. I am still lost, still lonely. Grieving is hard, exhausting work. The pain does lessen in intensity over time. But, it is always there, lurking under the surface, catching you by surprise, when it takes the opportunity to let you know it still has the power and control to bring you to your knees.

Your wife was/is a very brave, courageous woman to battle for 2 years with such a devastating disease. That is a long time to keep up a daily fight. It has to be so hard to understand that a cancer clinic treated her as just another number, another case. They should have treated her as the unique person that she is. It is beyond me why some medical staff is not taught more about compassion and empathy when dealing with patients. Granted, there are some wonderful medical places and staff out there, but there is a need for more.

It takes a very long time to fully process and acknowledge our loss. Maybe after some time has passed, you might want to revisit the support groups or engage with another grief therapist. Be kind and patient with yourself.

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yuyu   

Yo Jay W,

First of all sorry for your loss.

I had the same experience in the hospital when my wife died in a drowning accident, not a single ounce of compassion and yeah we are just numbers and statistics to them.

I know its not easy and grieving is a pain in the ass I will tell you that but we have to push forward. We are here to help you. Keep posting bro.   

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Jay W   
3 hours ago, KMB said:

Jay, Reading your story brings tears to my eyes. Cancer is such a terrible disease and takes the lives of so many. it would be the greatest accomplishment of this world,  if cures were found for all the different types of cancer, for any disease really. So many people would get to live longer lives and there wouldn't be so many others dealing with loss and grieving.

I am sorry for your loss. 35 years with your wife seems like a long time, but we know that know matter how many years, it was never long enough. I had 25 years with my husband and I wish everyday he was still here for 25 more.

I know how lost and confused you must feel. How alone and lonely. The pain is indescribable. Grieving is so very difficult when we find ourselves trying to cope mostly alone. My husband and I were mostly a world unto ourselves also. We had friends but not too much in the way of family. We basically enjoyed just being together, day in and day out. We were everything for each other.

I miss my husband every second, just like you miss your wife. I'm going into my second year, and I feel no different than I did in the beginning. I am still lost, still lonely. Grieving is hard, exhausting work. The pain does lessen in intensity over time. But, it is always there, lurking under the surface, catching you by surprise, when it takes the opportunity to let you know it still has the power and control to bring you to your knees.

Your wife was/is a very brave, courageous woman to battle for 2 years with such a devastating disease. That is a long time to keep up a daily fight. It has to be so hard to understand that a cancer clinic treated her as just another number, another case. They should have treated her as the unique person that she is. It is beyond me why some medical staff is not taught more about compassion and empathy when dealing with patients. Granted, there are some wonderful medical places and staff out there, but there is a need for more.

It takes a very long time to fully process and acknowledge our loss. Maybe after some time has passed, you might want to revisit the support groups or engage with another grief therapist. Be kind and patient with yourself.

 

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Jay W   

Thank you. I feel for you as well. Its such a terrible experience for all involved. Although my wife was diagnosed in July 2015 the tumours in her lungs were growing so very slowly that we decided that chemo would be more of a problem than leaving things as is. She had no pain and no symptoms. She never had treatment. Even after one year the growth was miniscule.in October last year the oncologist thought we should try for a targeted pill (Gefitinib)in case things got worse down the line. She had a biopsy done and it showed that she was indeed EGFR-positive meaning she could take the one a day pill. That worked fine until December when CT scan showed the pill was reacting badly with the lungs and she was taken off it.
Around Christmas she started acting strange. Shuffling her feet, slurring her words and doing odd things. To me it sounded like a stroke so I took her to the ER and there was no indication of one. In February things got worse and this time they did a brain scan and found the cancer had spread to her brain. They ordered full head radiation which if I knew then what I know now, I would not have approved it. She lost all her long, blonde hair and became almost a vegetable.
The bad thing is when I asked the oncologist if he was surprised he said no. It is common to have brain mets from lung cancer. I asked if he could not have given her a scan earlier and his answer was "its not part of the protocol!"
The same thing in December when the pill went sideways and caused her to have potentially life threatening consequences.
I did some research on two web sites. JAMA and the NEJM and both said that once a patient starts with the pill (Gefitinib) scans should be taken within 2 to 4 weeks. Her scan was 20 weeks! I asked why they did not have an earlier scan. The answer? You guessed it. "Its not part of the protocol!"
I truly feel the oncologist dropped the ball and I guess I could launch a formal complaint which I still may do.
I saw a grief counsellor today and she told me that I should no longer worry about the past situations. Every time I talk about it it causes me more grief. That is true and I knew that. But having her confirm it helped. I could have gone into more frightening detail in the above but think I will take her advice to heart.
Thank you for your reply and I am suffering with you.
 

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Francine   

Jay W

I am so sorry for your loss and know the pain your experiencing.  I am happy you were able to share 35 beautiful years with your wife and from your post it is evident the love you both shared.  Try to think of that love and not the loss.   Always remember her - when you do, it means that you will carry something of who she was with you and that she would have left some mark of who she was on who you are.  It means that you can summon her back to your mind whenever you need even though time may stand between you.  It means that when you meet again, (and you will) you will know each other.   It means that even though she's gone, you can still see her face, hear her voice and speak to her in your heart.  As long as you remember her, she is never gone; you carry her everywhere with you and will do so until you take your last breath. 

When we get to the end of our lives with our loved ones, the house we shared won't matter; the cars we drove won't matter; the things we possessed won't matter;  what will matter is the loved we had for one another and that we were there for one another, mentally, physically, intellectually and perhaps spiritually.  Know that because she lived and loved you, you are a better person.   Be the man she would have wanted you to be and continue living your life for the both of you, I think perhaps she would have wanted you to.  Continue to post; we are all here to help one another get through this horrific grief journey.  It will be long and hard, but hopefully in time it won't sting as much as it does now.  We won't ever get over it, you learn to live with it, to accept it.  It's not something you complete, but something you endure.  It's not a task you finish and move on, but an element of yourself, an alteration of your being; a new way of seeing a new definition of yourself.

My prayer is that in the midst of this darkness for you, God will help you see your light.  HE knows your suffering and bears your grief.  I pray HE gives you HIS strength, love and peace through the most difficult phase of your life.

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Jay W   

To YuYu

Thank you. The complete lack of compassion from the cancer clinic and the hospice does hurt. One small word would have helped. As to hospice the palliative care nurses were good and they visited every day. My wife died at home. But having seen all of the nursing staff over that time I was surprised that only 2 showed me compassion.\

Francine

Thank you for your caring response. I don't know if I am a religious person but do feel spirituality having experienced that when I lost a beloved animal. Two weeks ago a lone eagle twice circled my back yard where I was sitting. It was at tree top height. I tried to follow it to the front but lost sight of it.

We have a lot of eagles in this area but they normally fly much higher and in pairs. I told myself it was my wife checking on me. It gave me some elation.

Today I asked myself what would I want if the situation was reversed. I thought I would not want my wife being sad to the point where I am now, and to enjoy her life. That is what I would want her to do and be happy. And I am certain that is what she wants but whenever I do feel upbeat I get upset with myself because I feel as if I am deserting her.

This whole grief thing is very confusing and nobody really has an answer. I saw my grief counsellor today and asked her if she had ever experienced grief like this. She said no but has experienced grief. I often wonder how the counsellors can tell us what is right if hey do not know how hurt we are. Perhaps experience dealing with other patients.

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KayC   

Jay,

I am so sorry for your loss, it's the hardest thing in the world, there are no words adequate for this.

I'm glad you're seeing a grief counselor, it's hard to navigate this without it.  I know it doesn't help to go over the past but it seems to be a common grief response, like we're trying to come up with a different outcome.  

Having this forum to come to is a godsend.  I've been with my grief forum for over 12 years, I've learned so much from the grief counselor that facilitates it.  Just being able to express yourself to others that "get it" and know you are heard and understand, it means so much.  There is no end to this, but it's a process that is ever changing and evolving.  The best thing I've learned is to take one day at a time.  I may not be able to take on the whole "rest of my life" but I can do this day.  And then get up and do it all over again.

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Jay W   
Quote

 

It is difficult, so difficult. The weather is changing and days are darker and shorter. I have not spoken to anyone for 24 hours. This is what loneliness does to me. I went to get groceries today, something we did together. I don't know what I need or what type so buy whatever I fancy - healthy or not. Do I care at this point. Not really but I have to be practical. I have animals that love me and need care.

When my wife was sick she drank Boost. I would shop for it at this supermarket and today when I went by that aisle I started to cry. To see a grown, older man in tears must have raised questions. Same thing last night when I went to a fast food joint for a wrap. Was crying when they served me. I do not want to keep going but I will.

On a more positive note, if there is one, I sent an email to the cancer clinic chief counsellor expressing my hurt in the fact that they did not care to extend their sympathies when I lost my wife. I told her that my wife was just a number. Now to keep mysek going I am going to vacuum the house.

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1 hour ago, Jay W said:

It is difficult, so difficult. The weather is changing and days are darker and shorter. I have not spoken to anyone for 24 hours. This is what loneliness does to me. I went to get groceries today, something we did together. I don't know what I need or what type so buy whatever I fancy - healthy or not. Do I care at this point. Not really but I have to be practical. I have animals that love me and need care.

When my wife was sick she drank Boost. I would shop for it at this supermarket and today when I went by that aisle I started to cry. To see a grown, older man in tears must have raised questions. Same thing last night when I went to a fast food joint for a wrap. Was crying when they served me. I do not want to keep going but I will.

On a more positive note, if there is one, I sent an email to the cancer clinic chief counsellor expressing my hurt in the fact that they did not care to extend their sympathies when I lost my wife. I told her that my wife was just a number. Now to keep mysek going I am going to vacuum the house.

Don’t worry about what anyone thinks. I’ve been going to the movies a lot lately to see things we had planned on seeing together. I sit there and cry every time. It’s a thing we can’t control. If it bothers others than so be it. Stay strong friend

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KMB   
2 hours ago, Jay W said:

I do not want to keep going but I will.

So many of us do not want to keep going. We don't have a choice in the matter. With so many other things about life, we have choices. This one we do not.

Like you, I have pets that need me. Without them, I really don't know how I would be coping and still here.

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jacbog   

There is very little compassion for men. And I know what I mean. After my wife death my mum got more compassion because of her loss of the daughter-in-law than me. Funeral was the best - I didn't get any condolence from family or friends. None one just came to me and say "I'm sorry for your loss". I was invisible. My wife passed because of the brain cancer, so I know how it feels watching beloved one in this pain.  I don't have contact with anyone too, only with my mum living in other city.

It's hard, but I understood something recently. There is no better way to celebrate our beloved than life a full live. They could't forgive that their death destroyed our life. Every second of your joy is the best pleasure for them. Possibly we will all meet afterlife. And they will tell you exactly the same.

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TeddTodd   
1 hour ago, jacbog said:

There is very little compassion for men. And I know what I mean. After my wife death my mum got more compassion because of her loss of the daughter-in-law than me. Funeral was the best - I didn't get any condolence from family or friends. None one just came to me and say "I'm sorry for your loss". I was invisible. My wife passed because of the brain cancer, so I know how it feels watching beloved one in this pain.  I don't have contact with anyone too, only with my mum living in other city.

It's hard, but I understood something recently. There is no better way to celebrate our beloved than life a full live. They could't forgive that their death destroyed our life. Every second of your joy is the best pleasure for them. Possibly we will all meet afterlife. And they will tell you exactly the same.

I am sorry. We still have this mentality that man is to be strong. But when it comes to lossing your other half, is doesn't matter which side. We feel the same sadness, loneliness... 

To live my life, yes but for me the sadness part is when I think about what he is missing. I have so much things that I wanted to show him. I have so much planned for him... now he is not here. But of coz, he is now in paradise with God and that's better then being with me? It has to be & that what I try to comfort myself. 

Until I catch up with him in heaven. 

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KMB   
9 hours ago, jacbog said:

There is very little compassion for men. And I know what I mean. After my wife death my mum got more compassion because of her loss of the daughter-in-law than me. Funeral was the best - I didn't get any condolence from family or friends. None one just came to me and say "I'm sorry for your loss". I was invisible.

Your wife was your life partner! I am sorry you were not given that respect and empathy you deserved.

And you are right. The best way to honor our beloveds is to live a a life they will be proud of us for.

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KMB   
8 hours ago, TeddTodd said:

To live my life, yes but for me the sadness part is when I think about what he is missing. I have so much things that I wanted to show him. I have so much planned for him... now he is not here.

Our loved ones are not missing out on anything!  Granted, we no longer have their physical presence, but they are with us in their spiritual form. They see and hear us. When we have our reunion with them on our return to Heaven, they will confirm they didn't miss out on a single thing with the rest of our life.

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Francine   
On 10/12/2017 at 8:27 PM, Jay W said:

Today I asked myself what would I want if the situation was reversed. I thought I would not want my wife being sad to the point where I am now, and to enjoy her life. That is what I would want her to do and be happy. And I am certain that is what she wants but whenever I do feel upbeat I get upset with myself because I feel as if I am deserting her.

This whole grief thing is very confusing and nobody really has an answer. I saw my grief counselor today and asked her if she had ever experienced grief like this. She said no but has experienced grief. I often wonder how the counselors can tell us what is right if they do not know how hurt we are. Perhaps experience dealing with other patients.

I would agree with you; I think our loved ones would want us to live and enjoy our lives the best we can and for us, that's one of the most difficult things to do.  We can either be sad, depressed, upset, in the dumps, and spiritless or we can be live life knowing we are better for having them in our lives; we can carry them wherever we go and thank God for allowing them to be a part of us. 

Grief is confusing and there is no answer.  It is a confusing mess full of ups and downs and it doesn't follow a pattern; it's definitely not the same for everyone; but most importantly, it never goes away.  You fight it with everything you have until it subsides.  It may not sting as much, but I'd be lying if I said it goes away completely.  It may rest dormant for days, weeks or even years, but then something triggers it.  A smell, sound, song, the smallest recollection, and once again, you will be infected.

I think grief counseling (one-on-one or group) is very helpful and I would strongly recommend it.   I did both and they both were very supportive and I believe I benefited from them; however I think I received the most from the group counseling. Perhaps because the members had gone through what I'm going through, and was able to literally feel the pain I was and still am experiencing; a closer bond shared than the one-one-one counselor who never experienced a loss so close.  Hang in there; we're all on this journey together and somehow, someday, our pain won't be so devastating as it is now. 

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KayC   
On 10/14/2017 at 1:20 PM, Jay W said:

It is difficult, so difficult. The weather is changing and days are darker and shorter. I have not spoken to anyone for 24 hours. This is what loneliness does to me. I went to get groceries today, something we did together. I don't know what I need or what type so buy whatever I fancy - healthy or not. Do I care at this point. Not really but I have to be practical. I have animals that love me and need care.

When my wife was sick she drank Boost. I would shop for it at this supermarket and today when I went by that aisle I started to cry. To see a grown, older man in tears must have raised questions. Same thing last night when I went to a fast food joint for a wrap. Was crying when they served me. I do not want to keep going but I will.

On a more positive note, if there is one, I sent an email to the cancer clinic chief counsellor expressing my hurt in the fact that they did not care to extend their sympathies when I lost my wife. I told her that my wife was just a number. Now to keep mysek going I am going to vacuum the house.

Well, vacuuming is something you can do.  Grief counseling would be another good step.  I can relate to the breaking down in the grocery store...my daughter had to get groceries for me the first couple of months, it was too hard because that was something we always did together.  And then I'd see something he'd love...  It's hard.

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Jay W   

Am seeing a grief counsellor but am still holding back some things I want to say. Tried a grief group but did not like it at all. Selfish maybe but I want to help my grief and not listen to 20 other people talking about their grief. I can appreciate what they are going through but handling my own is hard enough.

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KayC   

Most people aren't ready for a grief support group right away.  It might help to find a group on down the road that is smaller.  It helps to know there are others going through this and see the commonalities and know you aren't crazy, your feelings are normal under the circumstances.

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