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Anticipatory grief


Yvonneka

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Hello everyone, 

I am new here, so I hope I have submitted this correctly.. I am a 25 yo f currently taking care of my 27 yo boyfriend. We have been together 6 years. 4 of those years have been spent with him battling cancer. Though he has been fighting cancer, he has always been able to manage his care and did so very adamantly. But we are now approaching end-stage. We are currently out of all treatment options and are trying to buy time for him to get set up with a clinical trial. However that won't be ready for him until the end of December and his cancer has recently taken a turn for the worse. He just finished 5 days of radiation in hopes to buy him more time, but it has made him extremely fatigued, sleeping 12+ hrs a day. He is on a consistent dose of pain medication, so he is always a little out of it. He is unable to manage his own care, so I have taken over. I feel like my best friend was ripped away from me in an instant and now I am struggling to balance his care as well as my own. His family is supportive, but not in the way that I need them to be. I am exhausted and scared because I feel like I am watching his inevitable death unfold right in front of me. I don't have anyone to speak to about what it feels like to lose your best friend and life partner, on top of having to watch it all happen. I have been seeing a therapist, but even that does not resonate all the pain that I am feeling. I so desperately want to be understood and I'm hoping that I can find that here. Just curious if there is anyone else out there who knows what this feels like and to please reach out. Thank you and happy thanksgiving everyone. 

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Hello I'm so sorry for what you're going through. Yes I went through something similar, although it seems you are doing a better job of facing what you don't want to face than I did. I wish you whatever peace and comfort and especially strength you can find in this insane time and hope this site can help. It's a great group of people. Feel free to unload here any time. We "get it."

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Luminescense

I'm so sorry to hear this =( and this breaks my heart with you both being so young. 

Caregiving burnout is a real thing, too. It's wonderful that you're being there for your boyfriend. Your love for your boyfriend is definitely strong and I'm sure you're an amazing caregiver. You also need time for yourself so that you can continue to offer loving, strong support. It is okay to take a break in order to keep caregiving a bit less exhausting. 

When our cup is empty emotionally, it becomes so much harder to give and this is why self-care is so important.

I'm sorry to hear that his folks aren't supportive in the way you need them to be. Is there a way that you can express to his family what you need from them right now? It may be worth a try, especially if they want to be supportive and helpful.

Anticipatory grief hurts and it's this big mix of emotions going on, which can get a bit overwhelming. It's difficult grieving a person that is alive in front of you, but that's what this is because you know. It is a process, just as grief always is. Allow yourself to feel those emotions, take time with those emotions, and administer self-care as you need. 


 

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@Yvonneka  Yes, I've been there, I took care of my sweet MIL for three years when she was bedridden with cancer, couldn't walk, nothing.  They thought she'd last two weeks, nope, three years.  I took my babies down there and tiptoed around, taking care of her and their home, hosting company, etc.  I don't know how I did it, but there were no groups in those days, at least none in my town and no time to travel 120 mile round trip to one.

All I know is, get whatever help is available.  We had Home health, that was good, they came 2-3 times/week.  Anticipatory grief is like taking shots all over our body every day, never know what a stab will bring.  I'd have been doing anticipatory grief with my sister the last couple of years except I didn't know she'd die so soon...she was disabled and had dementia, so I'd go down to her house, would have to teach her how to use the phone (again), cook for her, only to find she didn't eat it, instead she ate pastries (Diabetic), in the end it got her.  Lost her 3/28/22.  Her husband died 1 1/2 years before her.  Married 50 years, I lost him (cancer) 9/23/20.

You are so young to have to go through this, I am so sorry.  His family probably finds it easier to shove it all off on you.  Out of mind, easier than dealing with it.  Again, you'll have to speak up and let them know exactly what you need from them, spell it out clearly (I need you here such & such day) to help out while I get groceries, etc.  Or just take a break.  


Anticipatory Grief and Mourning
Anticipatory Grief: Symptoms and Purpose

My heart goes out to you.  It's the hardest thing in the world and then to lose them on top of it, shocking and hard hitting.  I know no easy answers.  Keep coming here, vent, cry, scream!:wub:
 

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During our 46 year marriage, my wife said she wanted to die first. Last year, mostly bedridden from an inherited disease and having occasion seizures, she brought it up again. I wept profusely in front of her at just the thought of her passage. She was quite surprised and hugged me speechlessly.

This year, I had significant health problems after developing multiple myeloma. Separated unwillingly for almost six months, her first in a respite center, and then a nursing home. She developed severe panic attacks and seizures in the last two months. Our reunion was quite joyous. I felt she’d be coming home from the nursing home soon. And she seemed quite happy. We hugged, kissed and tickled each other like teenagers. My brother took me home shortly after, with me walking on air.

Two days later, she suffered a major seizure and died. I found out about it over the phone…

Was she trying to beat me to the grave? Had she had enough of the nursing home? Was she expecting me to take her home right away? Worst of all, had I said the wrong thing or screwed up some other way? Was her medical condition completely out of our control, meaning she was already close to death? I of course will never quite know. I’ve since found out that this is normal when a death is unexpected. A widowed neighbor described the same thing when her husband passed suddenly. But it’s very tough. I still cry almost every day, and I’m told both by my neighbor and my twice widowed aunt this will be normal for at least a year.

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Robert D.

Yvonneka

I am very sorry for what you and boyfriend are going through. I prayed for you both just now and want you to know that you are not alone. It is the hardest thing  in life that you are going through right now....and the wonderful people in here understand what you are going through ...and we are here for you. 

God bless!! I am praying for God to help you both through this!

Robert 

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12 hours ago, ThirdG said:

Worst of all, had I said the wrong thing or screwed up some other way?

None of this is your fault!  I'm sorry you lost your wife of so many years, that has to be very hard.  Thinking of you and wishing you some peace...

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On 11/26/2022 at 7:45 PM, ThirdG said:

[...] Worst of all, had I said the wrong thing or screwed up some other way? [...]

Hugs, ThirdG. I do also struggle with similar self-doubts and self-question. Sometimes, it's not even so much did I "screw up" or say the "wrong" thing, so much as... what else could or might I have said or done, that might, possibly, potentially have made things 'easier', 'more comfortable', 'more comforting' for him?

But then. Did we do everything that we knew at the time and could think of at the time, to make things easier and more comfortable and more comforting for them?

There is the platitude that goes, "Hindsight is 20/20" -- but sometimes there is a proper place and time for such kinds of platitudes.

It's still a struggle for me, but I also try to remind myself that I couldn't possibly say and do things that I didn't, at that time, think or know to do or say. It is most difficult to not beat up on my own self with my hindsight (my so-called or supposed "grief wisdom and insights") that I've acquired since. But, we've still got to try to not beat-up on our own self so badly and so all of the time, right? (At least, I think he wouldn't want me to be doing that to my self.)  But still, it for sure ain't easy for me to not do it; ain't at all easy to kind of go just a little bit easier on my own Self!

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Valerie Lockhart

Dear Yvonneka, 

I'm so sorry that your love one has cancer. I watched my grandfather slowly deteriorate from cancer. He confided in me and told me how he wanted a military funeral. He didn't think my grandmother was strong enough to handle things. My reassurance that I would take care of my grandmother helped him. I found it helpful to not ever let any of my loved ones feel that they were burden to me. I showed empathy. I learned to tune in to their feelings so that I would know what to talk about and when. Sometimes they may want to unburden themselves, and at other times it is the last subject they wish to talk about. Since cancer is a very personal battle, a strong faith can help. I've found that prayer, which is communication with God, can have a very calming influence. As the Bible states: “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 4:6, 7. I've also learned that according to fulfilled Bible prophecy, the time is near when God “will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” Yes, under God’s Kingdom rule, cancer, along with all other scourges, will be eliminated. That time is near.—Revelation 21:3, 4; Luke 21:29-33. May you find strength and comfort in the Bible's promises.

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