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Way too long / journal of Bill's death


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It’s been almost five weeks now since Bill’s death and it feels more like five months. I’ve done everything that every good-intentioned person has told me to do. I’ve cried when I wanted to cry. I’ve laughed when I’ve been able to laugh. I eat when I can. I sleep when I can. Yet, still I find myself lying in bed every night asking myself if it is real. Is he really gone? Is he really never going to be sitting on the end of the couch again with his surround sound way too loud and the sweat from his iced drink rolling down the end table? I guess this is grief? Some days, especially the day after his funeral, I wake up and feel like it’s a new day and today is the day I’m going to take back my life. I have even felt guilty and asked myself how I can feel so good, is it possible that I am finished grieving? But then the next morning dawns and I realize that I hurt more now than I did the moments and hours following his death. One step forward, two steps back.

As I move further from that afternoon on December 9th, I’m able to put the events of the day and the days prior into perspective and I can even begin to feel comforted. Maybe reading this will help some people, but I’m really just writing it all down to get it out and make myself feel better, so please bear with me and if you do happen to read all of these random thoughts…thanks for your patience and love.

WARNING…some of what I’m about to share may/could/will be painful or cause fear; my hope is that it will help, not hurt.

On Thursday, December 1st, Bill grabbed me the moment I walked into the house from an afternoon meeting and insisted that we go to the mall. He wanted to do some Christmas shopping for his daughters and since we were out…go out for dinner. I pushed back and said that I was tired and we could go tomorrow when I would be home with him all day long. He insisted, so off we went. While at the mall he stopped by a jewelry store and asked me to look at a three-stone necklace. I looked at it, it was beautiful and he wanted to buy it for me for Christmas; but I balked at the idea reminding him that I was on family medical leave and we had many other gifts to buy and I didn’t need any material gifts from him. Ahhh, but he again insisted and I, for the first time, relented and let him buy it for me. As we were walking out of the mall I teased that I didn’t want to wait until Christmas to wear it and he handed it to me and said to go ahead and wear it now. He said that we should celebrate Christmas tonight because he would not be here for the holidays. I looked at him like he was nuts. Here we are, he is feeling good, we are shopping and going out for dinner and Christmas is less than four weeks away…what is he talking about? That night I hit a large pot-hole on the drive home and the jolt in the car sent him reeling into a pain he would never be able to control. We spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday working with Hospice to try to get his pain under control. It wasn’t that it was so painfully intense, just that it was constant and nagging and he was unable to enjoy the weekend. By Monday morning Toni (our Hospice nurse) was at our home evaluating him and decided to triple his oxycontin. Because of some of Bill’s symptoms and the area of his pain, Toni felt it was important to let us (me) know that she was suspicious that Bill may have a tumor growing into the blood vessels near his heart. If so, then we (the family) should be prepared that it was possible for the vessel(s) to rupture at any moment. The rupture would bring upon Bill’s death within seconds and would be completely painless for Bill. It would, however, be frightening for us to watch or find as the rupture would cause massive amounts of blood to come from his eyes, nose, mouth and ears. Okay…I’m prepared for that, as long as he doesn’t suffer. Tuesday comes and the increased meds are doing nothing for his pain, which is getting out of control. As I’m getting him into bed Tuesday evening, he tells me that we need to talk, we need to say “our” good-byes as he knows the increased meds are going to be kicking in full force and he fears we won’t have another chance. We spent the best 15 minutes of our life together that evening and squeezed so many things into those brief moments. Wednesday morning Toni returns to find Bill is unable to get out of bed and is coughing up a white foamy substance with what looks like black ashes sprinkled in. I’d soon learn that the black ash was actually old blood that had been leaking into his lungs and he was swallowing when he coughed. Toni was wonderful. She again assessed him and informed me (my brother was with me as he stopped in that morning to check on Bill) that she didn’t expect Bill to make it thru the weekend and it was time for Bill to begin taking the oral morphine to manage his pain. We went into the bedroom as I had asked Toni to tell him. He agreed to the morphine and squeezed my hand and said that it was a good thing we already celebrated Christmas. When she asked him if there was anything she could do to make him more comfortable he asked for a hospital bed. We had discussed his dying at home and always planned for him to remain in our bed so there would be plenty of room for me to lie next to him; but now he decided that he did not want to die in a bed that I would have to return to sleep in alone. Hospice had a hospital bed at our home within two hours. By the time the bed arrived our home was alive with more than a dozen people. From Wednesday morning, until Bill passed away on Friday afternoon, there were never less than 10 people with us…some times as many as 20 family and friends. People were dropping off food and drinks, putting up a Christmas tree in our family room (where Bill was), keeping a fire in the fireplace and the Christmas music was playing round the clock. Early in the morning on Thursday Bill’s breathing became shallow and we all expected that it was time, but then he became agitated and wanted to get out of bed (just as all the literature we read said could happen just before he passes). He was more alert than he had been in almost 24 hours and he begged me to let him get up and go the bathroom. With help from many, we managed to get him into the bathroom. I closed the door and stood alone holding him up over the toilet as I heard a strange gurgling noise and looked up to see him begin to vomit. He began to projectile vomit massive amounts of dark black blood. All I could think of as I stood there holding him around his waist was that it was over. This was the bleeding I was warned of, his body will be going limp and he will be free. I struggled to keep him up, crying and telling him good-bye and that it was over, but fearing that I would drop him into this mess in the bathroom. Others in the house could hear the commotion and I begged someone to come into the bathroom and help me. All I remember is looking into the vanity mirror on the wall and seeing the expressions on their faces as they opened the door and saw all the blood. Everyone seemed unable to help me and without a thought I picked him up and carried him by myself back to his bed, still expecting this to be the end. He drifted into a peaceful sleep and his blood pressure leveled off. It wasn’t over, not yet. Hospice arrived shortly after, took one look at the bathroom and the blood loss and said that he should not be alive still and if it happened again, he would not survive again…but it did and he did survive…two more times. By the early hours of the morning on Friday a snow storm struck, leaving everyone stranded. I would lie in the bed with Bill and people were camped out all over the family room and in every bedroom or couch in our home. This dying process seemed to last an eternity and as his morphine wore off every four hours, he was clearly in pain. Around 2 p.m. on Friday, Bill’s mother took a seat near his head and took his hand. She told him that it was time to let go. She told him that we would all be okay and that she needed him to go on ahead and wait for her as she would be with him soon. At this time, no one, not even his mother, knew she would be with him in less than three weeks. At 2:10 p.m. on Friday he took a few deep breaths and went to heaven. I only remember the fear and panic that set in during those moments. All those months of “thinking” I was prepared, all those shared conversations of promising Bill that I would be okay…what was I thinking? Nothing happened the way I thought it would. Nothing felt the way I thought it would. After months of being strong and determined and sneaking off to cry alone…the damn broke and I realized just how much I really truly deeply madly loved my husband. I have no advice to offer to anyone. I haven’t yet learned anything from my experience that I can share.

It may be a comfort to some to know that during the two days that Bill was on his path, there were some moments of coherency, though they were brief. At one moment I had asked everyone to leave the room so that I could change the bed sheet and give him a quick bath. Bill awoke when he felt the blankets pull back and motioned towards the Christmas tree and said that I needed to wait until his Grandmother left the room. I asked him if she was in the room and he said she was, so I asked her to step into the next room with everyone else. Bill’s cherished Grandmother passed away while he was in the military some 25 plus years ago. And then his cousin, Lisa, came in and he told her that his other cousin (Lisa’s brother who died suddenly at 41 years old in March) was just telling him a good joke. I take comfort in these moments and feel like I witnessed these moments for a reason, a good reason. In one of his last moments of coherency, he asked me about Brian (BRAT) and I told him that I was sure he was okay, but I hadn’t been on LCSC to find out. In a fleeting moment I feared that Bill was trying to tell me something had happened to Brian, but he quickly eased that fear by telling me to tell Pat he would take care of Brian. On January 1st at 5:30 p.m., I stood in Bill’s mother’s ICU room and felt his presence. She was at peace and things she did in the moments before her death made us know that she was with him again. She coded as her heart stopped beating and we were exited from the room. Expecting the doctors to come out and tell us she was gone, we were surprised when they came out at 5:45 to tell us that they were able to stabilize her and she was on a ventilator. Seeing her on life support was terrible. I sat in the ICU room crying and asking Bill why he is letting her suffer? Only moments later at 6:10, she passed away peacefully. I don’t think she suffered, I later figured out that she was waiting for Bill to finish helping Brian, who passed away at 5:40 on New Years Day.

I returned to work yesterday and I’m trying to adjust to my new normal. It’s very hard. Writing all of this has helped me. I truly hope that my words do not cause pain or fear for any others. I love you Pat and I’m thinking of you constantly. I know that together we can help each other get thru this with the knowledge that Bill and Brian are together and will be waiting for us one day.

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Beth, you are going through everything I did and you are doing the right thing. It has only been five weeks for you. It has now been 13 months for me. I can only tell you that it's one foot ahead of the other one step at a time. Another way I have of dealing with it is to write letters to him. It just makes me feel better when I need it. I feel he knows I'm writing to him.

Just know you are normal and you are not alone. There are many of us going through it. And we all respond differently.

love, Cyndy

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that was an amazing account, Beth. some of it is scary, yes, but I am left with the feeling that when/if my mother, or anyone else, asks me to be with them at that moment in their life, I will find it, somewhere in me, to do it. I suspect you would never have believed, had you read that story from someone else, that you could have handled it but you did.

so thank you for your example of a true life partner, thank you for your honesty and willingness to bare that most intimate of experiences, and thank you for the privilage of knowing both of you during Bill's last months here with us.

love and prayers continue for you, your kids and all of your loved ones.



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Beth, thank you for sharing this with us and I sincerely hope it has helped you a little. It is 17 months for me. I still expect him to walk in the door.

As Cyndy says, you take it one step at a time, sometimes one minute at a time. I think I am surprised that I still have that horrible broken hearted feeling and still fill up.

I want to relate something that happened to me just two nights ago. You know that sleep that happens after you wake up in the morning and can just sort of doze. The dreams you have then are usually whacko. Well in this one, after a bunch of strange stuff, I was lying in bed with a fake alligator (yep whacko). I looked over and Earl was lying next to me, saying, he really did not like the alligator. At that moment we shared 3 small kisses and they were Earl kisses. It was not sad, it was a very happy moment.

So Beth, sweetie, this new life stinks. But how wonderful that we had those great men who loved us so much. Not everyone can say that.

I wish you happy moments and memories.

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No words can tell you how I feel. I can't begin to know how you forget these painful memories, but I also see a lot of beautiful memories to comfort you. I pray that you can soon focus on the good and loving moments. I have to believe that is what Bill wanted for you. It's a good thing that we can't forsee exactly what will happen to us , but I am convinced more than ever that God was there with you through all of it .. There is no other way you could have gotten to where you are today. I pray that the days ahead be filled with comfort and that slowly , but surely you will find a way to live and laugh again. God be with you.



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Dear Beth

Your story is very hearbreaking yet at the same time very reassuring. I know how hard it was to write that because you relive it but it has been such a short time for you that you are probably still reliving it anyway. I want to thank you for sharing with us. That means that you trust us to understand and that means a lot.

Writing can be painfull but I have found it to be a very good way to get things off my chest. You should start a daily journal and write everything you feel and think there. Later you can go back and see how far you have come.

You had a great experience with Bill sharing the people who had came for him with you. That is something you really need to document and hold on to. When times get bad that can give you some comfort. I have little doubt that you will have some other experiences that will help you so hold on to those as well. I think the hardest part of losing someone is not realizing that they are not gone completely. They do still exist and you did get to see proof of that. That is a gift to help you when you are ready.

Please take care and contiue to share with us. We all want to be here for you. And for you and the others who have questioned our own strength all I can say is that we never know our own strength or capabilites until someone we love needs us. Then we become Superwoman if we have to.

I do hope that getting this off of your chest has helped you. When ever you need to do that again remember that is what this forum is for. God Bless and comfort you. Lillian

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Reading that helped me. I'm not sure why... I guess because I haven't talked about what happened those last few days with Mom yet... and somehow your sharing what happened with Bill made me feel less alone in that. So thank you.

You are remarkable. And I just feel honored to know you even a little bit.

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The torture you've endured is much too much. Your strength at 5 weeks is incredible. It's 3 weeks today for me and I wonder if I'll ever crawl out of the hole.

I believe that he was entering heaven when he spoke of taking care of Brian and his family members. It really reminded of the book that I've picked up called 90 Minutes in Heaven. It was a suggested read by someone on this site - Heaven is supposed to be a beautiful, wonderful place according to the author. He didn't want to come back but he did after being pronounced dead at the scene of a horrible accident. I remember Matty who appeared on Oprah Winfrey who had gone to heaven and when he was brought back he was upset to have had to come back. I have to believe that our loved ones are in a better place.

Love and healing to you. I hope to follow in your footsteps one step at a time.


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Dear Beth,

Thank you for all the time,effort,energy and love it took to write this experience and share it with us. I will soon lose my Dad, I am so afraid and pray every day we will be able to control his pain. I find such comfort when you describe seeing loved ones that have passed....it is the one thing I so hope for and somehow I know my grandmother is going to help my Dad......that she is waiting for him.

Thank you again Beth


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I am sitting here with tears streaming down my cheeks. That was so heartfelt and as soon as I am finished responding to this, I will go to Joel and give him a big hug and kiss.

You had such a beautiful marriage and Bill was such a wonderful man. Thank you for sharing that and I pray it helped you heal somewhat.

Bill really had a special insight as he knew he would not be there for Xmas and wanted you two to have your Xmas early. That pendant symbolizes the love he has for you and will be your salvation. As you wear it and when you put your hand on it you will feel Bill is with you. That is so special.

Peace be with you Beth,


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Sweet Beth,

I know that Bill was with us on New Year's Day. I know he was.

Thank you for your love and this tribute you have written to your love for each other.

I am so raw and so sad and so lonely I could curl up in a ball and stay there.

I, too, am going to work. Monday.

The routine will help.

I want my Brian to be happy and peaceful as he is right now, but selfishly, I wish he could be here just for a minute.

Many tears, many hugs and much much love


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Dear Beth,

I'm so sorry you had to go through so much with Bill at the end. I know how stressful it is to watch someone you love pass away. It truely seems overwhelming to be responsible for their care too. It is amazing the strength we have within us to handle these times.

It is so comforting to know that Bill saw people he knew before he passed. My Dad also saw loved ones before he passed. I knew he would never be alone. He would go from our loving arms to theirs.

I pray that the Lord will give you strength in the months ahead. Be kind to yourself and know that I will always be here to listen.


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Hi Beth, thanks for sharing it and I am so proud that I could share the last chapter of Bill here, seems that I were there.

Bill was an amazing guy, you both had celebrated the christmas. Somehow i believe, patient itself would know how close they are to the end of their lives because they owned their body, they can feel it. I found some similarities from my dad's dying process, there was truly a moment his physical condiition had got better/rebounce, this is not subjective but it's true as I could read his physical readings from machines though he couldn't speak/wake up etc.

It is very amazing that Bill met his Grandma in the room, and also the story of Bill's mum. Thanks for sharing as I also am re-assured that all our loved ones are now very good and having a reunion with others.

With all my best thoughts to you, take care Beth!

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