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What now?


jme

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The last time I posted here was in May. My life has been such a whirlwind, I haven't had time. I'm not even sure I'm posting in the right forum. If not, sorry.

My signature goes through most of the story, but here's the abridged version. My husband, Jeff, became sick in February. In April, after several biopsies, they figured out it was lung cancer, but didn't know what kind. He had all kinds of complications (seizures, superior vena cava syndrome, mets to all of his organs, had to get thoracentesis often to drain fluid from lungs, bile duct stents,etc)and by July, he had spent about 25 out of every 30 days in the hospital.

We knew it was really bad by then and took a trip to the west coast of Fl. He was almost too weak to walk, but we stayed mellow and made some good memories. Jeff could see our boys playing on the beach out of the cottage window (he was propped up on the sofa bed) and we spent a lot of time talking. I tried to get him to write letters to the boys, but he wasn't ready yet.

When we got home, he had a PET scan that revealed that the cancer was in just about every organ and moving fast. It had only been in his lungs just a couple of months before. We decided to stop treatment and go into Hospice home care. We were told tht he'd still have months to say goodbye. 3 weeks later he began to not recognize me. Our younger son (6 yrs) was scared of him. This bald, 70 pound man with tumors popping out everywhere under his skin and wild eyes...this man who couldn't walk on his own or breathe without an oxygen tank...this could not be his daddy that was coaching his Little League team just a few months ago. His daddy that would read to him every night and take him to Dunkin Donuts on Saturday mornings. HIs daddy that now couldn't even swallow a drink of water.

Jeff decided to go to the Hospice house. He didn't want us to live with the memories of him dying in our house or risk scaring our boys any more. He went in on a Tuesday. He didn't wake up at all on Saturday. I had the boys come and say goodbye. On Sunday morning, he woke up. I could see that he recognized me and I told him it was ok to let go. I held his hand and tried to be strong as he died. I laid in the bed with him and hugged him and kissed him. It was the first time I was able to touch my husband without causing him pain in months.

He never wrote those letters to the boys. There was so much that he wanted to tell them and leave them...something they would have later on to know how proud he was of them. Our little one is forgetting him already. He tells me that he remembers what he sees in pictures, but he doesn't really remember his daddy anymore.

My question is now what? He died 6 months ago. The boys and I did HOspice counseling and we "graduated". Our now 14 year old has run away twice. Our 6 year old is having some severe social issues that are definitely related to anger. I still go through weeks where I only sleep for 2 hours a night and can't eat. Then I just want to crawl into bed and not come out. I'm trying to stay active and focused and be a good mom. But on days like today...days where all I can think of when I try to remember are the last 6 months of Jeff's life and not the wonderful 10 years we had before that...I just don't know what to do.

Pray. Breathe. Put one foot in front of the other. It's not enough. I want to be doing better by now. I want to take the pain away from my children. I feel powerless.

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I am so sorry for your loss and what you and your family are going through now. I wish I had some answers for you but I'm sure that someone on this site will be able to help. I'm sure that your husband was so happy to be able to have the time with all of you in Florida. You'll always have those memories. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Shelley

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How can I be doing so well for so long and then fall apart like this today? My kids are watching tv and getting PB&Js for dinner and I'm a blubbering mess sitting in front of my computer, looking for someone I don't even know to give me a magical cure all answer that doesn't exist.

Am I just feeling sorry for myself? One of my students brought me in a picture of my younger son and Jeff that was on the fridge in the concession stand of the ball park where Jeff coached. They were both in their uniforms. Jeff looked healthy and happy and Zeke was cracking up. I took one look at that picture and had to walk out of my classroom and have another teacher come in. I was bawling before I reached the door.

I thought that the pain would lessen in time. Isn't that what's supposed to happen?

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6 months is truly not that long when you are grieving. My heart just aches for you and your boys. I am glad to see that you are posting and letting us help you even if it is only to lend an ear or shoulder.

I understand that the Hospice counseling ended, but am wondering if you have looked into another line of therapy? Adolescent counseling definitely sounds like it would be in order for the 14 yr old. Such a tough age to begin with but to lose his Dad as well must be unbearable. Your little one might do well with a family or adjustment counselor.

I wonder if you have spoken to your doctor about anti depressants? Many folks find that they are very beneficial and make things a bit easier as you are getting back on your feet and trying to adjust to the new life you are faced with.

Your emotions are raw, this is still very, very new to you. The pain will become bearable with time, you will come to terms with it. Be gentle and kind to yourself and please remember that we are here for you. Keep posting, let us know how you are and what we can do to help?

Sending many prayers for you and your children,

Christine

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There are no words or magical cures that I could offer....

I didn't lose a husband... I lost my Mom, but at six months I was only scratching the surface of it really starting to hurt. It got a whole lot worse before it got any 'better.' Don't rush yourself to be 'ok.' You are grieving.

I just ache at your post. I ache for your boys. I ache for you. I ache for how unexpectedly fast everything went for you and how blazingly unfair that is.

I don't have any magic words, but I really, really do care.

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I am 13 months out and different story. Same ending though. I know how you feel. We have walked a million miles it seems some days and we get nowhere except a step backwards the next day. I would definitely agree with Christine on something for the kids. That is a young and impressionable age for both of them to go through something so very traumatic. As adults it is not as confusing and scary, as for children. I :) amtrying not to cry reading this because I understand your pain. It will take time though. The pain will get duller and less frequent, but it will always be there for a true Love Like ours for our spouses. We make huge progress daily and get thrown under the bus the next day. I cry my eyes out at nite some nites still. I go out every night, under the stars and I talk to Deb. tell her everything before bed. Then I say my prayers for everyone here. I never used Hospice or had any counseling. I kind of did my own thing the way i thought to do it. I am nowhere near being an expert on these things. I just know that things will chenge as long as we go forward and do not go back wards. It is ok to look back and remember, but never take the steps going back ward. THere is one thing that no person can ever take away from us and that is the memories. Those we cherish forever.

tHis is a link that we use here for grief help sometimes and it may help in locating or getting some ideas for the Kids. Sending Prayers and Positive thoughts and Big warm blankets from the dryer tonite.

http://beyondindigo.com/

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Six months isn't that long since you lost your love, and since the boys lost their dad...although at times it may feel like years....

The only advice I can offer is to surround yourself in support. Get more counselling and therapy for the boys, get some grief support for yourself.

It's such a tentative time right now and you can't be expected to be all things to your children when you are so raw and hurting yourself.

I started to let the neighbors help out, enrolled my son in Tae Kwon Do to get out his frustrations and anger issues, I even gave in to anti-anxiety meds when I thought I needed them.

Take it a moment at a time, and be gentle on yourself. I'm keeping you and your boys in my prayers. Please keep posting...it really does help.

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I am so sorry for all the hurts you are having and the hard times too.

Be honest with the kids and push them to be honest with you. Let them know it is okay to be angry. Then try to find ways to deal with it. Katie has made some very good suggestions.

You and the kids are in my prayers.

Shirley

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I'm so sorry for the heartbreak and pain you're going through, and for your kids.

I have not been where you are now, but I can't agree more with what everyone says about finding support for all of you. It doesn't surprise me that it would hit you so hard six months later. With kids at home, I imagine you have been very focused on their grief and staying strong for them.

I had one practical idea. You said your husband was not able to write letters to the kids. I'm wondering if you might be able to write them for him? Perhaps sharing memories of the kids and their dad when they were young -- things they might not remember? Maybe sharing some of your own fondest memories. Perhaps with pictures in a scrapbook for each of them? I don't know -- it's just a thought. Maybe allowing the good memories to come in and writing them down might help in some small way.

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I am so very sorry for the pain you are going through. I know, all too well, what you are going through as I, too, lost my husband. My children were older but the loss of their dad was extremely hard for them to handle. As others have said, six months is not a very long time. Everything that you have known for the past years has changed. The pain will get easier but it will take time. Just remember that Jeff will always live in the hearts of you and your children. Dennis once told me that "everytime you think of me, I'll be alive." Now, my memories and thoughts of the 26 years we shared together keep him alive...in my heart and mind. I notice that you mentioned having trouble sleeping. This is definitley something you need to talk with your doctor about and get some help with. You have a demanding job, in addition to being both a mom and dad now. don't get so overwhelmed caring for others that you forget to care for yourself. You'll find that a good night's sleep will make the day easier to deal with. My heart aches for you, as I can fell what you are going through. I really do get it!!! Please PM me if you would like to talk...any time.

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I lost my hubby (not to LC) when he was 29, me 27 and my son only 9 months. So for my son, it was not as hard as what your sons are experiencing. For you, it really is OK to have one of these days or weeks-it happens. For me, once I started getting to the point where I WANTED to feel better, I started doing things like balloon releases on his birthday, made a scrapbook of our life, planted a tree in his honor-things to celebrate his life and our love. It was hard, but I felt like I was actually DOING SOMETHING TO HELP MYSELF. Counsling was the same for me-it wasn't really the content of the counseling so much as it was the fact that I was again doing something to help myself. I am now 6 years out from losing my hubby and I can smile when I think of him, tell my son all about him (Good and bad) and I'm OK. I really am.

I can only hope that my experience can help you in some small way. PLEASE BE GENTLE ON YOURSELF. We are here, keep talking.

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Dear ???

I don't have enough time right now to read everyone's reply to you on this, so I might be repeating what everyone else already said.

You have not given yourself enough time. You are expecting and wanting to get better, but I was JUST EXACTLY LIKE YOU! I got worse before I got better, and it was somewhere between the 5-6 month time that I started thinking, "Where's the better?" I guess I thought it should be faster, too, but it wasn't.

My son is much older than your children, but he too has reacted in anger. His anger has diminished as far as losing his dad, but he has a lot of regrets in regard to his dad, so it's going to take a very long time for him to come to terms with those issues.

I'm thinking that even though your boys are much younger, and it probably won't take quite as long, it still takes a long time for them to work through things. I know all kids are different, but I think the most traumatic time for any child who has lost a parent is adolescence through at least their early 20s, if not even older. I just don't think most kids at that age have given much thought at all to death and just know life as it is and assume it will continue as it is forever. They just don't think about it! I know of several young teenagers who have struggled incredibly with the loss of a parent, including running away, getting into trouble, anger, etc.

Someone here has probably already suggested counseling, and my guess is they (at least the 14-year-old) might resist this with a vengeance. If he does, still make him go.

I am 18 months away from losing my husband, and I can so identify with what you are going through right now. There was just NO WAY I could focus on the 38 good years. All I could focus on was HE'S GONE! I knew I was supposed to be grateful and feel blessed for all those years God gave him to me, and of course, I am and was grateful, but that still did not do one d*@# thing to ease my thoughts about the fact that HE WAS GONE! Only in the past few months have the days begun to really begin to move into that phase.

So, my point is this: It's OK!!!!!! What you are feeling is OK. Your timeframe for healing is fine right where it is. Same with your kids. Just take it one day at a time, and keep that attitude that you obviously have that you WANT to get better. Even though I was where you are, I still WANTED to get better, and eventually it started to happen. I think when deep down in someone's heart they don't want to get better - that's a sign of trouble on the way.

Hang in there, honey. Please! My prayers are for you and your boys!

Love,

Peggy

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I lost my husband on Easter last year (April 16th) after almost 25 years of marriage. My low point was at 6 months. About that time, I went to grief counseling in addition to my regular one-on-one counseling, which helped me. However, since Valentine's Day last week, I have been in another low point. I know it will get better and I'm trying not to beat myself up over it. Everyone is different and we all handle things differently. As someone has said on here, "it is what it is."

I agree with the others about getting counseling especially for the 14 year old. I also believe in prayer and have people pray for me quite often. Hang in there. PM me if you would like to talk. Take care. Praying for you.

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Thank you all for this support.

My little one is still getting counseling and my teenager was in a "Teen Group" for a while, but he didn't want to go anymore because it was taking time away from other things he wanted to do. I don't want to force him or for him to see it as a punishment. The boys will go to Camp Good Grief with other kids who have lost their parents in April. We're going on a trip this summer to NC where we all used to go every summer. We have done lots of great family bonding-memory stuff...sand sculptures on the beach, family collages that each boy has in his room full of pictures of them with Jeff and of all 4 of us together. The day before Jeff died, I made clay impressions of his thumb and wrote "I'll always love you" on them. I told the boys that Jeff woke up enough that day to write it himself. All 3 of us have our own. I don't know if it makes things better or worse though. SOmetimes Zeke (6) gets upset because he doesn't have memories of his own anymore and all he know are the pictures and what we talk about...and we talk about him all the time. Good stuff. Fun memories. But sadly, the few things that Zeke does remember are negative...times when Jeff yelled at him or something. I know that's normal for kids, but it breaks my heart. I thought that Teva(14) would be taking this the hardest, but he is doing better now. A male friend of mine who lost his dad when he was 15 has been spending time with him and giving him some guy time. It's made a big difference with him.

The funny thing is that in the beginning, I had all kinds of support from my friends and family. I was surrounded and it felt good. I could look at Jeff's death as a blessing because he didn't have to suffer for too long. I was on meds too. I could feel myself starting to crumble in June and my doctor presecribed me something to help. It helped me stay strong and take care of Jeff. By October, I felt better. Jeff had been gone for 6 weeks or so, I was ready to go back to work, I did all of my Hospice homework, and I was feeling strong. So, I stopped taking the meds. I was still ok. Jeff's birthday came and went. I took off work that day and the boys and I baked daddy a cake and ate the whole thing. I was still ok. The holidays were sad, but I was still ok. My boys got great gifts that keep them outside and active. I was (still am sometimes) even riding dirtbikes with them. Part of me felt free. Jeff wouldn't have approved of me teaching our 6 year old to drive a dirtbike. He wouldn't have felt comfortable with me taking the boys out in the boat alone. He wouldn't have thought that our teenager was capable of riding motorcross like he is. We would have never done the things we are now doing together. Jeff was a homebody and i turned into one too (in retrospect, he was probalby sick for years) It's a freedom I haven't had since I was a kid. I felt good. I felt so good that everyone thougth I was just fine. I thought I was just fine. But I'm not. And I know this sounds stupid to you guys, people who understand, but I feel like I'm whining if I say I'm not fine; that I'm still in pain. I feel like I'm throwing a self-indulgent pity party. I'm a 32 year old widow...mother of 2...some days I feel like Wonder Woman...lately I just feel like damaged goods.

It's like I've hit a brick wall. The lonliness is setting in. And that's pretty ironic because I am NEVER alone. I think it's coming up right now because this is about the time he started feeling bad last year. Just last year. Sometimes it feels like it was so long ago and sometimes it feels like yesterday.

Last night, after I posted, I couldn't stop crying. Both boys were in bed and I was quiet, but Zeke and I must have been on the same wavelength. We hadn't talked about Jeff in days, but he came in my room and just said, "I miss daddy". I told him that I do too. Then he asked me if I could marry someone so that he could have a daddy again. "A step-dad is better than no dad," he said. What do I say to that?

I don't know. Does talking about it make it better? Sometimes I think it just keeps everything raw and at the surface. Like I have this festering open would in my heart. The more I write here, the more upset I feel. Jeff kept telling me at the end, "You're young and you're pretty. You and the boys will be just fine." What does that mean?

I guess these questions are all rhetorical. I'm the one with the answers, I just have to give myself time to figure them out. Thank you all for giving me a safe place to vent and get this out. I can't seem to do it in real life, in person. It makes me feel weak and I don't have the luxury of being able to fall apart right now. I think I'm too scared that if I do, I won't be able to get myself back together. I know it will eventually get better. I just hope eventually isn't too far off.

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You say you think we will think it's stupid that you think you should be fine.

I don't think any of us do. I think all of us wake up every single day and go, "Ok. I'm going to be fine today." And then as the day goes on we see if that's true. And if it's not, it's easy to beat ourselves up.

You aren't stupid. In fact it's wonderful that you WANT to feel better. But... know that it's ok in the moments that you don't. In the moments that you aren't fine and you just feel like crumbling. That's ok too.

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