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Struggling with my loss... 
Started by Caitee
30 Aug 2014, 2:32 PM

I lost my husband on July 25, 2014 to stage 4 colon cancer at the age of 48. He was diagnosed in October 2013 only two months after proposing to me. We were married in December before he began chemotherapy treatment. The short journey was quick with many downs and few ups until his death.

We had been together for almost four years and then married for 7 1/2 months. I've encountered a ton of negativity and insensitivity since his death and am overwhelmed. Some of it being "well, you were only married for 7 months, it's not like you were together for years and years" or "you're very young and you'll get through this" (I'm 29). How do I deal with comments like those? How do I move forward? 
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Reply by missie
30 Aug 2014, 6:32 PM

omg, Caitee, do I get what you are saying...your situation is very similar to mine.I lost my boyfriend in June, the day after fathers day. He also had cancer and it was a terrible time,starting in January of this year. To this day now, I feel life is bleak and don't know what direction to take or turn. I wanted to tell you that you are not alone, like, here I am, but I also feel very alone,but what is really terrible, is the insensitive comments!!!!!
I hear ya! Like how is that better, you werent together "that long"?! Telling you that you
can get through this? I get that, I feel like telling them, well, its so easy for you to say,then you go through it. Actually I want to say worse, but I better not..but in the meantime for you, it will make you angry inside,and thats not good either,but how else does one deal with it? I had one male "friend",when I told him my bf died, right after that he put his arm around me and said, Does this mean we get to see a movie"?
Incredulous!! Thats only the beginning of things said. People are not equipped to deal with grief, and its so so wrong. We deal only with happiness.
Do not concern with trying to move forward because it doesn't work. Just go day by day,and if you want to hibernate,do so. Dont let people tell you  when to "pick up". One day it will happen to them, and the comments will come to them and then they will get it.Right now, I just take my dog out for walks and put one foot in front of the other. Just keep going,okay.There IS others out there feeling just as you do, and its just so hard.  I don't know what area you are in, but if you are in Vancouver it is very hard to just find a drop in support group in this area, but maybe you could find one where you are? To anyone that has said any cold comments to me, well I am avoiding them, I can't be around that now, you might want to do the same.Be good to yourself...I think to myself, if my bf was watching me right now, he would be happy I did this, or that..it kind of helps, thinking that way. It's all small things now...although you are faceless here, I have tears in my eyes knowing that you are going thru such a hard time,and I had to respond...please breathe,and love yourself. (I put a sticky note and wrote that in fancy writing,and stuck it on my bathroom mirror to remind myself daily)
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Reply by marstin
30 Aug 2014, 6:36 PM

Hi Caitee,

Moving forward is a difficult thing to do. This is all so fresh for you and it truly doesn't matter how long the two of you were together, you lost someone who was your heart and soul. Often people think they are saying things to make you feel better and yet when you are in so much pain, it only creates more upset for you. If I were to give any advice to people that want to help at all, it's to just listen and be there. They may have to hear the same things over and over again but we the wounded need that kind of support that comes without judgement. Most people will not understand unless they've travelled a similar road to yours. It's your own personal journey and it comes without guidelines.

I have lost two men in my life that I loved deeply. The first was when I was in my late 20's and my boyfriend of 6 years committed suicide due to mental illness. I can still feel the pain I suffered when I lost him. It took me 2 years to actually start my life again and it was incredibly difficult to do. I had never known such a deep pain. I didn't think I could ever allow anyone to get that close to me again. I met my partner Len when I was in my early 30's and we went on to have 2 beautiful daughters. In late 2011 he began to have lower back pain and they found that he had bladder cancer. We lost him in July 2012 and after 23 years of being with him, again my world came crashing down. I can tell you that it is an incredibly tough and lonely thing to deal with. My family was critical and very insensitive to my pain and if it weren't for a handful of close friends, I don't think I could have made it this far. You may find that some of the well meaning people are best avoided if they are causing you more pain than comfort. I found that I had to do that with many people. It's not necessarily that they are bad people, they just can't give you what you need right now. Surround yourself with whoever you think can be totally supportive of you. You need to be cared for right now. I could write a book on how difficult this journey has been and yet I am still standing. I won't say that I have my life back together because I don't even though so many people thought that after one year that I should be back up and over the pain. With the 2 year anniversary just passed, I find that I still falter and want to hide away at times. Take all the time you need to get through this.

I found this site to be a huge part of my healing process. As broken as I was when I arrived here, I found people quickly reaching out to support me and bring comfort. There is no judgement here, just kindness and understanding. To be able to share all of the emotions that come with loss and not feel like I had to hide the ugly ones, was such a relief. I can only hope that you continue to share with us. You're not alone in this.

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Reply by Caitee
30 Aug 2014, 6:48 PM

Missy and Tracie, Thank You both. It's exactly that, a long road to travel. I felt extremely guilty because my step dad passed away only 23 days after my husband of cancer as well. I felt completely incompetent at helping my mother. People would say, "you're so strong" right after Kevin (my husband) died but I feel like each day since gets more difficult, not easier. People talk about "the healing process" but I find that I'm stuck. My grandfather (closer to me than my dad) passed away in Feb 2012 of cancer and I felt like I barely made it through that. Only to be faced with my husband's death of cancer and then my stepfather's. It's a dark numbness that spreads somedays and I feel so lost. 

Missy, drop in support groups are nil that I can find. There are structured ones that run for usually 8 weeks straight, but how can you make a commitment to something that long when you can barely see the next day?

Any suggestions on what to do when I hit that wall of despair and sadness? We weren't able to have children before his passing so I have our pets to care for day to day (and myself). I find even the most basics of tasks are overwhelming somedays. My family doesn't live close either to help.  

Thanks & Hugs,
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Reply by missie
31 Aug 2014, 3:10 AM

I also don't have family nearby,but I do text and cry on "FaceTime" to my sister,but she has MS so I don't like to stress her out. I absolutely hate the "you're so strong". I promise myself in future I will never say that to someone in my position--it undermines your feelings!! What,because I'm standing here,not crumpled up in a ball before you,crying ,that makes me strong!? I want to scream!  Yes..we just want to be heard,sometimes over and over. My memory is impressive,but this year it's out the window,and people say,yes,you did say that already. omg,going thru it once is bad,but again? I can't fathom it. I really can't. I really wish I could say something regarding hitting that wall of despair,as I need that too. I just let it go big time and cry. Can you find a chat room? Please... If you ever find one please let me know. There's a real need for that,when that ugly wall come up,for us to go to. 
Love to us all. It's just not fair,is it. Missy 
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Reply by KathCull_admin
31 Aug 2014, 3:47 AM

Hello everyone,
Welcome to the community Caitee. I am glad you found us. Although every person’s story is unique, Marstin and Missie have already shown that members here support and really understand. 

You asked about what to do when you hit that wall of despair. I was also thinking about the many people you are grieving.  I wondered if the article Grief Work might be helpful.  It won’t take your grief away but maybe it will help in understanding…

You mentioned that you did not have family close by - are there friends you can turn to? Would seeing a counsellor privately be something you might find helpful or available?



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Reply by marstin
31 Aug 2014, 4:07 PM


I think we all find ourselves very sensitive to things that people say to us. Certain words or phrases seem to trigger feelings of anger which a friend of mine gently reminded me, is deep pain. I think people are in awe of how a grieving person manages to keep moving ahead and sees that as strength. For us going through it, it is a daily struggle to just get up each day and we don't feel strong at all. There are no real options. What I have found is that in time we realize that each hurdle we cross, each challenge we face and conquer, truly does bring an inner strength that we didn't think we were capable of.

As for the memory thing, I still struggle to remember things after 2 years and I have had to make it clear to those close to me that my mind has not cleared enough to remember every little thing. At this point you have had so much to deal with that it may be a long time before you can remember much of anything.

Kaitee, although I told you of the loss of my old boyfriend and about Len, I omitted telling you that I lost my mom who was my best friend, just 7 1/2 weeks after Len passed away. I have struggled with so much guilt because just as she was showing signs of something being seriously wrong, Len was near the end of his life and needed me to be here for him. I did not have the energy to find her the medical help that I knew that she needed and the rest of our family just sat back like they always did and waited for me to deal with it. The day after Len passed away (we were to be married that day), my brother finally stepped in and took her to the hospital. We had the same social worker at the hospital as when Len had been in so she was well aware of what I had gone through already. What she told me when my Mom passed away was that I hadn't even begun to process losing Len and now had this to deal with also. Even she cried. What I can tell you is that it is incredibly difficult to grieve for 2 people at the same time. As much as people have expectations of where you should be in the grieving process, double loss can take a very long time to recover from. If I were to be perfectly honest, I don't think that you ever truly do. The 2 year anniversary of my Mom's passing is just a few days away and I don't feel like I have dealt with it yet. On the other side of this though, in time you will probably find that you are more in touch with who you are as a person. The person you were before all of this has been replaced with someone who has a deeper understanding of others suffering and more able to support them. Many good things come out of this rebuilding but not without a lot of pain.

Because I also did not have people to turn to (my closest friends all live at a distance), I had to figure out ways to keep going. I forced myself to get up each day, have my shower and get out of the house. Often times I could be found in the grocery store with tears running down my face but at least I was out of the house. I talked to anyone I vaguely knew when I was out and found some incredibly kind people. I even found strangers who could see the pain that I was in and would reach out to me. Even the people at my local Tim Horton's took me under their wing. I lost many people along the way who couldn't handle my pain but I gained some incredible friends also. I fought to retain my sanity but I think did. When you start to find a bit of light in the day, you will find that you are beginning to slowly heal. It took me a year before I was ready to join a widow/widowers group and I think the timing was right for me.

I hope that telling you this will give you some hope. Finding this site was a huge part of my recovery and the support has been incredible.

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Reply by JennJilks
01 Sep 2014, 1:37 PM

What a difficult time, firstly, then facing insensitive comments. I am sure that you remember these more often than the sensitive ones. Perhaps write down the comments that have been helpful.

I tend to call a spade a spade and I will tell ain insensitive person, "Your comments are hurtful in my time of grief." and leaving it at that, walking away.

I think family members want you to get back to 'normal', whatever THAT is. They are not wanting to experience grief. It is all such an individual thing. I still have cousins I'm not speaking to –which is another long story! One phoned me, 3 days after mom died, to point out her bathroom was dirty and I should clean it. I told her off. She said, "Don't you be snippy with me, young lady!" At the time I was 50, she was in her 60s! 

I ended up in a deep depression and quit my job. I found that people were totally unaware of my situation and coworkers were the worst.

That said, this community has been very helpful. Understand the differences between grief, morning and bereavement. KNow you will get through this. Give yourself permission to do so at your own speed. 
I like to take my grief out, like a cloak, wear it for a time and put it away, moving onto the things I have to do. Then, when I am ready, I put it back on. This was the only way I could manage it. Wearing my cloak, I gave my self permission to cry, yell, feel the anger and all of the emotions. Your feelings are not wrong. They just are.
Creating a collage (newspaper words, magazine photos, symbols)  of what your loved one meant to you is helpful. It's something done in many bereavement courses. 
I found writing my late father's obituary very helpful, as I remembered the good days., forgot about the difficult parts at the end.
All the best. 
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Reply by KathCull_admin
09 Oct 2014, 4:03 AM

I was wondering how you are Caitee. Is that wall of despair as overwhelming as it was in August? 

Missie, I read on lost from a broken heart that it continues to be hard to find support in your area. I know you walk your dog - are there other activities or things that you have found helped as you grieve?

You both mention pets in your life. I believe that animals can be a great comfort. We have a little Yorkie who despite her loud and piercing bark - seems to know just when her little body is needed make me feel better.

I look forward to hearing from you both as you are able.


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Reply by Caitee
09 Oct 2014, 5:00 PM

Hi Katherine,

The wall of despair has slowly morphed itself into a drowning sadness most days. I've managed to seek out a bereavement counsellor that I've been seeing weekly. I joined a grief and loss group at our church that meets weekly as well but find that by being the youngest by far in the group leaves me feeling out of place since I come with such a different point in my life than the others in my group.

Each day is a slow process of ups and downs. Some days I actually accomplish things, while others are primarily days of rest in bed. Unfortunately I've had to deal with continuing piles of paperwork and unending frustrations from my late husband's ex wife... I can only pray that things will improve. There have been some extremely hard days. There was the fire fighter memorial dedication ceremony this past weekend and it was as though I was reliving a good part of my husband'd funeral because there were similar pieces that were the same. I barely got that "under my belt" and I was handed a copy of the funeral service on DVD just yesterday evening....I think to myself, really people? Is there not a shred of common sense around these days?

As the time passes, the relationships I have with my step-children have already begun to drastically change and I suspect will change more over the coming year too. That's been difficult to adapt to. 

I'm stuck when it comes to my job and my life still. I feel as though I have lost all direction and am struggling on which way to go now... When I look back I can see all the choices that brought me to be there with Kevin, but now that he is gone, where do I go from here? I am clearly more aware of my life, its path and my choices and find that I'm fearful of what is the right thing to do.  

One day at a time...moment by moment.

- Caite  
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