Author Topic: turning a corner, I hope.  (Read 1647 times)


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turning a corner, I hope.
« on: October 07, 2016, 01:52:07 AM »
I feel like I need to tell this story. For now, I can't tell it anywhere else, which is why I'm here. I know this is too long!!

My husband, DH, died 18 months ago after a short illness. Except for visits from my mother, who lives on the other side of the country, I’ve been mostly alone, trying to cope, raising our young child and trying to get my career back on track. I’ve had a lot of shame around the being alone part. My thinking has been, who is left alone after such a tragedy? Only losers, that’s who! I’ve kept quiet about it and just tried to get on with things.

DH had a terminal illness but everyone, other than me and his doctors, thought he was going to beat it. He wouldn’t allow discussion of anything else. His family are members of what I call the Brightness Brigade, believing that optimism, a positive outlook and the right diet could cure stage IV cancer. They also believed that saying the word “terminal” could cause a person to lose hope, and they’d die.

It was so important to DH and I wanted to support him, so I didn’t lie but I wouldn’t contradict him in his presence. But as a result of this projection of optimism and dishonesty about the gravity of his condition, we didn’t get the support we needed from friends and family. All his care fell on my shoulders. And worse, in the end our child never got to say goodbye to dad.

Being analytical and a gatherer of scientific information (like, actual science, not the Dr Oz kind), I tried several times to explain the nature of and the seriousness of DH's condition to various members of his family. They dismissed my concerns, preferring to believe DH and instead suggesting I seek counseling for my stress. They were most concerned that my lack of faith would cause my husband to lose hope.

Two weeks before DH's death I told his family bluntly that he didn’t have much time left and they should come. They didn’t believe me.

Three days prior to his death, when I had already, for weeks, been overwhelmed caring for both an increasingly incapacitated husband (brain tumors: crazed delusions, seizures, falling out of bed, ripping off his diapers, pissing everywhere) and an alarmed preschool age child, DH's mother tried to stop me from calling in hospice to help me because, in her words, I was giving up on her son.

When DH died, I kept his body in the house until the end of the day and called for any of his friends to come visit. A couple friends came for a few hours. His mother came by for an hour. His siblings live far away, in other states. I didn’t expect them to arrive that day, but I did expect them over the next few days. After three days, not hearing anything, I specifically wrote and asked them to. I said I was overwhelmed and needed help. Could they come be with our child? They didn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t.
Thank goodness my mother, who was here for 2 weeks leading up to the end, was able to stay on for another 2 weeks. But even with her help it was crushing. I hadn’t slept in weeks, our child wouldn’t let me out of sight. I tried to sleep during school hours but there was the cremation to organize and a memorial service to plan and a seemingly endless amount of cruel, death-related administrivia. Most of all, I think I wanted the world to stop and notice that my world had ended but everyone just went on with their lives.

DH’s siblings and spouses and their kids arrived 10 days later, for the memorial. Most of them left immediately after. I saw them one more time at another memorial service they hosted a couple months later. I’ve seen DH's mother twice since then, for a total of 2 hours. I haven’t seen anyone else in the family.

On the urging of my therapist I told them 6 months ago how hard it was to be left alone at the hardest time in my life. The gist of their replies was….sorry we weren’t there but we were grieving too, they've had a rough time, etc. Fair enough I guess but to lose both the love of my life and the family that called me a daughter for most of my adult life was hard. During the horror of that first year I didn’t have any hopes or dreams and barely any will to live. It’s been love for my child that has gotten me out of bed every morning.
But somehow I haven’t lost my mind. The last few months have been particularly hard but I feel like I might be turning a corner. I can sleep through the night and am not plagued by nightmares. I no longer have flashbacks. My child seems to be doing really well. I still have some difficulty concentrating and can’t do a solid day of work but it feels better than it was. I’m still as lonely as fuck but I do believe things will get better. That’s something.

Thanks for reading.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2016, 03:14:59 AM by blue »


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Re: turning a corner, I hope.
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2016, 05:38:54 AM »
 My kids and I had no one that offered support.  Besides losing my husband it was the second most traumatic event of my life. It has been 3.5 years since my husband's passing and not one family member has come to the house.  Not one even came by during the funeral. For the longest time the anger sucked the life out of me.  Then one day I just seemed to accept it and then some time later even forgave them but of course I haven't forgotten.  Good for you for coming this far.  Sending you a hug.


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Re: turning a corner, I hope.
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2016, 07:29:04 AM »
I'm so sorry blue for your loss of DH and the lack of support.  Use this forum to vent, share, and know you are not alone.  I'm glad you have a therapist and you will turn the corner and it will be a process in healing. 

Families come in all shapes and sizes and although I can't relate to the in-sensitives of what you have gone through, I can feel the pain and recognize the strength you possess. 



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Re: turning a corner, I hope.
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2016, 07:33:54 AM »
Your story has eery echoes of mine in that my husband and his family had the denial thing going on throughout, really even up through a period of time when the inevitable (terminal GBM with spinal metastasis - not pretty) was abundantly obvious.  Even though I had a ton of support throughout, living out his wish to pretend like it wasn't happening or could be somehow willed away nearly killed me.  But I did it.  My husband was an artist and I have come to think of the whole 18 months from his diagnosis to his death as his greatest work of art - a performance piece in which we were all actors.  It will be four years soon since his dramatic decline set in and dragged on for three months until his body finally set him free.  I was not ok for a long time and even now I carry it with me, though I have learned to live again and find a place to "put it away."  I just wanted to say that I understand and it was around 18 months when first felt like I was turning a corner - it hasn't been all smooth sailing but 18 months was when I started to live again.  Sending you love and support. 


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Re: turning a corner, I hope.
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2016, 07:46:12 AM »
I'm sorry for all of the additional losses in your life since losing your DH.  That's a part of widowhood most of us are unprepared for, the loss of family and friends in the wake of our grief.  It's hard to let go of the hurt and anger when people aren't there to support us who should be.  I think there can be a relief when we give it up, when we stop expecting better from people and let the anger go.  I hope as your child continues to grow and cope you can build a new support system for yourself among other moms or within your community.  I know nothing takes the place of family but it can help. 

Hold onto those hopeful feelings, take good care of yourself.
You will forever be my always.


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Re: turning a corner, I hope.
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2016, 08:28:22 AM »
Oh, Blue.  I'm so angry for you - and so glad you are or were in therapy.  I wish the positivity cult would incorporate facts/truth/realism.  Anything can have a positive bent, but delusion/denial helps no one/no situation.  I'm so sorry.  I  know we all have an allergy to the word "strong," but I don't.  When people tell me I'm strong, I feel like, "Hell yeah.  That's right."  We've survived something that feels so unbearable.  And you're doing and have done so much on your own.  Raising a small person with little aid, alone, requires so much strength (and patience and self-sacrifice).  Surviving widowhood, alone, requires so much inner strength.  I'm in the midst of the former, and did the latter (I'm 5+ years out now), and I hope you won't be offended by me saying that, as I was reading your story, my reaction was to feel that you are so strong.  Not because you haven't been defeated in moments, not because you didn't need help - you did need help, and didn't get it.  It's that whole "you can't control what happened, but you control how you deal with it" or whatever.  I admire your outlook and I'm so glad you're feeling hopeful. 
widowed 2011 (DH 28)


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Re: turning a corner, I hope.
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2016, 10:00:46 AM »
I read your writing, and it is so difficult to read, and YOU lived it.  I can't explain how humans respond to this life/death situation.  It is a guarantee we will not get out alive in this world for ALL of us, but how we treat each other is a spectrum of  the best to the worst in humanity. 

I am glad you are at a turning point.  Everyone here has a story, but some are so much harder to bear (looking backwards, it can be seen, but not in the middle of it.)  I hope you build a wall of support and can use this board.  I am the helper/caretaker.  I had help, but my own pride and need to be strong kept me from reaching out when I needed to do so, giving the illusion I could handle it. You can hopefully build that wall of support, reach for it when needed as you have been on your own for so long. 

Lifting you  up.


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Re: turning a corner, I hope.
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2016, 10:09:23 AM »

 I’m still as lonely as fuck but I do believe things will get better. That’s something.

Yes it is - more than just something, that's the most important thing!

Don't worry too much about the lack of support from the in-laws. Yes, that hurts a ton but it is far worse to be surrounded by them when they are shitty. You're better off without them.

The tiredness will pass - the sense of aimlessness will pass. The key to getting better is the belief that it will get better. You are on the right path.

Hang in there - I'm pulling for you.

Best wishes - Mike

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped. (Proverbs 11:25)


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Re: turning a corner, I hope.
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2016, 02:30:56 PM »
I am sort of mad for you after reading your post. It was not fair of the inlaws to put that much pressure on you and for not letting you take the opportunity and help hospice could have given you at the time and help alleviate your stresses. The fact that they didn't support you at all after the fact is just as disappointing.

You need to give yourself much credit. You got through this despite their inconsiderate actions and under a wave of grief. Okay they are grieving too but it's no competition on whose grief is greater but their actions were not helpful or supportive in anyway. I agree they are best cast off. Big kudos to your mom for being there.

You have a good attitude. Keep it up - that's the challenge when we get tired, weary and lonely. Hugs to you today!


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Re: turning a corner, I hope.
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2016, 04:59:03 PM »
Thank you for sharing your story. I'm so sorry for all that you have been through and having essentially all of it fall on your shoulders alone. I agree that you've shown great strength. I realize the energy that takes. It is good to hear you feel like you are turning a corner and have some positive feelings that things will get better.

Without you, Baby, I'm not me.


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Re: turning a corner, I hope.
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2016, 10:43:53 PM »
Thanks for sharing your story. I lost my husband of 23 years to an accident rather than an illness, but I could still relate to so much of the hurt and anger you have felt with the inlaws' behavior. It will be four years this month that I lost D, and  admittedly I still have some unresolved feelings of anger and hurt regarding the egregious and entitled behavior of my inlaws after D died. It is much better, thankfully, but I get what you said about turning a corner. Any sort of progress  through this hellish hand we have been dealt feels just a tiny bit good.