Author Topic: Delayed Grieving?  (Read 657 times)


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Delayed Grieving?
« on: September 04, 2017, 11:53:50 PM »
Delayed grieving - is it possible? Shortly after my beloved passed - very, very suddenly and unexpectedly - I was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The kids were "older", our daughter was 17 and our son was 14. I remember having to tell them, just 5 months after they lost their Dad, that there was a pretty good chance that I would be gone soon too and that I felt that their Dad was "calling me to him". I knew in my heart at that time that was the absolute truth. I also knew that the only thing my husband and I ever wanted was a family. First, to have our own kids, and then to be grandparents. We were so blessed to have our wonderful kids - we were lucky enough to have a wonderfully average and happy life with them.
It took a bit of time. It took a LOT of soul searching. I realized that I had the chance, however small it may be, to fulfill the dream that my husband and I had of being parents throughout - and then grandparents. It was such a small chance, but I had to try.
I went and had several long talks with my oncology team the next day. We worked out a plan and I began to fight.
I was lucky enough to win :) I'm 5+ years clear - so far. The type of cancer that I had was not rare, but the way it manifested was extremely unusual. I have a 67% chance of it coming back and no one, ever, has survived it the second time.
So, every day for the last 5+ years, I wake up thinking that this "could be the day - the beginning of the end".
And it's made me a bit crazy.
I feel like my grieving was put on hold.
I went a little crazy.
Jumped into a relationship.
But I was at the end of treatment and honestly, I really don't remember much. My kids liked him and that kind of cinched it for me.
I started taking Wellbutrin and that seemed to really help me.
The relationship became serious.
We are still together, but things have changed soooooo much.
I'm really really not happy in this relationship anymore.
But it's more than that - I honestly feel like I'm just swimming up from out of this fog and I've started  - I don't know - a delayed grieving process?
I mean, is that even possible?
I have been hanging on by the skin of my teeth for these years, saying in my head "Breathe - just remember to BREATHE. Ride the wave", because that's what we widows do - we ride the wave of pain and try to convince ourselves to remember to breathe.
And now all of a sudden, I'm back where I started.
Crying all the time. Suddenly remembering things that I've not thought of in 5+ years. Sudden searing pain. Blindsided.
I remember this - I remember from the short time I had before being diagnosed.
And now it's starting again and I think maybe I'm going crazy.
And it's put this relationship I have now in jeopardy.
I'm so sad.
I feel like I'm coming out of a fog.


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Re: Delayed Grieving?
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2017, 01:37:16 AM »
320s I would say it is probable but I'm not doctor.  You have had to deal with so much since you lost your DH that it wouldn't surprise me if all your grieving was suppressed.  Isn't that what delayed grieving is?  I have always read that eventually the grief will surface somehow.  Maybe that's what's happening now. 
Congratulations on 5+ yrs clear!!
I'm sorry you are going through this now.
Gentle hugs.
I don't want it to be his legacy that his death destroyed me.
I need to honour his life by rebuilding my life.


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Re: Delayed Grieving?
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2017, 09:09:16 AM »
Hi, 320sycamore.

It is definitely possible to have delayed grieving.  We each have differing circumstances, personalities, resources, relationships, support.  All of these contribute to how we grieve and cope.

I was also diagnosed with cancer just after my second husband died.  My first symptoms of trouble manifested just 12 days after my husband died unexpectedly in his sleep.  My cancer was rare and aggressive and chemo-resistant.  I chose not to undergo chemo or clinical trials and practically wished the cancer would just take me out of my misery. hasn't shown it's ugly face in over 3 years now.

Having been widowed twice, I can tell you that my grieving processes have been very different and I even have a common denominator in myself.  My first husband died after a protracted decline.  By the end, he had suffered enough and was at peace with dying.  I was left to face life alone, but I met my second husband 6 months later and we fell deeply in love very quickly.  We married a year later, but we didn't even get 4 years together before my fairy tale ending - ended.  I started having panic attacks and significant anxiety right away...and then symptoms that led to diagnostic tests, surgery and the surprise of my rare cancer.  3 1/2 years later, I cannot yet say I am Beyond Active Grieving - which is something I could definitely say much earlier after my first husband's death.

Life's complications can certainly impact the grief process.  I'm no counseling expert either, but I doubt your situation is abnormal.  I think the questions I would ask you are - can you talk about this with your partner?  Can you share your grief with him?  Who else can you talk to about this?  Have you thought about a grief counselor?  Do you want to save this relationship?

Feel free to PM me if you want to talk off the board, too.


Life is short.  Love with all you've got. 

Barry 11/29/55-9/22/09       John  1/16/57-1/11/14

Empathy  Developer  Responsibility  Adaptability Connectedness


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Re: Delayed Grieving?
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2017, 09:46:50 PM »

Maybe not delayed grieving as much as what we used to call on the other board (YWBB - I'm 11 years out) "widdabrain".

When my wife was sick I thought things were mostly normal. I mean, I knew life was crazy dealing with her illness but I really thought everything else was ok. After she died, I realized what a fog I was in. You used that word a couple of times in your post and I think I get it. The tings I did (and didn't do) still amaze me. And some things still upset me. Quite frankly, I was not myself. Not at all.

The kind of stress you have experienced quite literally does affect our brains. Some have said that there is an actual chemical change. I never looked into that, but I don't doubt it. Looking back, I simply was not thinking even close to how a normal person thinks.

It's ok - just take things day by day. There was a very wise widow on the other board who often ended her posts by saying "be gentle with yourself". Fantastic words to keep in mind.

If I may offer some unsolicited advice - you need to do what's best for yourself. Don't be overly concerned over others' feelings. Treat yourself with care and do what makes you feel happiest.


ps. A very effective anti-cancer regimen is a ketogenic diet. You might want to look into it. is one site where you can find some basic information.
Cathryn, your love made me what I am today.I am in awe of you.



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Re: Delayed Grieving?
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2017, 02:51:07 PM »
I do think some of us experience delayed grieving. I was so focused on making sure the kids were okay and on my career that I didn't do a lot of grief processing. When I started kicking around the idea of taking some time off  work knowing it would give me a chance to work through things my biggest fears were the ability to put myself back together if I fell apart.... and what the impact on my relationship with NG would be- would I still like him on the other side? Would he like me? Would our relationship still meet our needs? We had lots of talks about it.  And he was supportive- though more optimistic than me.  So my advice - talk to your partner.


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Re: Delayed Grieving?
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2017, 11:07:27 AM »
I think you should get help. You have a lot of reasons to be uncomfortable in your skin, and you do have stuff to grieve.
After a year of grieving DH, I found this woman that did this therapy that seemed crazy to me EMDR.   But it honestly helped. I quit crying every day.  I still cried, but not near as often.
i'm 5 years out now, and that stuff doesn't even seem real. but i remember the tremendous change from that one day of therapy.