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Knowing vs. Sudden


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I remember back in the day on YWBB….there were a few threads about which was worse. A sudden death, or a diagnosis knowing it was fatal….the conclusion was they both sucked…


My sisters husband has been diagnosed with an  unoperable  liver cancer that has spread. For me, knowing is worse. 

My sister and I have a love hate relationship….there are 6 years between us, and in her eyes I am the village witch and idiot. I’ve tried to tell her I understand being scared….Big Guy almost died 3 years before he did…had 1-1/2 years of care taker in that mix. She gets angry if I try to talk, so I stay silent. 

Meanwhile, it has stirred up so much emotion in me….I’m back to the beginning (after 12 years) with emotions about my man….beyond empathetic and worried for my sister, knowing she has no clue what’s about to hit. It just sucks! 

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  • 4 months later...

For me it was different. I went through a period years before my husband passed away when he had cancer and it was 3 years of hospital visits and he was not considered out of the woods for 7 years.  I was terrified I could lose him any day. And it affected the way we lived our life together for the next 16 years until he died of something entirely different...a sudden cardiac arrest from an undiagnosed heart condition. Because we knew the cancer could come back any time we took each day and cherished it as if it could be the last. We became so much closer. We rarely did anything (other than the time he was working) without each other. As the years passed we started to become a little more and more relaxed that he had beat this cancer monster and felt so blessed just to still have each other.  


Then 16 years after his cancer diagnosis he suddenly passed away in his sleep. He went into convulsions as his body shut down - I was on the speakerphone with 911 while operator gave me instructions for CPR and it was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I was desperately trying to revive my dying husband - get him breathing again...hope against hope while the paramedics arrived. They took over for me. They tried to defibrillate him for over half an hour. I could hear his body crashing the floor each time they shocked him. I had police and fire fighters here trying to help me hold onto hope. He was young and a fighter and I really thought that they would get him back. They came downstairs to give me the bad news....I yelled at them to go back and try some more but they told me their supervisor said it was time to stop. I was destroyed in that moment - my whole world just collapsed. I did not think I could go on. I literally became a zombie off and on for the next 5 years. I was so devastated his doctor had the coroner's pathologist call me to explain why this happened. He just had a check up 2 weeks before and given a clean bill of health. I just could not accept that someone who was so active, in love with life, seemingly very healthy - could just stop breathing and die without warning. There was no warning and because there was no warning - I became a nervous wreck that I could lose someone else without warning. I lived on pins and needles from that time forward...and still do. LIFE IS NOT FAIR.


The first few months I too was being triggered by everything. I cried more than not. I holed up in my bedroom and my family had to force me to eat. I did not want to eat anything. I just wanted to be with my husband. I lost so much weight that size zero was too big. It did not get better - I suffered PTSD. I ended up with mental illness, depression, anxiety, panic disorder....I was afraid to accept anything would ever be okay again.  Here we are almost 19 years from the worst night in my life...and I still suffer triggers. I AM STILL afraid to trust life will ever be good again. I am afraid to be happy for fear that my whole world will collapse again. I feel like I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop. 


I ended up after 7 years realizing I was not going to get better without professional help. I started seeing a psychiatrist - I went to Cognitive Behavior Classes - I went to Bereavement Groups that my psychiatrist sent me to because she said I have delayed complicated bereavement that was preventing me from living a normal life.  I did not want to go outside my home - it was a struggle just to go to work...I had to use transit and that became my new hell. I became agoraphobic. I go out only because I have to - I live alone - I had to buy groceries and personal goods and I needed to work to pay vet bills and household expenses. I had no choice...I had to get a job.  I found being with my co-workers helped me get through the days but the nights were still very hard.


I am managing my life - but it took a good 5 years to feel strong enough to be on my own. I still suffer absent-mindedness - I still get distracted. I had widow-brain to the max - self-doubt - could not concentrate on a book. Could not concentrate on a movie.  My thoughts just kept drifting towards him. He is always in my thoughts even 19 years later. I have had relationships since him - one long standing that lasted 10 years but the trouble was always that my BF was jealous that I still loved my husband. He'd get angry and say leave him in the past. I just could not do that. My late husband WAS in every way my soulmate - he was my world for 33 years - I just could not cut his memory out of my life and that is what my BF wanted me to do. Suffice to say - I finally left my BF. I am retired now and choose to stay home most of the time...I started ordering my goods and groceries online for home delivery ever since Covid...and I am in no hurry to go out again unless it's with my family.

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