Too fast, too soon...

uncledave_ctMarch 28, 2007

I am still numb with disbelief... My beloved wife passed away on St Patrick's day. She was 37.

That Monday, she was rushed to emergency with a fierce headache and vomiting. They tested for meningitis but that came back negative. They gave her morphine for the pain and it didn't help. Finally a CAT scan showed the aneurysm in her brain.

She had brain surgery the following morning and was in recovery for 6 hours before returning to a step-down room. The surgery went well, but the surgeon was watching for signs of brain spasms due to the bleeding.

The next morning, physical therapy had her up and walking! She was groggy and didn't remember much, but with gentle reminders, she vaguely recalled where she was. She could not yet remember names. When I left the room the signs were very encouraging.

That night, everything changed.

Her blood pressure began to fluctuate wildly. The staff tried to stabilize her so she could be brought down for another CAT scan. What they found was another rupture in her abdomen, seemingly completely unrelated to anything they had done so far. The only plausible explanation was that her blood pressure, artificially increased in order to counteract the increased pressure in her brain after surgery, caused a previously undiscovered defect in a blood vessel in her abdomen to burst. She was suffering massive internal bleeding. She was given unit after unit of blood, clotting factors, everything, and as fast as it was administered she would bleed it back out. It took a day to reverse the process but damage was already done. On top of that she had a massive stroke in one-third of the left side of her brain, the effects of which left her comatose. She eventually lost neurological function early in the morning on the 17th.

She was so strong. We had just moved 3 weeks prior to a new neighborhood, close to where she grew up. She was home again, so happy and with so much to look forward to with myself & our 4-year-old son. This all happened so unexpectedly, so sudden. She was too young.

It's not fair to take a mother away from her beloved child. She was the world to him, and he was the world to her. I would have swallowed this pill in an instant to save her, so she could be with her son who needs her.

He's such a caring child; when she was in emergency, he made it his job to wet a cloth under cold water and place it on Mommy's head to comfort her. When I called him on Saturday and explained how sick Mommy was, his first response was, "...Does Mommy need another cold towel for her head?" I couldn't stop crying, the love he showed for his Mommy just overwhelmed me.

We love her and miss her so much!

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I am soooo sorry for you and your darling son, such a tragic happening for you both. Right now words cannot soothe you but just know that I am praying for you both.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 12:28PM
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Just hug your little boy. Hug him and hug him and hug him. And let him hug you back. Your wife will be there in the love between you and maybe you'll even feel her arms around you both. I'm so sorry for your loss.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 8:03PM
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My heart breaks for you and your little boy. Hold him fast, and look at him as the symbol of the love that you and your wife shared. Be sure to talk about her a lot with him, and remind him of how much she loved him. I am so sorry for both of you. You're in my prayers.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 9:23AM
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Dave, what a terrible thing, and all the harder to bear because it happened so quickly.

My mother was 38 when she died suddenly. Like your son, I was an only child. My dad and I hardly ever talked about my mom. He didn't bring her up much, and I didn't want to start a conversation that would make him sad. A neighbor told me once that it was okay to cry, but it would have been good if I'd been told that more often. And it would have been even better if I'd had opportunities to talk about my mother--shortly after her death and for a long time after that.

So my counsel to you is to talk about your wife with your son. Keep her in his life and in his mind as well as his heart. By bringing up things he did with you, you might even be able to create lasting memories for him.

And I also hope you will be open to signs from her, things you might see or hear or dream about, and particularly things your little boy might experience. Children are often more perceptive than adults in these matters.

Having been privileged to be given many signs from my daughter after she died, I'm certain my mother was "around" as Jill is, but I didn't know enough at the time to make these connections.

Please check back with us. We'll be thinking about you.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 2:01PM
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Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your dear wife and your son's precious mother.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 5:38PM
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My heart aches for you and your son. It just doesn't seem fair, doesn't seem right. Part of her is still with you, in your son, and your love for her will never cease.

Take care.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 2:21PM
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my sympathy goes out to you and your son. my husband had a massive stroke on the left hand side of his brain and was in a coma too, this was on feb. 21 and on the 22nd we chose to have his life support turned off, he was 52, our 23 yr old son was with his dad and kept on getting his dad cold cloths too, i had our 18 yr. old daughter say her good-byes when the life support was first turned off. i also think that my husband knew that he was going to go to heaven 3 weeks before he got me a puppy for my birthday and he named her Gracie Joy. we had not i think, realized that he is not coming back, we live by the cemetery and visit him about 4 times a week. I tell my "children" aleast one story aday about their dad so they do not forget. I know just how you feel, and i know that our love for Al will never dye. (*one good words of wisdom i got from my doctor was do not do anything quickly take your time, you will see all kinds of scum come out of the woodwork and ask for things). debbie

    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 8:32PM
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I just thought of something else. My husband died in 2005. For Christmas that year I made each of our grown children a Memory Jar consisting of a decorative jar filled with slips of paper. On each was listed one of their father's favorite things, accompanied by an anecdote or a few lines to illustrate it. You might do something similar for your son. It would be wonderful for him to have later on, and even now, while he's so young, the two of you could have a ritual of reaching into the jar and taking out a slip of paper and talking about what it says.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 10:02AM
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I'm so sorry.

One very imortant thing that's been said here is this:
" not do anything quickly take your time..."

The body/mind/heart wants the pain to *stop*.

Since, for a while, you'll feel pain in so much of everyday life (you'll hear her voice, you'll think "what a funny story on the news! I've got to remember to tell her...", etc), your impulse may be to sell the house, quit the job, find someone to fill the ache in your heart:

If staying the same hurts, then change something.

But resist that impulse.

Don't do any of it for at least a year.

Even if you don't run into an opportunist (& you might not recognize one: they are *very* good at what they do), we women are so accustomed to taking responsibility for everyone else's emotional needs that it's very easy to bond quickly with a grieving father & a child.

& so often it isn't a good long-term match.
Your little one has lost his mother;
losing a second one would be a hard blow.

I've found it easier to bear the unbearable when I can focus on something important & devote myself to it, throw myself into it completely.

As deep as your pain goes, your little one's may be worse.

Take care of yourself, keep things on an even keel, take your vitamins, eat right, get outdoors, do things with your son, talk about your wife, talk about your grief, don't drink, don't take sleeping pills, respect your heart & your body & give them the time & the resources to heal.

I wish you the best.


ps: this is a very good place to come when the unbearable becomes too intense.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 2:56PM
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I appreciate the kind words and advice. I know others have been through this but it's still hard.

There is so much vying for my attention right now that I feel like I can't take the time I need to grieve; it's so frustrating and makes me angry. I feel like I'm being a bad person because I'm not crying enough, or thinking about her enough, or talking to her/about her enough, or praying enough. My time and attention is being forced elsewhere and I feel it's not fair to her. I want to just sit by her grave and talk to her for as long as it takes, to say what I need to say, to explain things, to apologize. I feel unworthy because I was not the ideal husband. There is so much lost time, unfinished business, broken promises, just so much to work out. This whole thing sucks so badly, it's unfair and it's just plain wrong. How can I help my son when I have so much baggage of my own? He's really the only thing keeping me going right now, he needs me and I'm there for him. He's the one keeping me sane; without him I'd lose it.

I apologize for venting like this; maybe what I'm feeling is normal, maybe not, but I thank everyone for listening.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 9:57AM
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What you're feeling is absolutely normal. Just remember that right now, you and your little boy are the most important entities. I know there is much to do and much to decide. Try to take some time for yourself and most importantly for your little boy, too. Try not to make too many decisions right away, unless they're things that have to be taken care of now. All of us who lost people we love have regrets; that's normal. If only we'd known, we would have been kinder, more caring, more loving, more attentive. But we didn't know, and I take comfort, and you should too, that right now those we love already know what's in our hearts and how much we love them and how we miss them. You're not venting. We're always ready to listen. You and your son are in my prayers.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 11:19AM
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Dave, i think that everyones marriage is different, i was a very lucky person my Al never drank or swore, his problem was he loved to volunteer, also he was a diabetic and he lost both legs above the knees, he also had heart problems and sight problems, he was be ridden for about 10 years and i was there taking care for him at home, i refused to send him to long term care (as we call it in canada). i visit him at the cemetary aleast 3-4 times a week, and i will go by myself or with the kids, i talk outloud to tum and tell him what is going on, ask him why he left me. my doctor said you won't loose that numbness for about a year, but you and i losing our spouses around the same time can, i think relate. also reading some of the other posts not just the ones we have posted, and see how other people have coped. debbie

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 7:48PM
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I will pray for you. My brother died 2 days ago, he was 67 and I think the only thing he searched for his whole life was the love he lost with his mother. He was 11 when she died at the age of 39. Our family didn't talk at all about my mother, I think we didn't want to overburden a widow left with 8 children. But that's a great unjustice. So all during my brother's illness, I'd bring up the picture of our mother and ask him would he give her a big hug for me. I was a year old when she passed. Last Friday when he was going in and out of reality -- he said as clear as a bell "You're going to love her when you meet her." For years, this brother and another blamed my father for her death -- she had cancer, but this bro took it the hardest, saying that's all he wanted to do was be reunited with her.
I think you've been given excellent advice so far, the most important being to keep an extra tight closeness with your son. Some of that baggage he shares with you, so that's a good place to start. And in this grief, he may lash out a bit from frustration and anger that a death like this creates. Small steps of just listening to each other, and maybe every couple of weeks, especially with the nice weather coming, just the two of you going to a new place
you find together, could be a park, a restaurant, symbolizing the unique bonding you will share now even more. Is there a grief group in your area for parents/children, or one group for each of you?? Anything that you get the least inkling to check out you should. Could lead to some pleasurable experience that both of you can recall many years from now

    Bookmark   April 7, 2007 at 4:58AM
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I'm so very sorry for all of you. It seems sometimes that life is very unfair. In order to continue on in this life when we lose our loved ones, is to try to remember that we will definitely see them again and be able to spend eternity with them.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2007 at 9:38PM
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Also remember that little children bounce back very quickly from things (awful as it might seem to us) and if he does, don't look on it as being 'bad' or anything (I'm sure you wouldn't!), it's just the way they are... maybe it's God protecting them. I know what you mean about all the unfinished business too, but take it easy, you'll work through it all one day at a time and will be able to cope, but don't set any time limit and definitely don't let others set one for you, though you might consider calling a grief counsellor and/or joining a group as they can be very helpful. You're still in shock and need to give yourself time. Definitely ask for help from everyone you can - allow them to help, because it's very hard now to just plow ahead all alone.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 8:11PM
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what a shock and tragedy for your family... I'm so very sorry. You're right, she was way too young.

Everything you're feeling is normal. Try not to worry too much about not having time for grieving -- it will come and you'll have the chance you want to sit by her grave and talk to your wife. There are no rules to grieving... just do the best you can, as you are, and it will work out and you'll work through it as you can. Give yourself and your son whatever you need and whatever feels right for comfort.

Try to let go of the guilt -- it's very natural, but it serves no one, and it can eat you up. Your wife loved you and your son and I know, even without knowing you and your wife at all, that if she had the chance to come back even for a minute, she'd tell you not to worry about all the broken promises and unfinished business. All that matters is the love.

Grieving is a very difficult process. Don't try to force it and don't let others make you feel you should be "done" grieving. If you can and want to, find a counselor -- minister, therapist, whomever -- to talk to -- it will help you get some of the feelings out and although it won't make the pain go away, it will help to share it. A good counselor will support you, and help you see that what you're going through is normal.

But most of all, as others have said, be patient and gentle with yourself, and give yourself all the time you need to get through this.

And you will get through it, even though right now it probably feels like you never will. It may feel that way for a long time, but you will. I've been there and I've watched enough other people to know that you do get through it.

One thing I've learned as I've lost people I love: the depth of my pain is a measure of the depth of my love. I always found solace in that. That knowledge doesn't make the pain go away, but it makes it more acceptable, somehow, or at least it did for me.

Your life, and your son's life, won't be the same, but you are both enriched because of the love of your wife -- as hers was by the love of you and your son. I send you and your son my deepest sympathy.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 9:07AM
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I'm just checking in on you to see how you're doing.
Please post a note here when you have time.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 7:22PM
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Hi again... I haven't had much time to hang out here or post. Maybe I just can't think of anything to say, my brain is numb.

Anyway, I think things are starting to change. The roller coaster ride appears to be over. When the pain comes on, it's not as intense or "in-your-face." It's deeper, and it's more constant. I'm still in shock, or maybe denial... I think of things the three of us can do, then remember that's it's now only the two of us, and I start feeling very sad and depressed. I grieve for my son much more than for myself. I'm deeply saddened by the fact that he can't do any of the special things he and Mommy used to do together. He's going to miss out on a lifetime with her. I'm depressed to think that we are now a statistic. I wonder how people are treating me differently while making it appear as though they're not. I wonder if my friends are still going to be around a year from now. Things like that.

The little guy went to his first group meeting this Sunday. I think it was really good for him. Kids are able to open up in ways that are difficult for us adults. I attended a group last week too, and felt weird. I can't say I feel any better or worse. I wasn't comforted at all by being with other widows/widowers, just numb and depressed.

I don't know what I feel most of the time. I had the start of a panic attack at work Monday for no apparent reason, and had to leave. I visit her grave but don't know what to say anymore. I feel drawn there as if I'm expecting her to speak to me, but I get nothing. I can feel her nearby, but she won't speak to me, almost as if she's angry with me, as though I'm not doing right by her or our son. I think I'm trying to continue on as if nothing has changed, maintaining the status quo, and I won't be able to truly see or hear until I accept reality. I know it in my head, but emotionally I can't accept it, not yet.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 10:24AM
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I must tell I think you're very eloquent when you write of your pain. What comes through most is the sense that you're plodding along daily trying to come to grips with this. Maybe if you found time to keep a journal during these times, you might gain some solace from it down the road. If the group you visited didn't offer you what you needed now, maybe you could find another??
Or maybe a one-on-one professional so you can air your feelings??
There is nothing any of us can say, but please, please, know you're in my prayers and I'm sure everyone else's who has read your words. May God bless you and guide you.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 5:27PM
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I'm depressed to think that we are now a statistic. I wonder how people are treating me differently while making it appear as though they're not. I wonder if my friends are still going to be around a year from now. Things like that.

If it helps at all, I remember reading about those feelings in a book on grieving. And I remember feeling them.

Books helped me, as did journaling and seeing a counselor. Msfingers2 suggested both of these, and I hope you'll consider them.

Check in here when you can.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 9:46AM
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With the coming of Mothers Day, and the overwhelming sadness and sense of loss, I've been trying to think of ways to preserve and honor my wife's memory, perhaps ways to see some of her wishes come to fruition.

She was an organ donor, and hoped this would someday help save a life. Unfortunately, none of her tissue could be used because she had so many blood transfusions.

Her friends from work came up with a wonderful idea. They are organizing a blood drive in her memory. Our hope is that she can inspire others to donate, and perhaps through her inspiration, her dream of being able to save another life can come true.
She had more friends and people who care than she ever knew. There is no doubt that she would be honored and deeply touched by the outpouring of support. She was a very special person and we've been truly fortunate to have her in our lives. Although we still miss her terribly, we know she will always be nearby in our hearts.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 12:11PM
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Hi Dave - I just caught up with your situation and the passing of you beautiful wife. Please accept my deepest sympathy.

I have no words or advice for you as you are a month or two ahead of me with your journey and I am still numb as well.

It's a whole new chapter for us isn't it?

Shoot me a private email if you'd like at some point.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 10:52AM
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I have no idea if anyone is monitoring this thread any longer, but I was wondering how you are doing, Dave. Email and let me know. I'm still thinking of you in prayer.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 6:13PM
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Dave, I think of you and your little boy often, and like many others here, you're in our prayers and we hope things are coming along.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 10:13AM
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