Husband of 36 years died

MarillynDecember 6, 2005

I just found this forum. I had I was doing well and I find myself having problems facing Christmas. My husband of almost 36 years died September 3rd. It was 3 weeks after the first symptom that took us to the doctor. The doctor thought there was something wrong, but didn't realize how serious it was. He went from a seemingly healthy man at 62 to a man on life support as his liver failed taking all his organs with it. The doctors were amazed how healthy he was. He did not have the normal damage done by many years of smoking and drinking, but as they told me "We ahve a healthy man dying and we don't know why". They did know that the heat and dehydration was what was the final straw.

I am trying to find out if there is a way I can prove that what killed him was the tylenol they gave him when he lost his foot in May of 2002.

What I find hard is remembering the last conversation we had as he got dressed while I called 911 on the doctors orders. He was apoligizing for dying on me. He was worried what would happen to me. By the time they got him to the hospital he could hardly wake up to communicate anything.

We just moved to our dream house. It sits on 3 acres and he had helped drill the holes for his new shop that looks like a classic old red barn. They finished it as he was dying. The contractor kept asking me if I had shown him any pictures, he couldn't understand that my husband couldn't focus on anything.

The only things that are helping me hold it together is my oldest son and his family. And the fact there were no livers to be had in the 12 hour window he had. God was watching out for him and didn't answer my prayers. It turns out that he had the start of lung cancer and it had already spread to his lymph nodes, so if the liver had been available he would have been dead in less than 6 months from the death he had feared for years. He had quit smoking, but not soon enough.

I have learned over several major problems (one was my own fight with cancer) how to keep going through things, but I seem to be hitting an impass. I am again having problems sleeping and I am having nightmares which I didn't have before. In my dreams I am living the life we would have had with the cancer.

I am having problems sending out the thank you notes and Christmas cards, but know I will have to get them done soon.

I think what made it harder was on the one month anniversary of his death, we buried my mother's brother and the next week we had his services and then 1 month to the day after my husbands services we buried one of his close friends who had liver cancer for several years.

I don't know where I am going with this message except that I have lots of family, but I was raised to grieve in private and that is hard to do sometimes.

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I am so sorry for your loss and for your husband, having to be sick and go through this. My husband (56 yrs. old) also passed away in early Sept. from cancer. It was terminal and we knew for 6 months and it was very hard, still is, as he seemed to be very healthly and energetic up until the diagnosis. I know what you mean about facing Christmas. I'm not in the mood at all, even though friends tell me to do what I do every year....decorate big. No thanks, not this year, it is too soon and I am too sad. I have put up a small prelit tree for my son and will do a little. I am also sorry for all of your other losses. They are all hard to deal with, but especially your spouse. It sure changes the way you look at things and makes you feel afraid also. I know the pain and sadness does not go away, but I'm told it does ease in time. We will wait and see, huh? Also, here is another nice site to read or post on( Q1 2005). I have not posted there yet, but it helps to read some of it. I hope typing your message helped some and you have a better day.

Here is a link that might be useful: Widow Net

    Bookmark   December 6, 2005 at 10:17AM
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Do what you need to do at this terrible time. You'll probably want to get the thank you notes out, but if you can't do cards, you can't. The first Christmas after we lost our son and granddaughter is sort of a blur now. It had been 6 months, but we were still going thru the motions. We didn't do cards, we decorated minimally, I don't even remember what we did for dinner. I know that your grief is so terrible, but I do remember that when my dad died at 65 after 3 weeks into a cancer diagnosis, I tried to be grateful that he didn't have long to suffer. So many cancer deaths are prolonged and so very painful. My dad, too was healthy, in fact a health nut. He ate carefully and ran, long before it was the fashion to do so. He was a Civil War nut, too, and the weekend before the diagnosis, he'd walked 10 miles over the battlefield at Antietam. It seemed impossible that such a healthy man could die, but he did, and I've missed him ever since. I'm glad your husband had a short period of suffering, but I know from experience how hard it is on those left behind. Recently, I found some notes he'd written for my mom when he realized he was dying and that he'd leave a wife who had no clue about anything beyond the home. He tried so hard to fill her in on what he thought she'd need to know. Very touching, poignant and sad. Let us know how you are doing. All of us here care about you.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2005 at 11:25AM
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My heart goes out to you; you've had a lot to deal with in a very short period of time. First of all, come here anytime. What I have found is that many people are uncomfortable with grief beyond the inital "dying-funeral-right-afterwards" period. It's as if they expect your life to revert back to the way it was once all the services are finished. And when you bring up your loved one a few weeks or months after the passing, they seem to be uncomfortable, or they try to brush off your pain, or they cut you off when you are talking. Is it because they fear grief is "catching"?

Anyhow, it helps to find a support group either in person or online. I keep meaning to check out a bereavement support group in my community (my mother died last year) but I haven't gotten around to it. I find this forum very helpful.

My advice about Christmas: do what you feel like doing. Last year I didn't decorate at all. I felt as though I was a detached observer on the holidays. This year I'll decorate some. If it pleases you to decorate and send cards, then do so. If you are not in the mood, then don't do it -- and don't let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn't be doing. Everyone's grief is different and there is no right or wrong way to mourn.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2005 at 10:04PM
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I'm so sorry for all of your losses, especially the recent loss of your husband.
As some others said, you just have to do what you feel capable of doing. Don't expect too much of yourself. If others don't understand, they just don't understand. Take your time doing the thank you notes and it's not necessary to send out Christmas cards. You don't need to decorate either. Christin, my daughter left us 71/2 years ago and we decorate a little more every year. It is something that comes gradually. You can do only what you can do.
Bless you and we are here for you when you need us.
There are many here who know how you are feeling.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2005 at 12:43AM
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I have 2 very young grandchildren, so we are trying to keep Christmas up for them. The 17 month old doesn't really understand and the 4 year old goes up to people and tells them her grandfather died. I know she misses him. She loves tractors just like he did. I plan on giving each of them a present from Grandfather, something he would have liked them to have. I am glad he got to know he had a grandson, so far the only one in that generation to carry on the name. He didn't know about the one due next June.

We hadn't seen or talked to our youngest son in over 2 years, even though he lived only about 10 miles, and answering an e-mail isn't that difficult. He did get to see his father while Dave still was aware he was there.

I retired 2 years ago to take care of him. He never seemed as strong after his left foot was amputated, now we know why. He was still in a wheelchair when I was diagnosed with cancer. I remember the first chemo, they botched the iv and I basically passed out. He held my hand and talked to me. I lost all feeling, but never lost the sound of his voice. He told me that he always knew when I was in the room and could relax. I then knew what he was talking about.

The doctors were trying to decide if he was in a coma or not. I knew he wasn't. The doctor asked why I was so sure, when he didn't respond to anything. I told them he knew the difference between me and them. His head would slowly follow them and their voices. They started coming in quietly and not talking until they could see him, that way they could tell he was there.

And the night we had to make the decision for a transplant or to let him go, his eyes opened wide and he started hyperventilating. We were all thrown out of the room. I asked to come back in and calm him down, that nothing else would. They were surprised that he responded to my touch and voice and they didn't have to medicate him because he knew me.

It's the first time I have ever watched something die. After we got the news that they no longer could do a transplant we waited 4 hours trying to get hold of his brother in California. During that time there was a period when only myself and his onther brother were in the room. I know he heard me when I told him that we had lost the fight. I had always promised to be honest with his medical condition (he had been sure he was dying for 20 years) and so I told him that they would be turning off the equipment soon and not to fight. I talked to him for about 20 minutes. His brother talked to him to and I haven't had the heart to tell him, that Dave hadn't heard a word he'd said. We had our good times and many bad times, but we were truly one.

I know that I am definately grieving differently than many people. I immediately got rid of most of his clothes (a nephew needed them badly). I cut my hair short and I have rearranged a lot of the house. It took me a month or so to realize that I didn't have to compromise, I could fix things up the way I wanted. I have even gotten a second Shih Tzu dog. Charlie and Dave were inseparable, and I could see that he needed a friend to help his grieving too. The puppy makes us laugh.

My older son and his wife are wonderful. I have our RV parked in their driveway. They bought the house from us when we moved 44 miles away into the country. I can go stay anytime I want and I am welcome. It's nice because I don't feel I am intruding.

One thing we have done is book a dream trip to Disneyland in February. I was already talking Dave into it, so I am considering it my Christmas and anniversary present. We were married December 20 - 6 months and 2 weeks after we met for the first time. The kids have already planned a big night for our anniversary because we always did something special. Dave didn't like going to fancy restaurants much (Sizzler and Red Robin count as fancy), but he always did for our anniversary. We are going to go to downtown Seattle and take the grandkids to the carousel and see the store windows.

I'd better get off of here, I'm just jabbering away.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2005 at 12:47AM
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