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Helping a Surviving Caregiver

mlh
Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 2003

Hello. I'm new to this group. I came here hoping to find help or advise with my situation.

I have a very dear friend who lost his wife of 13 years to cancer 9 months ago. We've been friends for 9 of those years. When I learned of his wife's illness, I offered my prayers and support to both. I had moved from Texas to Ohio a year before and could do very little else. At that time, I was going through a grieving process myself from the end of my 19 year marriage.

In September 2002, after his wife's death (she was only 50 yrs old), I again offered prayer and support to my friend. He called me about a month or two later and we immediately bonded. We began talking for hours at a time once or twice a week, then almost daily. First we talked about the old fun times we'd shared as friends and then about our recent troubled times.

I've listened to him talk about his wife, things he loved about her and things they loved to do together. I've also listened to him describe the helplessness he felt watching her die and being unable to do anything to stop it. And, I've listened to him talk about the pain and loneliness of being left alone, coming home to an empty house. They never had children.

I want to help my friend through this. He is so lonely and hurt, but I'm so far away all I can do is talk by phone or email. I listen to him talk about her but never ask questions. Can anyone tell me if I should ask questions so he can talk about it? What should I be asking? Or should I just keep listening? I welcome feedback or advise from anyone. I can't stand to sit back and watch him in this kind of pain. I must do something.

MLH

rosem
Posts: 2
Joined: May 2003

I noticed that there has been no reply to your post some time ago. I think you are doing fine with being supportive and available if your friend needs to talk. Perhaps suggesting a support group in his area where he could go meet and talk to others would be helpful.

Hamwise
Posts: 2
Joined: Jan 2004

I am no expert on what you are going through, other than the fact that I was diagnosed with two different kinds of cancer, and told I was terminal. If you were the one listening to my wife should I not survive, I would be very glad. I know it's hard for you to just listen, but right now, that is what is needed. Keep up the good work, and may God Bless!

cocobear
Posts: 5
Joined: Jan 2004

Hi MLH. My name is Cocobear and I am also new to csn. My husband passed away 10/1703 from prostate/kidney/liver cance. In the short 3 mons. since his passing when I am talking to friends and his name comes up I try to make them understand that I realize they may have quetions and it's all right to ask. I will try to answer as well as I can but sometimes the answers just aren't there or ready to come out. One of the hardest questions I got asked was from my husband's son when he got to our home 20mins. to late to say his last goodbye to his dad.
The question was "What happened to the 6wk - 3mons. diagnosis?" My husband lasted 4wks,3 days. I answered my son-in-law with a very honest "I don't know." And then proceeded to let him know everything I could remember about the last few days of his dad's life. Which were peacefull and for the most part pain free. I think that for the most part our friends are afraid to ask questions, they don't want to us sad remebering the good times and the bad times. They are afraid that they will make us cry or that the remembering will prolong the grief or even make the grief worse. I don't think questions asked by a loving caring friend can do anything but help the grieving process. Friends and relatives are just afraid to ask. They care and don't want us to hurt anymore than we already do. I personally would rather answer questions than talking to someone about how I'm doing? Am I alright? How was my day? If that makes any sense at all. You are a dear friend and in times like this those of us who are fortunate to have friends like you know now and will know in the future how blessed we have been to have you in our lives. Always be there for your friend. You need each other. You give each other special gifts. I would like to hear back from you. Either thur csn or my e-mail AKarlmann@webtv.net Hope to hear from you soon and don't forget to ask those questions. You will know if the time is right. Bye for now. Cocobear.

dwlghp
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2004

Hello, MLH. You are doing exactly what your friend needs right now. I imagine he will need you to listen, far into the future.
My husband of twenty years died in june, 2002. One of the most difficult aspects of his death for me to come to grips with was realizing that life continues on, and that as time goes by, I am the only one missing him. (This isn't true, but that is how it feels). Your friend NEEDS to talk about his wife, and you are a saint for listening to him. Thanks, from another one who is in the same shoes. dwlghp

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