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Where do I go from here?

Deb W 57
Posts: 4
Joined: Sep 2017

This is my first time on this discussion board so I'm really not sure what the rules are. Mike and I met in high school, i was 16 he was 18.we stayed high school sweethearts through my senior year. We went our separate ways. I moved to Southern MN and married my first husband. The marriage was bad from the start and we divorced after 3 years but i'm grateful for my son. Mike and I started communicating again after my divorce. He made many visits to Southern MN and after a few months i packed up my toddler and I and moved back to the Twin Cities.  Mike and I married within the year, had our 2nd son and a wonderful life . We were a team and best frinds and just celebrated 32 years of marriage in February. Mike and our oldest son went on an ice fishing weekend a week later. Mike who was never sick came down with a severe sinus infection upon their return. In 38 years with the railroad he probably only missed work a handful of times.  He was a Type 2 diabetic for the past 15 years and controlled it and his blood pressure with medication. The sinus infection hung on through a dose of antibiotics and then an inhaler. Mike went to help open his parent's cabin even though the sinus infection was still present. He came home and looked worse than I've ever seen him. I insisted he go to the doctor and he light-heartedly dismissed my request until about a week later when he noticed his legs swelling and a terrible tightness in his chest. When our family doctor laid him down she discovered that his liver had become so enlarged that it was cutting off his lung capacity. After a blur of doc appointments that week he was finally diagnosed on May 9th with CANCER- cancer of the lungs, liver and kidneys!!!  I had just started a new job, my dream job 5 weeks prior so it was his sister who took him to his appointments. The week after his diagnosis my new employer let me go. I was devastated and was told it was due to a re-org in the company and was sent home with a final paycheck and about 1 month of severance pay.  I decided that my new employer was angels to allow me to have the time to spend with Mike through our new adventure.  We were both numb. His legs continued to swell and puddle, he quit eating, he was miserable waiting for his prognosis. May 22nd we had an oncologist appointment scheduled. When they called that morning to confirm Mike's appointment they told us to get him to the hospital for a bed. The ambulance picked him up and after 5 hours in the Emergency Room the oncologist came in to confirm that Mike had a very aggressive cancer that could be slowed with treatment but no cure and only a 10% chance he would survive a year. My sister in law and I broke down but Mike was totally at peace and asked why we were crying. He was admitted into ICU and was given 2 chemo treatments on Tuesday and Wednesday which seemed to be working. I stayed in his room with him and was awoken Thursday by one of his many docs to tell me his kidneys failed and they needed to start dialysis immediately. After they started the machines he looked much better and even asked for breakfast after not eating in nearly a week. By afternoon he took a turn for the worse and by nighttime was totally delerious.  Friday was awful, he was in and out and hard to understand. He was  so jaundice he no longer looked like my Mike. He took his last breath at 11:20pm.  Only our youngest son, age 31 and myself were there. Many were out of town for the Memorial Day weekend including my little toddler, now age 34. I've never felt so alone.

The funeral was simple but dignified and beautiful. Mike was a simple kind of guy. The funeral home was packed to double it's capacity. I was surrounded by friends and family but felt alone.

It's been a long summer. I'm angry, sad, depressed, afraid, grateful.  I'm angry that he died, I'm angry that he worked for 38 years and was going to retire in December and that was taken away from us. I'm sad to see happy old couples together, something we never shared. I'm sad that it's just me and the dog all afternoon when my son is at work. I'm depressed - I cry pretty much everyday and some days don't even care if I get out of bed or shower or eat. I had to have a total knee replacement 6 weeks ago before our wonderful health insurance increased by 400% for just me. I'm glad it's done and on the mend. Both my mother in law and father in law are still alive, mother in law has dementia and father in law is in hospice. I've been helping clean out their home that's now sold. My oldesd son pushed me into doing a much needed shower replacement which turned into a complete bathroom makeover. I've become a savvy online shopper and am tripping over boxes of stuff I haven't even opened yet- no matter how much I shop it doesn't fill up the hole. I'm grateful to have such a wonderful support system with friends and family. I'm not alone but definitely lonely.

Finally I'm afraid. I'm lost. I don't know if I'm ready to go back to work yet. What's next???







Posts: 137
Joined: Jul 2017

Deb, I am so sorry this happened to you.  How fortunate that you have a good support system in your family and friends.  I wonder though if a support group of people going through the same thing might also help a lot -- perhaps like "Suddenly Alone" or something similar where you can talk out what you're going through and listen to how others are handling it.  Are you familiar with Meetup.com?  They are groups that people start to get together to enjoy common interests locally.  They are mostly not dating groups or anything like that, although there are some groups for singles, but mostly it's about common interests for all age groups.  Really a good way to start getting out of the house and slowly start turning your attention to what you're going to do with the next chapter of your life.  Sounds like you are being good to yourself in taking time to grieve.  Continue to be kind to yourself by finding healthy ways to grieve (and perhaps return the shopping items).  God bless.

Mary H.
Posts: 17
Joined: Sep 2017

I wish I had some answers.  I get out of bed, sometimes wonder why I bother.  I do some stuff, sit, don't do other stuff.  It's so hard.  It's the worst place in the world to be.  But I'm told by those who have gone before that there is a going on.  Eventually, someday....the world will start making sense again.  I know about the retail therapy.  A few weeks ago, I informed my children that I was not to be allowed to buy more clothes.  I can only wear so many.  And I'm not spending a lot.  It's just the idea...I'm accumulating stuff.  I know why...it's to try to fill the big hole in my life.  With the shopping, my son authorized new socks.  Said people can always use socks.  My daughter authorized new underwear. 


It's been not quite a year a a half for me, though my husband was ill for some time before that.  He had lung cancer.  It responded well to treatment.  Was considered gone or almost so.  Then he developed esophageal cancer.  Not related to the lung problem, a totally different kind.  They didn't hold out much hope for him.  Thought maybe 6 months to 12 months, with treatment to make him more comfortable and allow him to swallow.  With that cancer, from diagnosis to death was 7 weeks.  So fast!  Too fast!  But...he was so miserable.  He was a guy who liked to eat and not being able to do that.......well.....he was miserable.


Don't mean to hijack your thread.  I want you to know that I feel for you.  My heart hurts for you and all you've endured.  My doctor told me it doesn't get better, but it gets different.  It gets to where you can endure it.  I hope that point comes to you soon.



Deb W 57
Posts: 4
Joined: Sep 2017


Thank you. You definitely have not hijacked my thread. I appreciate all the responses to my rant. I've spent the last 4 days with un bearable nausea and vomiting and finally went to the ER today. The first thing I did when I walked in was bust out in tears. I bawled 6 weeks ago prior to my total knee replacement too. Mike was supposed to be here to hold my hand. Anyway, I spent today with a needle in my hand getting bags of -fluids and a smorgasbord of nausea meds. I just got home from my pharmacy with a sack full of nausea drugs. The pharmacist told me she just lost her boyfriend about a year ago. It seems like an epidemic with all the people i've talked to about recent losses of their partners. Everybody says it gets easier??? Then I gave $10  to a young couple holding a sign "out of gas". Helping others is in my nature. And knowing that I hopefully  helped someone made me feel better for a bit. Now I'm home sitting outside with the dog and still feel rotten. I don't want to go into my messy house I've neglected all week- it's too quiet and I patiently wait for my son to get home from work in a couple hours so I have someone to talk to. I'll force myself to go in pretty soon though and check out all my goodies from the pharmacy.

I loved your shopping story. I have plenty of socks and underwear, have a whole new wardrobe for fall and winter (and I'm between jobs right now), have a jump on Christmas shopping and have totally redone my 2nd bathroom. I think I'd best take a break from shopping for a whileWink

Love, Deb


Posts: 65
Joined: Jun 2017

My Karen on May 12th, 2017. Its been just over 4 months. There isn't an hour that goes by when I don't think about her. I wish she was still here. Our life together was getting ready was going to be the best it ever was. Our children had graduated from High School, we were both in the twilight of our careers where we were both content where we were. We had a lot to look forward to but that was all taken away from us this spast Spring. I've been going to Spousal loss group, I've been going to one on one counseling and although some say it makes your question your faith, her passing has strengthened mine. I'm trying to get back on the path God created for me and I'm hoping that Path leads me back to her in the next stage. I know some people question that existence but it's all I have now and I must have the Faith and the hope that it exist.

Deb W 57
Posts: 4
Joined: Sep 2017


I totally get it. Not only did I lose Mike but I lost a lot of other things. He'd be retiring this December 27 on his 60 birthday after 38 years with the railroad. I always joked and told him I was hanging with him waiting for the good stuff, meaning retirement. We were going to tackle our bucket list together - we were going to take our 4 wheelers out to The Black Hills where my family made lasting memories when I was a kid but he'd never been. Now I have two 4 wheelers sitting in the garage and don't have a clue of how to load or unload them from a trailer. I missed our annual Canada trip this year - we caravan up with our boats for an awesome week of R & R but Mike never showed our 31 year old son Chris or me how to drive the boat. I spent 2 weeks before the trip being really angry at Mike. I ended up having my knee replaced a week before the trip so couldn't go anyway.  His biggest item on his list was to make it to Alaska. I have uncles in Anchorage and they would have shown him the time of his life, not the typical tourist experience. The day Mike was diagnosed I started thinuking about how to scrape up enough money to make the trip.

That was "our bucket list". I haven't figured out one for just me yet. Saying "just me" makes me angry. I'm mad at him for leaving me, I'm mad he didn't take better care of himself and I'm still really mad at God. I know your faith is getting you through but I'm just not there yet.


Posts: 772
Joined: Apr 2012

I lost my husband in July 2015 after a 5 year battle with cancer.  I was with him every step of the way and we would have celebrated our 53rd wedding anniversary a month after he passed.  It is hard and I still miss him every day.  Some days are good but others are horrible.  Too many don't understand because they have never been thru it.  One DIL said "well you knew he was older than you when you married him" what does that have to do with it?  I met him when I was a junior in high school and married him right after graduation.  I had never lived alone.  We had 4 children but they all live out of state and some I rarely hear from.  Have many grandchildren but they are too busy living their own lifes to care about grandparents.  My generation we cared and were always in contact with them.  

It takes time and I think the longer you are with your spouse, the harder it is, because you depend on them for so much and now they aren't here.  Don't know which is worse watching your spouse die quickly from cancer or any medical condition  or watching them battle for 5 years and knowing that they aren't going to live.

All I can say is it is hard and you just have to take each day as it comes.  I never went to a support group because there were none in my area but have found this site wonderful.

Wishing you peace and comfort

Deb W 57
Posts: 4
Joined: Sep 2017


It's a new generation of "millenials" and kids don't keep in touch much these days. The one thing that's kept me in touch with 2 sons and my estranged granddaughter is texting!! And Facebook too. I don't post much there but it's sure great to log in and see current pictures of her and all the fun she's having just living life. I'm sure your grandkids care, try to communicate with them through this new thing they call " the internet"Cool


wolfen's picture
Posts: 1329
Joined: Apr 2009


I am so sorry for your loss. "What's next ?" is definitely one of the tougher aspects of grief. Most of us are not in our right minds anyway. After 4+ years, I have finally decided what's next for me. Come he!! or high water, I'm moving from this place where I still see him or hear his voice in every room.

I lost my husband in May of 2013 after a horrendous 6 month battle with cancer. A year later, I watched my daughter die a horrible death, also from cancer. Shortly afterward, I mostly lost my mind. Instead of retail therapy, I used gambling therapy to complete my devastation. It was mindless entertainment to fill the long, lonely hours of the night. A very bad choice on my part. Grief causes us to do so many things without thinking them through beforehand.

Yes, I am still grieving. I cannot say that it is better, only that I have learned to somewhat accept my losses. I went to a local grief support group that made me feel like maybe I was still a sane human being. I also belong to an online grief support group that has been a lifesaver.

I want to share something again that I found online shortly after I lost my husband. I also shared it 4 years ago. For me, it kind of says it all.



Unique And Devastating Loss(by Wifeless)

With the death of our spouse (which here includes fiancée, significant other, 
partner, etc.), we grieve the loss of so much more than someone we merely
loved or were close to, like a parent, grandparent, sibling, friend or pet. We 
grieve instead the loss of: The one we loved most deeply, cherished and felt 
the very closest to. The one we swore commitment to in that unique human 
bond of marriage, which many consider sacred. The one we shared the 
ultimate partnership with to live as one and perhaps bear children with. The 
one who embodied our true sense of home. The one who was our best friend 
and who was to be our companion for life. The one we confided in, depended 
on and trusted most. The one who really knew, understood and accepted us 
as we were. The one we felt safe and protected with. The one we shared 
private moments and intimate feelings with. The one we mated souls with.

But it is not just that this most precious person has been torn from our life, 
as unbearably heartbreaking as that alone is. With the death of our spouse, 
and only of our spouse, many additional profound losses must be grieved as 
well. For we also suffer: The loss of who we ourselves were while with them. 
The loss of the couple we were once half of. The loss of the life partnership 
we once formed. The loss of the husband or wife role we once embraced. 
The loss of the life we once lived. The loss of the plans we once made. The 
loss of the dreams we once shared. The loss of the future we once envisioned.

Amidst all this, we are also suddenly confronted with many hardships we 
never expected to face at this point in our life. Besides financial survival, 
increased domestic burdens and perhaps single parenting, additional 
challenges less apparent to others but all too real and terrifying to us. We
must now find it within ourselves: To create a new identity. To redefine 
our role in life. To establish a new connection to the world. To build a new 
network of social relationships. To discover a new sense of purpose. To 
formulate a new set of goals. To decide on a new direction for our future.

And we must accomplish these without dishonoring our former life, but while 
suppressing bittersweet memories of that life, so that they not hold us back. 
Memories of happier times mostly, but also those of our spouse’s death, 
either sudden and shocking or after prolonged illness. We must further 
endure the feelings of guilt and disloyalty that follow us as we attempt to 
forget and move forward, but with our heartstrings tied so tightly to the past.

And all these tasks must be taken on at the lowest possible point of our life in 
the worst state imaginable. When we are the weakest, most vulnerable, most 
insecure, most isolated, most heartbroken and most emotionally exhausted 
we have ever been. Without that one person we long ago became accustomed 
to relying on to help get us through life's greatest challenges. The one who, 
just by being there, would have provided us emotional comfort and moral 
support to draw upon, as well as the strength and confidence we need to 
complete those tasks and so much more. But now we face all this alone.

Profound indeed is the death of our spouse. Unique and devastating. For 
nearly all of us, much more catastrophic to our life than the loss of any other. 
And truly comparable, many of us widows and widowers often feel, to one 
other death only. Ours.

JerzyGrrl's picture
Posts: 760
Joined: Jun 2016

Socks and underwear are good, as needed. I was horrified recently at how much I spent on said items, but considering my underwear appeared to have succumbed to natural causes, I did the math and realized I had gotten a really good ROI. Boats and four-wheelers, you can learn how to deal with when the time comes. This grief stuff takes time. If you haven't been to your own physician for a check-up in a while, now is probably a real good time to do it. Be gentle with yourself, but also be your own best friend. If you have to stage an intervention on yourself, go ahead. Me, I at least waited until I'd finished the pint of ice cream. Fortunately (?) it didn't take long. The worst part had been deciding whether to eat the whole bag of chips or the ice cream on the way home from the grocery store. Fortunately, I had a spoon in the car and I hit all the lights, so it wasn't much of a decision after all. 

Keep us posted as you're able. Hugs -- 

Posts: 27
Joined: Sep 2017

When my dear mother died 25 years ago three years after a stroke (stroke at age 57, death at age 60), my doctor told me that anyone who is bereaved should be considered temporarily insane for at least the first year after the death. I was sad and depressed for a few years, but in those years my kid sister also had some major health problems and we had been partners in looking after our mother. Now my sister is in palliative care at home with metastatic uterine cancer and I am her sole caregiver. (We have a younger sister but she has never been very involved with us. She lives in the US and the other two of us are in Canada.) I feel a lot of anticipatory sadness at the prospect of losing my sister, who I consider to be my last remaining relative. (I'm single, as is she.) I know I'll be very sad when she dies and when I have to sort through her things and decide whether to sell her house or stay here. (I live in Toronto and she is in Ottawa where I've been since mid-August.) But I think I'll come through it. My sister has been very philosophical and I'm trying to be. 

Now I've highjacked the thread...

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