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The Other Man - Supporting the Care-Giver After the Death

Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2001

I feel awkward even writing this. I wonder if I even have a right to be here. I guess its because I haven't really been affected by cancer in my own life, or have I?

I am a new partner for a wonderful women (a former care-giver), and my love for her has led me to want to understand more of what she is going through as she continues to struggle with the death of her first husband. Is there anyone out there with experience in loving a caregiver who has lost a spouse (2+ years). Please write.

Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2001

I do not have the same situation as you, I lost my father to a rare colon cancer in July of 2000, but I felt I needed to respond to you.
You should not feel awkward writing what you have, I commend you for caring enough to do so.
I can tell you that losing someone to cancer is something that will always be with your partner. My mother and I do not go a day without thinking about the death of my father, but we know that my father would have wanted us to go on with our lives.
Your parnet is lucky to have someone that is interested enough, and caring enough to take the time to try and find support.
I wish you all of the luck in the world.

Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2001

Thank you for your reply. I hope that there are others. I can tell you that she has not completed a grief recovery program and I just don't any perspective I consider myself an excellent listener, yet, I can tell that its not enough. Thank you again for your reply.

Posts: 1
Joined: Aug 2001

I understand your feelings about wanting to help. I am a woman who witnessed my dear friend and potential mate go through the devestating process of losing his mother to cancer. This is not as similar as you may be looking for--but I wanted to send you something--it's been sometime since you posted your first message. His mother died nearly one year ago and I am on this web site trying to understand more.
Listening doesn't feel like enough, but often it is the best you can do and that's okay.
Acknowledging her struggle and her fears is a very good way to lend her your support.
Understanding that she will likely never forget what she went through in caring for her first husband through his death is a difficult thing to do, but also important to lending her support.
Perspective is very hard to acheive without going through the experience. I was shocked to hear from my boyfriend that even though I had spoken to him every day that he took care of her and listened to all that he said to me about his feelings and frustrations and day-to-day experiences, I still would never know how it felt to go through it. This is true and something I can't change and hope never to have to go through with my mother. Still, it is a barrier between us. It is easy for me to forget how hard it must be to live each day without the nagging sadness of losing a mother after a long and debilitating fight with cancer. To watch your mother wither before you--losing weight, losing energy, losing her ability to speak, losing her ability to control her bladder and bowel functions. To take care of her in this awful condition and to watch her as she doesn't recognize me when I come to her bedside, as she accuses me of hurting her and giving her medicines that make her feel ill even though the truth is she is being eaten away by a cancer that I hate and have no control over. There may be a tremendous feeling of injustice and lack of control about what happened. A despair at the sudden, unexpectedness of it all. And the fear that if it happened once, it may happen again.
I could write reams about this, but if there are any questions or specific interests you have, please let me know. I wish you peace and strength in your journey to understanding; and commend you for this act of love.

Posts: 7
Joined: Oct 2001

I am a spouse,caregiver, supporter of my husband who died 2yrs ago with cancer...It is good you want to understand where she is coming from.. She just keep giving her all the encouragement and moral support she may need, as it is a very frustrating situation she is in. She is dealing with it the best she can..If you would like to know what it was like for me as a caregiver or answer any questions you might have...you also can write me on my email nmarty@earthlink.net

Posts: 5
Joined: Oct 2001

I think it's wonderful that you are so extremely supportive of this woman. It's exactly what she needs, and what she will continue to need.
A couple of years after my grandfather passed away, my grandmother remarried. He is a wonderful man, who not only married the woman he loves, but inherited an entire family who is fiercely loyal to my grandfather's memory. He took us all in stride, and, frankly, taught me a valuable lessen about unconditional love and support. The death of a loved one effects everyone involved, including the people who enter our lives after it happens. It is the love and support of those people that helps us to realize that it's okay for us as survivors to continue to live our lives and that it is safe for us not only to love again, but to maintain and nurture the memory of our lost loved one.
It sounds like you're already doing the best thing possible for both you and your partner. Continue to love and support her and know that, even though it's often left unsaid, your love is invaluable and irreplaceable.

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