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My husband is dying and I cry all the time

Posts: 6
Joined: Dec 2008

My husband of over 40 years is in the final months of his life. He's at home under Hospice support - he has tumors in his brain, lungs, trachea, and adrenal glands. I am managing without help right now but I'll use the Hospice volunteers in time. My problem is that I can't seem to control my emotions...even in public. If I meet someone I know at the store and they ask how John is, I just break down. It's embarrassing for me and uncomfortable for them. How do I learn to deal with everything that's happening. I'm completely overwhelmed. He's had cancer for 14 years and we know how lucky we are that he's still here but it's so hard to watch the man I love wither and die. I know the rest of you have faced the same things and I need your expert help. Thanks

soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

It sounds as though you are in the throes of depression. Not just sadness, but perhaps clinical depression. The uncontrollable crying leads me to suspect so. (I am NOT a doctor!)

You have been through a great deal. I think, in truth, that caregivers go through more than those of us who deal with the disease as survivors in many cases.

You have been doing that, now for 14 years. Worrying always about the next day, always caring for him, and probably ignoring your own needs in the meantime.

I would advise that you seek some outside advice, someone to talk to on a regular basis who knows how to help, a therapist.

Such a person does not have to be expensive, and there is no longer the stigma attached to it that there once was. It is well worth the venture. You will find after just two or three sessions that you are dealing much better with your circumstances and with your Self.

I recommend it highly.

In the meantime, my thoughts are with you and your husband. From your description, I assume that the toughest times are just ahead. Please get some help for yourself. It will be of great help to your husband as well.

If I can offer one more piece of advice, it is this: to be a good caregiver, you have to take good care of the giver. Take care of yourself!

Best wishes,


Posts: 6
Joined: Dec 2008

I just wish I could get a grip. I don't really have time to go to a therapist as I can't leave John alone but I will call Hospice and see if someone could come here. I feel so helpless and that's not a normal feeling for me.......I'm always the one who's strong. Thanks again, Pat

CanadaSue's picture
Posts: 340
Joined: Apr 2006


In order to take care of your husband at this time you first need to take care of yourself, as Joe mentioned.

I am a caregiver for my husband of 32 years who has colon cancer... no where near the end however. He has been thru 3 major surgeries and the chemo run, at times I have gotten very depessed as well. My doctor has prescribed meds for me when I really needed them. But I found that talking with someone helped me more than the meds. I cannot begin to imagine what you are going thru at this time, but as Joe said do talk to someone. Do you have a family member that can come stay with your husband so you are able to get out?

My thoughts and prayers are with you!



Posts: 6
Joined: Dec 2008

Our son and family were here for about 10 days but they needed to return home to Columbus Ohio - about 700 miles from us. I have friends I talk to and my Mom...we aren't religious people so clergy isn't a part of things. One of my knitting buddies is also a Hospice volunteer and she's asked to be assigned to our case.....I know it will help to have her come.

My doctor gave me a script for an anti-anxiety med that helps some so I can get to sleep but doesn't seem to do much for the emotional breakdowns. I'm an RN and it's been difficult to stop thinking like a nurse...I want to make him better.

I wish you and your husband continued good times together....make lots of good memories to look back on.

I'm finding it very helpful to have the support of people like you and Joe to talk to. Thank you so much

arbrab's picture
Posts: 55
Joined: Nov 2007

I lost my husband of 34 years to lung cancer in 07. I also was the strong one who never cryed a tear. The last week of his life I think I cryed more, then in the 34 years we were together. Also as Joe said you need to take care of yourself, I found out the hard way and lost around 20 lbs. Not good. Anyone, that you can talk to can help you with the stress you are under at this moment. Crying is not a bad thing, you need to get these emotions out. And don't be embarrassed when you cry if someone asks how your husband is.
If you want another way of release come to the chat room. There are alot of people there to talk to. Joe and myself included. We don't condemn anyone, and you really don't have to talk unless you want to. Sometimes I sit and cry just reading what everyone is saying. It still hurts to know that my husband is never coming back, and I still do have my days. But, when I need to talk, I go to the chat room. And please don't be alarmed at the conversations. It's not always about cancer. It's about life, stress, emotions, family, freinds, whatever you want to talk about. There is always (usually) someone there.
Hugs to you and yours

Posts: 6
Joined: Dec 2008

I've never been to a chat room but I'll try to go sometime when I get a few minutes. It seems every day he leaves me a little more and I'm so lonely already. We did everything together.....he's been retired since 1985. He's never been a very social person so he and I are best friends, lovers, companions, etc. The changes in him are frightening - he looks like those photos from the German death camps of WWII, his face is so sunken in and his teeth protrude.......this hurts so much when I look back at photos taken just 5 months ago.
Thanks for listening

arbrab's picture
Posts: 55
Joined: Nov 2007


I watched my husband go from 220 to 185 in less than 2 weeks. I always told everyone he was the little old man from the Great America commericals. LOL. I had to bring laughter in or we both would have been crying all the time.
The man that sat on the couch hooked up to oxegen was not the man from 2 months ago. My heart hurts for you, for I truely know what you are going through. Please when you find a moment, if not now, after - go to the chat room, there is comfort there, believe me
You and Yours are in My Thoughts
Please Be At Peace, Know that where he is going he will be well. And someday you will be back with him again. It is hard, but knowing this helps me everyday. I miss him everyday, and like you even before he left. I would ask him, "what am I gonna do when your gone" he never answered. I guess he knew I would make it fine. Just one day at a time. And that's what I do

Posts: 6
Joined: Dec 2008

I'm seeing more confusion in his thinking, especially in the morning and this hurts, too.
He was tormented for days thinking that I would have trouble changing names on bank accounts, stock, etc. I've tried to convince him that this will not be a problem but he keeps thinking that there was something he should have done to make it easier. The doc prescribed 1/2mg Ativan as needed and I think it helped this afternoon.

I was able to go to the bank and run an errand before supper and he did fine alone. I wish I had the comfort of a belief in an afterlife but I don't. I'm glad for you and for all those who have that hope to hold on to.

Thank you and I'm sorry for your loss.

Posts: 9
Joined: Feb 2008

Hi Pat,

I understand and it's hard. I would love to say that my husband and I have been together for 5, 10 15, 20+ years. But I can't so I'm thankful for the 7years of knowing him and 1yr of marriage. At 37yrs old my husband too is dying from a brain stem tumor. I cry every night althought I cry in my car so my husband and my son wont see me. Its hard until I joined this network I can now say that I was in denial about my husband situation. I stayed busy, I mean so busy I didn't have time to think....and one day we got a call from our insurance saying that they were dropping him and I EXPLODED!...it wasn't the call that did it. It was so much I kept bottled up inside and never crying and talking about it. I avoided people, family and friends, when they asked how is he doing with a smile I would say Oh! he's fine never better. I had a nervous breakdown when i finally realized and accepted the condition my husband is in. He is the love of my life and it hurts to watch him in pain, not being able to do the things he wants and use to do, watching him cry, feeling sorry for something he had/has no control over. I wish I had the answers for you... for me too! But I had to make time for me so that I could better help my husband and son. So i started seeing a therapist to help me sort out my feelings and he actually turned me on to this site. I have found comfort in sharing and listening to others situations knowing that i am not alone in this. My son is now 15yrs old. and we just told him about his dad's illness last month when he had to be hospitalized. I have him in therapy now to help him understand whats going on with his dad, because I'm still not at a point where I can help him. So crying is ok, I don't think we can ever really stop, but make time for you, make time to get help before you lose yourself.

I was told by my therapist that life must go on even without the one you love....and everyday will be a challenge...it just a matter of how you choose to deal with it. I wanted to punch him...but I know that wouldn't change anything....I can't imagine life without him....so i know 40+ years is hard.

Its going to take some time a long time....but hang in there and choose how you deal with it.

Posts: 6
Joined: Dec 2008

I'm so sorry for you and your son. Your husband is so young and it seems so unfair.

Even though we've been married a long time, it doesn't seem that long....and we weren't done yet with all we wanted to do. I know I have to focus on the time we've had and remember all the good times. I know I should talk with someone but I'm not comfortable doing that. It seems I should be able to come to grips with this myself and not have to hear some stranger tell me all the things I know I'd say to a patient.

I wish our son and family were closer but that can't be changed either. I also don't want them to see John the way he is now. Sometimes he seems almost like himself and at other times - especially during the night if he wakes up - he's not at all with it.

Thank you for sharing your story and I wish you, your husband and your son all the best.

Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2012

Hello, I was looking for some help with controlling my emotons and this forum came up. I, too have been married 42 years this year. My brother who is 61 has lung cancer and it is now in his liver and we are trying to do the best we can to be there for him. My husband has stage 3 kidney cancer, but is stable at the moment. We lost our oldest sun unexpectedly 4 years ago, and then my dad (he was 85)died. So all in all it seems like we get up from one blow and here comes another. We have some good news, however, our other son is having his first child in May and it is a boy who will be named for our son who died. I know it really helps to realize that we haven't been singled out for this, everyone has to face bad times, eventually.
Also, I try to take one day at a time and not "borrow trouble" as my grandmother used to say. If i spend too much time thinking about all the bad it weighs me down. Sometimes that is easier said than done! I talk to my friends, try to shield myself from negative people who are not supportive, and escape into a book when I can. Books really help me, if anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. I do know that I am proud that I am able to be there for my loved ones and it is important to me that i keep doing that. I have had experience with people who didn't have the strength to do that and it has made it harder for everyone else.

Just kowing you are all out there is a huge help.

Cindy Bear
Posts: 570
Joined: Jul 2009

I can't imagine how hard this is for you. My SIL lost her husband to esoph cancer in 2010 . He'd been ill about 18 mos., fought valiantly to the end. He probably should have been in hospice the final few mos. but he didn't want to go and she was determined to keep him home. She had a pretty good support system (She had to continue to work FT since she was carrying benefits) But she was a mgr of dollar store , worked close to home and was able to come and go as needed. She had stepsons, BIL and good friends take turns going to the house and sitting with hubby. She stayed strong during, but really had a meltdown after he passed. Thankfully, her employer was very understanding, she was able to take an unpaid leave, she talked to her dr. and dr. adjusted her anxiety meds and it may sound cliche but I think retail therapy probably saved her life. I have encouraged her to seek some grief counseling, but she hasn't done that yet as far as I know. I think hospice can definitely refer you there. You don't have to be strong all the time.. and if it helps, when people ask about John, you can say, "I'm sorry I'm not able to talk about it " and change the subjetc. Take care of yourself .
Big hugs and prayers,

Posts: 35
Joined: Dec 2011

I just mentioned in another thread that Hospice in our area offers grief counseling to the surviving family members. I know you are waiting for a bit to contact Hospice but you do know they will provide care for up to 6 months? At least where I live they allow that length of time. They are so respectful of your environment and your loved ones needs based on exactly where they are currently at. They do not ever try and push things in a certain direction nor do they ever take away hope from the dying. That is their right to have and hold for as long as they desire and Hospice will design care around those wishes.The key is comfort and as pain free as possible. As things progress the level of care changes as well. The days they don't come they are a quick phone call away 24/7 and if needed they will be there immediately.

If you were to give them a call sooner rather than later I promise that your husbands Social Worker from The Hospice team will also be there for you as well for as much emotional support as he or she can give you and it will continue after he is gone. I have been offered free grief counseling for up to one year and even a month later I still get calls from the Hospice Social Worker checking up on me.

I'll be honest. In our situation my mothers health went bad so fast out of nowhere I never had a chance to deal with grief until after she was gone. I was consumed with making sure she was comfortable. If I had time to slow down I probably would have been overcome with emotions every day. I did short runs to the bathroom to cry but quickly recovered. I faked it in front of everyone and remained composed. I just didn't allow myself to embrace much of that at the time. Maybe that wasn't so wise? I still don't know how I made it through with no sleep. I'd swear it all had to have been a very bad nightmare as now much of it just seems too overwhelming and unreal to recall. My mom is the one who spoke to her social worker for private emotional support. I didn't utilize it then but I could have. I thought I could carry it all on my own. HUGE MISTAKE on my part. It was after her death this last Dec that all those emotions I'd pushed asside came back.

My thoughts and prayers are with you. Please consider my advice to give Hospice a call sooner rather than later. They offer so much.

Posts: 170
Joined: Dec 2010

Hi, I SO much know what you are going through. I had to bury my loving husband yesterday! I cried today in church. I don't know when one moves on. I'm just taking one day at a time. He was so sick for15 months, eight of those months he couldn't eat nothing by mouth and had a track, so many times it got SO hard for him to breath. He was in and out of the hospital for most of those months. The last visit to the hospital they said no more treatments his body was getting to weak. Go home and call Hospice, he said no. So we came home. I tried everything I could do to help him. Last Monday at 10 am was the last time I helped him with everything he needed help with. I helped him to his chair in the living room, while I did some light cleaning around the house. I walked into the living room, I thought his sugar dropped because that happened so many times before. I checked it but it was 198 so I knew this was not right. Called 911 they tried every. So I just say he went to sleep in his chair! I am hurting so much right now. I don't know what I am going to do without him/ I know I;m scared. I have been with him for 30 years. How does one go on? I so wish I could say something to comfort you. But I am hurting to right now. I guess all we can do is take one day at a time. Everyone has left, went back to there jobs, lives. I do know that they my family all came to me when I needed them the most, so for that I am so blessed! But here I am me and our cat, in a quite house where it will never be the same. I don't know whats going to happen in the future I can't think that far ahead.

Posts: 829
Joined: Aug 2010

Hi, So sorry Sue to hear about your husband. It is so hard to go on without them, but we have no choice. Cry when you feel like it and always come here for help. We've all gone through it so we know how it is. People that still have their husbands don't understand what it's like to have your world fall apart in one day . We were married for 46 years and Tom was diagnosed in January of 2010 and died in March of that year. He had a "rare" side effect to one of the chemos. I've tried so many times to find out if anyone else has had a side effect but since it was rare haven't found anyone yet.
But please if you're having a rough time, go for counseling and get meds. I had to. I was afraid of getting hooked on drugs, but didn't and it really helped me.
My husband did everything and was going to retire that June. We had so many plans, but it never happened. I hate being alone but have alot of friends so that helps. It's going to be 2 years on March 25th and I still miss him every day . Hang in there! Remember we're all here for you. "Carole"

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