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From a man's perspective

Posts: 167
Joined: Apr 2009

I lost my wife to colon cancer July 29th. I post here a few times a week and more when she was alive battling her cancer. We would have been married 32 years this August 26th.

It is therapeutic for me to share what losing a spouse is like from a man’s perspective. Perhaps it is not that different for a wife but since I am not a woman I will never know for sure.

I had worked that last day of her life. She had called me and was barely coherent. I came home to find her half lying on the couch with the telephone on the floor. She wanted help to the bathroom. I got her into her wheelchair and lifted her onto the toilet. It was a few seconds after helping back to her chair that her head tilted back and she was unconscious. I knew at that point the end was very near. I tried to balance her head while pushing her chair to the couch and struggled to get her back on the cushion. I remember how hard it was to try and get her pajama bottoms back on – her dignity was still very important to me. While I knew this moment would eventually come I was numb and in disbelief that it was happening in front of my eyes. The hospice nurses came to the door and helped me elevate her head and give her morphine. She sighed with every breath, as if she had just finished a marathon and was exhausted. It was barely 30 minutes later that she let out her last breath. The funeral home was at my house quickly. The emotional part was seeing the gurney leaving our front door. I declined to walk with them to the hearse-I was afraid of being seen by neighbors and being exposed was overwhelming at that point. I called our only daughter who was in Disneyworld – she knew what the call was for. She had said her goodbye a week earlier and countless times before when we thought the end was near only to see Esther with her grit determinations prove everyone wrong.

The funeral was affirming-standing room only with people sharing how Esther had impacted their lives in positive ways. I was touched and thought how we all do things good and bad that have ripple effects that we may forget, but others remember for years. Her burial was in Magalia California overlooking Saw Mill Peak. It’s beautiful. I touched her casket and whispered “I love you” before leaving.

It has been two months. I had my ring cut off last Monday. It was time. I have it in my safety deposit box. Every morning when I get up I see a portrait taken of us back in 1985. In my humble opinion that is when we were both at our most attractive, but she is absolutely stunning in that portrait. But it is painful to look at it. I remember after that portrait was taken we were both so enamored with eachother we rushed home in a driving rain and that afternoon our daughter was conceived! So it hurts to see that portrait hanging on the wall every day when I pass it. It hurts to see her toothpaste in the bathroom. It hurts to see the photos of our family she put up on the refrigerator. Everything in the house has her imprint. There is no where I can go where her DNA isn’t left behind. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like my own home, it feels like a house where two people once lived, one died and the other left the same day.

Dating? I admit I think of women. It’s hard to be alone and I miss female companionship. I told myself I would never get married again or date, yet I cannot deny the agony of being alone each day. I can be in a room full of people and yet still feel alone. I look at women differently than I used too. I ask myself “Would this person be a good mate?” Then I realize how absurd the question is because she is married with four children!!!!! I am insecure too. I wonder if I am still attractive? I got lazy being married; I did not have to worry about gaining a few pounds, snoring at night, getting spinach stuck on my incisors. I am running more now, I am thinking of lasik surgery. I feel a bit self centered about it but my wife is gone and I am here and I am lonely-it sucks!

It helps to work- it occupies my time yet I feel detached from that as well. My mind drifts. It’s as if everyone else is now speaking a different language but me. Deadlines, interactions at the job which are normal seem distant and I confess unimportant. There are days I could not care less about conference calls and production, it seems foreign to me.

My daughter is getting married in a year. I don’t know how I will plan it without my wife. That would have been the single most important day she could ever experience and she won’t be there. I wonder how my daughter will feel about it. I guess we will deal with it like we both have been, one day, hour and minute at a time.

A week ago I met someone for coffee. It wasn’t a date but we talked about how we ended up single. Her situation is different than mine but just as much loss and pain. We talked for an hour and a half. I admit I was attracted to her but then felt as if I had invested so much personal information with a total stranger that I felt almost in a state of panic. It was as if two people had survived a plane crash and were bonded but that is all they have in common and they will have to find their own way of surviving.

People tell me “Dave, be good to yourself.” While I know the intent is well and good I don’t know how the hell to do that-it would help if they would tell me how to do it.

In the end, the death of my wife is the single most painful event I have ever had to endure. I cannot even fathom loss of a child. But the death of my wife took away my identity and part of my soul. I am different now and I can never get that part back.

ktlcs's picture
Posts: 360
Joined: Jan 2010

I lost my husband to colon cancer on July 17. He was in treatment and had been doing very well, as a matter of fact we had been to the Dr only 2 weeks before and all tests were normal I took him to the hospital for severe back pain on Monday, they did an MRI and confirmed two herniated disks and suddenly things just started to decline, by Thursday he was vomiting blood, on Friday he was put on the palliative care service and passed that night. I now wear his ring on a chain around my neck and wear my rings every day. Dating? I can't even fathom it. I am barely 50 and am a widow, never thought it would happen to me.

I know what you mean that this has been the single most painful event in y0ur life, it certainly is for me. I too have lost a huge part of who I was that I will never get back.


Hatshepsut's picture
Posts: 340
Joined: Nov 2006


Thanks for posting your thoughts.

I believe that each of us, in our profound grief, walks a totally unique path. Whether you ultimately chose solitude or companionship during your grief, I sincerely hope that you find healing and happiness in your future.

I lost my husband in May. I'm a very private person and I've chosen to take a lot of private time in the months since his death. Like just about everyone else who posts here, I find the loneliness overwhelming at times, but my loss is so personal and profound that I can't bring myself to share it in any significant way with others. That may or may not be the best way for me to heal but it is my way at this point in time.

One thing that I know with certainty is that I'm very vulnerable. . As a consequence, I am very cautious about major decision-making and personal commitments.


Tina Blondek's picture
Tina Blondek
Posts: 1566
Joined: Nov 2009

Hello Dear David
So happy to see you posting. I know this has helped you to get all of this off of your chest. It has helped me to read it. I am a daughter who recently lost her father to cancer, but I can relate to you through my mom. I know she has a lot of your feelings as well. Mom and Dad had just celebrated 51 years of marriage in January. Dad passed away in March. Mom still wears her wedding band and always will. She has no desire to date, or move....why do people think she wants to move into a senior development? She and Dad retired in 2004, they just paid off their mortgage in 2009, they own their home! Why would mom want to move and have to pay rent? Huh? Some people just do not "get it". Thank you for once again sharing your life story. It makes us all feel so good that we are not alone. We all have each other. I was happy to read that you went out for coffee. Good for you. Be good to yourself in my mind means, get out, meet new friends, have some fun. Do not spend too much time dwelling on the past. Life has to go on. It will anyway, so we might as well go with it! Please keep in touch. Have fun planning your daughter's wedding, I am sure she would love your help! Your wife wants to see you happy, until you meet again.....peace be with you and all of us here as we continue to grieve our lost loved ones. Hugs.
Tina in Va

grandmafay's picture
Posts: 1639
Joined: Aug 2009

Thank you for sharing. Many of the feeling you mentioned are familiar to me, but i think you are right that men may deal with this differently than women. On the other hand, I think each of us deals with this grief in very personal ways. I don't think there is a right or wrong way. There is your way, my way and many other ways. It has been over 11 months for me with that year anniversary coming up next month. I still wear my rings. I don't know how long I will continue to do so. I just know that the time to take them off has not yet come for me. Each of us must do what is right for ourself. Your sharing is helpful to all of us. It helps us see how much alike we are and how much different we are. I don't know if you read in another post where another David just lost his wife. I am sure he will find some comfort in your words. I think the best way we take care of ourselves is to do whatever feels right and to share our feelings and struggles with others. Fay

junklady's picture
Posts: 88
Joined: Aug 2009

David, so sorry for your loss. My love of my life, Dale, passed away 8-29. Reading your post today was just so sad, the tears would not stop. I can relate to his last breath, the gurney wheeled out of the house. I too was hoping the neighbors would not see. We had Dale's remembrance in our pasture on Wed. 9-29, one month since he left me. It was a very long and emotional day. My heart is broken, there were people at the wake that never spoke to me, or said how sorry they were. I question why, but try to let it go. Some people are just not the brightest stars on the planet. The waves of grief and loneliness hurt. Everyone is gone, back to their everyday lives, the quiet in the house is unbearable. My daughter-in-law made a CD of his favorite music, I can hardly listen to it. Yes, watching our love die, is the hardest thing in life to endure. I'm just trying to get through one day at a time. Yesterday I went to the lake, sat on the beach with dogs. It was a perfect Fall day, awesome. The peace and tranquility that was there, I didn't want to go home to nothing. This is the first weekend all alone. I want to watch college football, thats what we used to do on Saturday's, now I can't turn on the tv. Sorry , just had to respond, no one else to talk to. Thanks

Posts: 114
Joined: Jul 2010

I cannot watch football on tv either, unless friends are around to watch it too. It's what we did all day on Sundays, chili on the stove, a fire in the fireplace and football on tv. I can't even think of having a nice, warming fire this winter....so I too, feel your pain.
Blessings, Gayle

Posts: 114
Joined: Jul 2010

David...you sound like such a sensitive and caring man....not many of those left these days! But you convey a pain that we all feel here and your concerns about seeing other women are guarded and should be at this time. For some reason, some of my men friends just see me as "single" now and expect me to act like a single woman. Well, I am a widow first and will honor my husband's memory forever yet slowly I will get my life back and when the time is right, be it sooner or later, then I will reach out for male companionship. This type of thing is different for everyone and I am just now beginning to enjoy friends and family...smiling, laughing, going out, having people over....that kind of thing. My advise is just do what feels good and right for you...I am and so far, no feelings of guilt. If this is my way of grieveing, mourning, getting over it....whatever anyone wants to call it....then be it. It is my life and I will live it my way. Suggest we all do the same. No 1-2 years of mourning for me. I would just as soon end it myself. God leads me and I follow, so go for it David and do what feels right for you. In then end, you're the one that has to live with yourself the rest of your life.

Does any of this make sense????? Blessings, Gayle

Posts: 85
Joined: Apr 2010

Hi David,
So sorry for your loss, I also lost my husband of 43 years on April 6, it will be 6 months soon, my heart aches for him all the time,

I also believe that you should do what you feel is right for you, I got a bad cold on Wed, and have been home for 2 days sick, getting more

and more depressed, all alone sick, no one to care, no one to bring you a cup of tea or soup, no one to talk to all day and night, felt lousy

this is also one of those firsts, and it was awful, you realize how alone you are when you need aspirins and you have to get up get dressed

and go get them while you are sick, I miss him so much, it is unbelieveable.

I also still wear my wedding band, like everyone says, everybody grieves differently, but there is no right or wrong way.

Hope you find peace in your heart and mind

Posts: 8
Joined: Jul 2010

I lost my fiance to esophagus cancer on 8/18/10. While we were only together for about 3 years I dated him 20 years ago for awhile. I fell completely in love with him and waited all these years for him to come back to me. I did get married and had a child and divorced during those years, and he was never very far from my thoughts. He called me out of the blue 3 years ago and wanted to go to lunch and we were inseparable from that day on. We finally made the decision for him to move in with me at the beginning of 2010 and he was diagnosed with cancer in April 2010. The first round of chemo and radiation was unsuccessful and he started a new round in August. It was very difficult and alot of complications and after celebrating his 49th birthday on August 15th he went back in the hospital the next day. After 3 very difficult days he finally passed away. I was holding his hand and telling him how much I loved him when he finally passed.

I can't even begin to explain the happiness I was feeling for having this amazing man back in my life. My dream come true was when we finally shared a home together and were planning a future. I know God has a plan for every one of us, but this seems so unfair. I have been told over and over that there was a reason he came back to me and I was the reason he died feeling loved and wanted. I wish I had the privilege of having 20 or 30 years with him and can't even imagine moving on.

I have spent so much of my life alone I should be used to this, but this feeling of emptiness and loss is so overwhelming that I don't know how to move past it. I guess my point is we all feel loss in a different way. Male, female, married, engaged, together 3 years, 20 years, 30 years, parent, friend. In the end it is still a loss that is so hard to comprehend and accept. Good luck to all on this path of acceptance and recovery. It is so so hard.


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