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Grief At The Loss Of My Husband

by Kathy
(Hamilton, Ohio)

My husband found out he had esophageal cancer July 15 2010--he had a back ache.

Just how do you deal with the treatments they have done that took away his time? He was eating good all the way to Jan. 10, 2011, had taken their radiation and their chemo and then they started another set of radiation. It was a different doctor from the first round.

He just started going down fast after four treatments. They put him in the hospital for low blood count and said his stomach was bleeding. They were never truthful with him through the whole time.

When he was first diagnosed they told him 6 months to 1 year with no treatment, and 2 years with treatment. But when he was in the hospital the last time his doctor came in and told him 3 to 6 months without treatment, and 8 to 11 months with treatment. He told them they had lied to him and that he would have never took their treatments if he'd known that were the case. They kept him there until he would let hospice be over him, which he didn't want--but he did, so he could go home.

He was only 54 years old. I just feel so guilty that I didn't know how to handle everything they were doing to him. I took care of him the whole time even when he came home with hospice. They were here for 4 days to get his pain managed then I told them I could take care of him, so their nurse came once a week to change his medicine bag and take his vitals. He came home on January 12, and passed February 14.

We have been together for 24 years and my life is just so empty.

I feel guilty because I should have stopped them and didn't know how. I just know that what they did to him cut his time. Before the last treatment he wasn't doing bad. From July to January, he lost 34 pounds through the first round of treatment. He still weighed 185 when they put him in the hospital and I could still get him to eat and exercise.

I just don't have a life without him. He was my soul mate. We worked together all day and still went home happy to be with each other. The kids were all grown and we were making plans for just us.

Now I don't have anything. There's no life without him. Everybody says time heals all, but I just don't see it. All I see is nothing. I just don't know what to do. I've lost my best friend and the love of my life.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Kathy, and thanks for telling your story here. I am so deeply sorry for your loss. The process of your husband's treatment, your feelings of frustration and helplessness, followed by his decline and passing are extremely painful experiences for you to go through. Your grief and sorrow are understandably strong.

You need to allow yourself to grieve, and to move through all of the steps of the grief process. This is a way of honoring your husband, and a way of honoring the love you had together. I don't agree that "time heals all." We have to take an active role in our healing process for it to move ahead the way it is supposed to.

Your anger about his treatment is totally understandable. All of the pain and suffering your beloved husband went through, and then he declined and did not survive...of course you're angry, and you have every right to be. It is important that you move past that anger at some point, however, because it can keep you stuck and lost for a very long time if you don't.

I want to help you honor your husband's life, and the life and love you shared. The depth of your grief is directly related to the depth of your love for your husband.

Write about everything you love about him. Write about all of his best qualities, and the good things he did when he was alive. Then write about all of the good times you had together, and all of the enjoyable things you did together.

The other steps to grieving are described on this page. I suggest you do each of them, when you feel ready. The idea is to honor all of your emotions, so you also need to do the anger journaling described on this page. This will honor your anger by giving you a way to express it fully instead of keeping it locked up inside.

Why all of the writing? Because it's the way that you take the powerful, pent up emotion and turmoil inside you and give it a place to be. It will help you to feel better, and over time, it will help you to heal.

You may also need some grief counseling, Kathy. What you're going through is very challenging, so do not hesitate to reach out for help if you feel you need it.

You are worth living for. You are a good person, so do these healing processes for you.

I wish you all of the very best in your grieving and healing process.

Dr. DeFoore

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