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Helping me make sense of my husband's throat cancer diagnoses.
No particular direction but my own random ramblings in my own peculiar way,
just telling our story.
July 12th seems like many years away now - looking back down a long dark tunnel. I have no idea how I got through that time and am still physically in one piece. I think the initial body blow of my dearest man's passing has subsided. What I am left with is a series of muddled up thoughts that invade my head and occupy my every single waking minute. And of course I'm left with virtually no energy either.
I'm functioning on one level quite well, I'm interacting with people and do feel more sociable. I've stopped hating everyone which has got to be a good thing. I'm making big efforts to see the better side of people too as I realise I've been quite "off" people in general over the last 12 months. I think people do rather irritate me anyway and when cancer arrived on my doorstep it highlighted that fact. But I have been considering people's personalities an awful lot lately. That's what I'm left with now - my own personality. I think the biggest influences on grief are our personalities and our personal circumstances.
I look back over the years that we were married - all those decades of friendship, warmth, wit, wise counsel, stability, strength and security - and I realise I didn't have much interest in other people, well not on any deep level anyway. My husband had a lot of personality and he was as much as I needed. How wonderful that is to realise that the person I shared my life with since I was 21 years old was lots of different people all rolled up into one big man. The odds of finding that right person are I guess akin to a mega lottery win. And I guess therein now lies the problem I have dealing with his death. (I'm trying hard to use terms like death in case it helps me come to terms with things???)
The three things that currently occupy my thoughts every single waking hour are 1) the cancer (still reliving that one over and over again) 2) the complete and forever absence of my husband & 3) my own life without him.
Every minute of the day is spent dodging one of these three bullets. Of course when I look back too I think I was an obsessive wife whilst taking care of him over the ten months he was poorly. Absolutely nothing was left to chance and every spare minute was spent researching, asking questions, taking every aspect of his care seriously and never overlooking any attention to detail. I have no idea how I managed a home, a poorly husband, a business, a family and everything else that was thrown into the mix. I think my obsessiveness perhaps got me through in a manic sort of way. So maybe that is a good thing. I was often complimented on how well looked after he was. I was very proud of the fact that even though he was bed ridden for several weeks when he died he did not have one bed sore on his entire body. That was an achievement me thinks.
However, the downside to this obsessiveness is it hasn't just faded away. It still lurks there in my head running back over and over things trying to make some order out of it all. I did briefly visit a counsellor - I know many people have had some success. It's not for me. She was a lovely lady but I'm a difficult person to " break into " and coupled with the feeling I was taking up too much of her time I decided it's not for me. I have enough conversations in my own head so maybe one of them will turn out to be a counsellor!
So I'm analysing my inner circle. Weighing up their personalities. Maybe instead of me always thinking about their needs and how I can help them maybe just maybe they might have some hidden depth to them that will help me with my grief? My husbands sister has to be struck now from that list of people. She means well but I've found her very suffocating and niggling away is the fact that she was so terribly rubbish about helping when he was here and never fully took on board how poorly he was. I feel harsh and I know it's wrong of me but I can't over ride that niggle just now. However, strangely my brothers wife has come up trumps and gave me a little peep of a more caring soul. There is a glimmer of light perhaps there. Others might be able to make a contribution given time so I can have all my duck in a row at some point. Perhaps than I will only have numbers 2 and 3 to live with instead of the cancer memories.
Of course I realise my grieving started some way back and so it has been a smooth transition in some ways. I see that grief is such a personal journey though and the ability to live a life alongside it is once again I feel dependent on personality and circumstances. I have always been the home maker - nothing happened in our house unless I made it happen. With Hubby away so much I was very independent too and used to dealing with any crisis that raised it's ugly head. I was never the sort of person to ring him and ask him to come home because of some crisis, I learnt to just get on with it. I see that part of my personality has stood me in good stead now and yet it also presents me with a problem too. In some ways my life is still normal. I see many bereaved people are doing things for the first time without their partner - they are building the future foundations on which to build their new life. I can't do that as there are very few "firsts" for me. Being independent has its rewards but it doesn't bring with it pain free grief. So in some ways my life is normal and then on the other side of the coin my whole world has come to an end. I have worked throughout all of this, being self employed has meant work continued. There is no scary return to work for me - I never stopped.
I have to look into myself now though and see what personality I have left - how can it help me drag myself out of this terrible blackness that is grief. My husband had every faith in me that I would be ok. He believed in me. I don't have any overwhelming sense that I'm doing things to please him but maybe I just need a little more confidence in myself that I can live a life alongside my heartache? The physical pain of loosing him is still there every single day. My whole body aches to be near his. I've got a rubbish imagination so I can't even pretend. My chest pains are largely subsiding but from out of the blue they arrive as I think of how truly awful the situation actually is. My life without him.
It's all so much to take into my brain and process. Sometimes the grief is so intense it can be disabling. Planning anything is a nightmare because I can not be relied on to feel fine. But I'm trying to push through that feeling now. I've done it a few times and it is exhausting but I have been rewarded with a more peaceful heart as I get into bed.
Of course I'm not going to overdo it. My challenge most days is to spend some time doing absolutely nothing. This morning I managed a little while of nothingness. I sat looking at all his many hundreds of books on the shelves around our house. Thinking about how he enjoyed them all so much gave me some pleasure. The nothingness is important to me. I tire of people telling me to keep busy. Well for me that's been my life. Over the past year looking after him I was intensely busy and developed terrible habits along the way, many of which so many carers will identify with. Never staying still for more than a moment as there always seemed something to fetch or do or administer or places to go etc etc. The nothingness is a new concept for me. Maybe it will help my grief too. I have been incredibly restless since Hubby passed away and I feel sure it's storing up trouble for me in the future if I don't get to grips with it.
Of course the randomness of everything is most peculiar. I'm previously organised, tidy, orderly and neat. The random jobs problem still remains. I'm more accepting of this now and just go with the flow a little bit more. I seem to do a lot of random stuff in the morning. Getting out the leaf blower early sunday morning whilst still wearing my pj's was definitely random. Especially as I only did about six foot of the path! The loft tidy was a disaster. It rammed home to me how bad I feel as the random tidying of the loft took place very late one Saturday night. Fortunately the randomness of that event was short lived and I just closed the hatch after moving in a circle about six boxes. I was utterly exhausted. I'm sure it's all normal of course, well my inner voice tells me it is anyway. Maybe that is a good way to measure the progress. Less randomness would be good though. I do so miss my ability to be tidy. I tried very hard to fold the blanket the other day in neat squares but gave up after several attempts and now it lies cock eyed across an even more cock eyed foot stool. Where have all my straight lines gone I wonder. I think it's my brain telling me to slow down a while, so maybe I will. It doesn't matter to most people I know but straight things matter to me!
I have cried a little bit I'm pleased to report. I was beginning to wonder if I ever would again. It's not full belt, gasping for breath crying but more a quiet wet face and another chest pain. Its not every day but I feel I have re discovered some of my warm heart again and whilst it's painful I am glad it has put in an appearance again. I was beginning to think my heart had turned to stone. Comforting other people in their grief though is way beyond my scope just now and that makes me feel a little sad. When my oldest son was crying recently I just couldn't reach out to him. Another terrible symptom of grief I guess but it really touches a mothers nerve. It's not the order of things and caring for my family is a big part of my personality. Maybe that bit has gone forever?
The extent to which I miss my husband every single minute of every single day is difficult to describe. I had so much to be thankful for but the sadness just grinds on and on and on. I don't think I will ever be the person I once was, I know he made up so much of me. How is it possible to love someone so much and then for them not to be here? I am scared that one day in the long away future I might forget to love him. How terrible that would be. He gave me so much strength, what if it runs out? How do I find that strength again and from where?
I'm sure he would say I was getting on ok, he always believed I would. I loved him so much for that but he's not here for my wobbly times, the crying times, the aching heart times. The weight of my grief and my longing for him is without measure. All I'm left with is myself now and with a great big piece missing. The sheer awfulness of it all is quite overwhelming - just like the cancer was with him.
Sometimes everything is just too much.
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