The Long Goodbye
by Joanne H
It feels like a long, long time ago somehow. I look at his picture and think, did I really touch that face? Were you here, really? My husband died October 18 2012.
I dreamed about him last night. I was reclined on the sofa babbling away, as I usually did, about New years and he was patiently listening to me, sitting in the kitchen facing me. He always loved listening to me. Even after 22 years together he told me he found me fascinating to listen to.
Suddenly I stopped talking and said to him I can't believe you're really here and I got up to hug him. As I stood over him I bent down to kiss his head and could smell the wonderful fragrance of him. At that moment I woke up to find myself taking in a breath like I had never experienced before. The term "sharp intake of breath" comes to mind. Ah, the emotions. So strong and painful. Tears again. Let them flow don't hold back. Feel your feelings. I sure do love you and sure do miss you.
People do say the strangest things. "Oh well he was sick you knew it was coming" (yeah Ok, I have no grief or pain since I knew it was coming...please shut up), "You HAVE to go back to work" (No, actually I don't...mind your own business). "You need structure now in your life" (I need to do what I want right now...if I want to sleep the afternoon away I will).
He was sick for about 3 years with cancer. I cared for him physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually during that time.
Near the end when he couldn't breathe very well, he wanted to stay at home. No hospitals. Hated hospitals. I wanted him home too. He didn't want anyone around him but me and that was fine with me too.
I knew it would be tough without support but I could never have imagined the toll it would take on me, then and now.
I'm not complaining, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. What I am saying is that you have a double whammy after being a caregiver to a spouse who is sick and then dies...
The total exhaustion from care that you need to recover from.
I slept in bits and pieces on the floor next to him so I could hear him if he needed anything or wouldn't fall if he got up. Pills on the hour every hour 24 hours. Time was irrelevant. Day was night, night was day...Monday? Friday? Who knew...who cared.
The trauma of watching the suffering and not being able to do anything about it...new pills every week and nothing working...the frustration and helplessness. Quiet tears in the bathroom away from him.
And then the grief after death. Broken-hearted.
Family, friends, co-workers...they all have something to say about how you should be living your life and what you SHOULD be doing. Listen to your body. Give it rest. Watch yourself. Be sure you are not falling too deep into depression. Get help if you think you are.
Don't do too much of anything...too much eating...too much not eating...too much drinking...too much smoking...too much thinking...whatever..try to keep a balance...it's hard but you don't want to be sick.
Care for yourself as if you were a helpless baby.
Tenderly, lovingly, gently...Cry...and like a baby who gradually grows...take baby steps, as you feel able to, into a new way of living.
Trust God in everything.
This is my experience. Thank you for allowing me to share.
God bless you all.