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[This is a response to my post of 1/13/03. "Kay" replied on 1/16/03. It is reproduced here with her kind permission. -- Robert Young, Webmaster]

a woman in grief Dear Robert,

I received your letter in the Promise** list I am on. It really touched me. I am not sure that anything anyone can write to you and your wife will actually be of much help. I don't know if you can be prepared for the grief that you experience when you lose your mate. I certainly wasn't prepared. The one I wanted to hold me in my huge sorrow wasn't there anymore.

My husband only lived a year after being diagnosed and his cancer was very aggressive, obviously. We tried to have some fun before he died because we were both still working when he was diagnosed. I know we tried to deny what was happening because we just couldn't believe it. We didn't talk much about his death because it did happen more suddenly than we expected.

One night I was driving us to have dinner out when something made us both start crying in the car. I can't remember what we were talking about. Whatever it was had something to do with me being left. He said, "You are going to be just fine. Someone is going to come along and scoop you right up!" I remember sobbing, "I am NOT going to be all right!"

I think his truly believing that I would be "scooped right up" made it easier for him to leave. (I lost him when he was 57 and am still single after 4 1/2 years! My choice.) We didn't eat out, either.

I have a family but I found that they were going through their own grief so I didn't seem to "bother" them too much. What really worked for me was joining a hospice Grief Workshop, which was in progress, eight days after he died. There, I learned how to deal with my grief. I also met other widows who had just lost their husbands and we started meeting for dinner every week at the suggestion of the hospice counselor. I could say things to them I couldn't say to anyone else who wasn't a widow. We were not ashamed or embarrassed to cry in front of each other, even months after other people thought we should be "OK." We started out as a pathetic group of 6 and still get together every other week. Of course, we are no longer pathetic, but self sufficient, strong, independent and courageous women.

The other thing that really worked for me was exercise. I am a runner and a group of women friends met me every morning to go running. It got me out of bed because of the commitment of meeting them and running produced those endorphins which really help with depression. Also, I was on a leave of absence from my job, so returning to work gave me something to do all day. Coming home alone at night to a cold, dark house was one of the most difficult things I had to do.

Caren will be OK but it will just take a long time. I don't want to make YOU sad, but I still miss my honey and probably always will. You husbands are wonderful and we don't get over your loss easily. I feel that being there for my husband and caring for him during his illness was a true gift. I also took care of my mother two years later when she died of cancer and I want to say that you should never feel guilty about needing her care and help. Being there for my loved ones has made me a better person. I also want to say that both [my husband] and my mother had a "good death" for want of a better word. I hope I should be so lucky. I wish the best for you, too.Being there for my loved ones has made me a better person.Being there for my loved ones has made me a better person.


[ ** Promise is a mailing list for those grieving a loss. It also offers help and support to those with a spouse, partner, or family member in the last stages of life. Go here for more information.]


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This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not replace or amend professional medical advice. Unless otherwise stated and credited, the content of Phoenix5 (P5) is by and the opinion of and copyright © 2000 Robert Vaughn Young. All Rights Reserved. P5 is at <>. P5's policy regarding privacy and right to reprint are at <>.