My thanks to ‘Jane’ (not her real name) for her story of the diagnosis of her husband’s terminal illness and his subsequent death. Jane’s post will resonate with many of you, particularly when she writes:
Was it normal to wonder how the heck the rest of the world could function as if nothing extraordinary had happened?
Social media – Facebook, Twitter, the internet, often gets a bad image because of trolls, the perception that cyberspace is populated only by sad, lonely people hunched over their keyboard late into the night. Some criticism may be justified, but I have been one of those sad and lonely night-owls, searching bereavement boards for some shred of comfort for my grief. One of the marvellous things about the internet is that when we wonder if we are normal to will a piece of paper on the table to move as a sign our husband is still with us, or stand in a supermarket by the chiller cabinet and beg to spontaneously combust whilst holding a chicken curry for one, we find out that not only are we normal, but that thousands of others are doing exactly the same thing. And whilst we would not wish grief on our worst enemy, by banding together, by marching forwards, together (or staggering or wobbling or crawling), we find strength in numbers.
Over to Jane, with love, with thanks and with pride that we have been part of each other’s journey.
That moment when I lay my head on my husband’s chest as his last breath left his body will always be with me. ‘Don’t leave me!’ I cried, but he was gone. It was surreal – I was in limbo, hanging between then and now. Then, we were together as we had always been, through thick and thin, through the good, the bad and the ugly. We had plans, we were going to visit Hawaii! Our future was wiped out on that last breath and I was left – hanging.
We received the diagnosis of stage 4 terminal cancer on the 10th July 2010 and he died on the 3rd May 2011. I was 44. The ten months inbetween were dark and desperate. My husband was a fighter – he couldn’t bear the thought of accepting the cancer and he wanted to hit it head on. I, on the other hand, wanted to enjoy our last months together, spend time with the kids, make some happy memories – it was terminal for pity’s sake! So for ten months, I watched the man I love lose over 5 stones in weight, become so ill from the pills that he couldn’t eat, spend endless days in and out of various hospitals, and for what? IT WAS TERMINAL! I still can’t believe how angry I get and as a ‘good wife’ I should have accepted my husband’s decision.
I spent the days and weeks after his death looking for a glimmer of hope that what I was feeling was normal. Was it normal to feel so bitter towards your friends that were couples to wish one of them dead just so they would know how you felt? Was it normal to drive down country lanes and scream at the top of your voice to try and release the anger? Was it normal to drink until the pain turned into a hangover? Was it normal to wonder how the heck the rest of the world could function as if nothing extraordinary had happened? Was it normal to go to bed and hope beyond hope that you wouldn’t wake up?
Then I found Planet Grief – the answer was ‘yes’.
Looking back on those dark, desperate days – Planet Grief gave me a place to ‘hang out’ in safety, with like minded people. I would sit for hours reading the blog, tears streaming down my face just thankful that I was normal! I never quite believed that I would ever be ok again – but I am, more than that, I am happy again and Planet Grief helped me get there.
The grief doesn’t leave – it hasn’t packed it’s bags and said ‘so long, it’s been a riot’ but I have learned to tell it to ‘push off’ and I deal with it.