He was diagnosed May 21, 2020.

His cancer, which we were aware of, had been at Stage 1 for 6 years. He had checkups every three months. Then suddenly it metastasized to his femur, liver, lymph nodes, and brain. He had whole brain radiation and that eliminated all traces of cancer, but caused short term memory loss. Then he has had chemo/immunotherapy every 3 weeks for the past year. He has lost 45 lbs. He gets tired easily and is always cold.

We celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary tonight. We had a party and saw family and friends that we haven’t seen since his diagnosis because of Covid. So many of them were shocked to see how he looks.

I know he won’t make it another year. We have done all the legal and financial preparations. So everything should be in good shape.

But how do I prepare myself? I am sometimes acutely aware of our time together passing by. And other times I ignore it, and just live our normal lives, mostly so it’s not always on his mind.

I am just afraid I will completely fall apart. He is my rock. And now I am his. What happens when there is no rock? I do have three grown sons, their fabulous wives, and 7 grandkids, so you would think I have a lot to look forward to. But all I can think of is him and if I can, or even want to, go on without him.

I know that sounds like depression talking, and it probably is. Anyone who can give advice, counsel, personal experience, I would greatly appreciate it.

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You can prepare
You can educate yourself
You can have the help of Hospice
But no matter how well you think yourself prepared that moment will come as a complete shock. It will be as if someone reached into your chest and ripped your heart out.
Then the healing begins. Not then, maybe not the next week, it happens slowly. But it happens. Lean on friends and family. Talk about things you did, keep him with you in your hearts.
Until then enjoy every moment you possibly can.
Ask for help when you need it, ask for help when you don’t. People want to help so tell them what to do.
Accept help when it is offered, even if you don’t think you need it or want it.
Helpful Answer (10)

Congratulations on 45 years of loving and togetherness. It's wonderful that you were able to get the family and friends together for your celebration.

The thought of losing one's spouse is the greatest stress a person can experience. How do I prepare? How do I accept the fact that I will be alone? What can I do to ease the pain? You've done all the practical things, the legal and financial tasks, that's great, but what about the grief now and after he's gone?

Certainly you will make the most of the days you have together. Even though you anticipate his death, it will come unexpectedly. But you don't have to bear the burden of his pending death alone. As one who has lost his wife of 52 years, I assure you that you are not alone and that you can go on by yourself. Difficult? Yes! Possible? Absolutely! Meaningful? Yes, again! Coming to this forum is a good step in sharing your worries and concerns, for many of us have “been there”. Talk to your pastor, get professional counseling if you feel you need it. Assure your husband that you will be all right, him knowing that helps you feel better. Talk to others that have lost a spouse. Have family talks to make sure everyone is on the same page and to offer each other support. Is his burial plot selected? Do what you can now in preparation for his death so you don't have the added stress of having to do last minutes tasks.

I wish you peace, both now and forever.
Helpful Answer (9)

All I can say is be open with him and honest with your kids about your fears. Don't suffer in silence.

You can't prepare in a manner that will keep it from hurting unless you manage to completely detach from him emotionally, which of course you won't do. I'd said the best way to prepare is to come to the understanding that this is all part of life. We get complacent with having the other person around, but eventually one or the other of us with be left behind. It's just life, and it's as much out of our control as the rest of our lives have been. We just never realize it until something life-altering happens.
Helpful Answer (8)

My husband had open heart surgery this past October. For the first time in our marriage, I thought about the possibility of losing him. That he might not survive the surgery and he'd die. What would I do? Would I be able to go on without him? More importantly, would I WANT to? All those thoughts raced through my mind, and still do, actually. He lived through the surgery, and two more that followed the triple bypass, but I faced his mortality this past October, and my own, too, for that matter.

The truth is, none of know if we'll lose our spouse tomorrow, even if they don't have a terminal disease. My sister's husband fell off of the chair he was sitting on one night in 2017 and that was it. At 58, died of cardiac arrest on the spot. My sister was 53 at the time, and just called me last night to say she got engaged.

I don't know how you'll get past the death of your husband after 45 years together. Maybe you'll fall apart, and that's ok because you're human. Most of us are so afraid to feel our own emotions that we'll go to any lengths to avoid it. But the only way out of pain is through it. You put one foot in front of the other and you take baby steps.

I decided I DID want to continue living if my husband winds up dying. I still have things to accomplish on my life's journey. He'll be waiting for me on the other side when it's my turn to graduate. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross is a very prolific writer on death and dying, and grief & how to get through it all. Today I read a quote from her which said,

“I’ve told my children that when I die, to release balloons In the sky to celebrate that I graduated. For me, death is a graduation.”
~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

You can find a lot of her books on Amazon; I highly recommend her writings. And another book called Proof of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander, a very moving book about a Neurosurgeon's Near-Death Experience and Journey into the Afterlife. Once I got into these types of books, it took the fear of death out of the equation for me and that made a BIG difference in how I view a loved one's passing. This is not to say I won't grieve or cry, just that I know we'll meet again.

Wishing you the best of luck and sending you a big hug.
Helpful Answer (7)
Fowlair May 2021
I read Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s “On Death and Dying” shortly after my father’s death to help me handle it and understand that we did everything we could to ease his passing. Guess I need to get it back out again. Evidently there are still lessons to be learned.
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Its hard to say how you will handle it. I would think you have already started the grieving process. From your post, I feel your a strong woman. You'll get thru it and you have a loving family to help. Not that you won't have times something will stir a memory and you'll lose it. My Mom told me that she would catch herself thinking, I have to tell W that then realize no she can't tell W.

You will get through this.
Helpful Answer (5)
Fowlair May 2021
Thank you Joann. When other relatives have passed I have always beenthe strong one helping them get through it. I’m not used to anyone but him being my relief valve. Guess I am going to have to learn to express myself to others instead of suppressing myself for others.
I'm so sorry you are going through this. I think it will still feel like a stab in your heart when he goes. And the heartbreak will take a lot of time to heal. Continue making the most of every day you have together. Ask G_d to give you both strength and comfort each day. Have you and your husband talked to your pastor?

I also hope that you will set aside time each day for yourself. Take a walk. Take a bath. Bake. Garden. Call a friend. Keep engaged with life.

Also, there's a support group exclusively for widows called Widows Connection.
Helpful Answer (5)

I'm so sorry. The only way I know to prepare is to store up as many good memories to hold onto and to cherish each day you have together. Talk to your family about your fears. It's ok to feel the grief - it's better than suppressing it - if you fall apart, then that's fine.

My FIL died before I met my husband, but he and his brothers worried their mother would die. She didn't, but knowing my MIL she probably wanted to. But she did survive many years and learned to live without him. Her grandchildren were the light of her life.

I strongly urge you and your husband to look into hospice services. Our family used a not for profit Hospice company near the end of my father's life. They are not just there to provide services to your husband but also to you. Our providers were available to the family after dad's death for grief counseling. Dad was on hospice for 6 - 7 months and they were a treasure.

I wish your family peace and grace as you face this journey.
Helpful Answer (5)

I am so terribly sorry that you and your husband are going through this challenging time.

I don’t know if you can prepare for a situation like this. My husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer and I was a wreck! He went through radiation and hormone injections. I prayed a lot!

Thank God my husband’s treatment seems to have been successful. These life experiences teach us not to take our spouses for granted. We realize just how much we love them. They become more precious to us with each passing day. We cherish every second of time that we share with them. We don’t ever want to say goodbye to the love of our life. I have always wanted to die first so I don’t have to see him die.

We feel utterly helpless in these situations. I suppose that the only comforting thought is that we don’t want them to suffer endlessly. Of course, that won’t take away any of the grieving. Please know that grieving is normal and healthy. Do not suppress your grief. Feel whatever you need to feel.

I have been given a booklet on dying from hospice workers when my loved ones were in the dying process and it did help me understand exactly what was going on. It’s very hard to lose anyone who is close to us but a spouse is the closest relationship to us.

I wish you peace as you try to adjust to your unimaginable circumstances. If you are a believer in faith, then you know that you will be reunited with him again one day.

Losing a spouse is extremely difficult, no matter if you are married 1 year or many, many years.

Don’t be afraid to cry. Cry together if you wish. It’s impossible to be in complete control of your emotions. I am sure that you have shed many tears. Fear is involved. I personally don’t think that we are alone after a loved one dies. They are with us in spirit.
Helpful Answer (4)

Thank you. You so beautifully expressed exactly what we are going through. I know this sounds strange, but I don’t know that we really appreciated how much we love each other until now. So we are trying to savor each moment together, with our kids, grandkids and family and friends. I have been so good at compartmentalizing and planning and maintaining schedules and treatments, that I wonder what happens when I don’t have that to fall back on. Yes, we share a faith in God and know we will be reunited, but somehow that seems like cold comfort now. Anyway, thank you for reading my story and offering you supportive counsel. You have been very helpful.
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You sweet baby. That does not sound like depression talking. I am in awe of your honesty, courage, and clarity. It's plain to see that you are a gift to those lucky enough to be near to you. In fact, if I had you for my friend, I know i could face anything!
But if you do "fall apart" a little, that's okay. Let the people that love you return your goodness by holding you together until you catch your balance again.
Take good care. I wish you peace and strength, and I'm deeply certain that you're going to be okay after all.💐
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Fowlair May 2021
Thank you for your kind words! You are obviously an uplifting person, and you made me smile.
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