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.

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)
Reply to NeedHelpWithMom

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)
Reply to MJ1929

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)
Reply to sjplegacy

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)
Reply to JoAnn29
Fowlair May 9, 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.
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.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Fowlair

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)
Reply to Grandma1954

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)
Reply to NYDaughterInLaw

This is such an individual experience.
We all have our own way.
Could you contact spiritual advisers or people at a church or spiritual institution that fits your needs?
Talk to friends who you feel are spiritually evolved?
It hurts.
I find the 'best' way to go through it is being fully present and not 'try' to push the pain / grief away.
"Falling apart" is letting you release feelings.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to TouchMatters

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)
Reply to lealonnie1
Fowlair May 14, 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.
See 1 more reply
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)
Reply to cweissp

Congratulations on doing your "legal and financial preparations."

As others have said, arrange for hospice care, as you realize that he won't make it another year. Hospice is a wonderful organization.

In the meantime, start finding some other activities you can do WITHOUT your husband. You have been part of a "couple" for 45+ years. You will need to learn how to live life as a single person - which actually has some advantages over being married. I recommend that you start making a list of all of the things you will be able to do as a single person without a chronically ill husband to manage.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to dragonflower
Fowlair May 14, 2021
Actually I started fluid acrylic painting just before his diagnosis. It has been great therapy, and a time to focus my mind on creative and expressive pursuits. And he is so supportive of my efforts. I think he knows this is, and will be, my release from the realities of life, if only for a few hours.
You might benefit from a grief therapist. You are in a state of grieving because you know that he is terminally ill. Consider getting him designated for hospice care, as suggested below. Hospice provides many services, and the case manager for him/you will be someone you can talk to.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to NancyIS

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.💐
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to AmberJay
Fowlair May 14, 2021
Thank you for your kind words! You are obviously an uplifting person, and you made me smile.
I haven't lost my husband yet. I am one of those people who have to plan, I have a Plan A, Plan B, Plan A1, Plan A1a, etc. None of which will probably happen. I have to do SOMETHING!

Since I have this failing, I have tried to educate myself about our house. Where is the septic line? The water and gas lines? We have at least 8 sprinkler valves in the yard, which one waters what part of the yard. I have photos and diagrams. One of my problems as my husband sinks more and more into Alzhiemer's is who do I call for what repairs. Of course, since we are 87 and 89 all of our Go-To guys have retired or died.

For you, I recommend Hospice and their wonderful social workers and chaplains. Also, be very kind to yourself. Take deep breaths, try Yoga. Stay here on this forum for more help. ((hugs))
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Reply to MaryKathleen
Grandma1954 May 13, 2021
wise words about educating yourself about your house.
I could add..realize what you can and can not do yourself and learn to ask for and accept help.
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Thank you all for your kind comments and counsel.

I checked and hospice care requires you to stop treatment for the terminal illness. That means we would need to stop his chemo/immunotherapy for the primary and secondary tumors in the body, and radiation for the brain tumor, which we are not willing to do at this point. That may change, but is premature now.

He is receiving palliative care through Mayo Clinic, where he is being treated. I probably need to speak to them about supporting me in this process as well.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Fowlair

Imho, you should arm yourself with as many support groups that would be beneficial to you. Prayers sent.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Llamalover47

The wisest advise I was given to prepare for my husband's death was from my recently widowed sister. She told me to select from among my friends &/or relatives, who would not also be intensely grieving, one to be at my side through the process. I did exactly that and, last year, when the time came, she stayed at my side and is there to this day. She let me soak her shoulder. She guided me through the funeral arrangements. She walked with me and protected me. She was happy to remain on the sidelines and anticipate my needs. Even now, she will go with me to select our headstone on the anniversary of his death. I pray that you have such a friend.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Grannyto12
Fowlair May 14, 2021
What a good idea. Now I have something to think about.
I think you are like me. I am a person who grieves for my LO even though they are still with me. I grieve because of their expected loss. I handle it the same way you are handling; it by ignoring it and by trying to lead a normal life (that is not normal.) When I look at my past I can see the hand of God. With that in mind I know God will show me the way when my LO joins him.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Ricky6

Dear Fowlair,
It was beneficial for many of us that you asked the question of how one faces their husband’s end of life after 45 years of marriage.
Every answer you received had excellent points. Great thoughts.
Shared emotional wisdom. Many found gems!
Thank you and all of you who have answered!

I am in a very similar situation.
After 45 years of marriage my husband is now in Memory care. Time is against us. He is loosing ground, even though he is happy and without pain.
I visit him often. I give him and I receive moments of joy. When I get home, I am in emotional pain, trying to adjust to a new and changed world.
It is not easy to bounce back and find the new balance. Sometimes it takes hours. Sometimes it takes days.
What works for me?
—Giving love to everyone around me.
—Accepting all emotions as normal; all ups and downs.
—Being prepared legally and financially.
—Learning as much as possible about running a house alone;
—Staying connected with family and friends.
—Understanding that life is unfair and not to ask “ why” but “ what is the lesson to be learned?”
—Being patient and gentle with myself.
—Sharing my feelings with someone who understands.
—Doing a good deed for someone who cannot return it back.
—Having pictures of me and my loved one in the home.
—Expressing my love to my spouse
whether he understands it or not.
—Talking about my memories of my spouse to others. Keeping everything inside is unhealthy.
—Enjoying little pleasures that become vitamins for the soul: like a cup of coffee, an ice cream, sitting in the sun, getting a flower, listening to music or calling a close relative or a dear friend.
—Facing death as part of life and a journey to our real home. Nothing lasts forever, good or bad. It is the way we grow, learn lessons and move on.
—Taking things one day at a time or even one hour at a time, living in the now.
—Refusing to worry. It preserves valuable energy.
—Knowing that I am not the only one in this phase of the anticipatory, “ long goodbye”. Probably millions of people “carry a cross” of some sort or they already carried it.
—Praying and thanking God for whatever I still have.
🤗 Sending you positive energy, a hug and my belief that you will
get through and be OK.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Godguidesme
Fowlair May 14, 2021
Thank you. That was beautiful and helpful. God’s blessings for you and your husband. I never thought about the similarities to a spouse with ALZ; but you are so correct. “The long goodbye.” So appropriate.
I humbly apologize for responding previously and not giving you my support for what you are feeling / going through.
* You will have a rock or several.
- Talk to your adult children; perhaps have a 'family meeting'
- Tell them you need support to do . . . or ask for suggestions . . .
- It doesn't sound 'depressing' - it is sharing your reality - how you feel about your individual situation now and the potential of losing the love of your life, who you have depended on for decades. "This" is what we are here for - to support each other.
* If you cannot handle finances or aspects of your life that your husband has handled, find avenues for these things 'now' - be it a family member or hiring an investment company or a bookkeeper or tax preparer.
* Yes, you will feel grief, sadness and not want to do anything but be with him, think of him, fear falling apart. You can do both.
- An exercise to consider: give yourself a specific amount of time to focus on
----- sitting and feeling the grief
----- put those feelings 'on a lovely' shelf and shift to:
----- paperwork, or whatever you need to do for an hour or two -
----- Write. Get a journal and write - think about what you will want to do when he is not here. Gardening ? reading ? going to the park ? or a national park ? If you prepare mentally now, it will still be painful when he passes although you will have planted the seeds to support yourself to heal. You can tell yourself "I am doing xxx (i.e., gardening) for my love. He would want me to enjoy . . . . do . . . .
* See a therapist now to support you now and through the process you are in. This is a huge time of grief and letting go, preparing. Get the support you need.
Gena / Touch Matters.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to TouchMatters

Sadly you really can never really prepare yourself emotionally. Yes, you can get all your ducks in a row as far as getting all the necessary paperwork and such in order, but even when you know it's coming it's still very hard. He was your rock and now you get to return the favor and be his. That is a blessing for sure.
I wish I had some words of knowledge for you, but I really don't. I just have empathy for what you are going through, as I lost my husband of 26 years in Sept. 2020, after he was under hospice care in our home completely bedridden for the last 22 months of his life. You first experience anticipatory grief(which you're going through now)while your LO is still alive, and then comes the actual grief when they die. It's a crazy rollercoaster ride that you'll be on for quite some time, but please don't miss out on living and enjoying your life, while you still have your husband with you. Leave nothing left unsaid, and just know that while yes, it will be hard and different with him being gone one day, you will get through it one day at a time.
And be grateful that you have a wonderful family that will be by your side through it all.
I wish you peace and strength for the journey. God bless you.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to funkygrandma59
cherokeegrrl54 May 16, 2021
Fowlair—Even with a complete diagnosis and treatments, you know the end is coming, i would state that you are never really prepared to lose the love of your life, your rock. When my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to several organs, i worked in oncology at the medical facility. Its such a shock to your systems at first. Then you have to get all the legal papers in order…..any things yall want to do, do it now. Spend as much time together, just the two of you and of course your family. Say what needs to be said to each other and continue to show your love to each other. Thats just my honest opinion, having lived through this and losing my grandmother, my father and my husband in the short span of 2 months. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers. Please take care of yourself. We all grieve differently and dont let anyone ever tell you its time to move on or anything like that. You can private message me if you want. Much love and healing blessings coming your way….,,Liz
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