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My Wife (10-29-05) ....3 years ago today

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Mods if this isn't appropriate just drop me a note or do as you see fit.

After great internal debate I have decided to share this with the BE forum so that others may hopefully find some comfort when a loved one dies...

I don't claim to know it all - or even that much really - but I have learned.

A brief background - My wife was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer on September 30, 2005 and dies on October 29, 2005. She spent the next month in Ohio State's James Cancer Institute with the cancer running rampant. It progressed at a pace that the team of doctors had never seen. The cancer metastasized throughout. It was a brutal month for all involved. Luckily I was blessed with a truly great boss who let me "work" remotely - but they never assigned any work to me during this time. It was my decision to take her off life support on the 28th...she passed the next morning...we were alone - thankfully. She was THE nicest person I have ever met. And I miss her deeply to this day. I have "moved on" and have found a truly great lady that now shares my life - she has great understanding and may in fact be an angel.

I'm not writing this for your sorrow or pity. And you don't have to reply.

You grief will be different than mine - we are all different.

These are in no particular order:

  • Get more official copies of the death certificate as "everyone" is going to want an official copy, banks, etc, etc. I suggest at least 4-6 copies of the official copy from the state.
  • There is no right or wrong way to grieve - everyone grieves in their own way....some work to excess some may want to hide away, etc, etc
  • People may tell you they'll help anyway you need - some mean it
  • Some people will give you the "pitiful" look - they don't know they are doing it - try not to let it get to you.
  • Some of your "friends" will never call or come by anymore as they don't know how to/can't handle the situation. This is particulary true of the "friends-in-law" or your "couple friends" - this will happen to varying degrees.
  • People will ask how you are doing...tell them what you want...many times I'd just say fine, of course. Most people aren't in a position to truly understand what you are going through anyway.
  • There is no set time to take off your wedding ring(s) some do it immediately others do it when ready...or not
  • There is no set time to start dating or considering dating. This is a tough one I found. My mother never re-married or even considered it.
  • Buying a head stone...again no time frame. This one was also very tough...by the time (almost a year) I could do it her parents did it without even speaking to me. They really proved to be worst case scenario. That is probably all I should say about them without ranting...and that isn't the point here.
  • Buy more insurance than you think necessary. This isn't just for the service (which averages ~$8000 IIRC) you may need this for many other things as well (or the loved ones you leave).
  • Don't assume the other family members will do what is right. (I'll briefly elaborate: Her policy still had her parents as the beneficiary. She was to change it but never got to it. She had said her parents would let me use it as "they don't need the money" - wrong they kept it and knew this would be devastating)
  • People will say things that really make you mad when they don't mean to. You'll learn to take deep breaths a lot.
  • You will feel like someone kick you in the "kiwis" - or at least I did EVERYDAY for months. There will be true physical pain.
  • People who drive while crying are also dangerous - you will cry. Do it.
  • Find someone who knows grief and will listen to you.
  • Your grief will sneak up on you later - sometimes days weeks months or years - you won't expect it but it will come.
  • All "firsts" are especially hard. First trip to the grocery, first time you do the laundry...and of course the holidays, special days, etc.
  • Clothes - I had 2 of her close friends go through them with me...we donated most to the local battered women's shelter - your choice. I kept some but I don't know why.
  • You will be tired confused and miserable - you will not understand many things - many things have no answer.
  • Must must eat. Do it. You must keep on going. Do it.
  • You will find out who are truly your best friends. Don't shut them out - let them help - they need it too you aren't the only one suffereing.

Hopefully you will have more years of happiness, than sadness, with your loved ones.

I hope that others can post here things that helped them...sort of a FAQ...if you will...or links to places that may help.

Thanks Brian for this very cool community! Thanks to the rest of you for letting me get this out.

Edited by hk_mtbr

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I'm sorry for your loss. My wife and I have been married going on 19 years. Each day we have with each other, is a gift. We also have discussed what might be if one of us dies. Life is precious, we do what we can to show each other we care.

It obvious that you and your wife had a special relationship. That is something you will have in your memories for the rest of your life.

My heart hurts for you, but life goes on.

Good Luck,

A.T.

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You are a far stronger man than me.

Jim

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You, my friend, are a good man. Thank you for sharing.

I'm crying like a little girl right now.

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For your loss, I'm very sorry. For posting the advice, thank you. I had to help my parents when my sister died. I've never seen anything tear at someone more than losing a child. I wish I knew ahead of time the things that need doing, I guess it is something people just don't talk about. I'm glad you could share this.

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Thank you, Joel.

I'm afraid I'm on the cusp of losing my Mom and a lot of this may prove to be helpful.

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It obvious that you and your wife had a special relationship. That is something you will have in your memories for the rest of your life.

My heart hurts for you, but life goes on.

Good Luck,

A.T.

Exactly what he said ..... seriously. :)

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Thanks for sharing. Eventually we all lose someone and your words will undoubtedly help others.

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People will tell you they know how you feel, unless they have been there they can't even imagine, hope they never have to.

People will tell you "it gets easier over time". It doesn't, you just learn how to hide the pain from those people.

People will tell you "they are in a better place", unfortunately you are not there and that doesn't help much.

When I was 18 I lost my roommate and best friend. He had just gotten engaged and his future was very bright. A few years later I too was engaged, and lost my fiance in a car accident. A few years later my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, she beat that, then a couple more years down the road she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, that too she conquered. The one she could not overcome was the Class IV glioblastoma (brain tumor). Never consumed alcohol and never smoked a day in her life, kind of ironic huh. The world is truly a darker place without her in it. She passed away June 01, 2004 at 55 years of age, her birthday was just 3 days after mine.

Brother, I can almost feel your pain, as I have known Death in my life also. I know only those who have been there know your pain, I'm hope I am never one of them. I know it doesn't get any easier with time, and I know that "better place" is of little consequence as you are not there too. I can only wish you the best and let you know I am here if ever you need to chat.

Sincerely,

Bobby

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Thanks for sharing that Joel. I've got your first beer after the Oxford match this Sunday if you wanna hang out after the match and talk more about it.

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Amazing post...thanks for taking the time and emotional effort to put it together for the rest of us here. This forum is a special place, and I can't think of anywhere else on the web I'd rather be at this moment. We live, we learn, we laugh here, and sometimes we shed tears.. Your post was insightful and thoughtful and you chose to share it with us. That means something to me and quite a few others who roam here. You can bare your heart and offer hard earned advice and know we're listening. God bless and thanks again.

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How I wish you had posted 3 months ago.

My husband died August 20th this year after a 7 year battle with Leukemia. We had so much time to prepare. . . I somehow thought it would make things easier. Silly me. It made SOME of the paperwork easier, but it does nothing for the emotional blow. As you said, it is physical pain. Please allow me to add a few notes to yours:

  • Sometimes it is easier to be mad than sad: dealing with the bureaucracy of the VA and banks and insurance companies has kept me distracted from melancholy.
  • Months have passed and I still say "we" and then am devastated to remember it is now just me.
  • When family and friends have offered to help, I ask for very specific tasks: help cleaning my house after everyone left, picking up things at the store, mowing the lawn, helping me to reload, or other errands. Most friends are sincere in the offer of help, but they really don't know what you need.
  • I needed 20 copies of the death certificate: banks, insurance companies, credit card companies, IRS & state tax people. Most of our utilities were in his name. I had to have the death certificates to transfer those to my name (unless I wanted to pay deposits and go through credit checks).
  • I cannot face going to former favorite restaurants. I play CD's in the car instead of the radio: some music just becomes unbearable because of the memories I associate with the songs. And, yes, driving while crying is dangerous.

I am a very lucky woman. I had over 20 years of the kind of relationship many people look for their entire lives, and never find. I have the love and support of his family and mine. His children are both a blessing. They call every week. I have an open invitation to visit them, spend holidays with them, and to call anytime, simply to talk. My neighbors and co-workers have assisted in many ways. The support and concern from our friends in the shooting community has been overwhelming, and impressed both his family and mine. I recognize all this on one level, but I still feel like there is a hole in my heart big enough to drive a truck through. And you don't type too well when you're crying. either.

Linda Chico

Columbia SC

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Amazing post...thanks for taking the time and emotional effort to put it together for the rest of us here. This forum is a special place, and I can't think of anywhere else on the web I'd rather be at this moment. We live, we learn, we laugh here, and sometimes we shed tears.. Your post was insightful and thoughtful and you chose to share it with us. That means something to me and quite a few others who roam here. You can bare your heart and offer hard earned advice and know we're listening. God bless and thanks again.

+100

How I wish you had posted 3 months ago.

My husband died August 20th this year after a 7 year battle with Leukemia. We had so much time to prepare. . . I somehow thought it would make things easier. Silly me. It made SOME of the paperwork easier, but it does nothing for the emotional blow. As you said, it is physical pain. Please allow me to add a few notes to yours:

  • Sometimes it is easier to be mad than sad: dealing with the bureaucracy of the VA and banks and insurance companies has kept me distracted from melancholy.
  • Months have passed and I still say "we" and then am devastated to remember it is now just me.
  • When family and friends have offered to help, I ask for very specific tasks: help cleaning my house after everyone left, picking up things at the store, mowing the lawn, helping me to reload, or other errands. Most friends are sincere in the offer of help, but they really don't know what you need.
  • I needed 20 copies of the death certificate: banks, insurance companies, credit card companies, IRS & state tax people. Most of our utilities were in his name. I had to have the death certificates to transfer those to my name (unless I wanted to pay deposits and go through credit checks).
  • I cannot face going to former favorite restaurants. I play CD's in the car instead of the radio: some music just becomes unbearable because of the memories I associate with the songs. And, yes, driving while crying is dangerous.

I am a very lucky woman. I had over 20 years of the kind of relationship many people look for their entire lives, and never find. I have the love and support of his family and mine. His children are both a blessing. They call every week. I have an open invitation to visit them, spend holidays with them, and to call anytime, simply to talk. My neighbors and co-workers have assisted in many ways. The support and concern from our friends in the shooting community has been overwhelming, and impressed both his family and mine. I recognize all this on one level, but I still feel like there is a hole in my heart big enough to drive a truck through. And you don't type too well when you're crying. either.

Linda Chico

Columbia SC

Thank you both for sharing, This is the second time I've read something here that made me cry. I pray that you are granted peace.

JZ

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Joel,

It took me an hour to think of what to say, but this was so far above and beyond the call that I felt I had to say something. Your post was hands down the most impressive thing I've read/seen in a long time. I'm so sorry for your loss and am amazed at your strength and caring by sharing with everyone.

It's not even remotely the same, but when I was still in the military one of the young troopers that worked for me passed away (he was very young). I was the summary courts officer and handled many of the things you mention in your post...life insurance, death certificates to banks, creditors etc. It really was a daunting task and the things you mention can make it a lot easier. You've given folks a ton of wonderful advice that most people learn the hard way. I've tried to make sure I have everything in order, but I'm going to double-check a few things just in case and if others do the same you've really accomplished something good for a LOT of people.

I'm glad you've got an angel in your life....you clearly deserve it.

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I am going to print this out and put it with my 'papers'

I know all too well what we, my wife and I, went through 3 years ago when her mother and my father died only 7 weeks apart, both rather unexpectedly.

This is a post that should be sent to Dear Abby or Dear Ann as they will post it and millions could benefit.

Jim

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This is a post that should be sent to Dear Abby or Dear Ann as they will post it and millions could benefit.

I was thinking the same thing ;)

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The timing of this post is ironic becuase tomorrow I finally close on the sale of our home which has been tied up in court since my first wife died almost 5 years ago.

We found out Lori had cancer a couple of months after our son was born. She made it 6 more years and lived every moment of those as well as she could for her children and never, not once, gave up or complained. Here she was with Tommy a little more than a year before she passed:

http://themxtrack.com/LoriTommyOK.jpg

That year, 2002, at Dirtweek (a nationwide gathering of dirtbike riders we started in 2000) she got the Dirtweek-Or-Bust award:

http://themxtrack.com/dw3gomer.wmv

She was truly a wonderful lady. I still have a tough time when I go back to our old house. One of the things that hit me the hardest was when I was going through her stuff after she died. I came across a to-do list she had made. It was all so unfair, she couldn't be gone, because she still had things to do.

A few things I'll add that I hope might help:

  • Look into / make sure that your bank accounts and property deeds are owned jointly with "rights of survivorship". Someone with more legal knowledge than I can explain it better, but it helps avoid having property tied up in probate court.
  • Have a will and update it whenever significant changes occur (things like having a(nother) child, buying a house, getting a boat, etc).
  • Discuss right now, before they are very sensitive subjects, with your spouse all of your desires for funeral arrangements, property distribution, and how to handle the difficult issues like whether or not to be put on a ventilator when the time is close. Even if everything is great right now for both of you, discuss those types of things, write them down, and file them away so you won't have to think about them unless and until they are needed. If they ever are needed, it will be so much easier to have already discussed them.
  • Have your wishes for your kids clearly spelled out, even if they might not be completely enforceable after you pass. My wife's $&!#bag of an ex-husband made our then-14 year old move in with him so that he could try to get his life insurance money. I don't know if it would have avoided all of the legal mess I went through fighting to get him free, but it would have helped.
  • When the time gets close, have a list of names and phone numbers of people that will need to be called. That way you can hand that to someone else to do, because you won't be up to it at that time.
  • Once a funeral notice has been published, be careful not to give out personal information. There are scumbags out there that will do whatever they can, whenever they can, to take advantage of people. My current wife lost her husband a few months before I lost Lori. She had someone call, supposedly from the Social Security Administration, to get information so that they could send her information about survivor benefits. They had his name and age from the funeral notice and found his address in the phone book. When they called they asked her to verify his SSN. In her state of mind at the time she gave it to them. Afterwards she had to put an immediate freeze on all of his accounts and flag his credit report to prevent unauthorized use of his information.
  • Have someone stay at your home during the funeral. This is best done by the friend of a friend, as all of your close friends will be with you. I do not have any first hand knowledge of it occuring, but I was warned that some thieves read the funeral notices and target the houses when they know everyone will be gone.
  • For me, time did make things easier. At first, you have no idea how you will continue or what you will do. You will make it and you need to keep on living.
  • Tell all of the people that you love that you love them as often as you can.

I have found another wonderful lady and gotten married. I try to remind our son about Lori when the time is right to bring up a good or funny memory. I don't suggest dwelling on any of the sadness with your children, but do remember the good times while proceeding to keep living the rest of your lives.

Edited by High Lord Gomer

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Joel, I'm sorry for your loss. Thank you for posting this. It took courage.

As an alternative to a funeral, both my wife and I have donated our bodies to Ohio University. My brother-in-law had done this when he died. After a year or so the remains are cremated and returned to the family.

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What a wonderful and thoughtful thread. We all have loss of one kind or another in our lives and the information provided by the survivors here is healing for them and helpful to others.

I will keep this short as I am thinking of my own losses right now.

Brave souls that have survived and shared ..... Thank you

Peace be yours

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wow.

Its been 330 days since I lost my wife.

I would add one item to your list.

I found out the difference between family and friends. Friends ask how can they help. Family sees something that needs doing and does it.

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Each day we have with each other, is a gift.

There is nothing truer...thanks atbarr.

Thanks so much to everyone for the posts and PM's. Thank you for sharing your losses here too. You never really know what pain people are burdened with. I hope these posts help someone in their time of need...I hope everyone reads all these posts because others have shared some really good insights too.

It is sort of funny but I still don't know "what to say" to someone when they face a loss. (my best friend just lost his dad and I was speechless) But, I figure just being there and letting them know I have two shoulders and two ears should they need either.

I'm no counselor but if anyone needs to talk feel free to drop me a note.

Joel

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