Monday, December 20, 2010


Perhaps it's because I'm sick or because we've had a string of cloudy, rainy days here in the desert since I returned ... or maybe this happens to others around the 3 month mark or because it's the holidays ... but I'm feeling rather melancholy. And I've decided I need to change how I write here. I started out wanting this blog to provide a pathway for those caregivers who will follow me, to help them know that what they are feeling is normal or to provide some resources I've found helpful. But just as I did with Vern's CaringBridge site, I've been holding back, not sharing my true feelings for fear of scaring people off, offending them or providing too much information.  I will tell you; this is hard stuff  - very hard - and it's not going to be helpful if I'm not honest about what I'm experiencing.

So when I ended my last post with saying I'm doing ok, that wasn't entirely true. I'm struggling. That doesn't mean that I'm in tears 24/7 and can't function, but it also doesn't mean that everything is back to normal (whatever that is). I can laugh and smile at some things and enjoy parts of the holiday season ... but in a split second a grief burst will arrive. I can't predict when it will happen or what will trigger it. I mourn the loss of my lifemate, the person I have been linked to for 41 years, who knew my every thought and with whom I shared every concern. I mourn what our life would have been in the years to come. That he left before seeing Jer get his life on track and with no grandchildren to live on after us. I'm tired of having to do all of the "necessary" things (most of which I put off) and worry that I'll make some serious mistakes. During our 4 year cancer journey I've not handled everything well. My focus was on caring for Vern, so I let things pile up, failed to file income taxes, been late paying bills which I'm sure has impacted our credit rating. Now I have to put all of those things right. Where do I start? Do I let everyone know that Vern has passed? I don't think I'm ready to do that. If his name is taken off accounts, will I be able to qualify to keep them in my name? I talked to Social Security on the phone today and became frantic when I couldn't immediately recall Vern's SS #. I have always been able to spout it out whenever asked. Why did it disappear from my memory bank so quickly? I find I'm much more forgetful these days. I'll put something away and then not be able to find it and have absolutely no memory of where I placed it.  I'm not behaving like "me" and yet I don't even know who "me" is these days. Half of me is gone. I'm envious of those who still have their spouses and get so frustrated (no, I get angry) when they complain of little things that just aren't important. Don't they know? They still have their spouse with them each day ... I don't.

I've debated about whether to continue to post my blog links to my Facebook page. I have mixed feelings about it. Should FB just be happy and funny and light postings? I do have a lot of FB widow friends. I guess those that are walking this road with me or care about how I'm doing will appreciate the link, and those that don't will ignore it - just like they ignore everything else. 

Oh dear, that last statement sounded harsh, didn't it? In the past I would have deleted it, but I guess since I'm feeling it, I'll leave it right there in all its honesty.  Tomorrow will surely be a better day.


Patty K. said...

Hi Diane,

I appreciate your honesty. I have felt and thought many of those same things.

The forgetful part has a name that the founder of a widow's ministry here told me - "widow brain". We can blame a lot of things on that.

On a practical note, one thing I learned on a bad day at the bank, when I hadn't told them yet of Dwight's death, is that they already knew. Huh? Turns out that Social Security already had notified them, and they had already removed his name from our joint accounts, as they are required to do. So if you haven't talked to anyone at your bank yet, you might start there and see if they also want a copy of Vern's death certificate or anything. It was stressful for me to go through that, but I did feel a certain sense of relief when I was done dealing with it.

I've found that the important thing is to just start. Pick one thing to do and make it a goal for that day. If you accomplish it, great. Maybe you will even feel up to tackling something else. If you don't get it done, just focus on some self-care (like eating) and put it on your one-item list for the next day.

Wish I were there to give you a big hug.
Love, Patty

Lori Puente said...

Dianne, Not everyone will want to share your profound pain, but those of us who have had profound loss, we can relate. I've not lost a spouse, and I've not lost a child, but I have lost, and lost big in my life and there is are common threads that run through any significant loss, within the nuances of your particular situation.

I remember being on the phone with the car insurance company about my mother passing away, with no will, and I was just extending to them, letting them know... well the "lawyer" thought I was going to want her money back for the months paid that she would not be needing on the car. If he had offered it, certainly I would have taken it for my sister, but he was a bit unpleasant with me on the phone. Wouldn't "talk to me" because I was not the "executor", etc. Everyone else had been so thankful I called, but then there was no money owed involved. I hung up the phone in tears and Dave said, "You know Lori, you CAN do nothing." It was such a foreign concept to me. I like things in tidy, neat little packages. But he was right. I could do nothing. It relieved me a great deal.

Anyway, aside from the fact that you are struggling, I think you are doing just great Dianne. Everything I have been able to glean from your posts indicate to me, that you are grieving, profoundly, and quite appropriately, after losing your life's partner, after a four year battle of sometimes epic proportions. Keep on moving forward as best you can, worts, tears and all. I'm not frightened off by it. But I do wish I could give you a warm hug and have a good cry with you from time to time.


Anonymous said...

I have so been where you are and in many ways I still am. I have no magic words or great advice to give you. Wish I could say something to make it better. Please keep writing, It does help to share especially with those who have been where you are. You and Susie and Elizabeth and all the other MM widows are in my thoughts every day.

Ginny said...

I find it sad that you held back on Caring Bridge posts, just as I am now. Because my husband reads what I write on his, I've not shared my own profound struggles with being his caregiver. I've not shared the true extent of Phil's continual downhill slide, the worry about his physical condition. But now I find myself trying to decide whether to email his siblings and let them know how bad off he really is, that he may well not be able to make the upcoming family Christmas get together. I don't like being in this place.

You've shared that people let you down when Vern was alive. I think that's why we as caregivers stop reaching out to let people know about our struggles - it's easier to keep them to ourselves than risk being rejected and remain unhelped. Do you agree?

As for forgetting things, I know that stress plays a huge role in this. I have always been organized, almost to a fault, but lately I lose things and am forgetful. Lab slips, favorite recipes, other important papers. It doesn't help that someone is always after us for something. Lately it's been Social Security, reviewing Phil's disability claim. Three huge sets of paperwork, misinformation given to us in the midst . . . it just goes on and on. Maybe forgetting is a form of coping.

Set yourself some manageable goals. Perhaps this week it will be separating things into piles, or making a list of phone calls you must make. It's easy to become overwhelmed by the enormity of everything that needs to be done, but splitting up the tasks helps. And are you doing anything for yourself? Something fun? Something comforting? (Eating some chocolate comes to mind!)

Keep taking life one day at a time. It's all we can do.

Janine (txmomx6) said...

I'm glad that you've decided to write what you truly feel. Glad for you, being able to get it out .... and good for those who read your words. Those of us on this path will "get it" and be grateful for the honesty. I have always been brutally honest on my blog since my husband died. It seemed to be the only way to truly express my feelings. And then I found out that other widows were reading it and finding out that they weren't alone .... or crazy. The only way we can really help each other .... and ourselves .... is to be honest.
Keep breathing .... you will make it.
And thank you for your comment on WV.