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My First Year as a Widow

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I never expected to be a widow at 56 years old. My late husband struggled with several types of cancer for two and a half years before his death in February 2011. In some ways, I felt relief, as he no longer suffered and my days as a caregiver were over. I had no idea how to plan his funeral. I was yet to ponder what life would be like after the services were held and the thank yous written.

Little did I know, that the sadness I felt as my daughter and I selected his coffin, would not dissipate in a month or so. Grief tends to play a perverse game of hide and seek as some days the loss was fresh and onothers it seemed to recede.. My oldest daughter was overcome with grief. She haad seen him in fair healthfor his last Christmas. Then she flew home from Louisiana to see her father in his last hours on a snowy February night. She slept on the couch beside his hospital bed, was awake for his 2 AM morphine dose and then watched as his silhouette changed from breathing to stillness around 5 AM.

After his funeral and burial, there was his will to file and small estate to settle. In those early spring months of denial, the aspects of permanent life changes were not welcomed. . You will spend hours packing a deceased person's clothing and shoes for donation until it is all near on the front porch waiting for the thrift truck. Later the plants given by kind neighbors can be repotted and enjoyed longer. All the sympathy cards with kind hand written messages will be saved and reread. The daily task of watering the lilies is therapeutic.

You may wonder as you join a bereavement class, if it is helping to relive and share other people's stories. Some mothers lost a child to a drive by shooter, others to gang related deaths, suicided, or children killed in four wheeler accidents. You learn to recognize the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargainin, depression, and acceptance. You may wonder how long you will continue to wake up and first thing realize that your life mate is dead. Life as you knew it has passed, all thirty six years of it.

Some will have ambivalent feelings about the passing of a spouse andthe secrets they kept. Deatbed confessions are numbing, as you learnt that deception was a part of your loved one's routine for the lastdecade. A business deal went bad and now you wonder if he was swindled.

Some days are sad but can be eened out by medication. A lot of time is spent wondering if there was more that the doctors could have done and why this cancer had to strike a healthy man. One dayfeeling sorry for myself, I made a list of magnificent dreams for MY future: remarry a kind doctor or lawyer, win the money to pay off my daughter's school loans, find a more interesting part time job, ease into old age, own a beach property, make amends to enemies, confront the perfect blond boy, write a novel, visit my parent's gravess more ofteen, travel to Ireland, Nantucket, and Costa Rica, buy myself a stylish new wardrobe appropriate for a stylish senior.

I look back at the cleendar ofand each month has been significant in the death and grief process. January – the last days of terminal illness and false hope. February – greeting/meeting death of my husband. March – clean up the splintered pieces of my family's life. April – Probate office, car titles, legal notices, the business of death. May – resume working part time . Try to mend. Attend a grief camp. June – See the lawyer!The first of the Actos cases linking the diabetes medicine with bladdercancer. Jack took Actos in 2006. I began gathering all his medical and pharmeseutical records. July – Summervacation and suffer the Georgia heat. August – School resumes for Leah.September – put on the mask – You are fine!. October – birthdat without a husband. November – He's not here to carve the turney;. December – December – no stress related to cancer this year – yet I am rethinking the terrible year my family has experienced.

Grief has become a visible part of your life.It is likewearing an extra coat which is invisible to the bereaved person but neon yellow to friends you come in contact with,

Somedays you wonder about the heareafter – why was there no communication from my husband after he passed? While walking Saint AUgustine Beach in October, I prayed for a sign of his preseence. There had been a storm the night before. I see a large peiece of what looks like driftwood. Actually it si a coconut with barnacle shells attached. I wonder how it found its way to Saint Augustine, but dry it off for the ride home.

Just coping , is not enought. Painful as it is you have to find activities you enjoy and try to live again. FInd the litte joys. Start planting youramaryllis bulbs early in the fall, so that something will be in booom for CHristmas. You have the luxry of more ttime. Take care of yourself, exercise, read, diet. Pray for guidance. Comfort your little ones. Try to find something fresh and wondderful about each day, even if it is pouring rain outside. Try to find peace. Heal your tender hearrt.

If you have a young child your obligation is to continue on as normally as possiblefor the child's sake. weekends are lo ely but you find yourslef looking forward to FRiday night of reading and noer early bedrtime


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