My name is Rob and I lost my Husband, Mark on July 21st to lung cancer that spread to his bones and brain. Mark was my partner a little over 5 years. We were lucky enough to get married on June 28th since PA legalized same sex marriage. I will never forget that day. I could see how much pain he was in but there still was that beautiful sparkle in his eyes for what was one of the happiest days of our life together. Mark had 3 children that we had joint custody of which we included in our Marriage ceremony.

It was a long hard road to get to this point. The suffering started back in July 2012 with some back pain. We had just come back from a family vacation in New York City and just assumed that it was from carrying heavy bags around the city, etc. Well in September 2012 Mark was diagnosed with primary lung cancer that had spread through his bones and also to his brain. The Doctors estimated that it started around April. I equate this to what I feel was the first death. It wasn't long after this that Mark was pretty much completely bed bound due to the severe pain from the bone cancer. My life change drastically I had to start working from home, not only to care for Mark but care for the kids, the house, everything was on my shoulders. With minimal to no help this started wearing me out. With some treatment and better pain management, by late January Mark was able to get out of bed to get a drink or even make a small snack for himself which helped tremendously. As he started to improve I started to fall apart and by March I had a nervous breakdown and was so depressed and suicidal that I had to take two months off of work for some treatment. I just get back to work in early May and by the end of May we found out that the first line of chemotherapy is not working and the cancer is spreading. A new chemotherapy regimen was started and after that everything went downhill. The pain in his back was so bad again they tried doing radiation on some of the spots to relieve the pain. It only helped a little but we were still able to get married on June 28th. July 2 Mark was admitted to the hospital and I stopped working again. At this point the doctors told us that there was nothing else that could be done that he was too weak for any more chemotherapy and that it was time to call in hospice. Mark passed away on July 21. It wasn't until August 1 that we could have a service for Mark due to many delays and issues that came up.

I hate to even say it but after the service was done and everyone finally left me alone I started to feel some relief but only that it was all done. I think I was still in shock or something because it wasn't for a couple days later that it actually started sinking in that he was gone. I kept pacing the house I tried moving a couple little things around but every corner I turn I expect to see him or I'm doing something and I pause and think oh I should go check on him but he's not here. Another loss is the kids are now with their mom all the time, yes they come and visit or they stay a little bit but it's not the same. The last 10 months I took care of them and now they're gone too.

Right now I have no enjoyment in life. I can't sleep, I'm not eating right, I rarely leave the house, I just lay around sleep and watch TV. Then there are the triggers, a song, a place, even food that sets me off into a crying spell. I'm not suicidal but yet I just wish I would fall asleep and never wake up. My dr and therapist think it's time to go back to work at least part-time for this week. I don't feel ready but I don't really have a choice. Each day is a struggle to get out of bed or complete a task.

I have so many conflicting feelings. I haven't been able to be intimate with Mark since August 2012. There are times where he would even be withdrawn due to everything he was going through. I just want that human contact with someone again but yet I don't because it's not going to be with him. I feel like a horrible person for feeling that way. Maybe a better way to express this is I feel like I need someone to care for me again?? I am only 39 and I feel like I had a full lifetime crammed into a few years. Everything from meeting, marriage, kids, buying a house, empty nest, caring for a sick spouse and then death of a 41 year old spouse. It's so unfair.

I know we are all in the same boat and I'm glad I found this site. I have been reading posts and stories and they are helping. I just wanted to share my story.

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Rob, I went through the very sudden loss of my partner, Jim.  It was 2 weeks before our 11th anniversary.  I awoke one morning (June 18th, 2012) to find him slumped in his office chair; he had been dead a few hours.  I still tried CPR until the medics arrived, but it was no use.  They called it "sudden cardiac death".  We had lived in PA near King of Prussia, and two months later I moved to Harrisburg to be closer to Jim's son (my stepson) who had lived with us summers and holidays when he wasn't at Milton Hershey.  

I stayed there until he graduated and then last Halloween I moved to Denver, Colorado, where I am now.  I can totally relate to your feelings of loss...not just around Mark, but the kids as well.  Jim's family now doesn't want anything to do with me, and his son doesn't speak to me anymore since I flew home to try to talk some sense into him as he was flunking out of college.  There is much more HELL that they put me through, but that is for another discussion.

I still wear some of Jim's clothes occasionally, and I only recently stopped wearing the ring he gave me (we were never able to marry, since PA had just legalized it this year).  Believe me, this sucks, and you are an amazing man for having made it through this first, most difficult month.  The thing that kept me going at that point was a mantra that I developed.  I don't know where it came from, but I kept telling myself "I will not let this destroy me."  The other thing that helped was just going easy on myself, and taking it "one-day-at-a-time."  I only worried about the 12 to 16 hours in front of me before I went to bed that night, and did what I could to make those hours tolerable for myself.  I also forced myself to go out and be in the world, and I avoided getting drunk and high.

Please feel free to contact me if you ever need to chat or talk to somebody who understands what you are going through.  I would be more than happy to listen and try to help if I can.  And funny thing...we are the exact same age!  I hope to hear from you soon, Rob.

Mike

Rob, I'm so sorry for your loss. And loss is the right word. When we lose our partners they take a piece of our soul with them. Amazingly it does return over time (to some degree) and I wonder where it's been and what it's been doing in the meantime. It's taken me nearly two years to start feeling like myself again. Oh I still have pangs of sadness but I'm not walking around like a hollowed out shell anymore. I can relive old memories without breaking down into a quivering pile of jello... At least not in public.

Be strong and have faith that you will see Mark when destiny has marked your time to go. Keep in mind tgat while Mark is always with you, it's your job to live life and make new memories to tell him about when you see him again. In the afterlife they have very bad short term memory, So you WILL have to go through them all over again when you get there.

Much love,

Mike

Rob, I'm sorry to hear of the loss of your husband, Mark. The first days and weeks after a partner dies can be extremely hard. When I loss Todd, I was on autopilot most of the time just not knowing or caring what came next. My strong faith, my church, and his family were amazing; without them I don't think I would have lived through it. From my experience, things will change and this burden will get lighter after a while, but the brokenness and the longing continues.

Prayers,

Matt

Autopilot is a good word. But a lot of my Danny's family took advantage of me during that time. He wasn't gone 24 hours before they started asking for things from the house. I didn't think, I just said yes. Then the requests got more demanding. Then they started saying, well we'll just come take what we want, we have a key to the house...

I had the locks changed 2 hours later, thank God.

You are very vulnerable until you can get your feet back underneath you and get off of autopilot. Protect yourself. And don't give anything to anybody for now. That can wait
I'm sorry if I sounded bitter in that last post. I'm really not bitter. Just take time to breath and find yourself again. Being 1/2 of a couple for so long changes your brain chemistry... You are so used to thinking as a couple, doing things as a couple, etc. the first couple of times I went to the movie theatre, I bought two tickets. It's that autopilot thing Matt mentioned. Breath. And pick carefully who you trust to have your back... I didn't, but that's another story for another day :-)
Hello Rob,

I lost partner in 2007 to small cell lung cancer, and I can certainly relate to your story.

We had moved from Utah to Georgia in 2003 when Claudia was accepted to the doctoral program at UGA. At the time of her diagnosis, Claudia was finished with her classwork and was working on her dissertation. Her symptoms were sudden and we were told she was stage 4, and with treatment could expect 12 - 18 months of life.

Luckily, Claudia's family spent a lot of time in Georgia, taking turns driving down from Ohio to give us a hand. They couldn't be there all the time, of course, and it was very difficult to juggle her care, appointments and work. But I tried very hard to be at home as much as possible.

Claudia had to leave the Doctoral program, and that was very difficult for her. She had worked so hard to get there, but she didn't have the time or strength to continue that work.

Claudia's cancer had moved to the bone in her leg and shoulder and also the liver. Her first round of chemo helped for awhile; some of the tumors were shrinking. Shortly after her first round of chemo, she suffered a seizure as we drove home from a get-away trip to the coast. She was given an MRI brain scan that was very difficult because she suffered great pain when she laid on her back. Several small tumors were found in her brain and the doctors began radiation treatment on her head and a new round of chemo with a different medication.

She and I decided, then, that we would have a commitment ceremony in her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. We wanted to share with our families our love for one another. We traveled to Ohio for the ceremony and reception, and it was a wonderful experience, despite the omission of most of my family whose fundamental views caused them to miss a wonderful experience.

Shortly after returning from Ohio, Claudia experienced another severe seizure and the radiation therapy began again. She was losing weight quickly and the medical staff refused to give her chemo because they believed it would do more harm than good.

We traveled to Ohio for the Christmas holidays so Claudia could spend a final Christmas with her family. Her father was also battling lung cancer and her sister had lost her husband to ALS two weeks before Christmas. It was a tough time for her whole family, but we tried very hard to make it a pleasant experience for Claudia.

Several weeks after we returned from Ohio, Claudia suffered another seizure and she was then admitted into hospice care. This time, she was disoriented and had difficulty communicating and walking. Her brother flew to Atlanta and helped to get airline tickets to get Claudia and me back to Ohio. She spent 7 days at an inpatient hospice facility in Cleveland, then we moved her into her Niece's home for her final few weeks.

Claudia's father passed away 10 days before she died. We managed to get her to her dad's funeral service, but she didn't really understand what was happening. That was probably a good thing because she was very close to her father.

After her death, and before, I had the full support of Claudia's family, but I had to return to Georgia, back to my job and the house. Fortunately, one of our friends drove me back to Atlanta and helped to get the house in order. Claudia's niece-in-law flew in to spend a week with me, and then that was it. I was on my own in Georgia.

I had some of Claudia's fentanyl at the house, still, and seriously considered using it to ease my pain or do myself in. I looked at that stuff frequently, but kept telling myself, tomorrow is another day. It might be better tomorrow. I was seeing a therapist after Claudia's diagnosis, at her urging, and was still visiting the therapist at least once a week. I attended group therapy sessions with a hospice support group. And I also began attending A.A. meetings again, and got to know some new friends. I missed Claudia terribly. She and I had a 17 year relationship and my whole life revolved about her during that time. With the help of the therapist, groups and new friends, I was able to eventually begin my life without her.

It took me five years to begin packing her things away and cleaning out her belongings. I boxed up belongings I thought her family would want and shipped them off to Ohio. I gave away clothing and books to charity groups, sold her truck, recycled the mounds of papers, and kept only the things that I cherished the most. It was tough, but with the help of friends I was able to do it and not fall apart.

7+ years has passed since her death, and I still miss her a lot. I often think about what life might be like had she lived, had she never had cancer ... where might we have lived, what places would we explore, what a TRUE wedding might have been like. But I can't have her back, and I do my best to live each day in the day and find the joy that is still out there to experience. There is still life to live for me, and I try my best to cherish it.

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