It’s been nine years since Doug’s (my husband) passing and sometimes it feels like nine years and sometimes it feels like it was yesterday. A song, a movie or something someone says will trigger memories. Grief is not on any timetable. I’ve said before that grief is the price we pay for loving them so much!
When I look back at the three years after he was diagnosed I am flooded with memories. The fears of not giving him all the medicines he was supposed to get that day, watching him sleep and praying he would wake up the next morning, wondering if he would come home again when hospitalized each time. All of the times he would request something special for dinner and then couldn’t eat it because he was so sick from the chemo and he would feel so bad for asking for it. The times he would say how sorry he was for me having to push him in a wheel chair all over Duke or sleep in a chair when he was hospitalized and me telling him that I was right where I wanted to be and how much I loved him. I remember one time when he was in Duke Hospital, the resident coming in and telling me that she had ordered a sitter for the night and I was to get a motel room and get some much needed rest that night. I must have looked pretty bad.
His spiritual growth amazed me during those three years! And when the end did come he seemed so at peace. The hardest part was closing his eyes and giving him the final goodbye kiss. I felt relief that his pain was over and thankful that we had used that time to tell each other everything we had wanted to say. I think guilt always tries to trick us into wondering if we did everything we could have possibly done and the fact that we feel relieved that it is all over. I hope no one in a situation like this will allow that to happen.
Unless you’ve experienced these things you may not understand, but this situation is physically, emotionally and sometimes even spiritually exhausting. I’ve met so many people who are or have been caregivers and have shared their experiences with me. Many have had some type of illness or other physical problem after the loss. I had shoulder surgery one month to the day after Doug’s death. My sister and a cousin both had surgery shortly after their husband’s death. This is not uncommon.
My wish is that everyone reading this will take a minute to say a prayer for all the caretakers who are giving of themselves and would appreciate someone’s thoughts and prayers being sent to them. I ask that God will fill them all with light and love and happiness!
Toni True-Wills, Ph.D.