on grief




My grief began before my husband passed away, it began at his diagnosis.  Today is the 6 mo mark of him passing away so I've been grieving now for 1 year and 8 months.  When I see that face up there I want to cry bc I miss it so much.  Prior to his diagnosis his only symptom was heartburn.  He was the fittest man I've ever known.  He was a natural born athlete and excelled at every sport imaginable.

You see the night of his diagnosis he was very out of it bc he'd been sedated most of the day while he underwent testing.  He was awake but not fully aware when the doctor came into his room at midnight and told us he had what appeared to be 4th stage esophageal cancer that had spread to his liver and lymph nodes.  I was devastated but he did not hear that, or maybe he did, I don't know.  My guess is no bc the next morning he said aren't you glad you didn't tell the kids I was in the hospital?  I don't have cancer but we'll figure out what's wrong with me.  I held the diagnosis secret, not telling anyone, for over a month until we went to the oncologist for the official review of tests.  At that point that was the longest month I'd ever experienced.  But tbh not much changed when he received the diagnosis.  He knew he had cancer with a minuscule chance of survival but he never once thought he wouldn't beat it.  Even while on hospice he never not once thought he was dying.  This was really good and hard at the same time.  It was a complete denial of reality that he lived in and I was sort of living in it too only I could see his reality.  The doctors and nurses could see it.  Everyone closely related could see it but most everyone began to believe he'd beat it bc he was adamant, strong and fought so fucking hard.

Most days were unbearable watching him suffer so much.  I withdrew from almost everything and everyone in my life which is not a good idea.  But I was just doing the best I could.  The last month was brutal, absolutely brutal for him.  When he passed on April 17th, at that point it was a blessing bc of the pain and confusion he was in.  I experienced a time of relief myself.

I remember in the beginning the doctors and nurses telling me to take care of myself bc being a caretaker is hard.  I didn't believe them but you know what?  It's freaking hard.  Some days I thought I was losing my mind.  Most days actually.  Anyway, today is hard.  I'm not an anniversary type person but this has been knocking me for a loop for a few days now.  The strangest things trigger it and I just have to sit in it.  This is my reality.  I'm still doing the best I can.

Do you ever wonder what to do when a friend is grieving?  I never knew what to say or do either.  The thing that is clear to me is don't ask what your friend needs, just do something.  Anything.  Most people can't ask for what they need so just do something.  I know now that is what I'll do.  And until you go thru this you don't know.  I don't know why I am sharing this.  Maybe bc I treat this blog as a sort of life journal.  Some days I'm pretty dang ok and others horrible.  But again it's reality.  Thank you for listening and for all the love, kindness and grace you've extended me through this v difficult time.  x

111 comments

  1. Janet, I feel for you, and I am so, so sorry your beloved is gone. What a handsome man, and I'm sure that's the least of why you loved him.

    I read an article just recently saying that we should all learn to send gift cards when someone experiences loss. Because one person might be short of necessities, another craves simple indulgence, someone else wants to travel far away. Whatever you need is what you should do. If you could see your way to posting a Paypal account here, or Venmo for the young ones, maybe we could all send you concrete support. Not charity, but love.

    Again, I am so, so, so sorry he is gone.

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    1. I feel your pain,deeply ...I too watched my wonderful husband suffer badly with
      advanced& spread cancer ,died 2 wks later.Its been 3 yrs & our wedding annivers.is 2morrow...miss him horribley.Try to do some happy things for YOU,even just little things.No doubt its a tough & emotional time for those of us dealing with a big loss& I hope you gets through the rough times.Blessings,Barb

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  2. I couldn't agree with Lisa more! Not charity, but love. You give a gift by telling your story. My heart aches with you.

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  3. Thank you for sharing. I am usual a behind the scenes reader but needed to comment today. You have helped me with something today by sharing that I really needed to hear.

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    1. I can absolutely relate to my unknown friend⬆
      I Desperately needed this...as I sit here at 3am trying to RE-PLAN memorial services that were set for today at the beach..however, a freak late season tropical storm is forcing me to do this all over again. I could barely do it once. Thank you both for reaching out and I wish you all love and light on your journey. ��

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  4. Janet my heart goes out to you, you have been through so much, I just want to squish you in the biggest gentle hug. You are an amazing lady, all I can do is send you my love and support from across the pond. Xxxxx

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  5. Dear Janet: you've managed to say it exactly right (and I don't know why more of us don't get it!). Do not burden the grieving with questions of what they need. Give them what anyone would need: take out their trash, drop off groceries, leave a note in their door, call and check in (they don't have to answer but most will be pleased you're thinking of them). People do so much when death first comes but the real grief often comes when the "ordinary" returns. And I think that's when friends and family can help the most.
    May your ordinary have moments of grace and love and release and righteous anger and humanity. With love from Tennessee.

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    1. When my husband got home from triple bypass a friend called and said- I'm at the grocery store- what did you forget to buy? Not what do you need. What did you forget. I just blurted out what I needed and she arrived 20 minutes later with my list of items and a slice of hot pizza.

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  6. My heart is breaking for you as I read this, Janet. It's good to share your feelings, to get them out of your head and into words. Though most of us have not met you in person, this is not unlike the pen pals of the old days who communicated sometimes for years without meeting, yet felt a closeness. I think most of us feel that way with you. I would think the love and support you feel from the comment section of your blog could be a special kind of support, different from in-person support, in that you don't have to see anyone or talk with anyone...you can read the comments whenever you want to and reply whenever you want to...and hopefully feel the love and hugs at the times you need them most. Grieving is such a personal and sometimes long process, ebbing and flowing, taking you quite unaware some days. Sending you much love, Janet. Thank you, too, for opening our eyes as to how we might best help those who are grieving. xo

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  7. I hear you. So deeply! I've been my parents caretaker (as an only child; my brother died when I was four). Tomorrow, the 18th, is the day I went to hospital with my Dad to learn that they couldn't do anything for him anymore. Mum died March the 13th, Dad died November the 18th. Exactly one month after that final hospital visit. "Take care of yourself" How many times have I heard that? But how could I? I had a family to take care of too!
    And yes, those friends that didn't ask but just did.. Gold!! (and sometimes I still need that but I think it's to long ago for them)
    Take care and thanks for sharing! Love from the Netherlands

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  8. Once upon a time, I was in a leadership role during a disaster where people had lost/were about to lose their homes in a landslide. I was the face they saw at the worst of times but not empowered to offer much help. I was devastated by the loss these people were dealing with. One woman in particular touched me deeply and in an attempt to comfort her, to offer something when I had nothing to offer, I said "I understand" - and I am barely exaggerating when I tell you she ripped my head off. I thought a lot about this, and since then (it will be 15 years this January) I am so, so careful with my words, even though they were meant to comfort, to somehow show my care. Sometimes there is no right thing to say. I can only imagine your loss - I haven't had a long term relationship in my life that has endured. Twenty years ago this month, we lost my dad to bladder cancer after a year of suffering and my mom was his caregiver to the exclusion of everything else during that time. I know for sure that that was what she needed to do, and even though at times he worried for her sacrifice, it was a great comfort to him that she was doing it. This is love, and yes, you do the best you can. Does this story make any sense? I don't know, I hope so. Sending you love.

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    1. Marla, I'm so sorry you experienced that backlash of grief. I lost my home to a natural disaster as a teenager, and my beyond devastated single mother insisted we be gracious even if people didn't or couldn't say or do the right things. Compassion is mutual - we don't always know how to express our sympathy or even our concern, but no one deserves to be a whipping post for reaching out. I'm so glad we now better understand PTSD and the devastation of natural and other disasters, but we are still First World creatures, living in that relative luxury - I'm forever grateful my mom taught me the importance of being grateful for the compassion of others - even if they don't do it "right".

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  9. I can only send my best wishes. You have chosen to live fully after great loss. That is very hard.

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  10. Hello Janet. I have never commented before but have been reading your blog for years. I have always found you to be very relatable. I also follow a plant-based diet and love, just love, your sense of style.

    We have a similar story. My husband died of cancer five years ago this coming January. He also thought he would beat it, even though it was clear that he wouldn't. It was brutal. It is a horrible thing to see someone you love so much being taken away from you a little more each day. And it is a relief when the suffering has ended. But we are forever changed. I cannot agree more with your advice regarding what to do when someone you care about is dealing with the illness or loss of a loved one. Do not ask what they need, just do something.

    I also send you much love.

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  11. So sorry for all you and your family have been through but so glad that you had this wonderful man in your life. Very good advice to just do something for our friends dealing with these issues. XX00

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  12. I have never commented on your blog before, but this post made me feel compelled to do so. What a lovely husband...just even looking at his picture, he looks like such a kind, gentle being...well matched with what I imagine you being like. I'm so sorry for your immense loss. I have not suffered the loss of a life partner, but I lost my father at 21...and my mom lost her life partner. It's a searing pain I don't wish on my worst enemy. I'm so sorry that you're feeling it and going through this. My heart goes out to you.

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  13. I am so sorry, Janet. I have not lost my husband, but I have lost my oldest son. So in a roundabout way ~ in going through a grief journey myself ~ I could identify with some of this, especially what you said about helping a friend when they are grieving. When one of my friend's husband was dying of cancer and she was at home with him 24/7 while he was on hospice, I dropped bags of food (both homemade and healthy grocery store items) on her doorstep several times. I have another friend who also lost her husband just a few months ago and I at least make sure to check in with these friends every so often and also send them cards. I feel so helpless with their pain, but I hope that even just being remembered helps them in some very small way. Sending you much love and hugs. xoxo

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  14. I read your blog all through my husband's tortuous experience and death in 2016 from ALS. The care giving was so extreme that the VA (he was exposed to bad stuff in wartime which likely caused this) moved him from our house to a nursing home five months before his death as they believed I would die before he did, me weighing 108 pounds and trying to lift him, etc. That said, I was jealous of you as I read your blog. This shames me now. You and Larry were living the lovely life I had before everything went to hell. Larry's diagnosis hit me hard, and I have wept over his death. What a handsome man. Someone wrote that after you heal yourself, go heal someone else. I think I am doing that with a neighbor as her husband is dealing with pancreatic cancer. I tell her, "no pity today, just tell it like it is, and whatever crazy stuff you say will not leave this room." and we laugh and we cry. I am still here, have survived, and even prevailed. It is not the life we wanted, Janet, but it is the life we have. The pain will always be there, but it morphs into something much more bearable with time.

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  15. Oh my dear Janet...I cried as I read your blog. I cried for you, for your Larry, for myself & for my husband, who died unexpectedly at age 66 from a massive stroke. The first paragraph you wrote describing Larry could have been written word for word about my husband. He was always fit, & still the picture of health. He survived four days after the stroke on life support, but the damage to his brain was too severe to keep him alive artificially.

    He also was a fantastic athlete & we participated in sports together all our married life, as well as ran a small retail business together for 17 years...our last jobs.

    Your advice to those who want to help the grieving was right on target...small gestures just done without asking sends the message that your family member or friend is not forgotten, nor alone. One thing I would add which you touched on in an earlier blog is the gift of allowing the one grieving to talk about their lost loved one. I think it helps us to keep them alive in our memory when we can talk about them. My husband was funny, in a dry sort of way. My family & friends are frequently entertained by just remembering some of his "quotes" & other antics...it makes us laugh, which is very healthy for me. He has been gone for 7 1/2 years & it seems he was just here.

    I think you are doing remarkably well Janet because you are continuing to live life. That doesn't mean you don't miss him terribly, & I think it is a brave thing to make that choice alone. There will be times when you feel you are doing well, then a wave of grief hits unexpectedly & you come back to the reality of how very hard it is alone. But you must allow yourself the moments or days of total grief when it feels right. Then you get back in the ring & fight for your new normal...where you will find contentment. I can honestly say today that I feel content with life. Would I change things & do I want him back...absolutely!! But I am pragmatic & accept that this is my life now...blessed in so many ways.

    Anita ~ the cabin on the creek
    ...all is grace!

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  16. Grief is a horrible thing. I am going through something similar and I find that every day is a struggle. I wish peace for you, and me. Stay strong. Know that you are helping people by sharing your story. It makes me feel less alone.

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  17. Thank you for opening your heart to us. It's done us all some good reading through the comment section.

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  18. Dear Janet, thank you for sharing this with us. Six months is a short grieving time after so many years with a loved one. 20 years since i lost my son and there are days it seems like it just happened. I learned that people mean well but saying, "let me know if you need anything," when you don't know which end is up doesn't even register. Cut the grass, bring dinner, change the sheets, anything useful. Stay close to your family sweetheart, you need each other to heal.
    Sending love and hugs.

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  19. I'm so sorry. What a gorgeous man. You can tell from that picture he was gorgeous on the inside too.

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  20. Thank you for sharing your story. I lost my father just over a year ago. Also from stage 4 Esophageal cancer. He passed 6 months after the horrific diagnosis. Before dad even got sick my family and I knew dad was not acting himself. We all thought it was stress or depression. One day dad woke up and was bleeding heavily inside somewhere. Ran every test imaginable. Then the doctor took my mother and I into the waiting room and closed the door. Sat us down and told us dad had cancer. My whole life changed that day along with my mother and family. Mom and dad were married 50 years together. They were never apart. My dad was my everything. I was his little girl. Dad underwent chemo and radiation and also surgery. Very painful for all of us. While in surgery he suffered a stroke and that was the last day I would ever be able to hear him speak or talk again. He also lost his mind along with stage 4 cancer. Watching my poor dad laying in that hospital room not knowing that he was dying was killing me inside. My dad was then in hospice care for only 2 weeks and he was taken away from me completely. I never knew what hospice was or never knew how wonderful they were to my family. They become our family. They provided free hospice grief counseling to my mom and I for 1 year. She came to our houses. The problem I have been going through is how to grieve for myself right now. I am the one who took care of my grieving mother, and I have still not allowed myself to finally say goodbye to my dad. I visit him all the time at his grave, but I haven't been able to cry when I'm there. My mom is doing AMAZING now and is living her best life in happiness. But for me I still am having a difficult time to accept with word cancer. I'm getting better each day but I still am waiting for 1 more minute with him. My mom went through exactly what you went through. But losing a parent especially when I witnessed him dying alittle more each day and suffering so severe that I am thankful that he is in a better place. I am surrounded by an AMAZING family, husband and wonderful friends that keep me smiling everyday. I know dad is in a better place and that as the years pass the grieving will get easier. I take it it one day at a time. Your blog touched my heart in every way for the better. This is actually the first time I ever left a comment on any blog post. You inspired something in me with sharing your story. You were blessed to be married to an AMAZING husband. I am happy I shared my story with you. -Kim

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  21. Janet, you have been through so much. Grief mixed with feelings of relief and loss. So hard and so complex. Sending love and warm wishes. You are not alone as I speak for myself and as one of your many devoted blog followers. Thank you for sharing. Susan

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  22. My heart goes out to you. Be gentle with yourself and know that the grieving process takes time. You are such a lovely person and I wish you all the best.

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  23. You are strong. You have gone through and are going through the most horrible part of living - losing the person you love. You are strong even when you are at your weakest. Sending you so much love.

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  24. Janet..as I came across your blog I cried through the whole thing. I thought to myself oh my gosh I’m reading word for word about my husband Larry and myself! My wonderful husband Larry passed away January 2019 after a 2 year battle with stage 4 colon cancer. He too had no symptoms. When we found out in December 2016 he said to me.. I will beat this, he even had all of the nurses and his oncologist saying, wow you are such an inspiration and you will beat this. During his chemo treatments they would put him next to other cancer patients who were struggling. He gave them hope! My dear husband fought for 2 years always thinking of others never giving up ( I too think that my Larry was in denial, he would tell me that he didn’t feel like he had cancer) He was in the best shape of his life! Never getting sick or losing any hair or weight during his chemo treatments. On my husbands last night with us he was lucid, he knew exactly what was going on.. but he was finally after 2 years struggling. I looked into his eyes and told him.. it’s ok.. his final words... I love you... I thought I was prepared! I have cried everyday since his diagnosis and my grief is overwhelming. Everyone tells me it gets better... When.. Bless everyone.

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  25. Janet, my heart goes out to you from across the Pacific (Australia). I'm sure your heart breaks when looking at your beautiful husband. I too have experienced acute grief and know the weight you are carrying. May the road rise to meet you. Kate

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  26. So happy you are continuing to blog and share your grief, think it has to be cathartic for you and even others who are grieving loss of loved ones; it is also informative for all of us. You always seem to willingly, maybe unintentionally, be teaching us some insight - on fashion, good eating habits, better living, gardening, and now, how to reach out in love to our grieving friends. Thank you for allowing your friends here to try and reach thru the distances seperating us to try to bring you comfort, peace & contentment; wish we could somehow lessen the grief you must work through. Sending love and healing and gratitude.

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  27. My dad died of an unknown cancer six years ago. He was 63, and a lifelong runner who was careful about his health, diet, everything. I miss him every day, but what I've found helpful is kind of a screwed up take on the communion of saints: I'm not much of a churchgoer, but as a Catholic I was taught that your beloved dead can serve as a sort of intermediary between you and God. I find it comforting to think of my dad as my otherworldly advocate; he stood up for me in life, and now he's doing it in death, too.

    Anyway, I'm sorry for your loss, and I hope you find the thing that comforts you, too.

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  28. What a beautiful man your Larry is in that photo. I can only imagine the grief and aching loss you feel. Praying for peace and comfort for you in this oh, so difficult and unwelcome journey.

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  29. Janet you are so brave. I'm sure your husband would be very proud of the way you are coping with your loss. I'm sure he is still with you in spirit, guiding you. I always like to think that in any case. It is a comforting thought when you are in the midst of your grief. Your strength is evident when you write about your experiences. I wish you all the best on this difficult day and going forward.

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  30. he's beautiful AJJ.
    my own husband Bob died of cancer of the esophagus at the age of 43. I'm 10 years younger than he was. so at 33 I refused to admit it was as serious as it was. like your Larry. I was convinced he could beat it. we were all set to go on a back packing trip in the wilds of Canada. where they take you in and then come back and get you. he stopped by his doc to get heartburn meds before the trip. Dr Lewis didn't like the swelling in his neck and wanted tests done. immediately. we spent the weekend buying him pajamas because he didn't own any. they did surgery on that Monday... well over 6 hours and two teams of surgeons. they took half of his stomach and reconstructed his esophagus where they had removed the tumor. all that horrible suffering. he didn't complain. that was the amazing thing. he just ENDURED it. he managed to live for 14 months from the date of his diagnosis. your own Larry is the only other person I've known who had that cancer. and yes. the suffering in unbelievable. it was even in his spine before he died and they were STILL ordering X-rays! I stood in the doorway of his room and told them to STOP. it was in 1979. before hospice? before the help they have now. I lived a life in a hazy fog of pain and prayer. I have never remarried. he was my one and only. a true soulmate.
    I'm 74 now and don't regret it. I sometimes think if we had gone to Canada what would have happened. life is strange that way. a little blessing thrown into the mud.
    my heart goes out to you darling girl. it's a rough road. and we travel it alone. even with all the friends and support. you will find out your own strengths if you haven't already.
    God bless you. XO

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  31. One of your readers left a link to your blog in a comment on my blog. My husband of 38 years died 17 months ago after over 2 years of treatment for Mantle Cell Non Hodgkin Lymphoma - a blood cancer. We were told from the beginning that there was no cure but we hoped some of the treatments would work. He never thought he would die, and never moaned about all the travelling back and forward to hospitals and the long weeks stuck in hospital but in the end it was much too quick.
    I'm getting through by keeping busy a day at a time but after all these months it comes back with a crash sometimes.
    Much love to you - I don't know you but can share how you feel

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  32. Janet sending you love and a hug today and every day.

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  33. There are no words...much love...thank you for sharing...hope for peace after the pain....hope for joy again...life just sometimes is too painful. x

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  34. Thank you for this. Thank you.

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  35. “Sometimes people around you won’t understand your journey. They don’t need to, it’s not for them”
    Love and prayers

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  36. Thank you for sharing this. Hugs❤️

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  37. Janet,
    So, so sorry.

    Cara

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  38. Thank you for sharing, Janet. Grief work is hard work. I lost both my parents in the last (not quite) two years and although not the same relationship - grief is grief. It greatly helped me to take a Grief Share class/group. I highly recommend it, although I'm sure it isn't for everyone. The one think I learned that is universal however, is that everyone's grief journey is different. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. It's a journey one must go through to come out the other side move forward - however that looks. I'll be praying for God to give you the strength you need for today.

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  39. Sending you white, healing light.

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  40. Thank you for writing this Janet, I know it must not been easy for you.
    A quote I can relate to is:
    “Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”
    By Vicki Harrison

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  41. Thank you for sharing. Wishing you peace.

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  42. Janet, You have my deepest sympathy. May God keep you in his loving arms, as you endure the vast grief you are now feeling. Please know, as time goes on, you too, will be able to go forward, with less pain in your heart. Larry will always be there, in your heart and in your sweet memories. I, like a few of your other readers have been where you are now. As time passes, the pain really does get softer. You are in my prayers.

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  43. Oh, dear Janet, my heart goes out to you. Maybe you shared all that on your blog bc you know it is a "safe" place for you & you know we listen unconditionally & with love & understanding. I worked for Hospice for almost 11 yrs. some time ago so I do recognize that denial is a form of dealing with a life-threatening diagnosis. Please be kind to yourself, which it seems you are doing. Go sit outside in your lovely patio & let the magic of the birds, flowers, squirrels & sunshine warm your heart & soul. I am sending you so much love, the biggest hug & sincere wishes for healing for you. Katie from Hunt. Beach xxoo

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  44. Hi Janet: I understand bc I am grieving my husband who died on Dec. 15, 2018 so one year is coming up and the grief seems to be worse. My husband died within six weeks of diagnosis and he had diffused B cell lymphona which attacked his esophagus and lungs and lymph nodes. It was awful. Had to have a feeding tube put in but he accepted the diagnosis and said he would like to die at home which he did. Said he had a long and wonderful life and was sad at leaving me. We were able to talk about everything which was wonderful. But I did not know I could miss someone so much. Erika

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    1. I lost my 34 yr old son from cancer. He was an Army vet, just got his doctorate in criminal justice and 6 months later went for hernia repair and was diagnosed of kidney cancer stage 4. He too was in great shape, ate healthy, loved life. He fought hard, I was his caregiver hard job but I am glad I was there thru it all. Even a few days while in hospice, he would apologize and say when I get better will do this and that. I was relief when he passed cause his pain was no more. I miss him every minute. He left young children behind. He was a great father. Now it is a struggle to stay in touch with the kids cause they live in different states. Such a short life. People say if you need anything call me, not going to happen. I am now the caretaker of my other son who has multi chronic diseases. Staying strong is hard. I feel your pain. Thank you for your story, I feel alone in my grief most times.. I know cancer is not just taking my boys, cancer does not discriminate.

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  45. i lost my husand of almost 45 years with no warning 18 months ago. i miss him so much. i dont even think i have fully accepted it and still in semi shock. hugs and love to you

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  46. Thank you for your grace in sharing with us. That we can weep with you, empathize and learn from you. Grace means so much - doing without asking means so much - being present means so much. Sending you much love & aloha. I echo others comments - indeed a handsome, lovely man.

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  47. So sorry for your loss. I too have been there. Holding space for you today.

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  48. I read your blog always and comment never. But oh my, this is brutal and beautiful. Thank you for your honesty. I am so sorry you now live without your other half.

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  49. Dearest Janet: Our prayers are with you. Let us know if we can do anything to make your burden lighter.

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  50. Grief is not ever about just one thing. It can't be defined or diagnosed definitively. It's face is ever changing. You are doing fine; every moment is a step toward wholeness.

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  51. Hugs to you. I just wanted to say that this is so helpful: "Do you ever wonder what to do when a friend is grieving? I never knew what to say or do either. The thing that is clear to me is don't ask what your friend needs, just do something. Anything. Most people can't ask for what they need so just do something."

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  52. Such a great post. You are amazing. The task of the entire first year or two is just to survive.

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  53. My husband passed away 9 months ago with the exact same diagnosis. I feel like you've read my thoughts. I still don't know what I need. And I too have ok days and days that just knock the wind out of me. Thank you for your words.

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  54. Oh Janet. It was a shock to read this post. I've out of the blogging world for so long I never found out when your husband passed away. Sending you much love and strength. Lots of hugs too!
    Zxx

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  55. It's the bloody injustice of it all. Our precious, kind, gentle loved ones who got pummelled and crushed... I remember thinking, while some of the most horrible people just live on and on.

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  56. So sorry for your pain. Your initial sentences are what caught my eye, because i so get it. My grief didnt start 21 months ago when my husband died, but 4 years prior, when we moved to a new state to start our new lives in his recent retirement and were spun into a tornado of craziness. Just when i thought we were hitting our stride, 14 months before he died, we received the diagnosis that started the next whirlwind rollercoaster ride of constant medical appointments. And like your hubby, mine was the epitome of strength, health, and denial. I feel your pain and am holding you in my heart as you travel this path. K Parker, Arizona

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  57. Hi Janet,
    I understand bc im grieving,devasted.husband died 5 months ago 5/17/2019.his 70th birthday is next week 10/21/2019.wish I had a memorial shirt I could wear that day..im trying to get free grief counseling and class.i will lift you up in prayer daily.God will strengthen you.hugs love you..

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  58. Thank you for sharing this and for helping us to understand. Sending lots of love your way.

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  59. Oh, Janet, I so feel for you. When my husband died after 18 months mostly bedridden with first a stroke then liver cancer, I was the caregiver and also continuing my business due to financial need. Our home was like Grand Central Station! I still don’t know how I did it all while also being in intense grief, like you. When he died, I collapsed and thought I had gone crazy, I could not take care of myself even in the minimal ways, eating, showering, fixing my hair - this simple things. I actually consulted a psychologist and went to a bereavement group. I was told this all was typical and time would heal. It is now almost 20 years after his death. I have remarried and truly love my new husband of 5 years. But I still think of my late husband, sometimes talk to him and remember the incredible gifts I got from living with him for decades. I can only tell you, Janet, that this stage you are in will pass in time. Just allow it to be as it is and accept the help of others. It will go on for some time - just allow it and love yourself. I learned to take myself in my own arms and comfort her myself when she was down. I told her to cry. I told her I am there for her and she is loved dearly. The time of grief was a tenderizing of my being, my heart opened more, I am now more calm about everything and my priorities have changed, I don’t sweat the small stuff as I used to do. Grief for me had its spiritual gifts - more compassion, more self-love, and more freedom from mental compulsions and judgement of others. So I cherish the time and what it left for me. Dear Janet, I am there for you and pray that you can accept this time and accept all the help you so deserve.

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  60. Survive, that is all I’m trying to do. I private messaged you on Instagram to let you know how much this message touched me. Your husband - what an amazing guy! I am so very sorry, and I truly thank you for sharing your story. You have no idea how much it means.

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  61. I am grieving my 21 year old daughter, who died suddenly almost 4 weeks ago, and my pain is so raw I want to wail until my throat tears, or just dematerialize into vapor. I have no desire to feed myself, or bathe, to be honest. Yes, many people came with food the first week, and even cleaned some of my dirty house, but now, approaching the 1 month mark of her death, I wish dearly that someone would just come over and help me get out of my bed of 1 month dirty sheets covered in cat hair, coffee stains, tears, and snot.

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    1. Dear Unknown, I am so very sorry. I have a 20 y.o. daughter and I absolutely cannot imagine the pain you are going through. I think it would be the end of me if I lost my only child. Please just be as you are, don't struggle to do anything you are incapable of doing right now. Not bathing? Fine. You'll bathe when you can. But please, please find some way to eat. I hope this doesn't sound creepy since I don't know you, but if I could, I would bring you food and spoon feed you right this minute. Please be well, I am fighting for you through prayer since it's all I can do ... damn it.

      D.

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    2. i'm so sorry for your immense loss. i cannot begin to know what you are going through. all i can do is send love and prayers to you. i think our friends and family don't know what to do with our grief. i think it scares them? if i'm honest, i know i've not known what to do with others grief in the past. i had no idea how comforting it would be to someone to just sit with them and share a cup of coffee or bring them a sandwich. i had no idea. somewhere here or on ig someone said our grief is ours and that is correct. no one can comprehend it and i think we can't either. take care love. x

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    3. So sorry for your deep pain.... sending love to you across the miles.

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  62. Some times are easier and some are more difficult. The loss is always there - I liken the loss of my son to an amputation. You're never the same. Do what you can when you can and let the rest go. One day at a time and some days one moment at a time. Know that grief will ebb and flow (I imagine) forever. I hope you know that your readers are always here - ready to listen and send you support.

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  63. Janet, Thank you for continuing to share here. Yesterday I got a call from my breast surgeon (I had a mastectomy a little over a month ago after a run-in with cancer) who has a patient trying to make hard decisions on how to handle her newly discovered breast cancer, a situation almost identical to mine. She wanted someone to talk to, so he thought of me and gave me her number and I called her. We chatted for quite some time, I truly hope I helped her. You are helping so many people on your blog in so many ways including me.

    Hugs,
    D.

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  64. Janet i lost my husbsnd on 5-9-2019, he was also was very healthy.he went yo work that day and never returned home
    He died from brain anuresyn that ruputured. I cry every single day. I go to grief counseling. Its a journey that seems like it will never end I will keep you in my prayers as we both go thru this process

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  65. Dear Janet. Your personal experience rings of my own situation. My husband diagnosed March 2017. Told at the time he could survive for 5 years or longer with surgery and chemo etc. Sadly was not to be. After all surgery and chemo and radiation I lost my best friend,the love of my life. Watching someone you love so deeply trying to be strong for everyone else is truly painful for the family affected. I am in the place you are. Some days are ok. Some days are not. I do cry every day because as you stated anything can trigger a memory or emotion. It has been a rough 9 months since his passing. Not to mention all the prior tasks that were taken on to try to give him more time. It is a long and lonely road even though there is family and friends around. Sending you love and hugs and will keep you in my daily prayers.❤

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  66. Thank you for sharing this. If nothing else it puts the little everyday losses we all experience in perspective. You are very brave in writing this and sharing the raw truth and even blogging as you go through this. I hope it gets easier, less painful. I am also moved by reading that so many of you have also had tremendous losses. I pray that all of you will find healing and happiness.
    Darby

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  67. Janet, I am sorry for your suffering. I know you are right about care giving, as I am caring for Ted , diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia Last Nov. the 20th. Still fighting with chemo and a bone marrow transplant. I pray for you , I know you miss your husband. That blip in time when you knew he would no longer suffer in pain, didn't mean you would not long for him to be with you. The sharp pain of loss will ease, the longing never lets go. I say that from losing my mom. Bless your sweet heart , Susie

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  68. No words. Just sending you love, strength and courage. If grief is the price we pay for love, know that your love is infinite, but grief becomes a part of who we are. A bittersweet entwining of life. ❤

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  69. Wonderfully written. Well done for geting to this stage. Hugs.

    - Kate

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  70. My husband died of congestive heart failure. We were told 5 years prior to his death. He coped really well and our life continued as usual. Then at the two year mark we spent 2to 3 months in the hospital for two years. Six mo ths before died his palliative care dr and cardiologist said he had six months. They were bang on! The last 3 months he was in hospice and I never left his side. The last two weeks were horrible.He just wasted away to nothing.i understand know how much physical and emotions impact the caregiver. Now I think I know how to help someone who is in that position with a lived one.Four months after he passed I had open heart surgery to my utter surprise. I have learned now to listen to my body but I wouldn't change anything about caring for my husband. Like you I have real bad days and then a fairly good one pops in.

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  71. Thank you Janet for sharing. I am going through similar and it is very hard. We must be grateful for the time we did have. Your blog has helped me a lot to understand the greiving process. Thank you again ♡

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  72. Janet, I am still so very sorry for your loss and the pain and suffering that a lot of you are going through. So sad. Alot of times I do not know what to say or do to help people who are grieving, so I shy away even though I feel so much sorrow for them and they never know. I have social-anxiety. Is it too late to show someone that you care for their grief even if it has been a while(weeks or months)? I do not have a problem expressing care to close family members or friends, it is just the people that I am acquainted with but rarely see.

    Sincerely,
    Debra of SENC

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    1. It might be more needed than ever, weeks or months later, when raw initial wave of condolences have past

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  73. For those who wonder how to help the grief stricken..you need not SAY anything.
    BUT- you can say "I'm so very sorry..there are no words.." because NOTHING you can say or do will "fix" the bereaved. They are forever broken. The price of love is pain. No body wants any..everybody gets some.

    If we are lucky, we ALL will grieve. If we live long enough, love enough & connect enough then we will ALL feel loss. Those who die too young or never connect with others are the only ones who don't grieve. In some odd and brutal way, we - the grief stricken - are the lucky ones. Sending love along to you and all the bereaved.xoxo

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  74. Hello Janet,
    I am so sorry for the loss of your darling husband the Love of your life.Thankyou for sharing your raw heart experiences of your grief and it has touched my heart with compassion and how I can learn through hard sad times.Its hard to sit and allow the sad winds blow through our lives however it draws me into a deeper understanding to connect with.God bless you + your family. Heart felt prayers & cyberhugs from Churchlands Western Australia

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  75. I feel your pain so deeply. Lost my husband 5 months ago. Cancer also. The caretaking was so difficult. I really did not come out of my numbness until about a month ago. I feel like I have melted into a blubbery mess. I have extream saddness that we did not say alot that should have been said because he was fighting so hard and was determined to beat it. I did not want to burst his bubble. Comforting to hear someone who has gone through the same experience. My best wishes go out to you. So sorry for your loss.

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  76. Dear Janet,

    You are so brave - moving through your horrific grief, then writing about it here. You have given a beautiful voice to the pain, and a safe, loving place for others to share and be heard, maybe comforted. Bless you for that.

    My husband died too. He was 35, and we had known of his cancer (pancreatic) for only 6 weeks till he passed. I was alone with 3 young kids. I didn't know anyone else that had experienced that. It was 1992, and there was no internet. I was so alone.

    Thank goodness for the web and your blog. I hope it's helped you to write about your sweet Larry and the depths of your grief. It has most certainly helped others to read about it and to share theirs. It would have made my journey a little less lonely.

    You are such a dear, generous lady.

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  77. Darling, friend whom I likely never will meet face to face, thank you. Thank you for telling us how to help those like you who grieve and haven't a clue what to ask to ease their broken hearts. Your words give us the courage to just "do something".

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  78. Dear Janet,
    The fact that you have so many comments is touching! Look at how many of us care about you and wish you well. So many of us are keeping you in our prayers. Thank you for your advice from the heart. Many people are there initially, then resume their lives as normal while we ride the waves of grief that ebb and flow.
    You are not alone dear lady. Treat yourself well, rest, and approach each day as it comes, one day at a time.

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  79. Janet, I so wish I lived closer so I could check in on you. I think of you every day. I am glad that you did this post, so your readers know where you are in the grieving process. What is startling to me after reading the comments is how many of your readers have lost their husbands or children. I hope that soon your good days will outnumber the bad. I'm so glad you have this blog.
    Linda
    xoxo

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  80. I know what you are saying. 3 years ago our daughter was diagnosed with stage 3 Breast Cancer and had the breast removed along with 33 lymph nodes, months of chemo and radiation and it seemed she beat it. She had reconstruction done and 2 months later, last April she started with headaches, eye trouble and hearing problems and she went to dr and was diagnosed with 3 cm x 3cm brain tumour that was Metastasized Breast Cancer. At the beginning of May She had the tumour removed and more radiation. She didnt improve and finally we were told that the cancer had spread to the lining of her brain. She had more radiation but no improvement. She went into Palliative Care and i stayed with her 24/7 till she passed on Sept 4. She left her husband and 3 small children..It was one of the hardest times in my life. I brought her into the world 34 years ago and i was with her when she left it. The hardest thing to do is watch someone you love go through these horrible battles and fight as hard as they can and then become Cancers victim. I have trouble sleeping, i cry several times daily and i know she isnt in pain anymore, we are. Like you say friends, family etc please just do something for the family that you can because it is very hard to ask or say what you need.

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  81. Janet - I found your lovely blog about the same time you discovered your husband was ill. I was so taken with how gracefully you seemed to manage such a devastating situation that I've never stopped checking on your latest post or most recent update. Thank you for sharing so candidly - from closets to cancer - those and the things in between are what life is. I'm grateful for your courage - it's appreciated, needed, and contagious. I pray you are well. XOXO

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  82. When my husband was diagnosed with cancer and going through treatment, I kept a journal of what happened everyday. Meals (and their recipes), cards, things that were said, etc. so that when someone else is going through it I can do or say something encouraging or helpful. Thank you for sharing your truth and heart. Thinking of you. ❤️

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  83. I can say I know a little about what you are going through My wife had the same cancer and died 4 months ago after a noble and dignified struggle. The feeling of being helpless in such a devastating situation is almost overwhelming. I have no answers about how to cope and each day re-live some of the most terrifying parts of her last few weeks, the pain, bewilderment, the upsetting procedures my wife had to endure, her inability to talk due to swollen lymph glands which all combined to deny her even a hint of peace at the end and the I just fume and curse the unfairness of it all. Each day is filled with flashbacks to the worst times of her cancer and happy memories of our 52 years together are frozen somewhere in my mind. But at least I don't feel sorry for myself, I feel no relief I only feel sorry for my innocent and loving wife. What do do now? All I can think of is we should do our best and try to make life better for those around us and do as much good as possible.

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  84. Just a hug and prayers for you.

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  85. Janet, by sharing your grief, you remind me to look at my husband, hold him, and speak to him with the knowledge that our moments are treasures.
    Holding your journey in my heart, I wish you peace.
    Suzanne

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  86. So much love and comfort in this community. I admire the strength, wisdom, grace and dignity from each of you that have moved in and through this journey of loss. I hope I can follow your examples when the time comes that I experience such tremendous loss. Thank you for leading the way.

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  87. Thank you for sharing Janet. I am sure you sharing your experiences and feelings will help many others. I helped care for my mother in law through cancer and hospice, cared for both of my parents through hospice, and cared for a dear friend who sounds a lot like your husband. He was the greatest man who ever lived in our minds, and he too was taken way too early. When someone older dies you know they had a full life and it makes it somewhat easier, but someone who still has many good years yet to live is so hard. I cannot imagine how difficult it is to lose your life partner. I think about you all the time.

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  88. Janet, thank you for this post. It reminds me to hold those I love a little tighter as we never know what tomorrow brings. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

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  89. Sending you so, so much love Janet

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  90. I appreciate your honesty sharing this post on your grief...the diagnosis, treatment and then the finality of Hospice Is a bumpy ride. From what you have written it sounds to me like Larry handled it in such a way to shield you from extra pain...your feelings of loss and grief are part of the journey and I hope you find some peace and comfort as you make your way ahead.
    XO

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  91. Hi Janet. I have no story or words to add. I just thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so real, so vulnerable and so wholehearted. Your blog is one of hope, even though I know you don't always feel hopeful. Thank you. I pray for you every day. Love and hugs. xo karen

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  92. Dear Janet,
    What a gift you (and Larry) have given to your readers. Your openness and honesty has created a nurturing space for those of us who are (or inevitably will be) grieving the loss of those we love. You provide such a relatable example of how to let people love you through difficult times. It's especially beautiful to see caring humans circle round to lift one another up, especially on the often cruel and impersonal internet. Thank you for this gift. Sending love and wishing you more calm days than stormy ones.

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  93. Dear Janet,
    What a gift you (and Larry) have given to your readers. Your openness and honesty has created a nurturing space for those of us who are (or inevitably will be) grieving the loss of those we love. You provide such a relatable example of how to let people love you through difficult times. It's especially beautiful to see caring humans circle round to lift one another up, especially on the often cruel and impersonal internet. Thank you for this gift. Sending love and wishing you more calm days than stormy ones.

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  94. Dear Janet,

    Thank you for sharing what this horrible experience has been for you. We lost my Dad to cancer and it has been such a life altering experience for those of us that he left. I never thought this would happen, because I was in denial, much like your dear husband.

    You have shown a fierce strength through all of this. I felt so sad for you, but also feel comforted by the amazing resilience depicted in your posts. Janet, you are clearly one amazing woman. So sorry for the pain.

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  95. Sending strength. Thank you for being so honest. Give yourself the gift of feeling however you want to feel. If others do not understand why people grieve, they should consider themselves fortunate that they do not understand.

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  96. 5 years ago my father past away from cancer. He was 79 years old – he went through numerous treatments, palliative care and then to hospice. Like you mentioned in another post… hospice workers are angels… It was the best thing that could have happened to him and also my mum, his caretaker and the same age as him. He was a big strong man and he did not die easily. Him and all of us lived with the knowledge he was dying for 6 weeks – the last 10 days were nearly unbereable…. But we got through it, day by day. My mum was a true trooper, as she has been all her life. One of the things that kept me sane was reading through your kind and uplifting blog….
    So many people said to us…. I don’t know what to say… it doesn’t matter…. Anything is good enough and nobody knows what the right thing is. That’s the main thing I took away. The other one was that dying can teach you a lot about living. In my case…. It was what made me think very realistically about how I was living my precious life…. And pushed me finally into accepting the fact that I cannot live with my husband any longer….. thank you as always for sharing your precious life with all of us

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  97. Long-time reader, first time commenter here. This is incredibly honest and totally spot-on. So much wisdom in your words, and I thank you for sharing this - your journey with your husband, and your grief. Prayers to you, Miss Janet. Love from Sandy in Texas.

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  98. After being widowed at 34, I found that fried was like the ocean. There were days I could sit at the beach and watch watch it in a somewhat detached manner. Other days, before I'd even opened my eyes, I felt it crushing me. Why does no one ever tell you that grief is so physical? Grief has its' own rhythm, its' own tides. As difficult as it is, the best way through it is head on. Let the tide was over you knowing that it will recede, then return. You will survive this, and life can be sweet again. Be kind to yourself.

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  99. Grief is physically painful - it does literally feel like your heart will break and your mind is all-consumed. Have lived through the loss of two parents and two parents-in-law who were in some respects like parents to me. All I can say is that mercifully, with the passage of time (years), and the help of the people who love you, you start to remember more of the good times you spent with that beloved person, and the painful memories of the end start to gradually fade away. Sending healing thoughts your way.

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  100. Wow, that man is a hunk. I can understand why the pain of losing him is great because he clearly was way more than good looking. The Bible says, “ The day of your death is writ the day of your arrival.” So be it. Count your blessings and be grateful. My heart is with you. Ann

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kindness is never out of style.

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