Things which help.

In this community we have all shared the most devastating event in life. I have read and shared so much sadness.

When Janet died on 2 December, at first, I felt so numb. The days after I felt that my world had ended. Everything we enjoyed together had no value. There seemed little point in carrying on. Truly, I know how a person can die of a broken heart. One book I read likened it to an amputation. It’s worse than that. I really don’t have words. If it is like an amputation, it was more like an amputation of my very soul; like half of my soul, my very being had been ripped out and stamped on and kicked to death.

I still feel very lost and confused about Janet’s dying. I am haunted by the memory of what cancer did to her. Think I will be for the rest of my days. I still cry of course. Think I always will. There have been times when I thought if I really let go I would never stop.

But things have changed. While the sadness is there, & I think it will be forever, I know I was blessed to have had Janet as my wife. There are some things, events, that helped me. It will never be cured and everyone reading this will know this. But there are some things which have given me hope.

  1. The example Janet set.
    After about 8 days it dawned on me how Janet must have felt after the death of her first-born son (previous marriage). So many of the things she said “it’s a shit life” & “I don’t know anything anymore” and so many more made so much sense now in a way I never understood before. But what really was a turning point for me was the realization of how, in time, she still managed to enjoy and value life. The sadness of losing Roy stayed with her forever, as my sadness of losing her will, but alongside that she still loved me and began to value life again. If she could do that for her own son who she gave life to, then I can do it for her.

  2. Book1, “Finding Daylight after Loss shatters your life. Seven Choices”
    This is the first book I read. It started me opening to the process of grief. It also spoke of the health dangers to you, & those who are left, not just mental health but physical health. You need to know this stuff. It talks of the choices not least the conscious choice at some point that you are going to live on.

    This is written by a Rabbi, Harold Cushner. What a book! It obviously has a religious aspect but is not just a religious book. When Janet died I doubted everything I had ever believed. It helped me to recover my faith. It also gave me the ability to be thankful for and give thanks for the wonderful 32 years we had. Of course, I wanted more. I want more now. But we had such a wonderful marriage and a love which some people never have in a lifetime. So, I have to be grateful for our 32 years together.

  4. Going back to work. Wow this is a biggy. Fortunately, my work has been so understanding. 1 – 3 days a week at first. The first day was a disaster. No one knows (but I guess everyone does now!). I had nothing but memories of her being so ill. Going back to work seemed so wrong. But I knew it was right. I have a job I have always been passionate about. That must help, though at first it didn’t seem to. Anyway, things did change in an unexpected way. I am now back at work full time. Its absorbing. I felt very guilty about that at first, but that has (almost) gone now.

  5. I have developed a method of imagining being in Janet’s place. If I had died, how would I want her to be? For sure I would want her to go on smiling her beautiful smile, enjoying nature and country walks, and our dog. Obviously, she would be sad & grieve, but I would want her to go forward, treasure my memory and still enjoy life. The reverse applies. So, I must tread this road and achieve this (like she did after her son died). To give joy.

  6. Finally, Janet’s family have been so good. They have sat and talked for hours with me. Old friendships have also been rekindled as if the years between had not happened. All have been a rock. Listened, put up with my tears. I have cried buckets and do you know what? I don’t care. The church has helped. There have been 2 amazing vicars. I have also met others who have lost wives or husbands or sons. And colleagues at work have surprised me with their interest & concern. Some have lost brothers, sisters and parents to cancer. I had no idea.

  7. One more thing – this Sue Ryder community.

Obviously personal circumstances differ and we all grieve differently. I am not where I want to be, and where Janet would want me to be – yet - but I do think I am on the way. It will be a new phase of life. Maybe not as good as the one before, but one none the less. I hope some of what I have written helps. The loss will always be there but life is still precious. If we were in their place & they in ours, and we could, that’s what we would tell them isn’t it?


Thank you so much for sharing this post with us.
Living this new life without our loved ones is the hardest thing any of us will ever do. As much as our grief is unique so are our circumstances and sometimes we encounter obstacles that we could well do without but I have this underlying feeling that our aloneness is just part of the amazing gift of incredible love that each of us has had the privilege to know.
Our grief is part of who we have become…some days are easier to get through than others…tears are still never as far away as we would like…but we can only do our best to live through the future as our loved ones would have wanted us to.
Thank you again…I am sure your words will help us.

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Thank you for taking the time to share this beautiful post. You offer so much wisdom and tools to get through this time of such great sorrow. I am so sorry for your loss of your beloved Janet, she sounds like an inspiration. How nice that you have family support, for me that is lacking. I lost my best friend in the world, my younger sister to cancer in early May, 2018. You put it so well when you said it is like an “amputation of the soul.” The wound cuts to the very core of one’s being.
Friends help to an extent and have been there when they could, and my faith, though shaken, is still strong, but the anger and bitterness of my only remaining sibling only adds to the wrenching pain I bear every day, But as I have read on this and other bereavement sites, grief can bring out the worst in families. I will read over your post again and refer back to it as time goes on, and as my grief suffocates me more and more. May you grow stronger in your grief journey as well.

Thank you, Sister 2, for your support and kind comments. I am so sorry to hear about your loss of your younger sister. I cannot claim credit for any wisdom (but thanks) - it all originates from Janet who was so wise and in every sense, my other half.
She continues to be an inspiration. She was also so brave.
I am sorry to hear that your other sibling is so angry and bitter. I kind of understand though as I was like that for a time. ( If I am honest, I still feel bitter at times.). Maybe they are grieving too in their own way? Hopefully given time they will find a kind of acceptance; in the end there is no choice.
I was moved that you said your grief was suffocating. I know the feeling - though it has started to be tempered by our so many happy memories (which though heartbreaking are of a happy life with lots of adventures). I hope you can start to relive many happy memories of your sister too.
My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Thank you, amelie’sgran, for your kind thoughts,
I think you said a wonderful thing when you spoke of “the amazing gift of incredible love which (we) have had the privilege to know” This is exactly why I feel so incredibly lucky - blessed - to have had Janet as my wife. She still is (my wife) of course & will live in my heart forever. I miss her so much.
The book I mentioned, “when bad things happen to good people” helped me to realise this (& more). What you wrote brought it back to mind.
Thank you.

Thanks for taking the time to write what you did . No self pity , just a sense of determination to carry on and to celebrate and to live by love . Its what I’m trying to do too .

Hello again!

I thought I would let you know that I have just navigated my second anniversary of
Barry’s death and that although it hurt and tossed me around for a few days, I have survived!!..None of us will ever be the same as we were when our loved ones breathed the same air as us but if we can manage to accept that those who have gone on before us are forever with us in our hearts the future is not as bleak as we fear. There will always be times when grief hits us anew and the tears fall but there will also be times when we can replace those tears with a smile and remember the joy our loved one gave us. It’s certainly not easy and somedays we have to go backwards a little before we find the strength to go on but please don’t give up hope that the future may be kinder than we expect.

Take care everyone.

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Hello RicPg7, We posted before, and I was so moved by your words and your feelings about your beloved Janet. You spoke of her bravery, and it reminded me of how courageous my younger sister was in the face of the horrid cancer. She helped all of us who were there for her to be positive and hopeful, and for a year it worked. She did well and we shared so many quality hours, before her shocking and sudden death. People like your Janet and my Sister are indeed inspirations to those of us left behind. My other sibling has always been an angry, unhappy person, and yes the grief tends to intensify these emotions. She tends to lash out at others especially during times of stress, and always strikes hardest when all we ask for is the same patience and understanding we give to her. She was not as close as I was to my younger sister, and went years without even speaking. I seem to be her main target now, and she is making this deep pain and grief even harder to bear. Take care and continue to heal.

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One year gone two days ago and it hurts more now than those first awful weeks I don’t even feel like getting dressed so I won’t Gerry also died of cancer Five weeks and two days after diagnosis A shock as we had no idea he was ill 33 years of marriage and 58 years of life and now nothing Your views on how Janet would want you to be have struck a chord I’ve been thinking today in between tears “How would Gerry want me to be ?” I’ll look out for the books Thank you for your post Annamarie

I have to admire you for the positive way you are dealng with losing Janet.


Thank you for this post, my husband passed away after a 3 1/2 year battle with cancer just 2 weeks ago on 11 June. Your words gave me comfort and you described perfectly how I feel. My husband was only 54 and lived an amazing life and we were married for 28 years. I know he would want me to go on and live life, he said to me “ you’ll be sad for a few weeks then you will be okay??” How little did he know. Life is so very difficult at the moment and there are times I truly do not know how I can get through this but I have 2 wonderful children and I am just taking it one day at a time.

Some comfort I find is he wanted to go, he was tired and very poorly that last week, he’d endured over 3 years of chemotherapy and I cannot wish for him back as he was then - I let him go.

Thank you, Andrea

He was clearly a very brave and kind person and loved you a lot and you seem to be the same . In my experience you will be able to like life again but not yet, it’s too soon . I lost my son Nick aged 17, 3 years ago almost in August 2015. I loved and miss him more than words can say . We carry their premature departure from this life for the rest of our lives but we owe it to them to make the best of our lives I firmly believe , until we meet them again. Paul

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Hi Everyone,
I have been meaning to write more for some time but the truth is I have had a period where I kind of relapsed back. I had some leave and did some travelling and spent time with some exceptional friends. All this time I have shared the various posts and all our experiences have meant so much. Problem came at the end when I got home, the isolation hit and for a few days it was like going back to the start of the year, very emotional and close to tears all day etc. Again, my good friends were a great support and listened patiently as I talked about Janet & our many good times but also of course, Cancer. Reading all the responses here has also helped so thank you all for sharing. I also continue to remind myself of how I would want her to be if our positions were reversed. It’s hard, but I have found this does help drag me back to what must be the right way when I do get down. That in itself sounds odd because there is nothing right about any of this.
My original post was all about stuff which has helped. All that stuff continues to help and gets built on but I miss the love and closeness with Janet so much and so I suppose it is inevitable that there will be really, really difficult days. In sharing this I hope that anyone having the same will not feel so alone and my experience is that the worst of it passes, at least for a time. As I have said to many friends, I can’t imagine ever accepting, being at peace, coming to terms with or being truly Happy again, and I accept that. I believe the only outcome is to live alongside that in some way. In my original post I mentioned how Janet, after some years, managed this after her first son died. It was so hard for her but she did find a new phase of life and our own relationship continued to grow and she loved life again even though she had the sadness. Around our house, I have so many pictures of Janet smiling and thrilled with life and nature. She continues to inspire.

Welcome back RicPg7, How nice you took some time to get away with friends. In reading further I understand that terrible feeling of “isolation,” and the “relapse.” I am experiencing a let-down and set-back since finishing the clean out of my departed sister’s apartment. The whirlwind pressure to get it all done in a short amount of time kept me very busy and running on pure adrenalin. Now it has all hit me that there will be no going back, no more happy times spent laughing, chatting, and watching TV together at her place. That door has closed, another ending.
I am in trap, of no going back, but no going forward either…sort of in limbo. I go to work, and come home, but that is about all. I lost my entire family and the one sibling left only contacts me to discuss money. Friends have their own lives and so I am alone in my grief, asking what happened and why am I still here. I wish you continued positive and beautiful memories of your beloved Janet. I remain thankful for this site and for the caring people who share with us. Take care, and continue to heal.

Thank you Sister2,
Yes it all goes on for other people. I know the “why am I still here” as well. And why her? Fact is what would she say to you - What would you say to her (or want for her) if things were the other way round? I keep coming back to this & while nothing can ever make it right, it does (to me anyway) confirm the right path. It is so hard. Personally, I have had many days where I have had to force myself out to do things whether it is a long walk - just me and the dog, or visiting friends. Many times come the day I think, what is the point? Lets just not bother. But I do. I am having some better days & I feel certain Janet would be (or is?) pleased at that (again, wouldn’t we be for them if they were here and us not?). I also have bad days (as you know from my last post). I only ever have memories of eternal love and happiness with Janet. Its small wonder I feel so lost some days. Thank you for your kind wishes and I wish you the same. Heal? Think it will be an enormous scab which will forever get knocked or picked off. Cant see that changing though I must try. I think we will always carry the sadness of losing our beautiful loved ones. Maybe in time the scars will be in some way bearable.
Please, Look after yourself…

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