I wrote the following for my wife Yvonne on 19th August 2017.
"Yvonne is living

When you ask me how Yvonne is, invariably I say not too bad. If you ask her,she will tell you she’s fine. Actually, she’s not. But Yvonne is living!

Yvonne has stage four secondary bone cancer with the primary tumour in one of her breasts. This cancer is incurable. She has tumours throughout her skeleton but most predominantly on her spine, her ribs, and her hips. The cancer has eaten away at her bones and they have crumbled leaving her with scoliosis of the spine. She lives with fractures to her neck, her back and her ribs. But Yvonne is living.

Yvonne takes a variety of medications including morphine for pain relief and steroids, anti inflammatories, anti sickness, female hormone therapy, calcium, anti coagulants, anti water retention, and a monthly bone strengthening infusion. She is in pain every day of her life mostly because her level of morphine is insufficient to control her level of pain. She could up the morphine dose whenever she feels the need but she never does as she prefers the awareness of life through pain rather than the semi comatose life through drugs. But Yvonne is living.

Yvonne has regular hospital appointments for meetings with her oncologist, MRI scans, CT scans, Bone scans, radiotherapy, blood tests and other tests. After every test there is the fearful and agonising waiting period to find out if there is good news or bad news. But Yvonne is living.

Yvonne cries herself to sleep most nights partly through pain and partly through the fear of dying. She has to put up with my fussing and constant worrying, my bad moods when I get tired from worrying, and my tears when I get tired of being strong. But Yvonne is living.

This is our life, this is our daily struggle but through all of this, we are grateful that Yvonne is living."

Little did I know then that less than 2 months later. 12th October, Yvonne would no longer be living. Another victory for Cancer and another broken heart which has to find way to carry on, without any real desire to do so. What becomes of us?
Whoever said “time is a healer”? It’s nearly 2 years and I still cry most days and I still see no future without her. So what is “life after bereavement”?

Hi Lost Dog. I am so sad to read that. My goodness what pain! She must have been a very brave lady. ‘Yvonne is living’. Of course she is still. You don’t have to be religious to believe what I feel, and I’m not religious in the orthodox sense, but death is overcome by love, always, no exceptions. Love doesn’t just end when someone dies. No way. My wife is in my heart and always will be even after I move on.
When I read your post it brings tears to my eyes. Such suffering is beyond anything most of us have experienced. The ‘Why’s’ begin don’t they, and answers are hard to find.
Take care and keep posting. Everyone here knows and cares. You are not alone.
There is no time limit on grief. One year ten years makes little difference. We do need to move forward but at your own pace.

Hi Lost Dog.
Your piece of writing resonated with me. I admit to shedding tears as it brought back what my wife and I went through.
Carolyn was diagnosed with a glioblastoma in 2014 and, as we asked, the consultant suggested a median survival time of 14 months. We were completely traumatised. From my point of view I can say that, fortunately, she lived for over four years from prognosis, or should that be survived. At my selfish level I’m glad for that and I’m still grateful. However, having witnessed the physical and psychological effects that Carolyn suffered I’m clear that I’d like to book the short, sharp option when my turn comes.
At the moment I’m working hard to remember the Pre-Cancer days as my memories are dominated by the two surgeries, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, the constant scanxiety. Carolyn had mild scoliosis before she became ill but it got much worse and was probably the cause of most of the pain she suffered.
When I asked how she was the reply was always that she was fine. I can’t imagine how I would deal with living with a terminal illness but I was truly in awe of Carolyn and she will always inspire me. That much I know.
I don’t expect time to be a healer but I know that I am different now. I’m not sure I’m looking for healing. I expect to grieve for ever but I expect to carry that grief forward and graft a different life onto it.
Soon after Carolyn died I decided I needed a strategy based on challenging myself to push forward and survive in the process, to learn more about myself and to try to accept and adapt to a life I didn’t want but must acknowledge.
I think we are capable of feeling your pain and maybe you can find some comfort and hope by continuing to post here.

Hi lost dog What can you say to that. She must have been a truly inspiring lady with all that she went through. The pain she went through with the suffering and the pain you went through watching that suffering. Just want you to know I am sorry for your loss and am thinking of you. xx

Thank you Jonathan. It was a traumatic time and the worst thing I have gone through in my life. To see someone you love die and quite unpleasantly is just awful and now I live on with those memories and nightmares. Yes, the good ones are there too but the awful ones are those which haunt me and keep me awake.

Thank you so much for that YL the similarities are quite marked. Yvonne was initially given 12 months to live and she more or less doubled that but so much of it was as you described “physically and psychologically” challenging and damaging. One memory I will always carry with me was from the last “full” entry in her diary which read “Terrible news today, the oncologist ways I only have weeks left, poor Trevor is devastated” What kind of person cares more about your feelings when they have just received such news?
Like you, I hope things will be different when my turn comes.
Thanks again

Thank you DJ for your reply. Yvonne was so brave all the way along and was determined to fight the battle until the end. That the end was so awful, was the final insult to someone who “never gave up” Yvonne died at home as she wished but when it is my turn, I have told my children not to let that happen. So hard and devastating for those caring for you not matter how much they loved and cared.

Life after bereavement is feeling empty, bereft, devastated, unable to do the things you must or enjoy the things you make yourself do. It’s saying “Fine thanks” when people ask how you are or not minding when people avoid you because they don’t know what to say. It’s going round the supermarket at Christmas in a daze at the totally irrelevant craziness of it all and wanting it all over - like the anniversaries, the New Years, the birthdays, the special times and places known only to you now. It’s the physical shock when you unexpectedly come across a photo of your other half who you have left behind in a different plane of being or something that belonged to your lost loved one, at a scrap of their writing, on a precious card from them that you have kept for maybe years. It’s knowing that life will never be the same again…ever…and so you live, with their shadow, crying into your pillow and hoping that someday there will be a little glimmer of happiness although you cannot share it with your dearest beloved. XX

Thank you Maryjane for your reply to my post. I guess you have summed it all up well. It would be nice to think it will get easier but so far there is no much sign of that.

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