I want to share how this site and this forum helped me through my late wife's final months.
Ellen died July 11, 2020 at age 66 after surviving breast cancer for 25 years; she was first diagnosed with stage 2 in 1995. After two remissions, she was diagnosed with stage 4 in late 2016.
The last months were devastating. She told me she wanted to die in the hospital rather than at home; she wanted to spare me the pain of seeing her decline and finally succumb. I could not allow that. I had to be the one to care for her, to have her stay with me in our home and wrapped in our love for as long as possible. The long months of home hospice care and her inevitable death broke me. The coincident COVID-19 restrictions meant that our family members and friends could not visit, let alone offer their help. They did what they could.
During that awful time I tried to focus on the immediate, day-by-day, hour-by-hour mundane necessities of caring for my beautiful, brave woman, the love of my life, as she suffered the progressive physical decline and loss of her life. In my desperation I found this site and this forum and learned that others shared the anguish I felt. While I did not share my own travails, I took solace in knowing I was not alone.
I am still broken. This is the first time since Ellen's death that I have been able to speak about it. I want to share what I think I could have done better during Ellen's last months and what I am doing now, since I have somehow continued to live without her.
I think the living one day at a time, short term focus on being positive, may have helped to some degree but I'm afraid it kept me (Mr. Pollyanna to her Debby Downer, as Ellen put it) from speaking honestly with her about the reality of her impending death. At one point, about three weeks before the end, she asked me if she was dying. We both knew that she was. I was a coward and responded "not yet": one of the very few times I fudged the truth with my Ellen. We both knew I was deliberately misunderstanding her question and was not brave enough to discuss the looming end. Instead I fled to the kitchen and broke down. I regret this failure.
I've recently marked the end of my 80th year and I know there will be no other love in my life such as that we shared. I plod through each day surrounded by memories of Ellen, embracing the pain of remembering her last days, of holding her as she breathed her last. I maintain a journal, now up to 6 volumes, in which I write to her every day. The artifacts of her life surround me. I still get out into the Pacific to paddle outrigger canoe and that's about the extent of my social life; I'm not great company and I don't much care.
Mahalo (thank you) to all of you whose posts helped me cope with the knowledge that Ellen was leaving me, that I was powerless to prevent her pain and rid her of the monster that finally killed her. I was, after all, her Mr. Fixit; I was supposed to save her. Yes, irrational, but those feelings were strong. You helped me deal with that. I am so sorry that so many of you have had to endure your own terrible loss. I learned from you on this site, in this forum, that we each deal with the pain and grief in our own way, that there is no manual. Most importantly, even though I never contributed, I found comfort through reading of your journeys: you helped.
Aloha nui loa