I’ve made a commitment to be honest through Kramer’s cancer treatment. I think people need to know some of the behind the scenes stuff. I think the more people know and understand the more helpful people can be when they or their loved ones go through similar situations. So…here’s an honesty post:
Last week on Thursday night I had a little meltdown. Those of you who have lost a spouse might be able to relate…but might not be able to too. Grief is at an “at your own space and time” thing.
For me…it was time.
The kids had been here. They have been so supporting and understanding. They’ve been truly amazing…but I was ready to be on my own a bit. I’m NEVER going to get through this if I don’t put one foot in front of the other and try…but I can’t try unless I’m given space to try.
I could already see that the kids were lining things up…
-one would call me on Mondays…one Tuesdays and so on.
-Kalissa or Craig would be charged with stopping in.
-Karl was home so he was supposed to make sure I eat.
It started to make me feel suffocated.
At the same time, I think the kids were clinging to me because I’m all they have left…and after all. I think each of the feels it’s their duty to their Dad to take care of me. What an awkward place to find a balance at!
I ended up sitting a couple of them down and letting them know how I felt…and it’s a little like this….Up until January when the first diagnosis came in…I did things on my own all the time. Kramer would work late. He wouldn’t be home until 9pm in the spring and fall and I managed things here. I didn’t see a lot of him and although I missed him, that was our normal.
I spent hours in the house by myself working or putzing around. I was so used to empty quiet time. I love it. (I’m afraid I’ll have too much of it now, but I do love it.)
Once Kramer had his surgery in February, he only went back to work a handful of times. He was in the house 24/7. I didn’t mind a bit….but as he got sicker, it got so that I couldn’t go unless I had someone to check in on him. Groceries got harder to get. I couldn’t leave for a long period of time. Then with all of our trips to Lacrosse it got so I would grab three things at WalMart when we got a new medicine. I lost the freedom to browse. I lost the freedom to just do and be without any restrictions. Don’t get me wrong. I would do it over and over and over again….but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I missed the freedom. (Those of you who are caregivers I’m sure understand.)
My house became filled with oxygen concentrators, medicine, hoses, feeding tube supplies. I was always rearranging to make room for the newest walker or wheelchair or oxygen tanks. It was okay…but I felt like my small world was getting even smaller.
With the kids all here after the funeral and with their plans to stay on for several days, I was feeling a little closed in. I needed space.
By this time it had been over a week that ALL the kids were here with spouses, grand babies and all of their stuff. My laundry was everywhere….we were eating again before the last food was cleaned up as someone was constantly eating. AHH.
I felt like they were all watching me…did I cry enough? Did I not cry enough? Was getting all the medical equipment packed up and sent away something I did too quick? I felt like I couldn’t really grieve on my own terms with everyone here.
I was so thankful they were here through everything. SO THANKFUL. but….
I needed space. I missed Kramer and there was nothing I could do about that…but I also missed my house. I missed my freedom. I missed time to putz and browse. That, I could do something about. So…I asked the kids to quit babysitting me. I did it with a promise that I’d call and ask when I needed help. I asked them to not set up days to call me. I asked them to treat me as normal as possible.
The talk didn’t go fabulously. But it went okay. It turns out some were harboring their own fears of going back out into the real world and to not be cocooned by the house and grief. As hard as it was, I gave them the little push. I can’t let anyone get stuck here in grief. We might only be taking the tiniest of baby steps, but forward motion is crucial.
So…we’re trying this, and it’s going okay. I’m crying when I need to…I’m happy and smiling when I need to. I’m calling the kids when I want to chat. I’m rotting in front of the TV when I want. Karl’s here but he’s an in and out sort of guy so we make fabulous housemates. I’m doing okay…and I think the kids are too. It’s a slow and steady process but for me, it was time to feel a little more normal.
I admire your decision for what you need and don’t need. I understand your wanting space and to be alone. With so many around I’m sure it was hard to grieve in front of them, without them wanting to comfort you, which would be normal, they really need space too. Everything was so hectic for you since January, and I know how much you need time to yourself now just to breathe. Sleep in when you want to, like you say rot in front of the T.V. I would rather call it relaxing. You deserve that so much from what you have been through these past months. Your time is yours now to adjust to what you will be wanting to do. Your crafts, garage sailing, shopping and just plain nothing if that is what you wish. Take care of YOU now, talk as much as you want to your Facebook friends. We are always here for you and want the best for you. You are a very interesting lady, I love hearing from you. Love you. Diana
Jo, take one day at a time. I was my husband’s caregiver for 8 years and totally understand your feelings. You need some “me time” to think about and adjust to the changes that have transpired. Take care and know my prayers are with you.
When my husband was killed my daughters were so very wonderful, but I finally had to tell them that widowhood was a journey I needed to take on my own. I needed to find a new normal and find what it was that I needed. He had heart disease and diabetes and I was the caregiver for 10 years. Just had no idea it would be an accident that took him. Just remember there is no timeline and no rules to grieve. Its been 3 years and sometimes it washes over me like a river and nothing I can do but cry for hours. But it gets better, you just learn to grieve in different ways. Saying prayers that your journey takes you where you want to go and do what you need to do. And its not selfish to decide some days and some things just need to be about you. I sent you a video on messenger and hope it helps you as it did me. Move forward in your time.
I need to cry alone to move on and pray for help. I found this on my feed when Roger was alive and saved it. I knew you might need it’s wisdom sometime. From out of ashes… But Grief is a Walk Alone. Others can be there, and listen. But you will walk alone down your own path at your own pace, with your own sheared-off pain, your own raw wounds, your broken heart, your denial, anger and bitter loss. You’ll come to your own peace but it will be on your own. IN YOUR OWN TIME, IN YOUR OWN WAY. This is true for your kids too. I think you are right, they are holding on to making sure you are all right then dealing with if they are alright. Roger was a big full of life personality. You all will need to find your new normal without him physically here. Everyone will go through the ebb and flow of grief at their own rate and time. Prayers for you all.
I agree with the comment above. You each need to find your new normal. And some people find it hard to understand that you can be alone and not lonely. Praying for grace for each day for you.
I completely understand everything you described. Everyone’s journey of grief is different. I’ve known a couple of women who were not able to be alone after being widowed. Like, ever. Their children had to take turns sleeping over with them. That wouldn’t be for me. Like you, I’m used to alone time & solitude. Kudos to you for your strength and honesty.
You are one amazing woman. God bless you on your journey. I just attended a funeral this morning for a 92 yr old man. He was a former fire fighter and I couldn’t help but think of you and your family and Kramer’s last call. I find it interesting that someone I have never met has occupied so much of my mind this past week or so. So….sending hugs and prayers. I know you will be okay. Some days will be harder than others but in the end, you will be okay.
You express things beautifully. I’m an only child and my mom has memory issues and I have had to learn over the last two months to be available but not to hover. It’s not easy no matter which side of the equation you are on. My situation is a bit different than yours since my mom is older and you are so young and capable. But I can sympathize with your kids’ desire to help and protect you.
I’m so happy you are writing about all of this. Kalissa mentioned it was therapeutic for you, but it’s helping me and probably lots of others as well.
You are strong and vibrant, and you will come through all of this even stronger and more vibrant. Those of us who have been caretakers for spouses, or parents, or whomever they love dearly know exactly what you are talking about and expressing so eloquently. Loss is never easy; you are handling it so well and in your own way, which is the way it should be. No one can tell you how to grieve, when to grieve or how long to grieve — only you can do that. Continued prayers.
Jo, A new normal for sure. One day at a time. And then the next day and the next. Each day will be different. Melt downs are healing. Thanks for the update.
Jo, you can do it one day at a time. I’m glad you were able to tell the kids you need space. I’m sure they are walking a fine line also. How much do we hover over Mom? do we leave her alone? Do we take turns calling to see how she is doing? Yep you get the idea. Every one of you are trying to see where you all fit in this new picture. Your family is strong I’m sure all of you will figure it out. Just know you have all your cyber friend here for you.
Love, hugs and prayers coming your way.
I so understand the need to grieve your own way, the need for space (necessary for the grieving process), and the worry that others are watching to see if you grieve properly (as if there is such a thing). I cared for my mother during her 2 1/2 year battle with colon cancer. She spent the last 59 days of her life in the hospital, and even though that happened mostly over the summer when I was off work, it was still difficult. She died early on a Friday morning. I didn’t go to school that day, but I was back in the classroom the following Monday. I scheduled her funeral for the next Monday partly to give out-of-town family time to travel and partly because it was Labor Day and wouldn’t require people taking off from work. On Tuesday I was back at school. I know some thought I was either crazy or heartless to take only one day of work off through all of this, but my students helped me through that time in ways they could never know. You probably feel the same way about your childcare kids. The day everyone had finally gone home after the funeral, I came home from work and cleaned out my spice drawer. I’d never been so happy to be able to do a normal, mundane job. Keep doing what you need to do, Jo. Lots of us understand.
You said in this what so many of us never put in writing. The way it becomes stifling and the neediness as they become more dependent. I loved my husband, 5yrs a caregiver, I get it. He was a truck driver and gone weeks at a time. Just do you
Let them do them. It will be okay. Cry on the toilet, I did, because every time I went he hollered as though I was missing. When he was gone it was silent.
You will find your way. There will be surprising times for grieving, but also surprising times of joy and peace.
I agree with all above comments. We are there praying for you as you find your life without Roger. God bless.
It was brave of you to have that chat. Brave and necessary!! If you were feeling the way you were feeling, letting the kids know was a step in taking care of YOU. Bravo!! Keep putting one foot in front of the other, Jo. As always, sending quilty hugs!
Thank you for sharing your process. As you pointed out, grieving is different for everyone. I lost my mother this year. So when a friend at work lost his father he called and asked me if it was okay how he was feeling. YES, it’s okay. It’s okay because it was how he was coping with his grief.
I’m sorry for the loss you and your family are going through. Praying your good days out number the bad.
I’m in awe at how giving you are with these posts. I don’t have much experience with what you’ve been through, but every step of the way, it seemed to me like you were handling things well. You did what needed doing. I say this all the time, but I know you are helping people with these posts and what you share. Thanks, once again, for your honesty.
I’m so sorry you and your family have to go through this Jo! My widow friends all say it is a process – this whole grief thing – and everyone does it differently. Please be gentle on yourself as you adjust to the new “normal”.
Being a caregiver is a job that you do without thinking. When it is over, just going to the store without having to rush home is a joy. Hugs and drive safe.
I totally understand the need to find your new normal. When my husband died suddenly, my children were there for me right away. However, after a week they needed to get back to their lives and I needed to find mine. For the first few weeks I had to “check in” when I went out and again when I got home. I felt like a teenager with a new drivers license and a curfew. I realized that they were grieving too and this was their way of dealing with it – by “looking” after Mom.
I found attending grief counseling was a huge help. A friend who had lost her husband a few months before I did was also a great support. We grieved differently, but we understood what each of us were feeling as we were walking the same path. It’s been 4 years and I’ll never be the same but I’m ok. I know that the pain of grief is the price for the love we shared. Hugs!
Jo, I was the caretaker for 7 years. When he was gone I was heart broken. As you said, we each handle grief in our own way and on our own time It took 18 months for me not to have several daily meltdowns. I think you are doing wonderfully. Like you, I love having my own space. I found a new ‘norm” for myself and yes it was very different. Today, I love my life. I do what I want to do when I want to do it and the way I want it The tears still come sometimes but I can honestly say “It is well with my soul”. Hang in there and make a new norm just for you. Love and hugs.
You and your family have entered into a whole new normal, whatever that is. You will each have to work through things on your own but yet together. I think you were very wise to have “the talk” with your kids. You need your space and they need theirs to work through the feelings. As you say, one baby step at a time. Remember, no one has any business judging how you grieve, do what’s right for you. Hugs.
God bless you and your family as you travel down a new path. You will have your memories to cherish every day. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with all of us–so therapeutic. Keep in touch as we look for your musings!
God bless you on your family journey. You will all work it out together as you move forward through your grief.
Good for you for realizing what you need right now. It might change, but it won’t if you don’t try finding your new/old life. Good for you for giving them that parental nudge to take their own small steps in that direction. You’ll all learn to stand on your own, and lean on each other in new ways in the same ways you learned with other major life changes like when they got married, or went to school. Just remember that trying things on your own doesn’t mean you can accept an extended hand of help or friendship now or in the coming months. It’s a process. But I think you know that.
Jo, you are a strong and independent woman. You are used to having ‘me time’.
I understand, as I’m the same way. I was a caregiver for my husband for about six months as he was bedridden. You do miss being able to jump and run when you want to do errands or whatever. I am so glad that i was able to keep him at home as I know it was best for him too. For the last week, all six of our out of town kids were here helping out, and I had other help too before that. They travelled home for clothes, came back with their families for the funeral, went back home for Christmas stuff, came back the next day, and we did Christmas here, a tradition. Then they went home to their own lives. You will find your way that suits you best, and so will your family. Thinking of you.
Just wanted to let you know I understand totally. I was a caregiver to my dad, and while I was glad to have the chance to spend time with him, I needed to get back to being me after he went to heaven. And for me, grief was something I had to manage alone. It’s god that you have an open, honest relationship with your kids.
Any mother of five with a husband who worked long hours, knows how to handle just about anything. You were an amazing caregiver; and I know you will grieve your own way, as it should be. In my opinion, when we lose a loved one, we don’t “get over” that loss, we learn to live with it and are sustained by our beautiful memories.
Love & Hugs.
I can remember when I lost my Mum that it was such a change in our family – the goal posts had shifted. Difficult to figure out how much to hover with my Dad and worried about losing him as well. Thankfully, we had 6 more years together. It’s a hard adjustment for everyone – losing someone from the inner circle of your family.
You are doing great – sometimes the new normal is just awful, but you slowly adjust.
Sorry to read about your dental issues, but glad you had a dentist who understood what was happening. I went to the dentist after my Dad passed away because of soreness – and ended up with an unnecessary root canal – later I figured out what was causing the problem (teeth grinding due to stress). Take care, Jo.
I know how you feel, when I lost my husband 17 years ago, I thought that was the end of the world and it was in a way, for almost 32 years he and I were our world, now I was alone and our daughter and her husband stayed with me for 2 weeks, I was ready to scream and I ask them to please go home, I needed them to lead their life and I went back to work as soon as they left.
No matter how long it’s been I still have meltdowns and wish he were here but then I find something to get busy with and dry up the tears.
It takes a while to feel normal again without him by your side, I don’t like doing things that he always did, like getting the oil changed or tires, washing the truck but I have it to do and will for the rest of my life. You hang in there, you have great children and beautiful grandchildren, you are a blessed lady.
Sounds like you know yourself well enough to know what you need and don’t need. I’m totally clueless as to how I’d react in the same situation. Glad to hear your making decisions in your best interest.
Jo: I’m so sorry about what your family is going through.
I can see it from your kid’s viewpoint. I lost my dad when I was 19, to lung cancer. My mom was 54 yrs. I saw her have “melt-downs” and it was beyond scary. Her financial situation was sketchy.
Your kids are young, and have just had their world turned upside down, as have you. Maybe they haven’t lost a loved one before and don’t know how to deal with it? Perhaps your kids NEED YOU as much as they think you NEED THEM. They may need to talk about it all, and to see that you’re going to be okay. They might be reluctant to unload their feelings on you, so as not to “burden” you.
Maybe you just need to arrange time to sit down and talk to them, a few kids at a time? Just a casual family meeting, nothing off limits. Encourage them to remember the good times with their dad, and to talk about what made him a great dad. Father’s day might be a good day for this.
God bless you. I know it’s a cliché, but time does heal.
I don’t know why, but as I read this, I think of a farm woman, with an apron and a broom, telling her kids: “you all been underfoot long enough now – so, go on – shoo !”
You’re doing great, and we are proud of you, and respect you.
I understand so well about what you are saying. I am the other way. I chased people out of my house because I was tired of being taken care of and tired of unwanted advice regarding my treatment of cancer. I am still fighting it. But I set boundaries this time. I want my spouse with me but not my entire extended family.
I am glad you set boundaries. It is a hard choice to do and sometimes finding the correct words is difficult. I applaud you for the courage to speak up.
Hello, Jo! Your blogs are full of so many points that will prove helpful for so many. I love the way you worded how when you and Kramer were in the house during the couch burning, that you said every thing that you both wanted to say & needed to say. Huge!! Heart & Faith filled; just beautiful!
Thoughts, prayers, & pats on the back, Gloria
I’m so amazed at your ability to recognize what you need to be able to express it to your children. I lost my Mom 6 days after she was diagnosed with lung cancer that metastasized to her liver, lymph nodes and brain. My Dad passed 7 months later. It’s coming up on 6 years for my Mom and just passed the 5 year mark for my Dad. I’m still grieving and I’m so sick of people telling me to ‘get over it’. I’m moving forward…as slow as a turtle in peanut butter some days….but I’m moving. You and your kids take as long as you need. Baby steps are still steps. Sending all my love & prayers to you all.
I’m so glad for you that you are comfortable expressing yourself to your family. When Dad died, us kids left 1 at a time over 4 days when the last 2 of us left together. It was so so hard to leave Mom alone. Like you, I think she needed that alone time after 4 months of constant family in/out of the house.
God Bless you all as you cope with your grief and try to put a new life together with memories of Kramer.
Jo you don’t have to worry about how your children will deal with losing their daddy. They have your example of getting the small stuff taken care of and in the big stuff trusting in Jesus to carry you when you can’t or don’t want to handle the burden. Talking to your children about what you needed is as healing for them as for you. They know for sure what you want for and from them. That makes living through this time a whole lot better. Prayer continuing.
Jo, thank you for sharing that. I understand what you’re saying. I have back issues, chronic pain, and fibromyalgia. My hubby did all of the physical stuff around the house, including buying groceries. Well, he had foot surgery in August. Completely non-weightbearing. He was in the hospital a week and I was alone. Then he was in rehab for lots of weeks. I had to learn to cope. The laundry was in the basement and I couldn’t manage that. It took awhile but we got one upstairs. Meanwhile a wonderful friend did my laundry. I hired someone to do outside work. I put my sewing chair in the kitchen. I could manage cooking from a seated position. Then he came home but still non-weightbearing. Suddenly I’m a caretaker. There were lots of adjustments being home all day in the same room. He couldn’t be left alone for long. I had to give up going places. But I learned I could do it. Not the same as before but we made it work. Tomorrow, another surgery.
You will learn what works for you. The kids will be there when you need them. Mine don’t live close. You will find your way, a day at a time. Big hugs.
Jo, I admire your bravery and thank you and your family for sharing the difficult journey you have gone through. Unlike you, when my husband died I was more or less alone, except for a couple of friends because my family lived thousands of miles away. I got through it by keeping busy, although it was truly lonely at night. Every “special” day, like his birthday yesterday, brings memories and still missing him. It really is quite a lonely journey after losing a spouse, but I know you are strong and the time you had with Kramer will keep you grounded. Hugs and good thoughts.
Dear Jo–and Family, You have just gone through a piece of life’s journey that is so hard to think about, yet you shared the journey with us all and I thank you. There have been many wonderful things said in these comments that as I read them I thought, “I wish I said that.” or “I want to remember that when and if the time comes that I need to hear it or someone I love needs to hear it.” So I thank you and all the Jo’s Country Junction Family with whom I share an early evening sit down every day. Yes, our prayers and thoughts will continue to fly your way as each new day unfolds anew. Blessings from Oregon.
You did a great service by sharing this. Some people allow themselves to get “stuck in grief” and never move forward. I attended a grief share group after losing my husband and learned that there are stages of grief and each person goes through them differently. There will be good days and some not so good days, and hopefully the good days will begin to outnumber the not so good days. May God bless you in discovering your new normal.
Good for you Jo! You weren’t telling your kids they could never call you again or you didn’t want them to ever come over again, you were just telling them you need to spread your wings a little and they do too.
To me it sounds like you want them to call and stop by the way they used to not because they feel they need to check on you. My Mom passed away almost a year ago and I was her caretaker for almost 9 years. Everyone thought I would fall apart and were waiting for that.My husband still hovers but not as bad. Because of that I had very little time to myself to grieve. Sometimes I would just go for a ride without my cell phone just to be by myself. I still have not been able to cry even though I feel like I need too. I don’t know if that’s because I know she’s better off than she was or what. I miss her terribly and have yet to find a new routine. I can’t go to a store without rushing to get what I need. It’s getting a little better. I admire you for doing what you need to do for yourself. Keep it up so you can find a new normal for yourself as your kids will. I would take care of Mama again in a heartbeat but am ready to find myself again since I’m not taking care of her.
You know you will have good days and bad days but you also know Kramer is not suffering anymore and you did all you could while he was here. Wishing you gentle days as you heal.
Dear Jo, you sound like you are on the right track. Also, you are nudging the kids ( as only a momma can do) forward and helping them to find their new normal. But through all the changes you all are going through, you have a wonderful safety net within your family. My love to all of y’all.
Dear Jo – when my dad passed a couple of years ago, my mom had to experience her new normal. She didn’t have me around as I lived in FL but she had my brother who also worked full time and has his own family. It was hard for awhile but she did ok. And you will too. Baby steps, right? And don’t worry about what feels like a step backwards. Believe it or not, that’s part of the forward motion.
Much love and prayers.
Do it your way! I understand. I’ve lost 2 husbands & my son, this doesn’t even include the rest of my men such as my dad at 42 or my grandpa at 58. #1 was 36 yrs old, #2 was 68 (lung cancer), my son was almost 25 (he was married & they had just informed me their 2nd child was on the way. She was born 7 mos after he passed, she’s 21 & graduates college next yr. Difficult is putting it mildly. You know that saying “closure.” To me it’s a laugh for people that have never been through it… There is no closure. The grief gets milder over time & you just learn to live with it. Having your family so near is a total blessing. I don’t think I’d have made it without my 4 (3) kids and 14 grandkids that have filled my life & brought me so much happiness. I pray you find the same. Hugs to you Jo!!!
I enjoy my alone time as well. Your entire family is grieving and you will all go at your own pace. Thank you for sharing Jo, you are such a giving person but you also need your space. It has been a whirlwind several months and its time to take care of yourself. Hugs!
I just read your post and it says many things that I’ve been feeling. My husband died last year and its been such a long lonely year. But I am finding that I can do things I never thought I could. It truly is a day by day process and one you have to do yourself. I miss John terribly and always will, but I am in a much better place than this time last year. I hope you will find peace and feel stronger every day. It takes time. Love and prayers to you.
Well said. My mom and I would call each other every night when my dad was sick for 9 months before his passing. There is an age difference here with you and her, but we still call every night for her to check in. I go and help her with some errands every few weeks. She makes sure everyone in her town knows I do not live with her. She is still able to get around her little town and enjoys the independent. The first couple weeks after the funeral is tough.
Another thing I was told once is that is will be a good year of intense grief. Grief of Firsts. The cycle of Holidays, the first harvest, the first football game etc. Take care of yourself. Good Bless.
Jo, you are a strong woman, and your strength is helping others — your kids as well as your readers. That is evident from the comments that I read. You also are a wise woman understanding yourself and your kids. My husband and I have continued praying for you.
I know exactly how you are feeling, Even though I have NOT lost a spouse. While you were going through a lot of that My DH and I had 3 surgeries and he had 4 Hospitalizations. Including ICU. I know it could have been So much worse, But despite that your family stories and getting through a super tough time helped me immensely. Many times I couldn’t read your posts, blog or FB I would hold on to them and read them later. I’m one of those people that find it hard to cry in front of others. But some crying is good for the soul.
You are going through this difficult time just as I am doing a bible study on Job by Lisa Harper. This blog post is included in the book just as I have been reading your posts about grieving so thought I’d share it. Although you are not the grieving friend but the griever, the statement “Grief belongs to the griever.” Seems so perfect, YOU have to do what works for you! You and your family are in my prayers. https://blog.lifeway.com/womenallaccess/2015/09/10/hospitality-hints-showing-love-to-grieving-friends/
Thanks for sharing. It’s never easy taking care of someone who is seriously ill especially for a long period of time even though you love them dearly. Your family sounds very special and they always were there for you. Am happy they are helping you through this difficult time. And, yes, crying helps.