One journey down Grief Road - March 2000

Copyright June 2000, Dave Palmer

For what it is worth, here is a log of correspondence which shows some of the issues a person deals with when facing grief caused by death of a loved one. There are duplicate entries and entries which might make no sense at all. This is not an attempt to convince you to treat your grief a certain way. Everyone responds to grief in their own way.

In this case it was the loss of a spouse, loss of a marriage, loss of a 20+ year relationship, and loss of future plans and hopes that triggered these notes. To respect the privacy of others, all email addresses have been removed. In most cases the email shown is only mine.

This is presented only for purposes of illustrating the range of feelings and the way in which these feelings might change over time. This is not an attempt to solicit feedback or response to any issue. As the reader will find out many of the issues have been resolved through various techniques.
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Date: Thu, 02 Mar 2000 14:36:41 -0700

Subject: Re: Time passes...

Dear Sandy,

Just taking a break today and found your message.

Yep - we were up and down the mountains several times. It was a difficult and rewarding 4 years. Fortunately I kept records and used them to find help, so all in all our travels are documented and available for others to think about as they travel their way.

Time is passing and with it, like an old Star Trek show I recall, the flashes of history and memories - none painful, but each brings sad feelings into the present. Think I'll just wallow is each experience, look at it, relish it and see what the next hour brings.

All kinds of projects to do - some death related (dialysis fluids, then supplies, then machine to return) some friend related (hospital trip and a lunch), some work (still have a nonprofit to run) and a ton of household ones (laundry, dusting, garbage dump, etc.) - so no moss is growing on me yet.

I sure miss her and grieve a lot - but when I understand what she experienced and the condition of her body - I thank God for all the time we had and the kind death she experienced. One could ask for more, but one could not ask for better.

Keith is arriving this evening for a couple of days. I am looking forward to a human voice in the house - besides mine. We get along great and it is a pleasure to have his company. Donna, Dawn and the granddaughters are planning to visit on Saturday and that will be nice too. Talk to Lee about once a week, as well as Chris and Glorianna. Think it helps me more than it helps them.

Like you I've not cracked open the taxes - yuck!

The sun is out, though a gully-washer just went through. Spring is coming!! Love you and thanks for all your help.

Dave Palmer - on the wet side of Washington state

It is not the going out of port, but the coming in, that determines the success of a voyage. -Henry Ward Beecher
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AHEAD@LISTSERV.ACOR.ORG]

Date: Thu, 02 Mar 2000 21:18:12 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Anger

Andi and Toni - Anger happened to me as well - a male left without a loving wife - and though I don't approach the time you've had to fight grief - it is extremely close to me and extremely personal.

My bouts with anger at Ellen for leaving came to resolution when it dawned that nothing that could have been done and certainly nothing that I could have done would change it and that Ellen did not leave to create anger - she left willingly and knowing that her space would never be filled - and also knowing that I wasn't asking her 'not to die'.

For me, realizing that she left to find physical peace overcomes the anger - how can I be angry at her when she was simply taking care of herself, something we asked each other to do on almost a daily basis.

For me, I can only bless her, release her and wish her well on her new journey - meanwhile I've a duty to honor her by thanking her for all that we had. I can't fault her for days we won't have - instead she's left it up to me 'to take care of myself' and through memory enjoy the days we did have.

I still am dealing with the loneliness, the emptiness and the wonderful memories - they are wonderful and painful at the same time. They are best when they simply wash over me like a wave or a breeze and smother me before they leave and that happens when I don't resist them.

We had a wonderful life - I wanted more - yet I relish in all that we had - and now that she has begun a new and happier life, I can't be angry - given the same situation and the same conditions I would have had to leave her - and I sure wouldn't want her angry with me.

Those are my thoughts - I hope they are understandable - they are meant to be compassionate, I hope they come across that way.

Regards, Dave
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"MYELOMA@LISTSERV.ACOR.ORG" [MYELOMA@LISTSERV.ACOR.ORG]

Date: Sun, 05 Mar 2000 14:32:59 -0700

Subject: Re: [MM] Caregivers: Health and Fitness

On Sun, 5 Mar 2000 13:29:55 -0800, Lon Nesseler wrote:

There is a subject I want to mention that I don't remember having been brought up here before, but one that might resonate with some of us fighting MM. It has to do with discussions of health and fitness by those who don't have the disease.

These range from commercials on TV to friends talking to each other to overheard conversations on the subway.

Lon, in a long email covered some issues that rang my bell. I speak only from the caregiving side yet I know all too well the impact those subjects have on a patient and on a caregiver.

It seems there are two worlds - the healthy and everyone else.

We march to different drummers and wake for different reasons, we visit medical people 10 times more often than we see friends and we leap onto every hint of a fix or a cure - even though we know it is a more often than not a media technique to sell their story.

I was honored a number of years ago to work on the board of a group called MIUSA - Mobility International U.S.A - a fine organzation dealing with the obstacles that disabled people face in routine travel (forget about curb cuts and ramps) that ostracized them from life in general.

Among that group they call everyone else a CAB

Currently Able Bodied - think of it - as Lon said anything can happen anytime.

As difficult as it is to say - I really think the only workable solution is to surround ourselves with people of a similar belief or disposition.

I know, through the normal period of our life, Ellen and I chose friends because they fit - and that continued through cancer treatment -

This will not fit the 'politcally correct' mold of treating people - but we are not a focus group - we are real people with a real need for honest,

caring and supportive relationships - sometimes old habits and old friends even family (I had a bad weekend), must fall by the wayside, as new relationships enter.

It is painful, but so is holding a broken exhaust pipe together. At some point it is best to release, remove the bad part, get a new part and fix the thing and continue.

The search for health and fitness is simply reflective of the 'instant living' culture promoted by most media providers. Be it the internet (your service can be 100 times faster), weight loss (take this pill), hair growth (take this other treatment), knowledge (eat just these foods), wealth (buy this IPO, now!) - everyone is caught up in solutions, not aware that most of the time we live and work and try and get ourselves out of the way of real world problems in simply a timely fashion.

One last thought - I laugh watching the horses as they reach through the fence to get at 'the greener grass'.

Regards, Dave
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Date: Sun, 05 Mar 2000 17:55:41 -0700

Subject: Re: [MM] Caregivers: Health and Fitness

On Sun, 05 Mar 2000 17:01:59 -0600, Marllyn White wrote:

I would have made a celebration out of these events that I would have remembered for a lifetime because the truth is, I don't remember the last time and that's very sad.

Wow - that sure pulled the heart strings taut! I really understand - I can't remember the last time we walked together down our driveway,

or out in the flower garden or .... there were no signs that the last time was approaching or passing --- it is so sad.

I'm your age and we were married 20 + a little years - and it seems like only yesterday and yet I can't remember - what is scary is that right now there is a mental block that stops me from seeing a 3 dimensional face - I can see the mental image of photographs - but I can't see Ellen like I see other people in my minds eye....very troubling - but maybe part of the healing process for the mind - I've no idea.

Hope my rambling hasn't caused you any more pain - ....

Thanks for writing me.

Regards, Dave
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Date: Sun, 05 Mar 2000 19:56:21 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Ramblings

On Sun, 5 Mar 2000 16:29:11 +0000, Juanita wrote:

.I feel like I have been to

hell and back tenfold. I know my family members...children..inlaws ..etc...are grieving too...BUT...he was NOT a part of their everyday life......like for me and my daughter still at home...sure they came to visit when he was ill....and I waited on them..cleaned up after them etc....but when they left they got back to their life....a normal life....with normal everyday things to do..which helped keep their mind off of him...I don't mean they weren't worried...and cared..of course they did....but they escaped....

His cancer consumed us here..everyday was wrapped up in it..caring for him...etc...his meds...dr. visits...etc...sleepless nights ..watching over him.. NOW I find the days sure are long...verrrrrry long.

Jaunita - you described the caregivers world so well - it is such an intensive experience and then - bang - there is nothing left to do but clean up one more time - ship out unused supplies, try to find a home for thousands of dollars in medicines - and then swim back into the world that others never left - from a world they don't believe exists.

And then they treat you as though you never left - and they don't see the crushing pain in the brain, the eyes that feel like they could burst - or the heart that sometimes isn't sure it wants to beat -

If someone were saved from the ocean or a river there would be all sorts of aid and assistance and arms to comfort them and care to bring them back to safety on land - yet I feel so cold and chilled and so lonely - even when folks are around - why can't they see how weak I really am.

I don't know - is this pity? Or is it grief? Or is it both? Maybe I am truly exhausted and weary and in need of help - but somehow it doesn't register with them. So I bite my lip, close my eyes and pray to God for help - and let the feelings wash over me, time and time again.

There better be light at the end of this tunnel - I'm afraid of the dark...

Sat here rereading what I just typed and I think back to my youth when Mom would just hold me and let me cry - no advice, no judging, no expectation that I would 'be better' - just warmth and support - no questions asked.

Then it dawned on me that of all people we are best able to help a friend in need - someone like us who has suddenly become alone in this blind busy world.

And perhaps that is the best thing for me to start doing - help someone like me.

Thanks for your patience - sometimes typing helps - Regards, Dave
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Date: Sun, 05 Mar 2000 22:35:41 -0700

Subject: Re: (no subject)

Glad to hear all our safe - the wreck you saw yesterday killed one,

injured 7 and forced a c'sect for one of the women. Not a pleasant day for them.

I'm sorry too that Leigha missed out on time with Ellen - but time waits for no one - grandmothers or granddaughters and Ellen had another journey to take - though none were ready for it. Ellen truly loved Leigha with all her heart and had so many dreams she wanted to share with her. Perhaps her crafts will be a pleasant bridge for Leigha.

You all did a fine thing with the craft room. I'm not worried about finding anything - it is so neat and organized! Thank you!

[rattling on] with the advantage of rectal vision

I did learn though the visit was too much and too soon and that awareness just came to me too late. No harm is done, no damage at all -- just a gut feel that is new to this male pysche - and it is all part of the general feeling of loss - and no one - here - there or elsewhere can compensate for those feelings. It has nothing to do with the craft room and everything to do with the craft room - does that make sense? Another void on top of a void -

I'm resolving to slow down and just let each day progress without a plan other than what strikes my fancy. I talked to another similar spouse tonight and found a lot of similarities - we feel invisible to others and without responsibilities - sort of aimless and directionless and left out of the 'well world' - we talk with people and feel unheard, we have a lot to say and no where to say it- [rattling off]

I am sorry I forgot the lunch meat - it should have gone back with you.

I am going to stick to my normal diet - nothing has changed that changes that - and meat isn't one of my big items. Anyhow I should have thought about sending it back and I forgot - my fault.

Love you all too. Hope Ken gets oriented before he has to leave again.

And you are right - it was too hectic - I talked to everyone and talked to no one. Not the best way to visit...smaller groups will work better -

I got my laundry done (4 loads) hope you're caught up too - gotta find a way to keep all my different hats straight - from grandpa, through horse manure, farm hand, gardener, cook and bottle washer,

chairman of the board and widower it is getting to be a complex life....but it beats the alternative that Ellen faced so bravely...and without my whimpers...

Again, we love you, and appreciate your having all of us at one time to visit. Next time, we will do it in smaller groups; it won't be so hectic.

Gotta go; got laundry to do! Hugs, and Happy Thoughts....

Dave Palmer - on the wet side of Washington state

Gates are down , the lights are flashing, but the train isn't coming.
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Date: Tue, 07 Mar 2000 22:13:18 -0700

Subject: Off Topic: Controversial and an update

STOP: Please delete this if religion discussions offend you.

I've gotta vent - [on soapbox] Why can't we get along with each other at a time of grief? Or better yet, all the time?

Every member of this group has lost someone significant, or will lose someone.

Most members will have their belief system tested, challenged or shattered.

Part of the process dealing with a loss is trying to reconcile it with an individuals belief system.

Can't we open our hearts and accept a discussion of how their religion (I don't care which one it is) aided or confused or helped or worsened their grieving experience?

Isn't it possible that a belief in reincarnation just might aid a nonbeliever who is searching for help? Isn't it possible that a belief in angels might ease the pain of someone who is unable to accept the finality of death? Isn't it possible that a belief in absolute death might help someone who searches crowds for a lost one's face? Aren't there many ways in which we can learn from each other or at least be exposed to different beliefs without starting a verbal war?

Aren't we capable of leaving the 'holy wars' behind us as each of us searches for some words of help, guidance or support?

Isn't it possible to just delete or ignore something you don't want to read?

I think we all know there is no 'right way' to live, die or believe. I think we all know there is no 'right way' to grieve.

Is it possible there is no 'right way' to censure the need of a member to express the feelings they are going through right now?

I've been on the list only a couple of weeks - I thought it provided a haven for those in need. When I see and read personal attacks against any individual because of their religion or beliefs - I have to wonder what drives the attacker to impose their beliefs over anothers beliefs.

Bottom line - is this a safe place for all or only a few? [off soapbox]

I'm starting my 5th week alone - maybe I am in my feisty period, maybe I am fed up with folks who hear only what they want to hear and not what I want to say. My weekend was certainly filled with those who didn't want to hear - today was pretty full of people who did want to hear and who did want to talk - one was a very devout member of a very small religuous group - yet we could talk and understand each other and agree on the significance of death, mourning and pain. He knows I don't accept his beliefs - and I know he doesn't accept mine - while neither of us quoted our individual tracts - more time permitting we could have - and we could have learned from each other and parted as we arrived, friends.

On the good news side I've been invited back to our cancer support group (to hand out and discuss my cancer patient checklist) and I've found a local grief group that meets during the day - so next Thursday I'll be eyeball to eyeball with others on this road.

I also found a doctor who was extremely happy to receive $5,000 worth of medicines for use in foreign missionary work (no I don't know or care what religion) which is great as America has laws against using medicines that have been dispensed to a patient - and my alternative was to dump the stuff down the toilet...

And I found a clothing bank that is happy to accept Ellen's clothing - that will hurt me a little each time I see a familiar jacket or blouse (I live in a small community), but Ellen would be happy to see others with such good taste in clothing!

However the clouds still surround me - I opened up a newsletter today and found a full page devoted to Ellen - and the tears flowed as though she had just died today - my emotions are still very real, very painful and it feels so good when the tears end.... and I miss her so much - I'd give up all the wonderful memories and all the gold in the world if we could hold hands just one more time........

I hope as members of this list we can continue to hold hands - all of us...

Regards, Dave
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Date: Tue, 07 Mar 2000 22:52:39 -0700

Subject: Touchy Subject: Funerals and burials

I hope this is the place to discuss this - it certainly deals with grief and I have left religion out of it. I'm dealing with a practice that is likely unique to the United States and I don't intend to offend anyone who honors the dead in a different way. I am simply curious about our conventional and traditional customs as they apply to those of us who choose to practice them.

I'm looking for some feedback to help me deal with a real personal issue and wondering too what others have thought about this issue. If others have experienced this same sense of frustration I'd love to learn how you dealt with it.

When Ellen died I followed her last wishes - which did not include burial - she chose instead to have cremation and her ashes disbursed at sea.

Last night and this morning it became real clear to me why many of our ancestors, here in the U.S., might have followed a tradition of a funeral which included a burial in a cemetery.

Part of the emptiness I feel, I think, is there is something missing - there is no place, no home, no focal point to honor her or to gather at. And I thought back on my ancestors - 6 generations - 99% of whom are resting in what is now NY state - and I have visited their grave sites and I have felt like there is a connection.

Now I no longer wonder at the wisdom of that practice. At the time of burial the mourners are faced with the reality that they are not the only mourners in their world/community. They see the graveyard, they see the ones who have gone on before, and they see their loved one in an honored or at least respected place - and as they leave they can hold that image or later think of that place or even later return their for a moment of peace, celebration or mourning.

I compared notes with another widower recently. They chose burial. They followed a local tradition that prevents a headstone from even being carved until 6 months after the burial. He now sees his grown children now visit the site, without him - for their own private needs. He has visited too, on his own. I sensed from his composure that this was a pleasant experience for him. I envied him.

In my family I might be the only voice in the wilderness - no one else has expressed a concern or doubt about what we planned and did. Maybe I worry too much or have too much free time - but dang it I feel like something is missing - more than just Ellen - something that brings a permanence to her life and death - and there is nothing -

That's the end of my touchy subject - I've not lost any sleep over it, yet I feel troubled at times and unable to shut the door on this very personal issue. Maybe I solve it by creating a resting spot of my own on a corner of our property - and use that process and symbolism to aid my yearning and grief. I just don't know... I guess if I did that I would find others who would suddenly chime in and say it helps them too....

Thanks for sticking with me and reading this confused note... I appreciate it.

Regards, Dave
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Date: Wed, 08 Mar 2000 10:59:00 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Touchy Subject: Funerals and burials

Dear Barbara,

Your note was so touching and full of the love you had and have for Rob. He was a fortunate man, and it seems you were fortunate as well.

I wish I had saved some of the ashes - but the Pacific Ocean owns them now - but thanks to you and others who have written I've come up with an idea.

We've a parcel on the farm that is under a strict conservation easement (which we designed to protect it) and Ellen's favorite spot is by a tree overlooking the river. A perfect spot for a memorial and I think I will do it - not today - but in August on her birthday.

It is but a short walk from the house and I think it will be a pleasant journey for me.

Thank you so much for writing me.

Regards, Dave
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Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2000 10:41:21 -0700

Subject: THANK YOU

You can tell I am behind!

I just turned the page on my calendar by the desk.

Thank you for the neat "I Love You" message!

Gosh I've not had a surprise written note in some time.....

It brought tears to my eyes to be surprised --- thank you so much and I am still crying - for joy and for saddness...

You are terrific! Dave Palmer - on the wet side of Washington state

Act well at the moment, and you have performed a good action for all eternity.
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Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2000 21:28:54 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Touchy Subject: Funerals and burials

Kitty - Thanks for the ideas on cemeteries and places.

I've decided to create my own here on our farm. We've an 18 acre parcel which we placed a huge number of perpetual restrictions into the title. No building, plowing, logging, etc.

At one end it overlooks a river and it was one of her favorite vistas. This weekend I will identify a spot and it shall become a resting place for thoughts of love and happiness. In 6 months, which coincides with her birthday, I'll have a marker placed and those friends and family members who want to share in it will be there - we'll drink a toast to her past and future and perhaps have an image that helps us more than what we have today.

Again, thanks for the ideas and care,

Dave
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Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2000 21:36:42 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] dealing with loss

Dear Louise, Thanks for the compassionate words and care. I surely appreciate it.

It was nice to find a home for the medicines - I'm thankful they could help me.

I've started moving the clothing out. It has no fear for me, though it is sad to see her external dressing go. I remember when Mom died, my sisters got rid of everything - I think that fast action ended up really hurting my Dad. So I am going to take it slow and go through the process when and if I am ready to. There is no rush.

I've rearranged the linen closet, cleaned her toiletries out of her bathroom (I got to use the downstairs bath as it had a full shower) and slowly made some changes. No big deals, just enough to accomodate me.

The ashes didn't bother me. A long time ago, when Mom died, I was the designated messenger and had to retrieve them from the funeral home. For someone reason I walked that day - and it is quite humbling to bring your Mother home in a paper bag with a small box in it. The unfortunate thing about it all was that years later when Dad died we could no longer find those ashes. But by then it wasn't quite so important to me - as I had a whole new set of problems to deal with.

I disagree with your friend and her 'morbid' comment. Each of us does what works best for us. Until they've gone through the same thing you have - they will never know how you feel.

Take care and be gentle with yourself!
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Date: Sat, 11 Mar 2000 14:50:08 -0700

Subject: Re: Once upon a time..

Hi - Good to hear from you and the news from Grace - she is recovering, it seems.

I've only started on giving things away. A little bit at a time, makes the pain easier.

Visited with a cancer patient for lunch Thursday (hope this isn't a repeat). He has the same cancer, MM, as Ellen. A slightly different flavor, but the same impact on bones. He is hurting emotionally, as two MM patients died just recently so mortality is on his mind.

Then visited the chaplain and then visited the clinic. Held together okay until I started chatting with the chemo nurses - and then I had to leave before a broke down. Did okay - it was a step I wanted to take and I did it. I'd sent them flowers earlier in the week as a goodbye symbol.

Yesterday was all business - lunch with a friend, and then he and I reviewed our Drops of Water publication prior to printing and then a meeting with educators - gone along time and felt despondent because I was away from home for so long. Old habits are hard to break - just felt out of place being away....

I did income taxes today! 100% done! Hooray! Had to generate - for deduction purposes - some ugly statistics - we made 112 trips to Olympia last year (all medical) and 55 trips to the drug store - no wonder we got so little done on other things -

Well - I'm off to the barn to shovel manure - that should put things in perspective and keep my feet on the ground, for if I don't I'll fall in the manure pile....

Love you! Thanks for the update on Grace - Dave
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Date: Sun, 12 Mar 2000 14:53:45 -0700

Subject: Re: How are ya?

Hi Barb - I think I'm doing okay - the grief beast has a lot of personalities and I'm still finding new ones.

Since you asked if I was closer to a 'sense of normal' I'll pull my soapbox over and lean on it.

Barb - I no longer have an idea of what is normal. Our last 'normal' period was back in summer 1995 and my brain cells have been clouded by the events that followed that period of time. Guess that is good, if I could recall the good years, I might have difficulty living in the world of reality.

Even last year (1999) had been eclipsed by today - and that would be the same even if Ellen were still living. Only because I had to do taxes this weekend do I know the following - just in 1999 we made 112 trips to doctors/hospitals for blood tests or consultations, transfusions or surgery - and then 55 trips to the pharmacy. It seems we were on the road more than anything else. We spent more time in hospital rooms than we did with our grandchildren or friends and more for gasoline than we did on food. So the 'normal world' of 1999 is not one to find again.

It's no wonder I don't know what is 'normal'. I thought of a parallel today - if I'd gotten lost in our woods, broke a leg and had to crawl home it would take the leg a long time to heal and chances are it wouldn't be the same again. I'll heal, but I won't be the same person I was.

Learning the statistics helped me to understand why I'm confused at times - switching roles from intensive support to one of being independent just isn't easy - I didn't get any training wheels for the portion of life.

Certainly the MM family is a big part of my life. I'm tempted to walk away some days - perhaps like a prisoner from jail - but the MM family never seemed like a prison, in fact they were and are the major source of support and help for lots of people. I'll continue to jump in and write when I feel I've something to contribute. I've a sense of the big picture, but the individual details for MM are best left to the more experienced.

One thing I've noticed is that friends and family that weren't really interested or curious about Ellen's health aren't involved in my recovery - although we called them 'friends'. Guess there is a lesson there, and it certainly highlights the value of the MM family to patients and caregivers. By this time next year the circle of friends will have changed - for the better.

After that disertation you might conclude I'm alive and kicking and trying to pull my thoughts together and regain a healthy focus on today and tomorrow. And I am. Sometimes it is harder than others.

So, thank you for checking in, it does mean a lot.

No, I'm not on dex either - just got carried away. Thanks for reading...

On Sun, 12 Mar 2000 12:52:25 EST, com wrote:

Hi, Dave -

Just wanted to touch base to see how you are doing. Has your daily life returned to a new sense of "normal?" You are a treasure to keep posting to this list; I suspect it gives you comfort to connect with THIS family. After all, many of us are well aware of your grief, and I for one am heartened to see you giving help to others.

And I hope people have stopped trying to "solve" your grief.

Hang in,

Barb

Regards, Dave
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Date: Mon, 13 Mar 2000 21:13:27 -0700

Subject: Re: Anything new?

Hi Donna, Great to have news and hear from you.

I'll bet the Ice Show was fun for Leigha - pretty, exciting and some time alone with you - couldn't have a better combination.

Whats a Shamrock Run? I'm guessing it is a marathon? Portland is a pretty city - once you get into it. I spent a lot of time there in my younger days and I find it attractive - much more so than Seattle.

What's happening with Ken's eyes? Anything serious - since you mentioned a specialist - you got my antenna up. 37? That's a nice bit of time together - congratulations - and enjoy every day of it...

Lee didn't call me back. I left a message on Friday - but suspect they were bowling and then the weekend escaped... Glad the driving is what he expected - and like him, I prefer going forward - anytime!

I've been rattling around doing this and that.

Tuesday I met with an attorney - we had no will - yuck on probate, etc.

Wednesday I delivered a bunch of clothing to the clothing bank and they were ecstatic. I'm going to take it slow and not try and empty everything out - too traumatic.

Thursday I had lunch with another cancer patient. Same cancer as Ellen's.

He bought me lunch at the waterfront in Olympia. Nice to get out and see the rest of the world through a different pair of eyes (even if only one works). Lunch was okay - but he is scared as two MM patients have recently died - and he sure doesn't want to be #3. Visited the chaplain, then went to the clinic and visited the nurses (boy sure hope this isn't a repeat).

The visit went well - up to a point and then the tears started and I left.

But at least I paid our respects to them and felt good about it.

Friday was a bunch of meetings (3) and I felt 'guilty' being away so long - i.e. old habits and concerns are hard to overcome. Think I squeezed in a lawn mowing (only 1 of three) and on a couple of days started working in the garden. I'm going to depend upon chemicals to aid me - I don't have the patience that Ellen did. I yanked the hell out of a blackberry that was taking over - got many roots and lots of vines and it felt good to get angry - even at a black berry! Took out a lot of frustration on it.

The daffodils are just beginning to turn yellow and slowly open.

The best news is the hummingbirds came back today (Monday) and fortunately I'm made syrup yesterday and put it out today.

Today I went to Tacoma (first time in years) and picked up a amplifier that Keith had taken in for me. Crappy roads up there.

Then off to the hospital for the last visit of the cancer support group.

Had a good session and kept up a facade for 2 hours, then lost it when I was in the counselors office - oh well - I made it that far.

You asked - so I'll tell you - how I am doing - the following was sent to a lady who inquired the other day:

=====================================

Barb, since you asked if I was closer to a 'sense of normal' I'll pull my soapbox over and lean on it.

I no longer have an idea of what is normal. Our last 'normal' period was back in summer 1995 and my brain cells have been clouded by the events that followed that period of time. Guess that is good, if I could recall the good years, I might have difficulty living in the world of reality.

Even last year (1999) had been eclipsed by today - and that would be the same even if Ellen were still living. Only because I had to do taxes this weekend do I know the following - just in 1999 we made 112 trips to doctors/hospitals for blood tests or consultations, transfusions or surgery - and then 55 trips to the pharmacy. It seems we were on the road more than anything else. We spent more time in hospital rooms than we did with our grandchildren or friends and more for gasoline than we did on food. So the 'normal world' of 1999 is not one to find again.

It's no wonder I don't know what is 'normal'. I thought of a parallel today - if I'd gotten lost in our woods, broke a leg and had to crawl home it would take the leg a long time to heal and chances are it wouldn't be the same again. I'll heal, but I won't be the same person I was.

Learning the statistics helped me to understand why I'm confused at times - switching roles from intensive support to one of being independent just isn't easy - I didn't get any training wheels for the portion of life.

Certainly the MM family is a big part of my life. I'm tempted to walk away some days - perhaps like a prisoner from jail - but the MM family never seemed like a prison, in fact they were and are the major source of support and help for lots of people. I'll continue to jump in and write when I feel I've something to contribute. I've a sense of the big picture, but the individual details for MM are best left to the more experienced.

One thing I've noticed is that friends and family that weren't really interested or curious about Ellen's health aren't involved in my recovery - although we called them 'friends'. Guess there is a lesson there, and it certainly highlights the value of the MM family to patients and caregivers. By this time next year the circle of friends will have changed - for the better.

After that disertation you might conclude I'm alive and kicking and trying to pull my thoughts together and regain a healthy focus on today and tomorrow. And I am. Sometimes it is harder than others.

=============================================

Donna - sorry such a long answer to a short question "how are you doing?" Just thought you'd be interested in some of the stuff.

This week I'll be taking some more stuff to the clothing bank - sweaters, primarily - and then a large amount of ceramics will go to a senior center in Tumwater (I've a lady that will help me). I still have a bunch of nicer clothing to find a home for - and I'll use some of the community resources to help me out.

I've a meeting on Wednesday and the office to cover on Friday p.m. and then a meeing over on the coast on Saturday. Keith is coming down Sunday and we'll go on from there (although I've a meeting all day Monday = board of trustees).

Rains started tonight - sort of drizzled but was basically nice over the weekend. Grass didn't get dry enough to cut - so I'll get a workout when it does dry out.

Talked to Glorianna yesterday - she is doing better and went out on a 'brisk walk' for 45 minutes - which is more than I've done. Oh yes, got a clean bill of health on my bp and cholesterol this week - and her bp is down from 210 over something to 150 over 80 - which is great for her.

Cat, dog and horses are fine - and as you can tell I'm starting to get a little less focused on death and a little more focused on the present - and sometimes even the future. Having said that, I looked back at what I had written, and I see I duplicated quite a bit - AGAIN! Oh well, senility is nice - everything old is new again.

Take care and thanks for checking in!

Dave
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Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 18:24:40 -0700

Subject: Re: Monday night...

Hi Sandy - Good, as always, to hear from you.

Thanks for the update on Grace - wish I were up to helping you with her.

I do hope she is doing better and I pray she stays safe and healthier.

I bouncing around today. Your letter came in this morning, and I tried to answer it a couple of times. Today was just a good one. A little bit of cleanup, some paper work, insurance, and a lot of loneliness and self pity.

So I've tried some selftalk and managed to stop the flood of misery and at least return to a stable state. This stressful time is normal and it will pass - so they say. There is a dealing with grief meeting next week and I'll be there early.

I guess I'll get used to an empty house, but the lack of a human voice or touch - now that is something to get used to. Wow! The hard part of it is the 'finality' of it all.

Well - time to wind up my spring and keep going.

Love you, and hope my next note is more upbeat.

Dave
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Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2000 19:50:54 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] checking in

Judy and Barbara - I read your notes and they struck home - almost too hard.

Hope you don't mind someone else jumping in -

It's been 5+ weeks since Ellen died. I've never felt so useless in my life.

I can do the robot things - shop, clean, cook, iron, and when I do I wonder why I even bothered. It sure isn't much fun when you are robbed and left alone - even all the good memories can't displace the sheer emptiness that comes along a dozen times each day. The dang thing comes like an ocean wave, or an earthquake, without warning and all of sudden my guts are ripped out.

I have interacted with people and I've made decisions, I've kept a reasonable schedule and still I feel like why bother. There is no feedback, no touching,

no laughter, no sharing - it seems like pushing a boulder up an icy hill - a hell of a lot of effort, you make some progress, but you are too exhausted to continue on or even care about going on.

The times I do feel good I flash back to what needs to be done for Ellen,

and like Barbara said - there is nothing left to do. I'm sloooowly transferring her clothing and crafts to charitable organizations and those little efforts seem rewarding - as if they are helping her - but they sure don't make up for the emptiness inside.

Next week I get to finally go to a grieving group in Olympia (about 30 miles away),

maybe, just maybe, they'll have a lifeline or hook I can hold on to.

I've tried to put words behind my experiences/feelings - I don't feel just sad - I feel like the bond Ellen and I built over the years - the common thoughts and deeds, the trust and supports of life - have just been ripped apart - there is so little left to lean on - so very little....

and I find it hard to walk alone without something to lean on for rest,

renewal, comfort and companionship. So it isn't sadness, it is like the entire life support system is gone.

Prayer has helped - and it does help,and then there are moments - like right now - where nothing seems to work.

For what it is worth - all this emotion of telling my story - brought a real flood of tears and emotions and then I started thinking of the funeral and the one song I picked - 'You'll Never Walk Alone' and surprisingly just listening to it in my mind brought the most wonderful sense of calm.

Maybe it is a matter of faith and a trust in the future - I don't know yet.

I pray that it holds for the rest of the night..

Prayers and hugs to all on this list -

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000 Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org
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Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2000 23:34:22 -0500 From: Barbara Burnett

CANCER-FACING AHEAD [FACING-AHEAD@LISTSERV.ACOR.ORG]

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] checking in

dave,

isnt it amazing that we the caretakers are still on the roller coaster ride that we began with our loved ones. its like the train stopped,

they got off & we had to stay on. or to me we always talked about our "journey" along the cancer trail with its many twists & turns,

especially through the bmt process. now i look around & realize that there was a fork in the road & rob had to take one road which lead him to heaven & as we stood at that fork, he told me that i would have to continue on the other road by myself now, but that he would be watching out for me to make sure that i didnt get lost, i never was the best with reading a road map. and now as i stumble along, i feel like the pin ball in the arcade game, bouncing from side to side till you finally get to the end.

we had no children, except our animals, & they seem to ground me. they still need to be taken care of, fed & loved (more now than ever, they have felt this lost as much as me). they want to go with me where ever i go, if i get into the car they jump in, everywhere i turn they are my shadows, so at least i can talk to them & say that it will be all right that we will get through this.

i dont know why but i know that rob is where he needs to be now, that his time here was finished, i feel cheated that it was so much sooner than i would have ever expected or wanted, but that i know that one day i will meet up with him again & he will be waiting for me just like he told me. this brings me some inner peace to get through my days, but the nights thats the hard times.

i hope the grieving group helps you, would like to have your feed back on it after your visit. i have not gone there yet, but i am still very much involved w/our cancer support group that we were apart of, they have been so supportive to me through out our entire ordeal & have asked me to continue to come to the meetings to help give other caregivers support, it feels good to see these people every couple of weeks, they are really the ones who keep in touch with me on a regular basis.

writing to this list really helps me, it seems putting it down on paper (so to speak) has some kind of cleansing effect on me. thank you all for being here for each of us.

barbara - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"CANCER-FACING AHEAD" [FACING-AHEAD@LISTSERV.ACOR.ORG]

Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 09:13:46 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] checking in

Barbara,

Wow - your letter pulled every string in my mind, body and heart.

Ouch, ouch, ouch! Don't take me wrong, your description of the train, the fork in the road, the pin ball game - all stuck home and they were right on target - I've not been able to put my feelings into words like that.

Just wish there where handrails to hold onto and someone to lean on along these tortuous rides.....

We chose not to have children - we both had children from previous marriages - only two have been close since her death - she did leave me with a herd of horses - her love,

much more than mine - one of which we have had close to 20 years, almost as long as we were married.

So I am caring for them plus the dog and cat - and of all, the cat seems to be the closest buddy right now. Fortunately he is assertive in his wants and bats at me when it is time to play - and he introduces some humor into life.

We were long time members of a cancer support group. They are and were wonderful. At the time of Ellen's death the group went through a major change in attendance - I visited them on Monday, to share my cancer checklist, and it was a totally different world. I think, and the counselors agree,

that is likely time for me to move on. And I am happy to.

These folks are just starting out on their journey and I pray they have a long one. Interestingly the counselors were my main support at the hospital when Ellen died.

They stayed with me for a long time and helped me across the first potholes in my road that day. I've talked to them many times since then - and one was the minister who led Ellen's memorial service. Great people and a great service.

Thank you Barbara and everyone on this list for the support you provide. It works - a little bit each day.

On Thu, 16 Mar 2000 23:34:22 -0500, Barbara Burnett wrote:

dave,

isnt it amazing that we the caretakers are still on the roller coaster ride that we began with our loved ones. its like the train stopped,

they got off & we had to stay on. or to me we always talked about our "journey" along the cancer trail with its many twists & turns,

especially through the bmt process. now i look around & realize that there was a fork in the road & rob had to take one road which lead him to heaven & as we stood at that fork, he told me that i would have to continue on the other road by myself now, but that he would be watching out for me to make sure that i didnt get lost, i never was the best with reading a road map. and now as i stumble along, i feel like the pin ball in the arcade game, bouncing from side to side till you finally get to the end.

we had no children, except our animals, & they seem to ground me. they still need to be taken care of, fed & loved (more now than ever, they have felt this lost as much as me). they want to go with me where ever i go, if i get into the car they jump in, everywhere i turn they are my shadows, so at least i can talk to them & say that it will be all right that we will get through this.

i dont know why but i know that rob is where he needs to be now, that his time here was finished, i feel cheated that it was so much sooner than i would have ever expected or wanted, but that i know that one day i will meet up with him again & he will be waiting for me just like he told me. this brings me some inner peace to get through my days, but the nights thats the hard times.

i hope the grieving group helps you, would like to have your feed back on it after your visit. i have not gone there yet, but i am still very much involved w/our cancer support group that we were apart of, they have been so supportive to me through out our entire ordeal & have asked me to continue to come to the meetings to help give other caregivers support, it feels good to see these people every couple of weeks, they are really the ones who keep in touch with me on a regular basis.

writing to this list really helps me, it seems putting it down on paper (so to speak) has some kind of cleansing effect on me. thank you all for being here for each of us.

barbara

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000 Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org
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"FACING-AHEAD@LISTSERV.ACOR.ORG" [FACING-AHEAD@LISTSERV.ACOR.ORG]

Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 09:32:54 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] MM

Dear Judy - I'm sorry to hear of Barry's death - and I know the members of the MM list would be too.

The mm list was an immediate source of support, and grieving pain, when Ellen died. Their outpouring of love really helped - though it hurt as it does now - during those first few days. I'm hanging on to that list, just as I am moving more to this list. I sure need some stability and something to hold onto along this journey.

Anemic and blood counts - how I learned to hate those words. At the time we simply put all our faith into the transfusions and prayed a lot - and Ellen did her very best - but cancer is a true demon and so far we've not discovered a tool to kill the beast. I hope for everyones' sake that cures are found and soon.

I really enjoyed being involved with Ellen and the battle. It gave a sense of 'doing something' and 'something' valuable. Being a caregiver is so hard at times, but I only had to hear her voice or laughter and my troubles melted away and it felt wonderful to be able to do something valuable for her. It was both heaven and hell at the same time and I cry now as my mind goes through these words... such a feeling of frustration, loss and sadness.

You said "We have to now and try to put as much energy into ourselves as we gave to our loved ones., or we are going to hear about it when we see them again." and I try to do it, but some days it sure is hard - and in the darkest, deepest part of this valley, I do wonder at times 'why?" -

For now for me the answer is: "I don't know" or "simply because" - maybe further on down this road I will hear another answer in my mind.

Meanwhile I fall back on the old male habit of "I got to" and that gets me through the day.

If I sound confused, it is only because I am.

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000 Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org
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"FACING-AHEAD@LISTSERV.ACOR.ORG" [FACING-AHEAD@LISTSERV.ACOR.ORG]

Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 18:39:29 -0700

Subject: Barbara's note and some good feelings

Dear Barbara, Joyce and Andi

I read Barbara's note last night and was taken away by it -

She can put into readable words things I've only felt - but could not describe -

- emotionally wiped out & so tired all i want to do is go to sleep - my mind turns off, have a hard time trying to focus.

- all of those years of sharing and being proud of being together - everyone wants it deleted, like it never was....

- society has moved so far forward that it has forgotten about how people feel when they lose their other half ....especialy if that other half was such an important part of their life......

- but then you have to delete them as well and dont forget to send the copy of the death certificate please..........

Her words are a fantastic description of the raw gut wrenching pain that this situation brings - it isn't covered in books and it isn't something you can anticipate - it simply is a steam roller (to me) and it doesn't seem to stop.

I guess there was a time in this country, maybe in the small towns, where a married couple was recognized for their combined strength and the widow or widower was shown respect - I can recall such in the neighborhood I grew up in - and that was the early 50s - but now we are just another person and there is no past - not only for us, but for anyone. Maybe if I had stayed instead of moving around - it might still be the same - guess I'll never know.

I can report on a pleasant experience today. I was invited, a long time ago, to a meeting of folks with similar interests. The meeting had been on the calendar and I had intended to go - but as the day started getting closer I started hemming and hawing and debating with myself - to make a boring long story short - I did stick to my earlier promise and go. Half the folks there had been to the memorial service and I've known most of them 6 - 8 years. I've got to admit the meeting,

while somewhat boring, was a good experience. The weather was lousy,

the drive was long - and guess what it was sort of like 'normal' use to be. It turned out to be a real blessing in disguise and I really benefitted from a meeting that kept me in the here and now. I did slip away and have a good discussion with one of the guys - and a couple of the women did show later show a personal interest - but the key thing was just being able to reach outside of my cocoon. It felt good.

The other thing I did, which helped me was to leave some music playing in the house. When I got home I wasn't greeeted by the terrible silence that had greeted me since Ellen died. The music helped me to feel welcome - and that was a first too....

Now the tears are coming back, but at least I can recall a pleasant day that was comfortable for me - if only for a little while.

I hope each of you can find a pleasant part in your day - today,

tomorrow or whenever - it seems okay to feel good.

Hugs and love to all Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000 Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org
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Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 18:33:50 -0700

Subject: Re: Sending you a Rainbow - from Ken Donna All The Kids

Thanks for the rainbow!

It brought a smile and that is nice - really nice.

Spent a half day in my office - Friday is my volunteer time.

Guess it felt okay to be busy - and that's a step forward.

Tomorrow I'm expected to attend a day meeting over on the harbor. A bunch of us rabble rousing environmentalists are getting together - not sure if I will go - but know that the contact with humans (rather than horses and computers) will do me good.

Had a brief message from Dawn about Leigha visiting next week (thought it was late in April) and that sounds great. Hope we connect later tomorrow.

Hope Ken gets back on time and that this finds you in good spirits.

Take care, Dave
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Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 18:46:35 -0700

Subject: Re: You!

Hi Janfebmaraprmayjnjlyaugseptagnovdec! Well, I've played the games and lost. The checkbook is no where to be found. So be it.

I've learned over time to be methodical about where I put things - I do believe I had it in my jacket pocket - and I do believe it dropped out - just a matter of where. I've searched the driveway, garage, along the sidewalk where I walked - no dice. Oh well...

It might be boring if we remained the same - but try me, I'd like to be bored! All this change is for the birds.

Think Igor (Spartacus) is bugging me to play - but I'll finish this, play with the cat and then bring the horses in and then collapse.

Sorry to hear about Gracie's inclination to return to old ways. It is not surprising. She wants what she wants when she wants it. I just hope Katie does not come back. Grace is using her and she will never let her go.

Glorianna lives in susbsidized housing. We found out that, like you did, that there is a horrendous waiting list. Grace is in for a rude shock if she thinks she can move in right away.

Other than a short email I've had no contact - I did respond - but I'll not seek out more and will let her write. Just hope she doesn't give me the analogy about the painter's canvas - as I might tell her to drop the paint brushes and become a brick layer or ditch digger.

14 inches of snow? YUCK - not for me. I enjoy the few inches we get and I am glad to see it go. Maybe if I lived in a city and didn't have to commute as far as I do it would be different.

Wonder if I'll ever sign up for classes again. Could be interesting. I'm so confused right now I would be happy just to figure out how each day will go.

Think I am rambling and whooped. Hope you had a great St. Patricks day!

Love you, Dave
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Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 20:26:11 -0700

Subject: Son(s) an answer to

On Sat, 18 Mar 2000 12:33:58 EST, com wrote:

What a terrific post!!! From the heart, obviously. Lots of wisdom in your words.

BTW, how is your son doing? I forget how old he is. Fill me in!

Barb Hi Barb - From the heart? I don't know. I guess so - certainly from a couple of bruises and some experiences - especially help for the patient and caregiver from the family side of the coin.

Ellen and I comprised a nuclear family. Her son, Lee,was born in 65 and she raised him as a single parent. The son I wrote about was 'my' son, born in 66. We met in 78 and married in 1980 - . Lee sort of wrote us off - but stayed in contact over the years and gradually as he married, and had children, became a little closer to us. The cancer scared him away and he really adopted the role of the 3-blind mice. Don't get me wrong, he loved his mother, just wasn't able or willing to get involved. Now, since her death, he and I have talked more in the last 7 weeks, than he and his mother did in 6 months. Go figure!

Keith is the son I wrote about. Ellen was his step-mom and for a time I think he really hated her guts - she wasn't one to be fooled with and Keith tried his luck at fooling her. As soon as he graduated from high school he moved out and left us alone. Somehow in the last 10 years, maybe as he grew older, he realized she really cared for him and they developed a truly great relationship. He has bounced in and around us since then and been a frequent visitor and helper. Of all the family members he is the only one who invested himself in her cancer treatment by being interested and concerned. Everyone else sort of hid behind ignorance - and I don't think that is at all unusual - we heard the same comments from other cancer patients. We had a major flood in 96 and he was first on the scene, he was first on the scene when she was dx'd with MM and first on the scene at her death - so he is an easy person to love, praise and respect. He took her death very hard - as did her son - and he is the primary looker-outer for me - and I deeply appreciate it.

As to how he is doing? He is being a typical male and not saying much yet. He is due in tomorrow night for a couple of days and maybe he'll be more talkative. I've cut him a lot of slack, out of respect, and though I do probe - it is time, I think, for me to honor him and let him talk when he wants - and he will.

Lee? He took her death exceedingly hard. I guess there were some unresolved issues. He was a typical only male child with a single parent - and did some really dumb things as a youth. Ellen enjoyed watching him grow - though by then he had been moved to his Dad's for high school and he married as soon as he could. The marriage is working and he is doing very well by his family and is a dedicated father. Just too bad he wasn't able to deal with reality and his mother while time permitted. Most of the discussions were superficial and she never was able to get him to level with her - not that it mattered or matters.

I talked to Lee tonight and he and I are meeting, real soon I hope, to discuss her estate. I pray we can be eyeball to eyeball and do right for each other and the future. I trust we will, as he was very open and supportive when we met after her death.

Well now, that is a very long answer to a very short question - guess you hit a chord - especially since I had just talked to Lee - and I'm emotionally dealing with residual family issues. This note really helped me to put things in perspective -

Take care, hugs and Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000 Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org
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"FACING-AHEAD@LISTSERV.ACOR.ORG" [FACING-AHEAD@LISTSERV.ACOR.ORG]

Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 22:08:34 -0700

Subject: paper work, some tip-toe thoughts

On Sat, 18 Mar 2000 21:24:46 -0700, Barry & Judy Fraser wrote:

I have been putting off doing that type of paperwork. The lady at the bank said when I FELT like it. When would that ever be??. I am glad you spoke of your feelings., you hit on so many wonderful things we had going with our husbands.The lives we built together. It was Barry and Judy, Now just to put my name makes me feel like I am dishonoring Barry. I guess that is why I am procrastinating. Is there a time limit on getting that type of stuff done??

Judy, Barbara and all - Husbands had things going with their wives and losing that connection is painful both ways,

and so,

I'm on tip-toes typing this - so please, please don't misunderstand my intentions - I know, all too well, the pain of taking a name off - it hurts - hurts and hurts. Sometimes though advice can avoid others pain.

God-forbid though - if something were to happen to you there needs to be a way for things to happen - an account or something left in limbo could cause issues - (I've done enough stupid things since Ellen died to know that I could accidentally do myself harm - I'm just too much in another world to pay close attention like I should)

Much as I hated to - I had to change our accounts - and the manager pointed out by asking "what happens if you die, Dave" and so I was led to set up the accounts as joint - just an ounce of prevention (until I get my head on straight) with my son.

Ellen had some accounts for which I was the beneficiary. These had to be reconciled and cleared up - painful - but necessary.

Even doing that hasn't cleared things - we never did discuss a will, so now I have to go through probate - and in our state (WA) that complicates things - even though we are community property, other personal items are not covered by marriage - unless there is a separate community property agreeement - which of course we didn't know about until too late.

Even our real estate, which is community property, can't be cleared until the probate is done - there's no question on that, but the title is messed up (because of our oversights) and stays that way until the probate paperwork is approved.

Guess what - when this is cleaned up I will have a will. Too little? Too late? Yes, for right now - but....

Hugs and best wishes and Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000 Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org
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Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 22:21:12 -0700

Subject: Saturday

Hi - Thought I'd check in and give you a POSITIVE update. How's that for a surprise?

The meeting today turned out to be a godsend.

Frankly I had dreaded going and thought up all kinds of excuses as to why I couldn't attend. At some point though another part of what's left of my brain kicked my tailbone and I got out of the house this morning and went.

I actually had a good experience. I didn't pay much attention, but the contact with other people and the lack of focus on my 'misery' was worth the effort. One fellow and I talked in depth about some of my issues - and a couple of ladies made an extra effort to express their feelings and all-in-all it was a good experience.

Best of all I got some hugs - boy, I had an idea I was missing something - and actual human contact is one of them - by the way - the hugs came from guys and gals - nothing gender specific - just human.

Chatted with Lee. He sounds Great! I'm happy for him. And he sounds ecstatic!

Good chat with Dawn - sounds like her sales are doing well - and the summer plans for childcare sound ambitious - told her I'd check in after about 3 weeks of it and see how she is doing then. Leigha is coming up Thursday - I'm sort of tied up with Keith (Sun - Wed a.m. and a Dealing with Grief meeting Wed eve).

Now - Grandma - how about some insider tips on food, etc for Leigha. I've asked Dawn and Lee for help and hopefully they'll stick a note or two in her stuff. But I figure you've got the insider tips that few people know, and I'll need all the help I can get. As part of a couple I did great - as the whole show - well there is reason to doubt my skills in the kitchen....

Hope Ken makes it home for the anniversary and that this finds you in good health and spirits. Take care and thanks for your support! Dave
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Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 22:40:03 -0700

Subject: Mothers, couples - saddness and time

On Sun, 19 Mar 2000 01:17:47 EST, com wrote:

Reading everyone's posts the past few days, I'm struck by how much I have in common, oddly, with widows and widowers, even though it was my dear mother I lost a few months back. I guess it's because Mom and I lived together all these years and shared everything together.

Dear Geri Ann,

You are right - when you are as close to someone as you were with your Mother the loss has got to be great - it is the relationship that binds people, - and to lose a Mother has to be a double loss - one for the relationship and one for the Mother role. My heart goes out to you.

When my Mom died - I'd already been gone for years and other relationships were in my life - so I lost my Mom - but I had others to fall back on.

I know as a kid I had nightmares about losing my parents - but as time went on and I was gone from home longer - those young worries changed.

But I recall enough to know that if I had been there, the loss would have equaled or exceeded the loss I feel of Ellen. Grief is not confined to couples - and it surely manifests itself in the same painful ways.

I've already met the folks who don't know about Ellen, and it is painful to be the bearer of sad tidings - it is something I don't look forward to and it will continue for months I am afraid.

Now, as spring begins - I will start dealing with the plants and gardens and, alone, see the beauty replace the harshness of winter and I expect I will find tears watering the flowers for days to come. So your electric lawnmower story hits home with me....really hits home.

Shopping is okay with me - we did it together - but a guy is never a shopper-friend like a gal and so we didn't bind together much on our shopping trips.

The cupboards will be a challenge for a long time. Good memories and good food go together and the empty place at the table is tough enough without all the other mental surprises that the future holds. Dang it,

this isn't a pleasant time of life. Sure wish there were ways to trick the mind and still the memories, but then we'd be robots instead of humans....

I'm glad I've the memories -

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000 Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org
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"FACING-AHEAD@LISTSERV.ACOR.ORG" [FACING-AHEAD@LISTSERV.ACOR.ORG]

Date: Mon, 20 Mar 2000 21:48:38 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Numb

On Mon, 20 Mar 2000 23:21:27 -0600, Andi Summer wrote:

I am going through a very strange stage of grief right now. It has been six weeks since Jerry died and I can't remember him. I look at pictures and I remember doing all those things but I feel numb...detached from it all somehow. I can't cry anymore. This feels very weird.

Andi - I think I can relate - and my problem went back to shortly after Ellen's death in early February - all of a sudden I could not recall her face - and to this day I cannot - I can recall images of photographs - but not her live face in any situation. I do however remember her dying face - and that may be the block that stops any other memory - just the last image stays - or has stayed. And that image brings up all kinds of fears, what-ifs, and doubts. Terrible feelings and ones that I have to literallly shake myself to overcome. But right now it is the only image that I have.

I am crying less - and when I do it is more out of my pain or desparation -

I know I need help and Wednesday I am seeing a pyschiatrist (who we had known together) and then going to a Grief meeting - my first attempt at either since her death. I really need some help dealing with the issues and my reactions - and I can't afford to create my own problems that will interfere with the family (distant as they are at times - maybe because of me?) or friends.

This likely hasn't helped you much - though it helped me to finally type it out and realize the block that I have. God, I wish and pray that life could be easier for you, me and everyone else on this list. And I do find that prayer to God does help me at the worst moments - maybe I should pray more in the good moments as well.

My best and hugs to you and all,

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000 Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org
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Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2000 21:31:16 -0700

Subject: Wednesday Evening

Hi Sandy,

Thanks for the upbeat and nice note. Always good to hear from you.

Keith left this morning and then I wrapped up a couple of things, assemble some more of Ellen's clothing for the clothing bank, tried to find some parts for my ladybug trap, visited with the pyschiatrist and then went to a grief support group. Got the horses in and ate some beans and rice. Then I watched my favorite Law and Order and now here I am at the keyboard. The day went by literally that fast.

The visit with the pyschiatrist went well. He knew the two of us. He asked some probing questions: Where is Ellen now? How is Ellen now? What does Ellen think of your grieving? And a couple more along the same lines. Really caught me off guard and forced some thinking.

I see Ellen in an afterlife, of which I know nothing - though I believe it to be a heaven, and she is fine, she is satisfied with my grieving and is prodding me to get on with life.

We talked about cancer and death and my last image of her (dead) and the difficulty in recalling any other image of her (this is not unusual) and all in all it was extremely beneficial.

He strongly recommends a gravesite - or similar memorial - which is a conclusion I had reached on my own some days ago - and thinks, in response to a question of mine, that reserving some time in the morning and in the evening to devote to mourning or grieving might be a good idea - this would help someone like me who is subject to spontaneous recalls at times when they can't be handled. So I've some things to think about.

My interest in the gravesite came from my own deduction that our ancestors were quite wise. Most of our ancestors are buried in fairly close proximity - one town or another - in NY. Just walking into the cemetery gives one a sense of the loss of others, a reminder that others have endured loss and grief, and a sense of the honoring that cemeteries bring to the deceased (in our culture). And at the time of a service one realizes that we are not alone and that others have been here before.

The support group was outstanding. About a dozen people - half male and female - were there. The grief ran the gauntlet of parents and spouses and each was in a different place and time. I was barely able to speak - and this was a surprise. But vocalizing out loud about a loss to strangers does stretch one and does allow one to feel things. Once through it I felt at home and comfortable and I am looking forward to the next visit. It is like the cancer support group, you are surrounded by folks who are experiencing something very much like what I am going through - they aren't judgemental, they aren't in a hurry for me to 'get better' nor are they telling me what to think. So the sense of support is quite great - and like the cemetery mentioned earlier, this common meeting allows me to see that I am not alone, in any sense of the word, here in my journey of grief.

Hope this finds you in a clean home! Just kiddin! I still have a bed to make and laundry to take care of tonight - Love,

Dave

Dave Palmer - Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org I got in the gene pool while the life guard wasn't watching.
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Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2000 22:02:31 -0700

Subject: Shrink or shrank

Hi Barb,

Thanks for the note -

Yes, I wander around a bit. The home is way too large for 1 - and many would call it a burden. But each of us chose it for unique reasons - and my reasons are still valid - even though it will occupy a fair amount of attention.

Eat? Not a problem. For years Ellen and I had worked out a comfortable style. I'd switched to a lowfat (except for ice cream) diet and then went berserk and really cranked down on the food (in an attempt to lower cholesterol - which didn't really work) and I've stuck to it. The net of that is that I was already comfortable cooking my meals. When she was alive she would cook her meals and we would eat together.

Now meals are lonesome time. And that is hard. TV is not a good companion - but sometimes better than nothing - music is better - depending upon my mood and there is always a fallback to the daily newspapers.

I went to see my 'shrink' today. Ellen and I had visited him for tuneups over the years and he is a good guy and pyschiatrist as well. He admitted he was useless on cancer counseling and got us into a hospital support group. Sometime last week I figured out I needed some help. Today he was valuable to me and that matters. He really liked Ellen and was noticeably bothered over her death.

Then - due to my scheduling skill - I went to a grief support group. Turned out to be an excellent choice. Listening to 12 others, who are on the same highway, was wonderful. You can't imagine how good it felt to learn that there are people experiencing the same fears, thoughts and worries. Somehow the world seems a little friendlier. I really had some trouble getting words out - but that is okay - talking to strangers about one of life's biggest changes is not easy - especially when one doesn't want attention.

All in all it was a good day - one I can look back on with some sense of pleasure. Now I need to finish up the laundry, and get ready for my granddaughter who I pick up tomorrow. Leigha is staying through Sunday noon - so it should be good therapy for me and hopefully for her too.

Take care,

Dave Dave Palmer - Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org I got in the gene pool while the life guard wasn't watching.
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Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2000 21:31:16 -0700

Subject: Wednesday Evening

Hi Sandy,

Thanks for the upbeat and nice note. Always good to hear from you.

Keith left this morning and then I wrapped up a couple of things, assemble some more of Ellen's clothing for the clothing bank, tried to find some parts for my ladybug trap, visited with the pyschiatrist and then went to a grief support group. Got the horses in and ate some beans and rice. Then I watched my favorite Law and Order and now here I am at the keyboard. The day went by literally that fast.

The visit with the pyschiatrist went well. He knew the two of us. He asked some probing questions: Where is Ellen now? How is Ellen now? What does Ellen think of your grieving? And a couple more along the same lines. Really caught me off guard and forced some thinking.

I see Ellen in an afterlife, of which I know nothing - though I believe it to be a heaven, and she is fine, she is satisfied with my grieving and is prodding me to get on with life.

We talked about cancer and death and my last image of her (dead) and the difficulty in recalling any other image of her (this is not unusual) and all in all it was extremely beneficial.

He strongly recommends a gravesite - or similar memorial - which is a conclusion I had reached on my own some days ago - and thinks, in response to a question of mine, that reserving some time in the morning and in the evening to devote to mourning or grieving might be a good idea - this would help someone like me who is subject to spontaneous recalls at times when they can't be handled. So I've some things to think about.

My interest in the gravesite came from my own deduction that our ancestors were quite wise. Most of our ancestors are buried in fairly close proximity - one town or another - in NY. Just walking into the cemetery gives one a sense of the loss of others, a reminder that others have endured loss and grief, and a sense of the honoring that cemeteries bring to the deceased (in our culture). And at the time of a service one realizes that we are not alone and that others have been here before.

The support group was outstanding. About a dozen people - half male and female - were there. The grief ran the gauntlet of parents and spouses and each was in a different place and time. I was barely able to speak - and this was a surprise. But vocalizing out loud about a loss to strangers does stretch one and does allow one to feel things. Once through it I felt at home and comfortable and I am looking forward to the next visit. It is like the cancer support group, you are surrounded by folks who are experiencing something very much like what I am going through - they aren't judgemental, they aren't in a hurry for me to 'get better' nor are they telling me what to think. So the sense of support is quite great - and like the cemetery mentioned earlier, this common meeting allows me to see that I am not alone, in any sense of the word, here in my journey of grief.

Hope this finds you in a clean home! Just kiddin! I still have a bed to make and laundry to take care of tonight - Love, Dave

Dave Palmer - I got in the gene pool while the life guard wasn't watching.
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Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2000 21:47:24 -0700

Subject: Re: (no subject)

Hi Laura,

Thanks for the wonderful and comforting note! No apology is ever needed, especially when the mail contains such wonderful words as yours.

Ellen was a delight - and she is missed - by you, by me, and by many. We were fortunate to know her.

I am doing what every grieving spouse does - stumbling some days, running on others, and collapsing on still others. Find there is no road map and that every trip is different. I do know this is one trip I will not rush and that's okay. We had a long happy realtionship and it can't end as abruptly as death -

Take care, be gentle with yourself and again, thanks Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000 22:12:48 -0700

Subject: Stuff -

Hi Sandy - Hope you didn't mind me copying you on my response to Grace - maybe I should have waited a day before sending it - but I felt like what I typed. She does have lessons in life, but chooses to ignore them. I remember Dad telling me in Ft. Collins - that poker is hot - I didn't believe him - and it was hot - and then I learned the value of believing.

I thought I was doing well. I picked up Leigha today. This is her first visit by herself since Ellen died. We hadn't driven 1 mile before both of us were in tears. I thought I'd done a lot of grieving already - but now I know I haven't even started some of it. This young lady brought so much of Ellen to the surface that it was almost worse than at the time of her death in February. But the simple way in which she talked about or cried about her grandmother made it natural and despite the initial pain, comfortable.

I found in that young lady more support and more common grief than I have in any of the family members. She simply says what she feels and doesn't hide it. It makes it easier for me - yet painful - all at the same time.

I just tucked her into bed and I feel more at peace than I have in some time - yet I am emotionally drained. She and I have just taken baby steps on our joint grief journey - and we have a long ways to go - and by Sunday when she has to leave - we will be bound together in other ways - and hopefully ways which last her lifetime.

It is so hard to see someone so young having so much pain and grief - and my heart and prayers go out for her. I did ask her some of the questions that were asked of me. Where is Ellen? How is Ellen? And she had some good honest answers that served to calm her and I think I saw a change.

Coincidentally the funeral home had asked me to stop by today, which we did. Their counselor had prepared some grieving information for me and had put in it a scrapbook for children. Leigha looked at it and started crying - and tonight I looked at it and understood why she cried - but I think tomorrow we will use the scrapbook to help guide us on this path - and I pray it brings us out together with some peace in our hearts.

Leigha and I had some great times today too. We celebrated our first, do it yourself dinner! That's no small accomplishment. We shopped for stuff for me - and got to see feed stores, hardware stores, books stores, and pet stores - all full of stuff to enchant a 9-year old mind. She now has a pair of 'real farm boots' (men size 4) and boot socks. She thinks they are great - and I do too - much better than the typical girls boot - especially when walking through mud to the manure pile. We have two books on astronomy so we can figure out the constellations in tomorrow nights sky and we have a date to watch the "Wizard of Oz" as well. She also brought in two horses by herself - oh I helped a little - and I think she will sleep well tonight.

So it looks like grief is a home with many rooms - and many nooks and crannies - I just hope the lights work and that I can open the windows and let some fresh air in each room.

Thanks for listening/reading my 'stuff' - it helps to write of what is happening. I've tried telling things to the wall - but it doesn't seem to help near as much.

Well - time to go off to another room - lights on! window open! Love you! Dave Dave Palmer - "The defect of equality is that we only desire it with our superiors.", -Henry Becque

Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000 22:03:16 -0700

Subject: A different chapter

Dear family members,

Wow - I've just entered another grieving room. Yesterday I saw a psychiartrist and went to my first grief group and today my granddaughter came for a 4 day stay.

The psychiatrist knew us quite well. We had seen him off and on, for tuneups, over the past 8 years. He asked some probing questions: Where is Ellen now? How is Ellen now? What does Ellen think of your grieving? And a couple more along the same lines. Really caught me off guard and forced some thinking.

I see Ellen in an afterlife, of which I know nothing - though I believe it to be a heaven, and she is fine, she is satisfied with my grieving and is prodding me to get on with life.

We talked about cancer and death and my last image of her (dead) and the difficulty in recalling any other image of her (this is not unusual he says) and all in all it was extremely beneficial.

He strongly recommends a gravesite - or similar memorial - which is a conclusion I had reached on my own some days ago - and thinks, in response to a question of mine, that reserving some time in the morning and in the evening to devote to mourning or grieving might be a good idea - this would help someone like me who is subject to spontaneous recalls at times when they can't be handled. So I've some things to think about.

My interest in the gravesite came from my own deduction that our ancestors were quite wise. Most of our ancestors are buried in fairly close proximity - one town or another - in NY. Just walking into the cemetery gives one a sense of the loss of others, a reminder that others have endured loss and grief, and a sense of the honoring that cemeteries bring to the deceased (in our culture). And at the time of a service one realizes that we are not alone and that others have been here before.

The support group was outstanding. About a dozen people - half male and female - were there. The grief ran the gauntlet of parents and spouses and each was in a different place and time. I was barely able to speak - and this was a surprise. But vocalizing out loud about a loss to strangers does stretch one and does allow one to feel things. Once through it I felt at home and comfortable and I am looking forward to the next visit. It is like the cancer support group, you are surrounded by folks who are experiencing something very much like what I am going through - they aren't judgemental, they aren't in a hurry for me to 'get better' nor are they telling me what to think. So the sense of support is quite great - and like the cemetery mentioned earlier, this common meeting allows me to see that I am not alone, in any sense of the word, here in my journey of grief.

Then today I went to pick up our 9 year old granddaughter. This is her first visit by herself since Ellen died. We hadn't driven 1 mile before both of us were in tears. I thought I'd done a lot of grieving already - but now I know I haven't even started some of it. This young lady brought so much of Ellen to the surface that it was almost worse than at the time of her death in February. But the simple way in which she talked about or cried about her grandmother made it natural and despite the initial pain, comfortable.

I found in that young lady more support and more common grief than I have in any of the adult family members. She simply says what she feels and doesn't hide it. It makes it easier for me - yet painful - all at the same time.

I just tucked her into bed and I feel more at peace than I have in some time - yet I am emotionally drained. She and I have just taken baby steps on our joint grief journey - and we have a long ways to go - and by Sunday when she has to leave - we will be bound together in other ways - and hopefully ways which last her lifetime.

It is so hard to see someone so young having so much pain and grief - and my heart and prayers go out for her. I did ask her some of the questions that were asked of me. Where is Ellen? How is Ellen? And she had some good honest answers that served to calm her and I think I saw a change.

Coincidentally the funeral home had asked me to stop by today, which we did. Their counselor had prepared some grieving information for me and had put in it a scrapbook for children. Leigha looked at it and started crying - and tonight I looked at it and understood why she cried - but I think tomorrow we will use the scrapbook to help guide us on this path - and I pray it brings us out together with some peace in our hearts.

Leigha and I had some great times today too. We celebrated our first, do it yourself dinner! That's no small accomplishment. We shopped for stuff for me - and got to see feed stores, hardware stores, books stores, and pet stores - all full of stuff to enchant a 9-year old mind. She now has a pair of 'real farm boots' (men size 4) and boot socks. She thinks they are great - and I do too - much better than the typical girls boot - especially when walking through mud to the manure pile. We have two books on astronomy so we can figure out the constellations in tomorrow nights sky and we have a date to watch the "Wizard of Oz" as well. She also brought in two horses by herself - oh I helped a little - and I think she will sleep well tonight.

So it looks like grief is a home with many rooms - and many nooks and crannies - I just hope the lights work and that I can open the windows and let some fresh air in each room.

But I sure hate the loneliness and the loss of a love.

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000 Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org
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Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000 22:12:48 -0700

Subject: Stuff -

Hi Sandy - Hope you didn't mind me copying you on my response to Grace - maybe I should have waited a day before sending it - but I felt like what I typed. She does have lessons in life, but chooses to ignore them. I remember Dad telling me in Ft. Collins - that poker is hot - I didn't believe him - and it was hot - and then I learned the value of believing.

I thought I was doing well. I picked up Leigha today. This is her first visit by herself since Ellen died. We hadn't driven 1 mile before both of us were in tears. I thought I'd done a lot of grieving already - but now I know I haven't even started some of it. This young lady brought so much of Ellen to the surface that it was almost worse than at the time of her death in February. But the simple way in which she talked about or cried about her grandmother made it natural and despite the initial pain, comfortable.

I found in that young lady more support and more common grief than I have in any of the family members. She simply says what she feels and doesn't hide it. It makes it easier for me - yet painful - all at the same time.

I just tucked her into bed and I feel more at peace than I have in some time - yet I am emotionally drained. She and I have just taken baby steps on our joint grief journey - and we have a long ways to go - and by Sunday when she has to leave - we will be bound together in other ways - and hopefully ways which last her lifetime.

It is so hard to see someone so young having so much pain and grief - and my heart and prayers go out for her. I did ask her some of the questions that were asked of me. Where is Ellen? How is Ellen? And she had some good honest answers that served to calm her and I think I saw a change.

Coincidentally the funeral home had asked me to stop by today, which we did. Their counselor had prepared some grieving information for me and had put in it a scrapbook for children. Leigha looked at it and started crying - and tonight I looked at it and understood why she cried - but I think tomorrow we will use the scrapbook to help guide us on this path - and I pray it brings us out together with some peace in our hearts.

Leigha and I had some great times today too. We celebrated our first, do it yourself dinner! That's no small accomplishment. We shopped for stuff for me - and got to see feed stores, hardware stores, books stores, and pet stores - all full of stuff to enchant a 9-year old mind. She now has a pair of 'real farm boots' (men size 4) and boot socks. She thinks they are great - and I do too - much better than the typical girls boot - especially when walking through mud to the manure pile. We have two books on astronomy so we can figure out the constellations in tomorrow nights sky and we have a date to watch the "Wizard of Oz" as well. She also brought in two horses by herself - oh I helped a little - and I think she will sleep well tonight.

So it looks like grief is a home with many rooms - and many nooks and crannies - I just hope the lights work and that I can open the windows and let some fresh air in each room.

Thanks for listening/reading my 'stuff' - it helps to write of what is happening. I've tried telling things to the wall - but it doesn't seem to help near as much.

Well - time to go off to another room - lights on! window open! Love you! Dave Dave Palmer - Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org "The defect of equality is that we only desire it with our superiors.", -Henry Becque
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Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2000 15:57:16 -0700

Subject: Re: [MM] transition from SMM to MM

Thanks for 'hero' comment - doubt that it fits, but it sounds great!

The other parts of my life are in a flux - caregiving was a challenge, but it certainly had a nature to it - whereas grieving is more like unscheduled fireworks.

In between bouts of the latter I try in fit in a return to a normal life. I still have the farm, 5 horses and the chores that go with them - and that gets me up in the morning. For the last many years I've been involved in water quality issues and started a nonprofit corporation focusing on outreach and education - and that has been a connecting link to the nonmedical world for some time. The last year or so it took a back seat and gradually I am spending more time focusing on it - and I better start spending more time 'doing'. I'm the editor for a monthly newsletter (45,000 copies) and maintain our website too.

We just experienced a real low in nonprofit finances and a miraculous recovery last week. That eased some anguish and gave me 10 more months free of immediate fund raising for operational purposes. Still need more funds for programs, but at least we can pay the rent, utility and telephone.

On the home front trying to find out who I am, and where I am going takes a little time. For this year, at least, I've promised to nuture Ellen's flower garden (huge) and that will take some time and provide a heck of a lot of therapy. The horses will stay until I am comfortable with decision making and mucking manure always brings one back to earth. The traditional rural homeowner activities fill in the blank space (pump repairs, lawns, moving hay, getting feed, etc.).

Frankly though, the biggest issue for me right now is motivation. "Why bother?" seems to be a constant theme in my rattled brain. That should pass - and I will be glad when it does - it is a lot easier to charge one's batteries when the wires are hooked up correctly and right now mine seem to have a short somewhere.

I've visited our psychiatrist (we used to go in for occasional tuneups) and a grief group. Our cancer support group was great, and it looks like my two new adventures will be extremely beneficial.

Thanks for the 'hero' award - it perked me up and I'll keep pluggin' along - one step at a time, one day at a time.

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000 Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org
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Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2000 10:38:06 -0500 From: Grace Swisher ]

Subject: [MM] Three weeks ago Today Another angel returned Home,

Good Morning Everyone,

Its been three weeks today since the spirit of my precious husband returned home . I know I'm not the only one that has gone through this intense pain of disconnection and extreme loneliness. We dedicated and devoted our entire marriage to making each others dreams come true. I thank God for the twenty years of the happiest time in my life, to have had such a Precious husband . In grieving I found this,

and thought that others might benefit from it.

To those I love and those who loved me When I am gone,release me,let me go.

I have so many things to see and do.

You mustn't tie yourself to me with tears; Be thankful for our beautiful years.

I gave you my love, you can only guess How much you gave me in happiness.

I thank you for the love each has shown,

And now it is time that I travel alone.

So grieve a while for me, if grieve you must,

Then let your grief be comforted in trust.

It's only for a time we must part So bless the memories within your heart.

I won't be far away, for life goes on.

So, if you need me, call me, and I will come.

Though you can't see me or touch me, I'll be near.

And if you listen within your heart, you will hear All my love around you soft and clear.

And then, when you must come this way alone I'll greet you with a smile and say "Welcome home."

Thanks for all the love and support from all of you,

God Bless you all,

Grace
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Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2000 07:45:20 -0700

Subject: Re: [MM] Three weeks ago Today Another angel returned Home

Dearest Grace,

What a wonderful poem and it says so much.

Your husband and Ellen must be friends by now and your poem surely reached out to all of us who have lost a loved one.

Like you - we created a life together for 20 years - and the void that death caused is surely a strange one to get used to.

I liken it to learning to walk with one leg, and everytime I find a stick to use for a crutch the stick breaks. I've recently found better sticks but they break now and then and it does create a challenge.

I have found that prayer helps a lot and does provide a release. This process of grieving is surely a journey and with one or two legs under us we will make the trip and find ourselves whereever the road continues to go.

I hope your journey becomes pleasant.

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000 Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org
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Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2000 18:57:00 -0700

Subject: Re: Mosquito Bait has returned

Mosquito Bait - how do you say that in spanish and chinese?

Glad you had a good time. I'll bet your Dad was sorry he missed the trip, but certainly it was a wise choice (I guess, since I don't know his current status). Hopefully he is improving and can return to traveling once again.

I'm like a candle burnt at both ends. Company (Keith and then Leigha) all week and after rampaging in the garden and triming a wisteria and doing horse chores, laundry, etc (after taking Leigha halfway home) I'm whooped tonight.

No one told me a grandchild could trigger such emotions as we felt. It went well, but it was tough at times. She is doing okay - it seems - but I suspect I'm her only real support in this process and it will take another visit or two to see her on her way to dealing with the loss. She left with some jewelry, some upper end ceramics, and we stashed some necklaces away, in a hidden secret spot, until she is "older".

The hummers came back two weeks ago, so she enjoyed watching them and imagining where they nested and how big the eggs might be. The horses were her big 'deal' and she enjoyed mucking stalls and feeding and got up to help turn them out in the mornings. She is also the proud owner of a new pair of 'farm boots' men size 3! (Her folks only buy her 'in' boots that are suitable for some rain drops.)

The grieving has been a tough process and will continue to be. Here is part of what I sent my older sister the other day after visiting a pyschiatrist and a grief group....

The visit with the pyschiatrist went well. He knew the two of us. He asked some probing questions: Where is Ellen now? How is Ellen now? What does Ellen think of your grieving? And a couple more along the same lines. Really caught me off guard and forced some thinking.

I see Ellen in an afterlife, of which I know nothing - though I believe it to be a heaven, and she is fine, she is satisfied with my grieving and is prodding me to get on with life.

We talked about cancer and death and my last image of her (dead) and the difficulty in recalling any other image of her (this is not unusual) and all in all it was extremely beneficial.

He strongly recommends a gravesite - or similar memorial - which is a conclusion I had reached on my own some days ago - and thinks, in response to a question of mine, that reserving some time in the morning and in the evening to devote to mourning or grieving might be a good idea - this would help someone like me who is subject to spontaneous recalls at times when they can't be handled. So I've some things to think about.

My interest in the gravesite came from my own deduction that our ancestors were quite wise. Most of our ancestors are buried in fairly close proximity - one town or another - in NY. Just walking into the cemetery gives one a sense of the loss of others, a reminder that others have endured loss and grief, and a sense of the honoring that cemeteries bring to the deceased (in our culture). And at the time of a service one realizes that we are not alone and that others have been here before.

The support group was outstanding. About a dozen people - half male and female - were there. The grief ran the gauntlet of parents and spouses and each was in a different place and time. I was barely able to speak - and this was a surprise. But vocalizing out loud about a loss to strangers does stretch one and does allow one to feel things. Once through it I felt at home and comfortable and I am looking forward to the next visit. It is like the cancer support group, you are surrounded by folks who are experiencing something very much like what I am going through - they aren't judgemental, they aren't in a hurry for me to 'get better' nor are they telling me what to think. So the sense of support is quite great - and like the cemetery mentioned earlier, this common meeting allows me to see that I am not alone, in any sense of the word, here in my journey of grief.

So it looks like grief is a home with many rooms - and many nooks and crannies - I just hope the lights work and that I can open the windows and let some fresh air in each room.

So that's a summary Lani - at sea in a sail boat, winds up, sails are set, and I've lost the rudder. Bummer! It's going to take a while using the male 'fix-it' mentality to construct a new rudder out of seaweed. That's the type of chore men do best.

I'm not making any major decisions - now or in the near future. I do have to go through probate (who, us? make plans? never!) and that's about the biggest decision I'll make. On the routine side of things I've started placing clothing with our local clothing bank (free to needy folks) and so far I've made 4 trips - each one easier than the previous. Still have at least 4 more to go (she was a good dresser!) and then hundreds of yards of material and boxes of ceramic bisque (or is it bisk?) to place with appropriate groups. Without going into details - that's only a part of what is in front of me - tasks both painful and pleasant - a duty and an honor - and damned if I ever wanted to do them!

Did go to a meeting of nonprofits recently. It had been on the calendar for a long time. I almost avoided going - but once there it was nice to be welcomed and nice to be focused on other topics. A few free hugs helped cement the feelings of a day well spent.

I also this week managed to get our nonprofit rent reduced almost in half and that was a major victory. The CRC was facing a major financial crisis (as if I needed another) and doomsday was at hand. With the rental reduction our finances are secured through January 2001 - and that is one less item for me to worry about. True, I still need to find more - but at least I have some breathing space. One board member resigned (hooray) for general reasons - but the underlying one was simply an inability or willingness to raise funds or pledge funds. So I need to find another dedicated person - but that is easier than carrying along drift wood.

The homefront is manageable - if I keep my head on straight and stick to a schedule. That seems to be the ticket - just do things robotlike and don't debate with myself over the meaning of things or the relative importance of things. The one question that still stymies me is 'why am I doing this?' and until I get past that I've got to be a robot.

Hey - sorry to wear your eyeballs out - and there sure is no need to respond to everything or anything - in fact that is why the software has a delete function.

Take care! Dave Dave Palmer - Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org "The best things in life aren't things."
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Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 21:37:45 -0700

Subject: Howdy

Hi Chris - Thought I'd check in - hope all is well at your end.

Tried to reach your Mom on Monday and tonight and no answer. Don't know if she simply isn't answering or if something else is up. Do you know anything? I'll call her friend tomorrow night if I don't get an answer.

Lee is now starting truck driving for Sysco. Happy as a clam in salt water. And so is the family.

Leigha spent 3 full days with me last week. What a delight! She is one nice, sweet little girl. Nice manners, easy to get along with and very normal. We had a good time.

Think she and I hit it off okay. We talked a fair amount about Ellen. In fact after I picked her up in Kelso we hadn't driven a mile before we were both in tears. She is good for me, and I know I am good for her. We have easy talks and we both share some special feelings about Ellen.

After a week of company - Keith was here before Ellen - I had a really rough Monday. Big peaks and tremendously low valleys. Yuck.

Saw a psychiatrist almost two weeks ago - and he was great. Ellen and I had both seen him before, so he knew her well and really liked her attitude and abilities. I followed that with a grief group meeting - and that was another good decision. 12 or more other people around the table - all of them hurting too - and it did help - how? Danged if I know - guess being around people who listen, who don't give advice and don't try to 'fix me' is nice.

Question - you sent us a food processor for Christmas. Ellen delayed opening it until January - and the actual box has never been open. Do you want to return it, or me to return it, for credit to your account? It is something I'll likely never use. Another choice would be to pass it on to Lee. Any ideas or comments?

I slowly moving Ellen's personal stuff to folks who can use it. Found a retirement center in Tumwater which will use all her ceramic stuff (boxes of it) and it is on its way. We have a clothing bank for the poor here in town and each week I take one load of items that they can use. They really appreciate her clothing - it was nice, in good shape and clean. I've enough for several more weeks of donations. A little hard on me, but it is sure better than having someone rip everything out in one day and empty the entire house.

There are also about 30 boxes of sewing materials for me to find a home. The Lewis County Senior Citizens group is interested and tomorrow I am going to visit the Grays Harbor unit in Elma. Hope to find some quilters that can use it.

And there are a couple of dozen teddy bears of various sizes that she bought in the last 4 years - all basically new - and more than I care to feed and take care of :-) So I'm looking for a home for them and think I've found a children's advocacy group in Aberdeen. I'll pay them a visit on Friday and see what their operation is like.

Her really personal items - jewelry and photos and books and things like that I am going to sit on for a while. Decisions on stuffed bears and ceramics is easy - even in my state - but the other items will require a calmer mind and more rational thought. Time will tell.

Next week my grandson Esai is visiting for a few days. Seems every one is trying to keep this guy busy - and it works and it helps.

This has got to sound like a dray and rather boring. In some ways it is, but despite losing her, it is an honor to be responsible for her posessions and I take it quite seriously. She was quite the lady and human being!

Hope this finds you well - the band in tune - and the play dates all booked.

Love ya and take care of yourself!

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000 Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org
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Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 08:21:52 -0700

Subject: Re-introduction

My name is Dave.

I came here shortly after my wife, Ellen, died on 2/8/2000. She died suddenly of pneumonia though she was fighting Multiple Myeloma.

This group was confusing at first because I joined amidst the grieving of others, but very quickly I found a home and lots of loving and caring support.

I can say without a doubt these past weeks have been unlike anything I ever knew. All the anxiety, fear, stress, anger, loneliness, tears and terror that I had ever known in the rest of my life seemed to be piled up against me again, just since her death.

There have been numerous good times. They seem to come more frequently and they seem to last longer. I had company all Sunday through Sunday of last week, and yesterday, Monday, was one of the worst days I've ever had. Today, Tuesday, already seems 100 times better.

I use prayer a lot. I also chose to visit a pyschiatrist and join a grief support group. They both were great for me. Like this online group, the group members are from a lot of different backgrounds and they aren't judgemental, they haven't told me how to think or what to do. Sometimes talking is all I need - and right now I feel like my physical friends have dropped by the wayside and so e-friends and support groups are valuable to me.

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 09:10:56 -0700

Subject: Tueday

Hi Donna - Thanks for the 2nd note.

Yesterday was the absolute pits. I wouldn't wish grief on anyone. Having had company for a week, the change to an empty house brough all kinds of grief to the surface. I've never prayed so much or cried so much in one day - so, I am still slugging along on this journey.

From what I've learned from others - in person and from e-persons - this is not at all unusual - damn! I was hoping it came in a box of cereal or by watching TV. Guess not.

It looks like a so-so day. Woke up to pouring rain and crows (I hate those buggers!). But the sky is trying to clear.

Despite my Monday miseries - I started some projects. No - they don't get fewer in the good weather- they increase at least 10 fold. But so does my strength and it always has been good to get outside. Restarted my daily walks yesterday - for the first time - well, I won't tell you how long it has been since I've been able to... Part of my process is to do some uncomfortable things each day - and learn if they are something I want to continue. So I've added time in the flower garden - and yesterday was my third day of that effort. I think I've a few hundred hours ahead of me out there. That was Ellen's love - and now I need to see how much effort I am willing to expend - but I can only figure that out after I've done it for a year. Time will tell.

Do hope Lee's driving is a blast! He sure sounds excited about it and I am rooting for him. Doubt that I would like the hours though. Too bad there isn't a 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. shift or something reasonable like that. I sure see enough trucks on the road during the day that somebody has a shift like that.

Port Townsend can be reached by going up through Oly or going to Seattle and taking a ferryboat. Either way I am still off the beaten track - but if Ken wants to stop by, have him call first to see if I am home? He would sure be welcomed - if his schedule and mine work out.

Leigha's visit was and still is a high point. She brought a lot of tears to my eyes at times - and she had her share too. I had been asked by the funeral home to stop by and pick up some items, which we did on Thursday. They had some grief-dealing things including a scrapbook for her. She started some work on it and decided to leave it here for her next visit. So we've a common project to work on (they gave me the adult version).

She was quite a trooper and did a lot to help me with the horses. Feed, pick, etc. She even helped bring them in and turn them out. She's a good worker and just plain nice to be with. It is such a delight to be around her.

Thanks, too, for the earlier update on Ken's progress. Hope things get better and the meds work. Do keep me in mind after you've visited the specialist?

Well, I've got to get the day going - late breakfast and off I go.

Say hi to all

Dave Palmer - If we do not change our direction, we are likely to wind up where we are headed. - ancient Chinese Proverb
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Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000 23:44:06 -0700

Subject: Dear Abby and where I am at...

A grief counselor I was talking to today mentioned a Dear Abby column which appeared in our local Washington newspaper on March 28.

I retrieved my copy from the trash and found a fairly intelligent and compassionate letter which started off her column. There were two additional letters from folks who have made significant progress in grieving.

All in all I found it enlightening - but I noticed - my phone hasn't been ringing off the hook as a result of the first letter - which closed with the statement: "Please tell your readers, the next time they know someone is experiencing grief, to pick up the phone or pay a visit! It may be the only one the grieving person receives". Well I did get two wrong numbers at 6:15 a.m. this morning - did they count? Don't think so. Since I am tring to be flippant you can tell I had a better than usual day today.

I called Ellen's mother tonight to check in on her. She is 80 - and Ellen was 58 - and other than high blood pressure (which seems to be under control) she is holding her own. We talked a long time and she asked, for the first time, how Ellen died. I was able to tell her that she died peacefully and with no suffering (as you all know, none of us knows what happens inside the person, but she seemed peaceful). While I almost 'lost it' at that moment, I didn't. And that was a big step forward.

Her Mother shared some senior citizen wisdom. She had two items and as I think about it - especially in terms of my grief and grieving, I think both will help me.

The first one deals with right and wrong. She suggested using wise or unwise. This was something she had learned from a minister in the Unity Church. As I think about it - this one might really help me. Instead of asking myself "Is it right (or wrong) to grieve at this time on this day for Ellen?" I might ask "Is it wise or unwise to grieve at this time on this day for Ellen?" It is a subtle difference - but choosing wise or unwise seems softer and certainly less judgemental than right or wrong. Wise or unwise seems to guide me more than the judicial tone that comes with right or wrong. Does this make sense to anyone else besides me?

Her other advice dealt with a short prayer upon arising (also from Unity) - "Thank you God for the pleasant surprise I'll have today" I liked it - it sort of sets a tone of happy expectation and might help me look for little trinkets of joy that I might otherwise overlook.

Earlier today I had lunch with an old friend of Ellen's. I had called him (hint, hint) and we had a good time. I'd also met him a 12 days after Ellen's death and by comparison today's lunch was as different as night is from day. Today we talked of flower gardens (I'm trying to take over Ellen's work and she was a Master Gardener and I am a master gofer), computers, his family and it was pleasant for me and him!

I also visited a Senior Citizens center today. I am looking for a home for Ellen's sewing materials. She was an industrious crafts person and loved to sew. She loved to shop. I now have 30 boxes (banana boxes to be specific) full of material. The folks at the Senior Center are interested and so I will slowly move the material to them. They make blankets, comforters and more - and sell them to raise funds for the center. Seems like a good use of some great material. I also took another group of clothing to the local clothing bank. They are so appreciative and it seems to me to be a loving way to share her posessions with others less fortunate in terms of clothing.

Considering I was at the bottom of the emotional well on Monday - the recent changes and progress have been slow - yet rewarding.

I also know all too well, that I can get knocked down hard and it can happen real fast. I'm starting to dread tomorrow evening.

A fellow who came to the house as an EMT, the day Ellen died, is coming tomorrow as a farrier (pedicurist for horses) and friend. I've not seen him since the memorial service. For years he and Ellen really hit it off. I like Bill too - so I'm somewhat on edge - as I know talking about the events of that morning - when she was alive - to 2 hours later when she was dead - will be hard for me and Bill as well.

My heart goes out to all on this list - we came here for help and I've found a lot of help and support. Every note helps me understand my own situation a little better and though I can't stop others pain, I pray that you will find peace and understanding soon.

Hugs and prayers - Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000 Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org
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Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2000 07:28:15 -0700

Subject: RE: [F-AHEAD] "Think of Me"

Dave,

I just want to let you know that I look forward to hearing from you and I admire you greatly. Although you had no choice but to go on after losing your wife, I can see through your writing that you've faced your loss with great courage and compassion for others who have endured a loss of their own. You have a beautiful way of expressing yourself, and I have taken comfort in what you've shared with us many times. Thank you for that :)

Traci Thanks for the generous words. I wish I were as courageous as my words appear on a computer screen. Hidden behind my keyboard is a person who is sometimes terrified of the next thought or so full of tears that it hurts. It isn't always that way, thank God.

Living with, loving and caring for Ellen showed me the benefit of kindness and compassion. She was an excellent teacher and she had a profound impact on my life. She had the tough job, I had and have, the easier job.

After those years of cancer I learned how fortunate we were and my heart aches for those who had similar journeys and now are facing a new life without the one they loved so much.

Again, thanks for the generosity - it helps to start another day! Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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