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: Mon, 01 May 2000 21:14:24 -0700

Subject: small success

Just a quick, short, update. In the past I've complained about noncaring friends. Yesterday I reread the words 'the only cure for grief is to grieve' and said okay, I will.

Today I needed a friend to give me a lift to a meeting. This fellow and I have had lunch maybe 5 times since Ellen died and it was always a big bore to me and no help.

Today, in response to his 'how are you' - instead of saying my normal "I'm okay" I answered honestly, "I'm not doing well at all". Guess what - we had a good, long talk - the first in almost 3 months. It felt so good to have a friend listen to me and share feelings!

I needed a ride home after the meeting and this time the lady driver, who barely knows me, asked a leading question and I was able to casually open up my grief to her - turns out she's lost a sister to cancer and we were both able to talk about grief and dying.

So the lesson for me today is to take the risk and be honest about my grief - and just say how I really am feeling at that time.

You all know how I bounce around emotionally, tonight these two people have put some hope in my heart. I hope it stays around and works again tomorrow......

Hugs to all, Dave Dave Palmer Do you want what is on the ground in your water tomorrow? If not, then protect the earth....
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Date: Mon, 01 May 2000 21:14:24 -0700

Subject: small success

Just a quick, short, update. In the past I've complained about noncaring friends. Yesterday I reread the words 'the only cure for grief is to grieve' and said okay, I will.

Today I needed a friend to give me a lift to a meeting. This fellow and I have had lunch maybe 5 times since Ellen died and it was always a big bore to me and no help.

Today, in response to his 'how are you' - instead of saying my normal "I'm okay" I answered honestly, "I'm not doing well at all". Guess what - we had a good, long talk - the first in almost 3 months. It felt so good to have a friend listen to me and share feelings!

I needed a ride home after the meeting and this time the lady driver, who barely knows me, asked a leading question and I was able to casually open up my grief to her - turns out she's lost a sister to cancer and we were both able to talk about grief and dying.

So the lesson for me today is to take the risk and be honest about my grief - and just say how I really am feeling at that time.

You all know how I bounce around emotionally, tonight these two people have put some hope in my heart. I hope it stays around and works again tomorrow......

Hugs to all, Dave Dave Palmer Do you want what is on the ground in your water tomorrow? If not, then protect the earth....
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Date: Mon, 01 May 2000 22:42:43 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Dave

I'm getting long-winded again...sorry. Hang in there, together we can make it ! Anna,

You can get long-winded any time you want! A truly beautiful note about your father and it was wonderful to read. Thank you. You were blessed with a wonderful father and obviously a wonderful relationship. That is something to treasure.

Your note stimulated some thoughts in my mind - and I hope you don't mind me getting really long-winded.

I've often wondered, recently, about grief and how it relates to parents and spouses - and I've not even been able to think of the loss of a child.

When my Mom and then Dad died, now some years ago, I thought the world had ended - but after each death, I found thoughts not unlike the ones you so eloquently described. There was an duty or an obligation to carry on and at least, as a male child, continue the family. And that was what my Dad wanted me to do. In fact I can recall him sort of joking about that. Maybe as the only son I felt the 'advancement' to the position my parents once held. Does that make sense? I also recall the knowledge that I knew this would happen, and that I had mentally gone through their deaths and loss, before they did happen.

Now, when I mourn the loss of Ellen, a spouse, a friend, a lover, a companion, a alter-ego, a pillar, a warm embrace, and the emotional coupling there is nothing in my experience to prepare me. The void is unlike anything I could possibly imagine. This person was part of me and I was part of her and the two of us together were almost a third person. Not only has Ellen died - but part of me - and so has that couple person. I wonder if others who have lost a spouse feel the same difference. My logical brain can accept Ellen's death - my emotional brain cannot - this wasn't supposed to happen - this was not the 'right' time, this was not 'what we planned' and on and on. And there is where my grief comes from.

Ellen wasn't another generation marching off into history - we were on our own walk and the walk wasn't over and we were not ready to enter history.

I know, I will cure grief by grieving and time will change my feelings and today's reality will become tomorrow's faint memory. But meanwhile the battle between logic and emotions rages on - and spills out in periods of insecurity, unhappiness, loneliness and fear. I've a little quotation that I read often - "it is not a choice of pain or no pain, but how you will manage the pain for today" (or this minute). Sometimes I manage it okay, and other times not so well.

And as I write this, now it dawns on me why Lee (Ellen's son) appears to be doing so well. He is now where I was when Mom died - and Dad couldn't understand me for months, if not longer.

Guess there isn't anything new under the sun, and time will heal all things. Just show me the fast-forward button! (just joking!). This is all part of the journey, Ellen journied with dignity and grace at all times, and I hope to return to that path soon.

Thanks, Anna - and hugs, best wishes and peace to all - Dave
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Date: Tue, 02 May 2000 18:48:29 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Grief, The Movie....Take 87

Dear Andi and Kathy -

Take 87, then 88, then 89, 90 .... 142

The few moments my head has popped out of the pity pool, and the few times my eyes have been focused on the future, are generally when this humanoid has had some good days.

The catch for me is the desire to share the success. That's when the head submerges again and goop gets in my system and there is a rerun of take 1, or take 2.

So much of the fun in life has been the ability to share the taste of honey - and gosh, not having Ellen to partake in it has been a real downer. For many years one of the joys of living in a relationship was sharing the successes - as well as the losses.

One of our favorite techniques for dealing with unsolvable issues was to 'tell it to the wall' - but 'telling it to the wall' doesn't do well for sharing the good things in life. For the time being guess I'll have to adjust to talking to myself or the cat - the dog is too loopy to care and the horses only think about fresh grain. The cat, Igor, (real name Spartacus) at least appears interested and purrs. Spartacus by the way is a well deserved name - one day several years ago, while burning downed trees, Spartacus took off chasing a coyote (I had Ellen as a witness). One tough cat!

Andi - I admired your frankness on how things changed for you, as a couple, after the diagnosis. In retrospect I'd say we experienced a similar change - our big crisis before the diagnosis wasn't a fight - it was a flood in Feb (dx'd in March), and despite the magnitude of the damage and the repairs, we seemed to keep a focus on each other and the future - the realization that life is so fragile is certainly a humbling experience and puts all other things into perspective.

Yours was a touching story, thank you for taking the risk to share it!

Well, time to rewind the film, and see which take it stops on!

Take care, and watch out for coyotes.

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Tue, 02 May 2000 19:01:07 -0700

Subject: Hole in one?

Hi - Wondering if you made it to the golf retreat. Hope you did and hope you walked away with low score, several trophies and a sun tan.

Still bouncing around up here. My roller coaster seems to be going in a figure 8 shape. Somedays the track flattens out and other days the figure 8 is bent like the letter U.

Missed a call from Lee yesterday (Monday). Had a meeting that afternoon, after trying to arrange to get a car into service, get to a meeting 40 miles away and get a ride back home. These are all new experiences for me - and it takes time to work out what would be simple details for someone who has done them before. The car seems to have developed a pop in the front and a howl in the rear - hopefully not a big deal, but something that needs to be fixed. I'm hoping, if there is a bd party, to get down on Jasmines birthday - and if there is no party I might come anyhow.

Today was shopping and errand day. Tomorrow is 'shrink' day. And an errand or two. You'd think life would be simple for one. But it seems to have more than doubled the tasks. Ellen, bless her soul, was always a tremendous help, and even the days before her death was a godsend and help to me. So I am slowly picking up all that she did, plus trying to learn how to balance the day so I get something done.

Went to a retirement party/potluck Sunday. Good to get out. Good to me among friends I've known and meet a few new people. I was pleasantly surprised that I am now able to say that 'my wife has died' without breaking up. That's a pretty good sized step forward.

Missed a call from Lee yesterday. We have the darndest time getting connected.

One of the things I need to know is what would be a good selection of items to choose a gift for Jasmine from? Got any tips?

I recalled we talked about an APS camera for Leigha. I know the owner of the camera store in Centralia - well at least by sight and past contact. We talked today about cameras and a 10 year old. He advised AGAINST an APS camera. His main objection was that every roll of film will cost $3 to $4 more to process than a standard 35mm. Plus he feels the choice in formats is too much for the typical child.

He showed me a 35mm with a open up, lay down the roll, automatic feeder - and his comment was that this is what he would buy a similar child.

Any comments or suggestions? I could sure use some feedback.

Oh - Keith was here last weekend. Just have to brag that I cooked a roast, and even made gravy - it might have been a little lumpy, but the exercise was good for the jaws....

Trust all is well with you and esepcially Ken - do keep me update? Hugs, Dave
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Date: Wed, 03 May 2000 20:49:27 -0700

Subject: Ellen

Dear Ellen,

This is a homework assignment for grief. Of course, you know that.

It is May 3, 2000. You have been dead since February 8th. That was one terrible day for me, and I have no idea what kind of day it was for you.

If I had started this then, it would be a painful letter to write. The agony that the living human feels is so intense that I can't believe it now. A lot of self pity, and yet a great, tremendous sense of total emptiness. That is how I recall it. Just a huge, bottomless, never ending void. Like falling down the worst dark hole you've ever dreamed of.

I worried so about you the night you died. We did the best we could have done and we did everything we needed to. I learned later how much damage the cancer had done to your bone marrow. The numbers aren't important but your bone was full of material that should not have been there. Guess we were lucky that we didn't know those results. No knowledge in this case saved us a lot of agony.

But had we known, we might have finished up some unsaid things and undone paperwork. However I know you left this physical world feeling very loved and very supported. One last 'I love you' would have been nice, but how many times can we try and say the 'last' one. Since we always meant what we said, it matters not when it was last said.

I love you so much. I feel cheated without you, and yet I know that God gave you a selection of choices and you chose the very best one. As always you made the correct decision - I simply wasn't ready for it, but I guess I would never be ready unless we were to die together. Think that was what we both hoped for, but hope doesn't always produce reality.

I learning so much about you in all the things I am now doing that you did so quietly. I am learning a lot about myself as I surrender your worldly possessions to others, and as I fight to keep some for me. I am still holding on to the trinkets that symbolize you so well, even though they sometimes bring tears to my eyes.

Lee and I haven't built any strong paths or bridges. I feel almost afraid of him. Or is it Dawn. Or is it Dawn and Lee? After they raided your craft room, my antenna went up and it hasn't come down since then.

Since we didn't have a will I have to do probate (you knew that didn't you!) and Lee and I have to meet and talk. But we haven't.

Your friends still remark about you. You are deeply missed. Your time on earth really wasn't meant to end so soon. The Master Gardeners are planting a memorial rose for you at the fairgrounds. Neat!

Your clothes are adorning some women in our area, thanks to the clothing bank. Your fabrics and patterns are helping the senior citizens in the area too. So one way or another you are making a neat impression on a lot of people. As I sit here and type this, your pictures close to me (TJ's and cinnamon rolls - and the new front door in Creswell) bring happiness and tears to my eyes. Damn, grief work is hard! Where are you when I need you? I know you are on my shoulder.

I've talked to God quite a bit. Hopefully God shares prayers with you. If not I've asked him to reach out to you every way he can and to assure you that you are loved, that you are and were important here on earth and that you are missed.

You likely know that I am not always doing well. Somedays are better than others. Generally they are getting better. But it is hard work! I am trying.

I have adopted the garden as my own. I am being careful and loving. I am taking photos and marking plants. I like, no I love it! I planted 120 seedlings. Can you imagine that? Me? Too bad you aren't here to witness it.

The horses are holding their own. Cloudy is really slowing down. She looked like a shaggy camel earlier, but her hair is back no normal and she looks slim and trim - almost too slim. I've boosted her feed, but I can't compensate for nature. If she goes this year, it will be another major loss for me.

How many losses can I take? I sure don't know.

You'll be pleased, I hope, my swearing has diminished. Even a little bit of anger is now a waste and surely not important when compared to what you went through.

I am so proud of you and the way you lived. You were a saint here on earth. It isn't fair that saints are allowed to die. We need more saints, not fewer.

I have tried to stay in communication with Leigha. Guess I'm not doing very well. I promise I will try some more. Maybe a card a week just to her will help. I sure don't know. She spent a few days with me and we had a great time. Hopefully we spend some more time together. I am going to hold back on some of your things as later gifts for her. Hope it works out okay.

I am seeing Sam Bradley again. He now has prostate cancer. He sat "next to you" today. He recalls where you used to sit. He really like you. He has fond memories of you.

I am in a grief group. It helps. As you know the first time I could barely talk. The second time was a little bit better. The third time I had diarrhea of the mouth - you know about that condition, don't you?

Give me some advice on a memorial, would you?

I'm thinking about reconnecting with GPHS classmates. Maybe you have a twin sister someplace? I'm just not good at loneliness. But I am patient, and your twin may not have been born yet. In that case I will go to my grave alone. The GPHS reunion seems like a safe way to take a minivacation, maybe, ha!, reconnect with Dave Jr., see the folks graves and get away from all the stuff around here for a few days. I'll see if I really get guts enough to do it. Betty is volunteering to house sit, so that base is covered. No, I'm not bothered that you and Betty didn't resolve things. Some things are not resolvable and that is okay with me.

I'm smoking too much and sleeping too little. But I am trying to decrease one and increase the other. I've started walking again. I am out of shape, but I am trying to do better. Just a lot to do when there is only one person here. I love our home and God willing, I don't see myself leaving it. We loved it for all the right reasons, we cared for it, you planted it, and I will now care for it in honor of you and for me.

I talk to your Mom almost weekly. She is a dear! And I do love her in my own way. She has been a lady to me and she loved you dearly and in her own way. I wish things had been better for both of you. But in your absence she is letting her love for you grow. And that is neat.

The swallows are back, the robins came the day you died, or was it the day after? The hummers are back in force. Swallowing up hummerjuice as fast as they can. The killdeer are still nesting in the gravel. Wish I could put up a 'nest here' sign for them on the gravel pile where it would be safe.

Lilly is Lilly. What more can I say.

Spartacus has been different. Only stayed in our room a couple of nights since you died. Yet before that he was a constant companion. Strange. I fret over him too much, but he is an important link between you and me.

I love you Poopsie. Always remember that! In all ways and always.

You are in my prayers every night. You are in my life every day. You are on my shoulder - please just nudge me once in a while so I know you are there?

I miss the hugs, I miss the "I love you", I miss you!

Take care, enjoy Heaven, plant lots of roses and enjoy the butterflies!

See you in my dreams - or at least in my prayers.

Just had to add how wonderful your Memorial Service was. You watched it I hope! Merrily was terrific, and Warren Hall was fantastic. You could tell that your single life made one hell of an impression on a lot of people and a lot of people were touched by you. A lot of people lost a lot when you died.

You are a giant in the human race and you are missed.

Love, always Dave P.S. this is a work in progress. I think I will be adding to it. It helps to 'talk' to you this way. Weird, aren't I?
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Date: Wed, 03 May 2000 22:05:53 -0700

Subject: Wednesday, shrinks and booklets, grief

Dear Friends,

Today was my 2nd visit with my favorite shrink. He had known the 'us' for several years. He was our favorite person for mental attitude adjustments. Just like a car, Ellen and I needed our points adjusted every once in a while. I still do!

He started the session by saying, "I'm sitting next to Ellen" as he chose the seat on the couch next to where she used to sit. He wasn't teasing me, rather showing a great deal of respect for a patient he really liked.

We had a good session. The net of it was something we've learned the hard way. Grief work is hard work. Avoid decisions because that distracts from the grief process. Allow your body to 'feel' differently - and just accept it. Don't fret about small things. Nothing earth shattering or cosmic came out of the session.

For me it was good to have someone listen and participate in a friendly way. It was almost 'fun', and that is one word I've not used much lately. I learned at the end of the session that he is now in treatment for prostate cancer - having already survived stomach cancer two years ago. My heart goes out to him.

Tonight I did something I'd put off for sometime. It happened to be the right thing for me at this time. It might not be right for anyone else at any time. But for what it is worth....

My grief group and also the funeral home, gave out a booklet - "Working through Grief - a self care handbook". It has things to do - mainly writing tasks about how you feel, or what you felt. I'd already done some of the 'exercises'. I put off one exercise. "Write a letter to the person you lost" for almost 3 months.

Tonight I felt compelled to do it. Sam, the shrink, knows nothing about this booklet, so I got no pressure from him. Writing the letter just seemed to pop into my mind as the thing to do. Now that it is done, all I can say is I feel like a new person. The letter was hard, yet easy, to do. Wow - it was liberating. It was like talking to Ellen, yet with the knowledge that she already knows what I am writing.

It has been almost 3 months since Ellen died. During that time I've been all over the emotional map. Writing the letter took be back over a lot of the same ground, but amazingly it was not as painful as it was originally. I could write/talk about it without the extreme agony - and come out the other end feeling better.

I even managed a couple of inside jokes, and also complained about the loneliness and how most of all I miss the hugs - so I got into a lot of things, not a lot of details - but it sure helped me cover the issues and feelings that surfaced tonight.

My gut feel is, that if you have the booklet or not, writing a letter might be a help. It was for me tonight and I am happy I did it. As I 'finished' it tonight, I realized it is not done, and it is something I will likely go back to and add on to over time.

Oh how I wish we could all rewrite our lives and have things as they once were or as we dreamed they would be. This sure is something they never mentioned in kindergarden, and something I never learned from my folks. My heart and prayers are with each of you tonight and always. May your new dreams come true....

Love to all, Dave
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Date: Sat, 06 May 2000 20:51:12 -0700

Subject: Rings and things...

Today I got our wedding rings back. I'd had a local jeweler take the rings and mount them on a crucifix that Ellen wore and was wearing when she died. The crucifix is entwined with a heart and the two rings now sit on top of the original - one ring inside the other.

Boy did that feel great to have back! I was emotionally lost without it and silly as it sounds, it is nice to have the three with me again. Damn tears, just pop out anytime they want, don't they?

Donated Ellen's glasses today. As I stuffed them, literally, into the donation box, I knew that no one except me realized what was going on inside of me. Those 8 (eight) pair of glasses had seen a lot of the world, enjoyed wonderful friends, played with grandkids, raised horses, created gardens, traveled the world in books, and gazed at me for many years. But it is done, and it is another step forward - and 8 people someplace will have better vision and that's okay.

Ran into two acquaintances who did not know Ellen had died. This was a first for me. Most folks knew it - and I'd not been through this before. One, a lady, lives a few miles down the road. After I'd walked away, she pursued me and very sincerely literally begged me to call if she could be of help - and I think it was genuine. The other, a fellow, did the typical fellow thing, and we avoided any significant conversation. I was pleased, and relieved, that these meetings went as well as they did - meaning I didn't turn into a blithering idiot (as I'd done in the first grief group meeting and at the clinic one time)- though I still felt the pain and the loss, talking about it was something I could deal with.

Yesterday (reorganizing cupboards and supplies) and today must have been totally driven by my subconscious mind - after the email last night I was compelled to remove and wash refigerator shelving - then this afternoon I found myself rooting through Ellen's audio tapes and CD's.

I picked her favorite (Anne Murray, circa 1980) and listened through tears and actually danced in the kitchen to one of the numbers. Boy those songs brought back fond memories and magic moments - and I am glad I did it. We loved those songs (Daydream Believer, You Needed Me, Could I have this dance) and Ellen's voice range matched Anne's so they were among the few songs she would sing along with. Am I glad I did it? Yes, the ghosts are gone, I listened again tonight, and I can smile and almost see Ellen singing and dancing. Not a bad experience, given I've been having trouble bringing up mental images - so something is clicking someplace in my brain stem and it is allowing me to see through my pain and find a little happiness in the memories.

I picked an audio tape at random - we/she had several recordings of sermons delivered by the Seattle Unity Church minister who married us in 1980. This topic happened to deal with fear, and I thought that was safe - darned if she (the minister) didn't continue on into the topic of death, which is the biggest fear of all.

I've no idea why I am doing these things - maybe it is just male pysche trying to face the issues that I know are out there - I loved her too much to forget and too much to be afraid of the things we shared. What's that song... fools walk in where angels fear to tread? Well, fool I am, and tread I will. I've 18 hours of video tape yet to crack open - and I'm both anxious to see her again - and terrified - both at the same time.

I've burned your eyeballs long enough tonight. Thanks, everyone, for being a part of this extended family - God how I wish none of us had to be here...yet I am so thankful you are.

All, in all, rings and things, this has been one emotional day - I feel alone, yet not abandoned, sad but not miserable, happy but without one to share it with, and very exhausted....and still looking for that bridge over troubled water...

Take care of yourselves -- we need each other!

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 17:51:55 -0700

Subject: Grief - please let me go!

Hi folks,

Dare I ramble on - again? I'm looking for guidance on how to get through an emotional wall or prison... Maybe some of you have had similar experiences to what I describe and can tell me that this is just another phase in the process of grief.....

I'm in a poor mood. It has been this way for a few days. Just feeling rainy and gray - or maybe like a bug after it meets a shoe on a foot. Just yucky! No emotional storms, no emotional releases, just rainy.

Some notes I made this morning.

Feel like I'm stuck in a phase of grief. No special things, just a constant, background thought process that seldom gets off the topic of grief. Very few moments of relief, but no moments of the agony or severe emotional pain I felt weeks ago.

My social contacts are 'transactional' - not friendly social. I'll see clerks, attorney, store owner, grief group members, etc. etc. but these are not meaningful or long term (now days anything over 5 minutes) social events. Just transactions. You come home to an empty house with a canceled check or a receipt.

In the last couple of days I've spent an unusual amount of time getting 'my things' in order in case something happens to me. A morbid thought under the circumstances - but part of me sees it as necessary, since there is no longer someone around who knows about me. I do think this task is done - other than my own will - so I can say it won't be a problem tomorrow or the next day.

Now at a little over 3 months, the 'support' seems to have fallen away. To everyone except me Ellen's death is old news.

I know I must project a negative image. It dawned on me that we fought flooding and cancer throughout 1996, 1997 and then cancer heavily in 1998 and 1999 - and then Ellen died in Feb 2000 - and I really don't know how to get out of this negative mood - I haven't walked free and happy in so long that I can't remember what it is like.

I realize 3 months isn't long - but here in this trench it seems terribly long and it seems like, today especially, there is no end.

Now that I am alone I am beginning to fret about pains and things which I would have ignored just a few months ago - but where I live one could vanish for a week and no one would know what happened.

I'm also debating the value of staying connected to email groups. Do the frequent views of other peoples agony add to my own discomfort and grief? I truly don't know.

So that's my story today - just yucky, full of self doubts and tired of being stuck in this phase of grief - I want to get out in the sunshine and feel good about living. So, has anyone else been here? Is this an okay place to be for a while?

Lest you start to worry, I was out and about today. Bank, office, attorney, hospital, grocery store and I've a lunch appointment tomorrow and a meeting - talked to a mechanic and tried to get hold of the grief counselor (back on Monday - never there when you need them). The chores are done, the horses are fed - and I'm about ready to crawl into bed and assume the fetal position and suck my thumb!!

Hope we all get through this and come out sort of normal....

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 20:51:58 -0700 (PDT)

Subject: Re: [MM] Case report In- On Thu, 11 May 2000, Dave Palmer wrote:

Steve,

I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to write to you again.

On the one hand I want to congratulate you on the excellent case report you prepared on Joan. I find it outstanding.

But on the other hand how do you congratulate someone who lost the love of his life to a monster disease and some questionable medical events.

I think you did just fine. I can accept both ideas. Lemons into lemonade.

My heart truly goes out to you. Joan and you were on a very fast MM expressway, and I can only attempt to imagine the stress and difficulty the disease and medical choices threw at you.

Yes, it was a rough year. And there are still too many "Joans" out there that may soon be going through what you and I have. I'll be damned if I won't use every tool and share every experience I can to fight the ignorance and mis-information that so abounds in cancer care. Lemons into lemonade. Joan would have wanted it that way.

Ellen and I were on a slower road (4 years) and had more time between our medical scares, but at the end of the road, the grief and sorrow has the same impact.

We always knew it could end like this, but yes, it's tough right now.

I hope you find some solace in the work you've done to honor Joan. It was very well done and should be invaluable for others. Please promote use of you case report and keep it in view of other caregivers who might understand the need for the efforts you recommend.

Thanks. Compliments from my "peers" mean the most.

Very likely I've all ready recommended (too many times) this book:

I just ordered it, thanks.

Thanks again for writing and for reaching out. Take care yourself.

AHEAD@LISTSERV.ACOR.ORG]
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Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 09:20:03 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Grief - please let me go!

Dear Kim, Joyce, Suzy, Toni, Barbara, Carol, Mary and all the rest who are here -

Thanks for the kind messages and support, it does help!!!

Today is somewhat better. "Somewhat"

Thinking about where I'm at, I'm no different that a cow or a horse sticking its head through the fence to get to 'greener' grass. I keep thinking it is 'greener' elsewhere, but it isn't, and where I am at is the best place to be - but at times that is hard to swallow.

After I wrote last night I talked to Ellen's Mother and my daughter by phone. It really helped to be connected, even by wire, to them and sharing thoughts with them did ease some of the anquish. But it still was a scary night and a troublesome one.

I don't know if anyone else has physical symptoms or not. Every now and then, especially when I am mentally down, I get weird pains in the wrong places (wrong for me being the chest area). Having gone through a heart attack I truly know the symptoms - and these are not the same - and are on the surface or confined to a specific rib or chest bone area.

But that discomfort triggers all kinds of fear (False Evidence Appearing Real) and it is downhill, for me, from there. Do you folks run into or have physical symptoms that come and go?

Those events, physcial, seem to trigger mental confusion and dizziness. Seems like half my brain is going one speed and the other half is either asleep or going backwards. Very confusing, but it passes and life resumes.

I'm eating well. I sleep okay. But I am totally exhuasted every morning. Seems like I can never sleep enough - be it 6, 10 or on occasion 12 hours. I've heard of Tyelnol and Excedrin PM - think I'll pick some up today. Maybe I'll sleep sounder and feel rested when I wake - that alone would improve my day.

I've seen my GP and had discussions, but nothing has been resolved. The pyschiatrist and I have talked about depression and he doesn't see any - so I feel like a 10 foot boat in 50 foot waves.

This list, as you know, means a lot to me. It is my only connection to a community that understands and isn't disconnected from life as it is.

I keep typing 'the only cure for grief is to grieve' and it seems I'm bottling up some grief somewhere and don't know where and don't know how to let it out.

Part of it comes from, I think, the unresolved issues with the estate and the fact that Ellen's son and I haven't yet had our one on one talk. I signed papers at the lawyers office yesterday which will trigger some response - so that likely played a role in where I was and where I am.

The other part of it comes from, I guess, the nonstop effort just to stay alive. There aren't any coffee breaks in this part of grief - just more and more to do - and at times it seems overpowering. Just got to kick myself in the tailbone, quit thinking, and start doing things - but all I want to do is nothing. Feel like a 3-year old, stomping my feet and yelling 'no no no!' but that won't work either.

Time to add a few years to the 3-year old outlook and get going and face the day. I hope my day improves and I hope each of yours is even better!

Hugs, prayers and love to all, Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 19:03:38 -0700

Subject: RE: Saturday

Hi Lani - Well, I don't know about the journey, but the company has been terrific.

Dealing with death? Me? Boy, after the last two days - it seems like it has started all over again. Some really hard and anxious moments. Someone once said "Let go and Let God" and I'm praying for that solution. Dealing with the emotions various parts of the mind is more than I can handle...at times. There is a lot of hidden grief to come to the surface and like many things it simply takes time and time takes a toll.

Two writings from a book, I don't recall which - "It is not a choice of pain or no pain, but how you will manage the pain for today" (or for this moment).

and - "Your sorrow is an emotion, not a disease. The only cure for grief is to grieve. You don't have to prove that you're so strong and "doing so well"." Good advice, but sometimes easy to lose in the spirit of the moment.

Sleep isn't a problem. I simply can't get enough of it. I am totally exhausted when I waken - and I do pick up during the day, but my stamina is gone, gone and gone!

Today I walked in the 18 acres and literally every step turned into a prayer and a cry for help. It was enlightening - I still have some very deep feelings about things I couldn't do to help Ellen - when I cried out to God to heal her and help her, I finally got in touch with those hidden hurts that I didn't even know existed. Whether or not I could help is not the question, it is what my mind took in, processed and hid from me that is now causing conflict - it seems I collected a bit of stuff that needs to see the light of day, if I am to heal...

Enough of that - I learned something today and that is what matters -

Thanks for the feedback and support! It does help! Dave
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Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 19:16:18 -0700

Subject: Re: hI SPECIAL BROTHER

Oh Gracie, I've nothing to forgive you for. God, if my plate were as full as yours, you would not hear from me for weeks. And I've done a great job of not writing recently.

My spirit has been trampled again by the mental ghosts (none in the house) and it is exhausting sometimes to overcome the invisible foe.

Please let me know what they find out is the cause of your temps. Sounds like the flu that has been running around here - but what do I know, very little, it seems.

I think I understand your difficulty in talking to a cancer patient - and knowing that forever sometimes does not exist. Some do walk out with remission, but it takes very few cells to start a new process. Cancer is a terrible monster. I would have a hard time today facing a cancer patient and staying in control. Maybe in a year or two? But not now.

Thanks for the kind, kind words about bravery, music, dancing and love. I was blessed by Ellen. Very blessed and I really miss her, yet I want to celebrate her and yet I am terrified of living. Very confusing right now.

I was glad to be able to listen to 'her' music, as it was 'my' music too. Now, after the last dance alone, I can enjoy it as I used to. And I do.

I don't know about testing strength. It seemed to work and then it didn't. But I am told this grief journey is unlike any other trip. No map, no road signs, no warnings. You start out on it, not knowing where it will take you. So far that is true, very true.

Oh boy, a buyer from hell. Maybe the devil will reclaim her soon. Hope they throw her out of court.

I so wish I could help or wanted to help you out right now. But I am so self-centered and on edge, well let's say I am not the person you think me to be. Grief is a very demanding master and I'll be so glad when it leaves me - or when I learn to control it.

My heart goes out to you Gracie, you are in my prayers and I hope we both find some peace, real soon.

Thanks for loving me and I love you too!

Dave
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Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 20:02:04 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] grieving

Dear Sharon,

Your words about 'so many things I need to do' - rings so true for me. Then I go out of my way to do things that don't need to be done. Guess I'm still not able to face reality. Damn, it gets tiresome at times.

Houses. That is a difficult one for me too. I love where I am. I know I am also burdened by where I am. I guess that is why I am being told don't make any big decisions for at least a year. At first a year seemed to far away, now, at 3 months, a year seems too close. I still have no idea who I am or where I am going. Thank goodness there are some chores and things I have to do, at least it gives me a routine to follow every day - but even then I fight it.

For what it is worth I began giving Ellen's clothes away in small amounts. Granted, she had a lot of clothes, and I've given many away, but doing it slowly has helped me. I am still several weeks away from completing the donations, it has helped some needy folks and they in turn are helping me. But - I wish I never had to do it.

Rick sounds like quite a man and you must be quite a nice person too have attracted such a person as husband. I'm truly sorry he, and all the other loved ones we represent, had to leave us. Death certainly doesn't respect love, nor shelter the mourners.

I wish you well and hope each of our individual journeys get better soon.

Dave
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Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 20:23:42 -0700

Subject: Unknown grief.

Hi again -

Today, after my earlier note, I cleaned the horses stalls and took my normal walk.

I have prayed on my walks before. It normally is pleasant and comforting.

Today I was led to saying prayers as fast as I could. This wasn't planned, at all. The prayers went something like this:

Thank you dear God for today Thank you dear God for the sun Thank you dear God for being alive Thank you dear God for the clouds Thank you dear God for . . . and on and on then without a second thought the prayers changed to being like:

Dear God please take care of Ellen Dear God please hold Ellen's hand Dear God please love Ellen Dear God dg please cure Ellen's mm Dear God dg please cure Ellen's kidney and on and on . . . through all the things I didn't do and I couldn't do.

I couldn't stop the tears or the prayers - I guess, way down in the guts of my mind, I feel/felt guilty about not being able to help, heal, take care of Ellen. In fact just typing it now, almost 10 hours later is bringing up a well of tears.

Yet I know I did everything possible and I know I did not think these thoughts. But somehow, someway, something deep inside me has twisted reality into guilt. I can't believe it is happening and yet it has.

There must be something in my upbringing or society or in being male that made part of me accept responsibility for things I can't possibly do. Then to make matters worse these thoughts are buried down so deep that it really takes an effort to bring them out in daylight. I'll tell you, while they were/are still buried, they sure cause a lot of anguish. I think I know the source of some of the anguish now, but damn, it is hard to wrestle it to the ground.

Maybe this is a common symptom. But before today, if anyone had asked if I blamed myself for Ellen's death, I would have laughed and denied it. Now - with a great deal of shame, I have to admit that for some unknown reason part of me feels responsible. That is a scary realization. It is really scary when I know it doesn't have a shred of truth, but after today's experience I do know that some part of me felt and maybe still feels that guilt.

I can hardly wait to see what tomorrow brings. I am really hoping for a sky full of sunshine, pleasant breezes and a clear and happy mind. It would be so wonderful to feel normal or almost normal again, if only for one day. I hope and pray each of you have even better days, every day.

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 21:00:20 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Grief - please let me go!

Dave: (can do, here it is)

Maybe you can post this to the list for me --

I hear you all about being tired -- I was exhausted for months. Actually, waking up was the worst part of the day -- it felt like slamming head-on into a brick wall. I think I could have slept 24/7. I kept plodding along, feeling terrible, until it resolved itself, after about four or five months. Even now (8+ months) if I go somewhere on business I get to the hotel and go to bed whatever time it is and sleep until I have to get up. My theory is that we all just need a lot of healing time and sleep is the best way to get through that time and let our brains and souls rest. It's a physical tiredness but it's unquenchable, unlike regular physical tiredness.

On the other end of the spectrum I think that exercising was part of getting better for me -- I finally got back into serious exercise in February and feeling physically stronger is definitely a bonus for my mental health.

Anyway I'm really feeling for all of you who are going through death and who are starting to feel the pain -- it was a really tough winter for me. It does get better (and you do get sort of used to the way life is now -- and sometimes you even think, Gee, it's nice to have a bathroom to myself! but maybe that's a girl thing).

Megan

Dave Palmer There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.
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fDate: Fri, 12 May 2000 21:36:37 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] LOSS OF HUSBAND

Dear Patricia,

My heart goes out to you on the loss of Joe. You've had one hell of an experience.

I'm one of those with the physical pains as a left over - the mind sure plays tricks on us and it is a challenge to sort out what is real and what is false. Why can't it be simpler?

My memory problems resemble yours. It has been 3 months and I still can't recall Ellen's face, except in death - though I can recall portraits of her or photos - but I, for the life of me, cannot associate a face and a human that was almost my entire life just 3 months ago. This one is a real mental block. I am told that this will pass. God, please, I hope so.

Your last couple of weeks in the hospital sound ugly for both of you. I'm so sorry it happened this way. Yet, when Ellen's last trip was only 90 minutes long, I felt so terrible because we didn't have time to do anything. Guess there are no winners in this cancer battle....

Anger hasn't hit me yet. I hope it doesn't. I don't think I have any. But earlier today I didn't think I felt guilty either. But as I mentioned in an earlier note, there is some guilt, somewhere deep inside and it is festering... So maybe anger will hit here too.

I don't know how you can get to the 'complete' stage of grief without more time. Everytime I think I'm making progress I got slammed back down and got to pick myself up and start over. Part of the starting over is getting faster now, but then I've been knocked down a few times, and practice makes perfect.

One book that has been helpful for me is:

"How to go on living when someone you love dies" Therese A. Rando, Ph.D., originally published as "Grieving" paperback, published by Bantam Books, August 1991 ISBN 0-553-35269-5

If you've not seen it, it is worth getting.

I hope things ease up for you - we are rooting for you and each other.

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 21:45:50 -0700

Subject: Re: Re: [F-AHEAD] Grief - please let me go!

Dear Joyce,

Sorry, but glad in a way, to hear others complain about the physical symptoms. I tell you, the fear of something else happening is so great at times that can immobilize me - almost.

I was planning to get the tylenol-pm today - but my short term memory didn't remember long enough to even write it down on the shopping list. And I missed a sale on Eggo waffles too! Dang, it is hard to get good help.

Dreams? What are those? I've had only a couple of dreams that I can recall since Ellen died. It is scary. I used to remember dreams. Now I don't. I am told by the shrink that I must be dreaming or I would now be suffering severe sleep deprivation. I do sleep, but I wake up exhausted, never rested. Even when Ellen was extremely ill, I would at least wake up feeling rested. But since her death, I feel like a tractor has run over me. I sure hope this passes. It is no fun to start out each day at the bottom.

I am learning that we are all having difficult times. I can remember, way back when I first signed on, that I said I felt like a one-legged man trying to walk with stick canes which keep breaking. Somewhere along the way I forgot that description and thought that I had grown another leg. Obviously that isn't possible. Of if it is, it takes a lot longer than 3 months.

Can't resist saying - isn't it tough enough to be grieving without having to make, bake and eat your own humble pie of crow? Guess not. Oh well, pass the pie!

Hugs to all, Dave
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Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 22:30:12 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Tom's passing

Dearest Yvonne - Boy - it is so sad to greet newcomers to this list. Especially those who come because of cancer. My heart goes out to you, it really does.

I lost Ellen after a 4 year battle with Multiple Myeloma. We knew there was no cure, but the death of a love oned cannot be understood by logic or a loving brain, no matter how many books or statistics tell you the outcome.

I sometimes wish there had been no treatment. I saw the results of chemo-therapy, I saw the weight gain, the memory loss, the hair loss, then a short recovery period, then another seige of medicine, then a shorter recovery, then kidney failure - then multiple surgeries, multiple seizures, a short recovery, then nausea, shingles, pneumonia and death. We both wondered if the fight was the wisest way to go. Of course there is no going back, nor did we attempt to - in fact Ellen was very accepting and willing and at peace with her decisions every step of the way.

You wrote of dreaming. I wrote earlier tonight about my total lack of dreams. The two that I had - or was it three - because now I recall one where we (Ellen and I) were escaping some mean person, only to be sabatoged by friends (mean = cancer, friends = last treatments). But I didn't see her face. And, again, as I mentioned earlier tonight - I cannot mentally recall her - but I can recall animals, family members, etc. Just one huge mental block. I am told this will pass......

I used to waken listening to the sound of the dialysis machine. Just a comforting puff-puff - but a sign that all was well - at least that treatment worked as advertised.

Yvonne - maybe it is better to cry when the car gives you trouble - at least you get it out of your system. I've had a couple of car episodes and I panic. I've never been a 'panic' person - but now that I am alone, and have no one to call, no backup, no sympathetic ear to cry into - now, I panic. And panic doesn't go away comfortably.

I've not approached anger yet. When Ellen died, I wrote, and truly believe:

"Ellen began a new journey this morning, with new wings, perhaps a new form - but certainly the same wonderful soul.

We were not ready to start a journey in separate worlds, but God provided a path and Ellen was able to choose to follow it, with all my love and support."

Tom, I am sure, chose the best route available. Neither of us would have wanted them to stay as they were, and now that they are gone, the decision we made back then is just as valid and just as truthful as it was then. Neither Ellen or Tom expects us to fully understand their needs, but I do know, if they could have cured themselves they would have.

[on soapbox] My anger, such as it is, is targeted at the newspapers and magazine stories that foster a belief that cancer is curable, that cancer is solely caused by your lifestyle or your diet. Closer to home, at the beginning, my daughter even thought that negative thinking brought on Ellen's cancer. I am frustrated that more money goes into seeking new exotic medicines, than goes into seeking the environmental causes. I am angry that we encourage patients to become guinea pigs for researchers, at our expense, and at the cost of our loved ones health. I am angry that for many cancer is a career = they grow wealthy. I get angry because a diagnosis of cancer for most of us is a ticket for death. I get angry because doctors, clinics and the public at large talks about 'remission from cancer'. I get angry when a boy from Cuba, or a gun in a school, monopolizes the press and media, meanwhile hundreds if not thousands of cancer patients are daily pronounced dead and no one notices or cares. [off soapbox]

Again, my heart is with you, I pray that you will find peace with each passing day. But as you read the notes on this list, you'll find that emotions, feelings and reactions can change overnight. I'm a prime example of someone caught in a windstorm while on a rollercoaster ride.

Hugs,

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Sun, 14 May 2000 17:52:44 -0700

Subject: A thought

Hi All,

After a painful and troubled Friday, Saturday and most of today, I had a long walk and talk with myself - had Ellen been here I still would have walked and talked to myself. I'm used to doing that - it sometimes clears my head - which empty as it is now, is no big deal.

Briefly, I am at the 3 month point and the emotional pain has been tremendous. At times I was quite desparate - and then tears would burst out and I'd get relief. Something is trying to get out and I have been stifling it inside - and I've been praying for God to take it away. Well, for me, that isn't working.

It now seems it is up to me, not God, to cure my own ills, and right now grief seems like the most powerful emotion capable of producing disease symptoms.

It really became obvious to me how distorted my feelings were today - the sun was out, the flowers are in bloom, everything is green and the majority of the people are truly enjoying happiness and fun.

Wherever Ellen is, I am certain she would not want me to be in the pity pool on a day like today - or any day for that matter. I can hear her now saying "Dave, come look at the flowers - everything is so beautiful, isn't it a glorious day?"

I can recall a similar event, years ago, when I was a practicing alcoholic, and I couldn't be happy without a drink, yet the rest of the world was having fun right in front of me. While the circumstances are totally different, it did remind me of how powerful my negative emotions are (if left to run wild) and how devastating they can be to me and my outlook on life.

On today's walk and talk I came up with this affirmation that gives me comfort -

I want to be able to respond

(not react)

to my grief in ways which:

Honor Ellen's Life

Honor My Love for Ellen

Respect My Memory of Ellen

and in ways which

respect my:

Health

Healing

Need for Life

Need to Grieve

and allow me to

Participate Fully In Life

I'm gonna try this - it can't hurt and I believe it will help. Copies are going in my wallet, on the checkbook, by the computer and by the bed. I need to be reminded that grief and a healthy life are not exclusive and that there are ways to respond to Ellen's death which will honor us both.

I do pray that each of us finds peace and happiness in every day. Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Sun, 14 May 2000 22:50:26 -0700

Subject: Re: Mother's Day...

Dearest Sandy - Ahhh - not you sick! Not fair! I do hope your diagnosis is correct.

Sorry I didn't write earlier - I got off in a fog bank and exchanged some email with Gracie, but haven't been fit company for anyone. Poor Keith arrived tonight and found me happy to see him, but not a good spirit to be around. Us 'grievers' must be indeed difficult people to deal with.

My fog is lifting a little - but the sky isn't clear yet. I'll explain more after I get out of my own way.

Heard about Grace's hepatitis. It can be carried by food, water or sewage - as well as other sources. Hope hers is a treatable form. Wow - she doesn't need all this.

Talked to Glorianna - she was down also - and tickled pink that I called her. She is a dear lady and this is the first Mother's Day without Ellen and she commented on that. My heart goes out to her as much as it can.

I think we were all special to Mom - and that made our childhood a treat. She was a wonderful person and I do miss her.

Love you and hope you are feeling better than even you expected.

Dave
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Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 20:45:17 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Life

Dear Traci,

It is so sad to read about your father. The impact of alzheimer's is so tragic that it is impossible for me to comprehend. I've often wondered, and will never know, if their behavior truly mirrors what goes on in their minds and emotions. Grief has shown me that my physical body is sometimes separate from my emotional side and what I portray to the world is not what I feel inside and sometimes my internal feelings are on two different levels - so I wonder what it is like for the alzheimer patient -

The book I frequently recommend:

"How to go on living when someone you love dies" Therese A. Rando, Ph.D., originally published as "Grieving" paperback, published by Bantam Books, August 1991 ISBN 0-553-35269-5 has a section and a fair amount of information on anticipatory grief.

Part of that material helped me with Ellen's death and maybe it would help in your case where you clearly are experiencing both the death of the personality and eventually the body.

My heart goes out to you and your family and the kids - and your mother. Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 20:51:06 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Hi

Dear Barbara,

Wow! I sure admire you for what you did for Ben and what you are doing.

I think your efforts for the memorial service will pay you wonderful dividends. The loss of a loved one does not end the need to help, take care of and provide for. My guess is you will grieve hard when the memorial service is over, but you will grieve knowing you did what you wanted to do, and that you were able to honor your spouse. That is a true tribute.

I'll gladly pray for sunny skies and good weather - but keep in mind, even a storm and gale winds can provide a haven for grief and a reason to mourn. However it turns out, it will be for the best.

Be gentle with yourself,

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 21:12:59 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] QUESTION TO ANYONE

Dear Patricia,

You ask a question that came right out of my mouth. 'Did I do all that could have been done?'

I'll bet you went to almost every doctor appointment, you were in the labs when blood was drawn, you maybe spent more time than you ever dreamed of by a bedside in a hospital, plus a few hours on the phones with doctors or nurses and a dozen days fretting over bills and insurance. You may even have studied topics whose names you can't pronounce.

You went to the best doctors you could find, you asked all the questions, you believed the answers and you both felt things were being done right.

Now - you wonder if you did enough. Even the doctors with all their education, experience and access to new information can't tell you why your husband got cancer - they can't tell you why one patient responds and another does not. You and I could go to the same meeting and I could come home with a cold and you will not. I watched Ellen go through 9 seizures in one day for no known medical reason - and she never had another seizure again.

I sat in my doctors office today suffering chest pain - and he can't tell me why. It isn't a heart attack, we both know that, but he truly believes it is grief related, but cannot explain it. (His wife died 14 months ago from leukemia, and he, last year, went through prostrate cancer surgery - so he knows about grief).

There is a book. "How We Die". It is not a comfortable book to read. 2 people sent it to me when Ellen was diagnosed in early 1996. I did not read it until after she died. After reading the chapters on cancer death I no longer wondered 'if I had done everything'. found it extremely helpful though, and if you can check it out of a library, it is worth investigating.

I think there will always be 'new cures'. The successes are advertised, the failures are not. When I have a headache it always takes 4 aspirins - when Ellen had a headache, she only needed half an aspirin. We are all different. We all respond differently. We all die for different reasons.

I truly believe you did all you could. I truly believe you tried every avenue open to you. I truly believe your husband trusted you with his life, and his trust was well earned.

Be gentle with yourself and trust in yourself knowing you did all that anyone could.

Hugs to you, Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 21:22:32 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Grief - please let me go!

Dear Ray,

THANK you for the supportive note. It was nice to read one from a fellow who shares the MM cancer history and chest pain history. Something about 'not being alone' sure helps me.

Since I wrote about the pain, I did visit my doctor today and we had a good talk. He lost his wife to leukemia, and he underwent prostrate surgery last year. He and I share some similarities and he talked to me about the grief he felt.

My chest pain is not a heart attack. He feels it is grief related. And this is a relief to me - though - through male stubborness - I figure it out this weekend. I decided to manually mow around my barns, along the river and the yards. After 6 hours behind the machine I figured out my heart was in pretty good shape. Dumb technique? Yes - and purely male in origin.

I guess I'm encouraged that one comes out of this over time - it just seems, while I am in this time warp - that my whole life has been tied up in grief. I want out, NOW! But I am learning it takes time - and it takes effort. And mowing lawns doesn't help, because the next day (Sunday) I really was down - and that is when I posted my note on my new affirmation.

Thanks again Ray and I hope your life is regaining the balance you, I, and all the others on this list have seen wiped out so rapidly.

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 08:33:12 -0700

Subject: Re: (no subject)

And Good Morning If you fell off the turnip truck, you landed on me! That's great news on Dawn's job. I am so thankful she found one she liked and so close to home. That is an extra special deal! I look forward to hearing more about it.

I'm looking forward to the celebration! One damn problem, I still don't have my car back from the shop. I took it in 2 weeks ago Monday (unannounced to them), and it still isn't out the door. I was 'hoping' for a call yesterday (more about that later) but no dice.

So when I get off the computer I'll be calling to check on it.

No chance of staying the night - still have the crew of horses - and no backup field hands.

Doing? Danged if I know. Last Wed I would have said great. Then a couple of collisions and some real ups and downs. Took my self to the GP on Monday - lots of physical symptoms and some concerns - no big deal according to him - and 'normal'. If this is 'normal' I'd hate to be really bad off.

Glorianna and I talked on Sunday. She loved the azalea! She was very touched. This is her first Mother's day without Ellen - and you can tell she is bothered.

Keith arrived late Sunday and he and I have been BUSY. He was determined to help Dad get his farm tractor going and we spent a lot of time doing just that Tuesday and by the time I got in it was too late to find out about the car. Once I get him up - he sleeps in - and I take care of the horses :-), I find out what my wheels are like for the weekend.

Thanks for the note, gotta run.

Dave
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Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 10:51:16 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Random thoughts

Andi's note really struck home for me.

From my male view of things I thought I was just being weak and wimpy, but Andi's description of 'hitting the wall' was like looking in a mirror. Just trying to keep my head above water seems impossible this 'month' (Ellen died 2/8), whereas a couple of weeks ago I was smug and feeling sort of good, now I feel exhausted and terrible.

I'm trying all the aids I can - including some inspirational recordings Kay Arndt, who married us, had made. They all help, but they all seem to open new avenues to grief. It must be necessary to visit these places, but dang, do they need to have such an impact?

The housework is overpowering - or is it my perception of it? When Ellen was alive I could do all things - now everything is an effort. A real hard effort. I just long for a time when I can sleep in, wake up, do nothing and better yet not feel guilty. So far I've not given myself permission to do that - I just feel I have to keep busy. That is exhausting.

My affirmation - 'I want to be able to repond to my grief in ways which honor Ellen's life, honor my love for Ellen and respect my memory of Ellen; and in ways which respect my health, healing, need for life, need to grieve and allow me to participate fully in life' seems to help intellectually - but not emotionally.

But the biggest short term boost I got came yesterday. I was feeling miserable and mentally confused - then it dawned on me - my confusion seemed to be plain old vanilla sadness, very intense. Once I could admit it - to me - it seemed to ease.

I'd been looking for more complicated issues - and yesterday - and so far today, it seems to be "I am sad, very sad, I lost my best friend, lover and confidant and I am very lonely and very sad and it hurts like hell".

When I say that, it hurts, and some tears surface and the confusion seems to go away. Guess I need to learn more about the 'truth of me' and the 'truth of grief'. It would seem that I'm in denial up to my eyeballs.

Anyhow - that's where I'm at today. Those who've read my notes over the past few months know that I bounce around about as well as a player trying to dribble a football. So stay tuned for my next 'watch him bounce off the walls' report.

On the good side, I've had company, my son Keith, for 2+ days. It has been great to have another person in this empty house. And since he just left, I can say without a doubt it is lousy to be alone again!!~!!! We had a good time, and he's great help. Even got our tractor running (1st time since late 1998)!

Now, if the shop gets my car back, I'm planning a visit to Portland for granddaughter #2's birthday party on Sunday. First trip out since - well a long, long time.

Interestingly enough I learned that the father, son Lee, who can't find time to call me, has joined a new bowling league on Tuesdays - damn, I hate this family crap - and the lack of support from that portion of the family.

Assuming I make the trip, which I want to and need to do, it will be interesting to see how the family politics work. (This is the son I have to go through probate with - and the one who has ignored my pleas to meet). Oh well, what's one more stress? Right now it is one too many - but that's the way it is.

Best wishes to all who are on this very sad road with me. If you find a sponge which soaks up saddness, tell me where to buy one - I've some stuff to soak up.

Love and hugs,

Dave

Dave Palmer - Technically sound, but socially impossible.
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Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 08:41:24 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Dad....

Dearest Jacque -

My heart goes out to you - this is a tough time for you and your family and I hope and pray that your pain is eased by the love you have for your father.

You've had to go through a lot in a short time - now you will go through some new phases and you'll need to give yourself lots and lots of time to heal.

The word which ease my pain the most are from Ellen's service:

God saw you getting tired when a cure was not be, so He closed His arms around you and whispered, "Come to Me".

You didn't deserve what you went through, and He gave you rest, God's Garden must be beautiful, He only takes the best.

And when I saw you sleeping, so peaceful and free from pain, I could not wish you back to suffer that again.

---- Hugs and prayers...

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 11:47:54 -0700

Subject: Anguish

Hi gang,

I'm sorry, positive mental thinking isn't really working for me today. I feel crappy as the devil and plain miserable.

This grief is one hell of a mental prison. The harder I try to get out the worse it seems. And the longer I stay in it the worse my emotions seem to get. I can't believe that all this discomfort is caused by me - and that's what really hurts - I'm self destructing and seem helpless to do anything about it. Why can't we flip a switch and turn on the light and get rid of the demons?

Today is just turning into a pile of horse manure. I've done my chores - the bare minimum, showered, shaved, and all the personal cleanliness things, and I still feel like the devil.

Loneliness is the worst thing right now. I am so tired of talking to myself and trying to make sense out of chaos. Reading about the grieving process is intellectually interesting, but physically it is torture and I'm having trouble getting out of my own way.

I miss the hugs, the comfort and companionship and an empty house is a hundred times emptier when you know no one is coming back.

At this point all the casual support - what there was - has dried up. No more notes or cards, no more 'have-to-do' tasks, and the relatives are back to their normal life. Meanwhile I still play games in this mental cell I built. Damn, does anyone know how to break out of this thing?

I've seen my pyschiatrist recently (2 weeks) and my doctor last week. He said I'm okay, and then to alleviate my concerns schedule a treadmill next month. Sooo? What have I done? Turned that treadmill into a worry stone. How dumb can you get or be? Looks like I'm getting pretty dumb....worrying about a test yet to come. Not only to I worry about the test, but I am convinced they will find something, and then what will I do? The former-caregiver has no caregiver and that is scary all by itself.

Now I have flash backs to when Mom died and Dad was left alone. My sisters and I at that time had no sense or idea of grief or grieving. We did what we could and then left Dad alone. We were dumb, inconsiderate and stupid. And now I see, basically the same thing coming back to haunt me - as the kids resume their lives (except for Keith) and I'm left to carry on. But it ain't fun and now I can't imagine how my father carried on alone and I feel quite ashamed and sad. Obviously I can't undo what was done and I accept it fairly well, I think, but being in his shoes now, my heart really goes out to him and his memory.

The biggest problem I face is a lack of support. Like most men I put a lot into the relaionship with Ellen and my 'friends' are not close friends and not intimate friends and so the support is casual at best and about as deep as light frost and it goes away about as fast.

So I need to find someway to reach out and be included all at the same time. I think I need to see the doctor or pyschiatrist again and talk about some medical help - this anxiety is for the birds and it sure isn't healthy for me. It is too late today to reach them, so that's on my to-do for Monday.

I hate writing a whining note like this - but my mind seems to want to let it all out. So I'll send it and ask for some foregiveness at the same time. I've projects to do away from home, so I'm 'a fully functional' member of society - at least on the outside. Maybe when I get home and quiet down things will be better.

I'll try this: "It is not a choice of pain or no pain, but how you will manage the pain for today" - seems my work is cut out for me.

Hugs to all - and thanks for being part of my extended grief family - I'd truly be lost without you all.

Dave Dave Palmer By the time you can make ends meet they move the ends.
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Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 19:48:29 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Hospice

Kathy,

My heart really and truly goes out to you.

Ellen's death came unexpectedly and very fast, so I never faced your issues.

I can only relate things that I knew after a heart attack and later after surgery. In both cases I was immobile, I wasn't talking much and I was terrified.

The only consolation I ever had was the presence of a human hand, a caress, a touch, and a voice. Even with the addition of pain meds (after surgery) the only thing I wanted was companionship - my boogey-men were just pain and confusion - if someone is seeing real bad images or facing terrifying fears of death or loneliness - I'd venture to say that, even drugged for pain, they will sense and benefit from touches, kind words, and knowing that they are not alone.

One time, months ago, when Ellen suffered multiple seizures in one day, the chaplain, a friend by now, who has attended many people at death - stated oh so firmly his belief that everyone hears right up to the moment of death - and he taught me to speak into Ellen's ear and say whatever I wanted to - he, again, believes that the words are healing and helpful and that awake or not, are aborbed by the brain and bring comfort and peace.

Maybe you could try it - at least - when the time comes, you will know that he was loved and cushioned on his journey by loving words.

My heart and love go to you and your family,

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 21:29:29 -0700

Subject: Re: Friday night...

Dear Sandy,

Good to hear from you - card and email both! Thank YOU!

I'd sent Grace a link to info on hepatitis. Suspect she is too weary to worry about things like www pages and research right now.

I agree with you - any way she can sell and get out would be good for her. The only risk with a contract is that she still is the 'owner' and that might impact low income housing and other things - so if she can get out from underneath the mortgage, life might be simpler for her.

The weather world is still spinning. Lots of squalls going through, though they are forecasting decent weekend weather. Let's see what tomorrow brings.

The past 10 days have been grief agony. I've talked to my doctor, a grief counselor and have a call into the pyschiatrist. The doctor thinks I am okay, the counselor confirms that this type of progress is normal, and the pyschiatrist didn't think I was depressed when I last saw him. However, I feel miserable and it shows.

I'll send you a couple of recent notes so that you can see what I am telling others. Have to admit that today I had more positive results and some sense of control - but that hasn't been typical and is subject, I think, to immediate change. And usually immediate change has been negative, not positive.

In one of the notes I mention a trip Sunday. That was cancelled today. Everyone is sick down there and we are now planning a June 4th event. Works fine with me, for if the sun does shine, I've outside projects that will keep me going both days.

Are either of the houses we lived in still standing in Ft. Collins? Have you ever researched the book Dad said was in the Ft Collins library - the one which he wrote for the SSA?

When you say three of the little ones are in a tennis tournament, who are you talking about? The Mark and Debra generation or the grandkids? If it is the grandkids, I am literally amazed

Hope you have a great weekend - I'm looking forward to mine!

Love you Dave
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Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 21:33:57 -0700

Subject: One of my notes...

Here is the most recent one I sent to the grief group....

Hi gang,

I'm sorry, positive mental thinking isn't really working for me today. I feel crappy as the devil and plain miserable.

This grief is one hell of a mental prison. The harder I try to get out the worse it seems. And the longer I stay in it the worse my emotions seem to get. I can't believe that all this discomfort is caused by me - and that's what really hurts - I'm self destructing and seem helpless to do anything about it. Why can't we flip a switch and turn on the light and get rid of the demons?

Today is just turning into a pile of horse manure. I've done my chores - the bare minimum, showered, shaved, and all the personal cleanliness things, and I still feel like the devil.

Loneliness is the worst thing right now. I am so tired of talking to myself and trying to make sense out of chaos. Reading about the grieving process is intellectually interesting, but physically it is torture and I'm having trouble getting out of my own way.

I miss the hugs, the comfort and companionship and an empty house is a hundred times emptier when you know no one is coming back.

At this point all the casual support - what there was - has dried up. No more notes or cards, no more 'have-to-do' tasks, and the relatives are back to their normal life. Meanwhile I still play games in this mental cell I built. Damn, does anyone know how to break out of this thing?

I've seen my pyschiatrist recently (2 weeks) and my doctor last week. He said I'm okay, and then to alleviate my concerns schedule a treadmill next month. Sooo? What have I done? Turned that treadmill into a worry stone. How dumb can you get or be? Looks like I'm getting pretty dumb....worrying about a test yet to come. Not only to I worry about the test, but I am convinced they will find something, and then what will I do? The former-caregiver has no caregiver and that is scary all by itself.

Now I have flash backs to when Mom died and Dad was left alone. My sisters and I at that time had no sense or idea of grief or grieving. We did what we could and then left Dad alone.

And now I see, basically the same thing coming back to haunt me - as the kids resume their lives (except for Keith) and I'm left to carry on. But it ain't fun and now I can't imagine how my father carried on alone and I feel quite ashamed and sad. Obviously I can't undo what was done and I accept it fairly well, I think, but being in his shoes now, my heart really goes out to him and his memory.

The biggest problem I face is a lack of support. Like most men I put a lot into the relaionship with Ellen and my 'friends' are not close friends and not intimate friends and so the support is casual at best and about as deep as light frost and it goes away about as fast.

So I need to find someway to reach out and be included all at the same time. I think I need to see the doctor or pyschiatrist again and talk about some medical help - this anxiety is for the birds and it sure isn't healthy for me. It is too late today to reach them, so that's on my to-do for Monday.

I hate writing a whining note like this - but my mind seems to want to let it all out. So I'll send it and ask for some foregiveness at the same time. I've projects to do away from home, so I'm 'a fully functional' member of society - at least on the outside. Maybe when I get home and quiet down things will be better.

I'll try this: "It is not a choice of pain or no pain, but how you will manage the pain for today" - seems my work is cut out for me.

Dave Palmer Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a mechanic.
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Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 21:39:05 -0700

Subject: One from the 12th

This was a week ago - about when all this started...

Hi again -

Today, after my earlier note, I cleaned the horses stalls and took my normal walk.

I have prayed on my walks before. It normally is pleasant and comforting.

Today I was led to saying prayers as fast as I could. This wasn't planned, at all. The prayers went something like this:

Thank you dear God for today Thank you dear God for the sun Thank you dear God for being alive Thank you dear God for the clouds Thank you dear God for . . . and on and on then without a second thought the prayers changed to being like:

Dear God please take care of Ellen Dear God please hold Ellen's hand Dear God please love Ellen Dear God please cure Ellen's mm Dear God please cure Ellen's kidney and on and on . . . through all the things I didn't do and I couldn't do.

I couldn't stop the tears or the prayers - I guess, way down in the guts of my mind, I feel/felt guilty about not being able to help, heal, take care of Ellen. In fact just typing it now, almost 10 hours later is bringing up a well of tears.

Yet I know I did everything possible and I know I did not think these thoughts. But somehow, someway, something deep inside me has twisted reality into guilt. I can't believe it is happening and yet it has.

There must be something in my upbringing or society or in being male that made part of me accept responsibility for things I can't possibly do. Then to make matters worse these thoughts are buried down so deep that it really takes an effort to bring them out in daylight. I'll tell you, while they were/are still buried, they sure cause a lot of anguish. I think I know the source of some of the anguish now, but damn, it is hard to wrestle it to the ground.

Maybe this is a common symptom. But before today, if anyone had asked if I blamed myself for Ellen's death, I would have laughed and denied it. Now - with a great deal of shame, I have to admit that for some unknown reason part of me feels responsible. That is a scary realization. It is really scary when I know it doesn't have a shred of truth, but after today's experience I do know that some part of me felt and maybe still feels that guilt.

I can hardly wait to see what tomorrow brings. I am really hoping for a sky full of sunshine, pleasant breezes and a clear and happy mind. It would be so wonderful to feel normal or almost normal again, if only for one day. I hope and pray each of you have even better days, every day.

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000 It is simply a statement that you have loved someone." Doris Sanford

Dave Palmer Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a mechanic.
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Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 21:40:28 -0700

Subject: on the 14th

And in the middle, this came out on the 14th, Hi All,

After a painful and troubled Friday, Saturday and most of today, I had a long walk and talk with myself - had Ellen been here I still would have walked and talked to myself. I'm used to doing that - it sometimes clears my head - which empty as it is now, is no big deal.

Briefly, I am at the 3 month point and the emotional pain has been tremendous. At times I was quite desparate - and then tears would burst out and I'd get relief. Something is trying to get out and I have been stifling it inside - and I've been praying for God to take it away. Well, for me, that isn't working.

It now seems it is up to me, not God, to cure my own ills, and right now grief seems like the most powerful emotion capable of producing disease symptoms.

It really became obvious to me how distorted my feelings were today - the sun was out, the flowers are in bloom, everything is green and the majority of the people are truly enjoying happiness and fun.

Wherever Ellen is, I am certain she would not want me to be in the pity pool on a day like today - or any day for that matter. I can hear her now saying "Dave, come look at the flowers - everything is so beautiful, isn't it a glorious day?"

I can recall a similar event, years ago, when I was a practicing alcoholic, and I couldn't be happy without a drink, yet the rest of the world was having fun right in front of me. While the circumstances are totally different, it did remind me of how powerful my negative emotions are (if left to run wild) and how devastating they can be to me and my outlook on life.

On today's walk and talk I came up with this affirmation that gives me comfort -

I want to be able to respond

(not react)

to my grief in ways which:

Honor Ellen's Life

Honor My Love for Ellen

Respect My Memory of Ellen

and in ways which

respect my:

Health

Healing

Need for Life

Need to Grieve

and allow me to

Participate Fully In Life

I'm gonna try this - it can't hurt and I believe it will help. Copies are going in my wallet, on the checkbook, by the computer and by the bed. I need to be reminded that grief and a healthy life are not exclusive and that there are ways to respond to Ellen's death which will honor us both. Dave Palmer Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a mechanic.
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Date: Sat, 20 May 2000 19:21:24 -0700

Subject: Quite quiet

Just checkin' in.

Spent the day working my tail off, and grief out of me, and so far exhaustion seems to do the trick.

I was surprised when signing on this evening that there was no traffic.

My grief issues remain the same. For some reason more than a little guilt about not being able to prevent Ellen's death from cancer. It isn't logical and I know it, but my emotions and guts have a different idea.

Today - whenever I felt the light-headed feeling - if I stopped thought about the guilt and cried, then things got better. So somewhere deep inside there is a guilt party going on and my only way of knowing about it is when I feel confused or dizzy.

I solved the chest pain problem and it seems to be muscle or arthritis. An over the counter preparation 'capzasin-p' seems to do the trick. I stumbled across it yesterday in the grocery store and bought it on am impulse. Boy does it really get hot when you perspire!! Wow! But it has brought some mental relief.

The planned birthday party with my granddaughter has been postponed from tomorrow until June 4 - the whole family is sick with colds and or flu. But the good news Ellen's son Lee did call and talk to me! First time in at least 6 or more weeks. He did admit he hasn't even looked at some grieving matrerial I sent him and I found out my other granddaughter is having some difficult times at bed time - NOW THEY TELL ME! Damn! She was really close to Ellen and obviously I need to reach out to her - through the parents....

Boy do I miss Ellen - and that feeling just stays constant - I can't release her from my mind and memory - and yet keeping her is causing pain too. I know she is dead, I know she is in a better place, I know she is finally healthy again, and I know her world is peaceful - but why did she have to leave me? Dumb question - and totally rooted in selfishness and pity - and I can't seem to overcome it yet. Maybe someday I can be more accepting and learn to live without her, but right now it seems almost impossible and it hurts.

Oh well, one minute, one hour, one day at a time. This weekend there was a Cancer Walk and I couldn't bring myself to participate - too soon for me - makes me wish there was a Grief Walk - where folks like us could band together and walk our way to healthier days for ourselves...

Take care, hugs to all -

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Sun, 21 May 2000 10:41:50 -0700

Subject: [F-AHEAD] goofed up, and back again

Hi folks -

Gosh I hate putting a note this long on the internet, but it seems I goofed and had an option set wrong and my stuff didn't ever leave home over the past few days -- meanwhile I've been through a bunch of misery and self-pity and some recovery.

Today, Sunday, the 21st, seems better than the previous days. So you don't really need to dig into the details. I was just happy to find out how it was that I was getting notes saying I hadn't posted anything recently - when in fact my fingers had been really busy...

Hope all is well with each of you and, again, an apology for dumping stuff today.

Hugs to all,

Dave

Yesterday I'd progressed to this:

================================ Just checkin' in.

Spent the day working my tail off, and grief out of me, and so far exhaustion seems to do the trick.

I was surprised when signing on this evening that there was no traffic.

My grief issues remain the same. For some reason more than a little guilt about not being able to prevent Ellen's death from cancer. It isn't logical and I know it, but my emotions and guts have a different idea.

Today - whenever I felt the light-headed feeling - if I stopped thought about the guilt and cried, then things got better. So somewhere deep inside there is a guilt party going on and my only way of knowing about it is when I feel confused or dizzy.

I solved the chest pain problem and it seems to be muscle or arthritis. An over the counter preparation 'capzasin-p' seems to do the trick. I stumbled across it yesterday in the grocery store and bought it on am impulse. Boy does it really get hot when you perspire!! Wow! But it has brought some mental relief.

The planned birthday party with my granddaughter has been postponed from tomorrow until June 4 - the whole family is sick with colds and or flu. But the good news Ellen's son Lee did call and talk to me! First time in at least 6 or more weeks. He did admit he hasn't even looked at some grieving matrerial I sent him and I found out my other granddaughter is having some difficult times at bed time - NOW THEY TELL ME! Damn! She was really close to Ellen and obviously I need to reach out to her - through the parents....

Boy do I miss Ellen - and that feeling just stays constant - I can't release her from my mind and memory - and yet keeping her is causing pain too. I know she is dead, I know she is in a better place, I know she is finally healthy again, and I know her world is peaceful - but why did she have to leave me? Dumb question - and totally rooted in selfishness and pity - and I can't seem to overcome it yet. Maybe someday I can be more accepting and learn to live without her, but right now it seems almost impossible and it hurts.

Oh well, one minute, one hour, one day at a time. This weekend there was a Cancer Walk and I couldn't bring myself to participate - too soon for me - makes me wish there was a Grief Walk - where folks like us could band together and walk our way to healthier days for ourselves...

Take care, hugs to all -

On the 19th I was at this point ============================== Hi gang,

I'm sorry, positive mental thinking isn't really working for me today. I feel crappy as the devil and plain miserable.

This grief is one hell of a mental prison. The harder I try to get out the worse it seems. And the longer I stay in it the worse my emotions seem to get. I can't believe that all this discomfort is caused by me - and that's what really hurts - I'm self destructing and seem helpless to do anything about it. Why can't we flip a switch and turn on the light and get rid of the demons?

Today is just turning into a pile of horse manure. I've done my chores - the bare minimum, showered, shaved, and all the personal cleanliness things, and I still feel like the devil.

Loneliness is the worst thing right now. I am so tired of talking to myself and trying to make sense out of chaos. Reading about the grieving process is intellectually interesting, but physically it is torture and I'm having trouble getting out of my own way.

I miss the hugs, the comfort and companionship and an empty house is a hundred times emptier when you know no one is coming back.

At this point all the casual support - what there was - has dried up. No more notes or cards, no more 'have-to-do' tasks, and the relatives are back to their normal life. Meanwhile I still play games in this mental cell I built. Damn, does anyone know how to break out of this thing?

I've seen my pyschiatrist recently (2 weeks) and my doctor last week. He said I'm okay, and then to alleviate my concerns schedule a treadmill next month. Sooo? What have I done? Turned that treadmill into a worry stone. How dumb can you get or be? Looks like I'm getting pretty dumb....worrying about a test yet to come. Not only to I worry about the test, but I am convinced they will find something, and then what will I do? The former-caregiver has no caregiver and that is scary all by itself.

Now I have flash backs to when Mom died and Dad was left alone. My sisters and I at that time had no sense or idea of grief or grieving. We did what we could and then left Dad alone. We were dumb, inconsiderate and stupid. And now I see, basically the same thing coming back to haunt me - as the kids resume their lives (except for Keith) and I'm left to carry on. But it ain't fun and now I can't imagine how my father carried on alone and I feel quite ashamed and sad. Obviously I can't undo what was done and I accept it fairly well, I think, but being in his shoes now, my heart really goes out to him and his memory.

The biggest problem I face is a lack of support. Like most men I put a lot into the relaionship with Ellen and my 'friends' are not close friends and not intimate friends and so the support is casual at best and about as deep as light frost and it goes away about as fast.

So I need to find someway to reach out and be included all at the same time. I think I need to see the doctor or pyschiatrist again and talk about some medical help - this anxiety is for the birds and it sure isn't healthy for me. It is too late today to reach them, so that's on my to-do for Monday.

I hate writing a whining note like this - but my mind seems to want to let it all out. So I'll send it and ask for some foregiveness at the same time. I've projects to do away from home, so I'm 'a fully functional' member of society - at least on the outside. Maybe when I get home and quiet down things will be better.

I'll try this: "It is not a choice of pain or no pain, but how you will manage the pain for today" - seems my work is cut out for me.

Hugs to all - and thanks for being part of my extended grief family - I'd truly be lost without you all.

On the 17th this was my state of mind:

==================================== Andi's note really struck home for me.

From my male view of things I thought I was just being weak and wimpy, but Andi's description of 'hitting the wall' was like looking in a mirror. Just trying to keep my head above water seems impossible this 'month' (Ellen died 2/8), whereas a couple of weeks ago I was smug and feeling sort of good, now I feel exhausted and terrible.

I'm trying all the aids I can - including some inspirational recordings Kay Arndt, who married us, had made. They all help, but they all seem to open new avenues to grief. It must be necessary to visit these places, but dang, do they need to have such an impact?

The housework is overpowering - or is it my perception of it? When Ellen was alive I could do all things - now everything is an effort. A real hard effort. I just long for a time when I can sleep in, wake up, do nothing and better yet not feel guilty. So far I've not given myself permission to do that - I just feel I have to keep busy. That is exhausting.

My affirmation - 'I want to be able to repond to my grief in ways which honor Ellen's life, honor my love for Ellen and respect my memory of Ellen; and in ways which respect my health, healing, need for life, need to grieve and allow me to participate fully in life' seems to help intellectually - but not emotionally.

But the biggest short term boost I got came yesterday. I was feeling miserable and mentally confused - then it dawned on me - my confusion seemed to be plain old vanilla sadness, very intense. Once I could admit it - to me - it seemed to ease.

I'd been looking for more complicated issues - and yesterday - and so far today, it seems to be "I am sad, very sad, I lost my best friend, lover and confidant and I am very lonely and very sad and it hurts like hell".

When I say that, it hurts, and some tears surface and the confusion seems to go away. Guess I need to learn more about the 'truth of me' and the 'truth of grief'. It would seem that I'm in denial up to my eyeballs.

Anyhow - that's where I'm at today. Those who've read my notes over the past few months know that I bounce around about as well as a player trying to dribble a football. So stay tuned for my next 'watch him bounce off the walls' report.

On the good side, I've had company, my son Keith, for 2+ days. It has been great to have another person in this empty house. And since he just left, I can say without a doubt it is lousy to be alone again!!~!!! We had a good time, and he's great help. Even got our tractor running (1st time since late 1998)!

Now, if the shop gets my car back, I'm planning a visit to Portland for granddaughter #2's birthday party on Sunday. First trip out since - well a long, long time.

Interestingly enough I learned that the father, son Lee, who can't find time to call me, has joined a new bowling league on Tuesdays - damn, I hate this family crap - and the lack of support from that portion of the family.

Assuming I make the trip, which I want to and need to do, it will be interesting to see how the family politics work. (This is the son I have to go through probate with - and the one who has ignored my pleas to meet). Oh well, what's one more stress? Right now it is one too many - but that's the way it is.

Best wishes to all who are on this very sad road with me. If you find a sponge which soaks up saddness, tell me where to buy one - I've some stuff to soak up.

Love and hugs,

On the 14th this was my state of mind:

================ Hi All,

After a painful and troubled Friday, Saturday and most of today, I had a long walk and talk with myself - had Ellen been here I still would have walked and talked to myself. I'm used to doing that - it sometimes clears my head - which empty as it is now, is no big deal.

Briefly, I am at the 3 month point and the emotional pain has been tremendous. At times I was quite desparate - and then tears would burst out and I'd get relief. Something is trying to get out and I have been stifling it inside - and I've been praying for God to take it away. Well, for me, that isn't working.

It now seems it is up to me, not God, to cure my own ills, and right now grief seems like the most powerful emotion capable of producing disease symptoms.

It really became obvious to me how distorted my feelings were today - the sun was out, the flowers are in bloom, everything is green and the majority of the people are truly enjoying happiness and fun.

Wherever Ellen is, I am certain she would not want me to be in the pity pool on a day like today - or any day for that matter. I can hear her now saying "Dave, come look at the flowers - everything is so beautiful, isn't it a glorious day?"

I can recall a similar event, years ago, when I was a practicing alcoholic, and I couldn't be happy without a drink, yet the rest of the world was having fun right in front of me. While the circumstances are totally different, it did remind me of how powerful my negative emotions are (if left to run wild) and how devastating they can be to me and my outlook on life.

On today's walk and talk I came up with this affirmation that gives me comfort - I want to be able to respond (not react) to my grief in ways which:

Honor Ellen's Life Honor My Love for Ellen Respect My Memory of Ellen and in ways which respect my:

Health Healing Need for Life Need to Grieve and allow me to Participate Fully In Life

I'm gonna try this - it can't hurt and I believe it will help. Copies are going in my wallet, on the checkbook, by the computer and by the bed. I need to be reminded that grief and a healthy life are not exclusive and that there are ways to respond to Ellen's death which will honor us both.

I do pray that each of us finds peace and happiness in every day.
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Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 08:34:59 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Major Funk Comments:

Dear Joyce - Hey - you can't be in a funk! I own all rights to all funks! And I've not released any rights to anyone.

After my last 10 days or so - and my misery bound email of yesterday - you should know that you've got company in that deep well. Can't see me? Well kick out - when I yell "ouch" that's when you know you got me.

Seriously, I hope things get better for you today. Having to 'mow' has gotten me out of the house a couple of times. Working hard has diverted my attention, and sometimes a fresh breeze, a darting swallow, or a flower or two - have helped my emotions.

My 'funks' have told me there is something hidden or some issue I'm not in touch with. It has been hard work to get it out. Recently I had to start saying grief related words, almost at random, until something hurt. Then I knew where I was.

Your 'funk' may be different - so take my 'funk advice' and put it on the shelf or where ever it belongs.

Wish I could shine a light in your well - and throw you a rope to get help you out.

Hugs and prayers and please write back to us? Dave
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Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 11:44:56 -0700

Subject: [F-AHEAD] Monday morning hopes

Hi - Mondays sometimes brings new thoughts - or in my case, maybe recycled thoughts I'd all but forgotten.

The weekend, I have to say, ended up positive. Saturday, I even surprised myself when I fell off my diet and cooked cornbeef hash and poached eggs for lunch. What's the big deal you ask? Well, that's a long story - but needless to say, I haven't had hash and eggs in maybe 8 years? So this, despite your mental image of it, was a treat for me.

My traditional diet (since a heart attack and record high cholesterol levels) has been oatmeal for breakfast, beans and rice for dinner 99.99% of the time for 8 years. Greasy fatty hash and eggs wasn't on the list. So it was fun to do something for me and enjoy it!

Oh, after all those years of dieting my cholesterol never went down. My liver must be working overtime. Doctor put me on cholesterol meds late in 99 and they work wonders! Meanwhile I find it hard to change my diet - too many decisions to make - so the old standbys work fine, and taste good.

I already wrote about being afraid to do a cancer walk. Late last night while catching up on the mail, there was a scorching letter about folks not signing up for the cancer walk in my county (this was from a club president to members). Well, he must have kicked my tail bone in the right spot, I got mad, sent in a check and signed up to walk on June 2 and/or 3rd - and this is a BIG STEP for me.

And finally today I called some friends (he and I have had coffee and lunch a few times since Ellen's death) and I'm visiting at their home on Wednesday. Gracie has been on oxygen for months and months, and Monk and I have always met away from their home. I've been terrified of seeing another ill lady - I'll have to take the visit one minute at a time....

Tuesday I see the pyschiatrist and Wed night is my grief group. Grief work is hard work!

So - off I go into the week, with high-apple-pie-in-the-sky-hopes...

Hugs, prayers and love to all -

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 11:58:31 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Major Funk Comments:

Hi Toni - Thanks for leaving space in the well, I guess. Please leave the lights on though.

Your perspective, at 18 months or so, is encouraging. I'm thankful you can tell us what you've experienced, maybe it will help me be less stressed on this road.

You mentioned long term numbness - you seem to be right. Most days I cannot recall what I did two days ago. Thankfully I've taken to writing a journal each day - at least that gives me some clue as to where I've been and how I felt. I do look back at it, now and then, only to see what was going on.

I'm sorry summers are hard for you. It's a big change from having fun as a couple to being taxi driver, parent and having to deal with all the things a couple of pairs of hands used to take care of. I know it is for me, right now. I've only seen a little change in seasons and I've no idea how I will move into autumn, winter and back to spring and then summer of 2001. Frankly I can't see that far right now. Right now I know it will be hard to see the flowers whither and die this year - they've been great friends everyday and as they and the hummingbirds and swallows vanish - well - I better have a strategy in place... Guess I can get winter cabbage, and maybe use Ellen's greenhouse to start some new growth through the winter - that's an idea that just came to me - so maybe it will work...

What have you other folks done through the change of seasons? Any ideas?

Good to hear you are running out of time to spend in the well. We're not exclusive, but I for one am happy to hear you can stay away! Hugs to all, Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Tue, 23 May 2000 07:10:46 -0700

Subject: Re: Just checking in

Oh shoot! You caught me and I did forget to respond!

Hey - that's an improvement. Remember when I used to send multiple emails covering the same topics?

Glad to hear everyone is returning to good health.

The bouncing ball will wait until the 4th.

Frankly last week, up until Saturday, was pretty tough. Lots of issues surfaced from my gut, including a horrendous amount of guilt over Ellen's death. Could I have saved her? What else could I have done about the cancer? Should I have pushed a transplant? And on and on. It took a bit to get through it all.

This was all new and not logical at all. We did everything, we tried everything and we got to the hospital as fast as we could. I 'intellectually know that' but my guts must have decided to store some other stuff. Letting that stuff bubble out wasn't the funnest thing I've done.

All of this is not unusual - I am told. Anyhow, I'm off to see the shrink in 2 hours, for a quick mental checkup - shouldn't take long as there isn't much in there anyhow.

Got the car back. It seems to be in great shape. Will know more later today.

Also promised to do a 'Cancer Walk' June 2/3 in Hoquiam. Totally ignored the one in Centralia this past weekend, and then all of a sudden found myself signing up for this one. Who knows what lurks in the corners of my head - notice, I didn't say 'brain'.

Say hi to Ken and all!

Dave
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Date: Tue, 23 May 2000 08:10:31 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Major Funk Comments:

Joyce and all -

Yep the well is big - and the damn thing never runs dry - or at least it hasn't.

I sort of shared your 'feeding the birds' feeling - but we/I have one bluejay who has been coming around for 4 years now. I know because he hasn't an injure wing.

I just couldn't leave him to feed on his own (he wouldn't be playing on my sympathy would he?), so the bird feeder is kept full. I think he also goes in the garage and steals dog food.

The other guys that got me going were the hummingbirds. They come back in late Feb and early March - and darn - they needed some food to survive. Now, the days when they consume 2 quarts, yes 2 quarts, of food - it gives me something, besides grief, to moan and complain about. And boy oh boy, can I moan and groan!! But having a different topic does help - a little...

As to the light in the well, as soon as the folks are done with the light at the end of the tunnel, maybe they could shine it down the well, please?

Off to the pyschiatrist - eyeball to eyeball in one hour. And I'm all ears.

Take care and hugs to all,

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Tue, 23 May 2000 08:14:34 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Trading Places Comments:

Ray,

Thanks so much for writing those words. Thanks so much for sticking around and sharing the view from 14 months. It does help.

Your offer 'to trade places' brought tears to my eyes. Guess I'm the patient and you are the caregiver in this situation - and that is a very touching and loving comment. It is somewhat painful, because that was my constant offer to Ellen. And of course it could not be.

And now I am bawling like a baby. That well certainly has a lot of stuff in it.

Thanks, Ray, for shining a really bright light my way.

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Tue, 23 May 2000 13:18:07 -0700

Subject: Tuesday update

Hi - Saw Sam Bradley the pyschiatrist this morning.

Sam has been 'in the family' for the most part of 10 years - off and on - as a tune up or mental valve adjustment has been needed. He's seen me in various stages and saw Ellen and I as a couple, and knew and liked us both and individually.

I gave him a 4 page copy of some recent email letters covering my confusion, guilt and everything I written about.

We had a pretty good discussion and this session ended with a good observation and some to-dos, which I will share (your mileage might vary):

The one sentence description - my words - I am much too isolated.

His Rx was:

Get routine sleep - which I haven't, start by getting up at same time

Address the mental emotions and confusions with a short mantra:

Ellen is dead

I miss her

There is nothing I can do about her death

and then get busy and do something

Go on excursions daily (I haven't had to, nor do I leave property daily)

Do social outreach

maintain routine stuff - my nonprofit, etc.

do something socially meaningful

reach out to others

let people know how you feel

visit with neighbors once a week

maintain visits by son

consider hosting a grief group at home

Most of this is obvious to outsiders and a surprise to me. The mantra is something new.

As Sam explained it - my words - the conscious brain needs a response to the emotions (subconscious brain). Without a reasoned response it tends to basically manufacture uncontrolled responses to the grief (emotions) to keep things in balance.

These uncontrolled responses (guilt for Ellen's death, etc.) tend to cause a lot of pain.The mantra, if used, can be the conscious brain response to those emotions and allow things/me to stay in balance.

Of all the tasks he asked me to do, leaving the property daily will be the challenge. Ellen and I prided ourselves on having a 'vacation retreat' home, and enjoyed not having to leave it as it was and is fun just to be here in a beautiful setting - and that habit hasn't changed for me. It is a great place to 'be'. But I'll take Sam's advice and get out. No problem this week as I already have all days, but Thursday, planned.

Well, that is all from the here. The visit was great. Sam is a good guy and and he gives one hell of a good hug. I sort of feel sorry for him. He survived stomach cancer a couple of years ago. Last visit he mentioned he had started prostrate cancer treatment (radioactive seeds) and this visit I learned (by asking - I'm not bashful) that he had to have a catheter implanted as the prostrate had swollen too much to urinate. He doesn't look good and his usual optimism seemed dim. Damn! Hope he wins his battle. I'll poke around and see who else knows of his treatment and sort of spy on him indirectly....

Well, as Sam said, 'get busy and do something'! Love and hugs, Dave
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Date: Tue, 23 May 2000 13:17:13 -0700

Subject: [F-AHEAD] Tuesday, pyschiatrist visit

Hi - Saw Sam Bradley the pyschiatrist this morning.

Sam has been 'in the family' for the most part of 10 years - off and on - as a tune up or mental valve adjustment has been needed. He's seen me in various stages and saw Ellen and I as a couple, and knew and liked us both and individually.

I gave him a 4 page copy of some recent email letters covering my confusion, guilt and everything I written about.

We had a pretty good discussion and this session ended with a good observation and some to-dos, which I will share (your mileage might vary):

The one sentence description - my words - I am much too isolated.

His Rx was:

Get routine sleep - which I haven't, start by getting up at same time

Address the mental emotions and confusions with a short mantra:

Ellen is dead I miss her There is nothing I can do about her death and then get busy and do something

Go on excursions daily (I haven't had to, nor do I leave property daily)

Do social outreach maintain routine stuff - my nonprofit, etc.

do something socially meaningful reach out to others let people know how you feel visit with neighbors once a week maintain visits by son consider hosting a grief group at home

Most of this is obvious to outsiders and a surprise to me. The mantra is something new.

As Sam explained it - my words - the conscious brain needs a response to the emotions (subconscious brain). Without a reasoned response it tends to basically manufacture uncontrolled responses to the grief (emotions) to keep things in balance.

These uncontrolled responses (guilt for Ellen's death, etc.) tend to cause a lot of pain.The mantra, if used, can be the conscious brain response to those emotions and allow things/me to stay in balance.

Of all the tasks he asked me to do, leaving the property daily will be the challenge.

Ellen and I prided ourselves on having a 'vacation retreat' home, and enjoyed not having to leave it as it was and is fun just to be here in a beautiful setting - and that habit hasn't changed for me. It is a great place to 'be'. But I'll take Sam's advice and get out. No problem this week as I already have all days, but Thursday, planned.

Well, that is all from the here. The visit was great. Sam is a good guy and and he gives one hell of a good hug. I sort of feel sorry for him. He survived stomach cancer a couple of years ago. Last visit he mentioned he had started prostrate cancer treatment (radioactive seeds) and this visit I learned (by asking - I'm not bashful) that he had to have a catheter implanted as the prostrate had swollen too much to urinate. He doesn't look good and his usual optimism seemed dim. Damn! Hope he wins his battle. I'll poke around and see who else knows of his treatment and sort of spy on him indirectly....

Well, as Sam said, 'get busy and do something'! Love and hugs, Dave

Dave Palmer Do you want what is on the ground in your water tomorrow? If not, then protect the earth....
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Date: Tue, 23 May 2000 20:00:35 -0700

Subject: [F-AHEAD] Grief and decision making

Hi - As you know, Ellen died 2/8 of cancer and I have been bouncing off walls.

One of the issues I didn't understand was decision making. People just tell me 'don't make big decisions'.

Today, Sam, the pyschiatrist, and I discussed it. One big issue for me was the board of trustees of my nonprofit. I am the chairman. I've been debating whether or not to resign, because I haven't been effective recently.

As Sam described things for me - when the death happened I had a already normal full plate, and now, almost 4 months later, I still have a full plate, and grief has been added on top of it and I'm dealing with the normal stuff plus the grief.

Sam said, if I make a decision now, that takes away something - then the grief assumes a bigger role.

I guess he was saying, my full plate or whatever, keeps the grief in some sort of perspective - but if I make a big decision (move, quit the board, or some other thing), then the balance and my foundation are changed and grief can have a bigger impact.

Does that make sense? It does to me. It makes more sense than simply being told "Don't make any big decisions for at least a year". Now, I think I understand why.

I took Sam's earlier advice and 'went and did something' and I'm bushed. I can hardly wait until he tells me to "take a break!" :-))

Hugs and prayers for still, pleasant and quiet moments -

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Tue, 23 May 2000 21:22:45 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Tuesday, pyschiatrist visit Comments:

Tackle two chores that I have been avoiding.

Daily exercise of at least 15 minutes.

Eat right (the kindness of friends helps here).

Get at least seven hours of sleep.

Andi - these are toughies - unless you consider Ice Cream among the right foods! Sleep is the one I mess up. Sam said - to me - set a fixed 'wake up' time, the rest will come easier.

Getting up has been my 'gotcha'. If it weren't for the horses, well I'd still be asleep.

The little kid in me just wants to sleep the day away, somedays. And someday I WILL! The heck with Sam! Guess I'll save that for a treat.

You're correct - being depressed doesn't bring anyone back to life. I hadn't figured that out by myself, but the visit today did help me, and your words do confirm it -

The other thing Sam told me to watch for, was 'holding onto grief' as the last connection to Ellen. Guess I run the risk of not letting go of the grief as it is a bridge or a path back to the 'good old days', which of course don't exist, except as fond memories. I understand what he is saying, and that thought had crept into my mind - so I'm going try and be careful. It's the same, to me, as losing the 'caregiver' role. All of a sudden there was another void to fill.

Oh boy, grief work is really work.

Take care - watch out for empty wells.... :-)

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Tue, 23 May 2000 21:30:42 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Sharing and Caring Comments:

Dearest Sharon,

Wow - the burdens add up and you sure have had your share.

I'm at a loss for words to try and aid someone who has been through so much already.

You did say you put on a strong front - and I might put my foot in my mouth and caution you about that.

Someone wrote, and I don't recall who:

Your sorrow is an emotion, not a disease.

The only cure for grief is to grieve.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ You don't have to prove that you're "so strong" and "doing so well".

Surely, after your losses, Sharon, you don't have to prove anything to anyone and you sure don't have to put on a strong front for me. You've earned 'hero' stripes and all the support everyone can give you at this time.

Your poem is touching, very touching. Thanks for posting it!

Someone else f

"Tragedy is a bridge that we all must cross from time to time and no words from outside can ever replace what once was"

and I guess we have to create new ways to live our lives and that does hurt at times.

Hugs and a prayer for your well-being,

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Tue, 23 May 2000 21:40:32 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Sharing and Caring Comments:

I have come to the point in my grief where I truly feel blessed to have been with my mother through her illness. To have been given the chance to tell her how I felt, to have shared that experience with her.

Michelle - THANK YOU for reminding me of the opportunity I had too. It was a true gift from God and one which is priceless to me. Guess, in the pain of the grieving, I forgot the joy in the living and caregiving. It was a wonderful gift and my life would be so different, had Ellen and I not had those moments - long and short as they were.

I still wish WE had known how fast death demands attention, but overall we had the best of times.

Had to smile as you told your Canadian goose story. I live south of Olympia (which for others is south of Seattle), and the City Fathers (I hope that term is still acceptable these PC days) are debating how to eradicate them from this area - I won't go into the alternatives, needless to say I wouldn't want to be a Canadian goose in the State Capitol.

Obviously this type of decision making is not contagious and geese are safe further north.

Your tribute to your Mother is wonderful - she must have really enjoyed you as a daughter, caregiver and friend! It appears she did a great job as a Mom.

Take care and hugs,

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Tue, 23 May 2000 21:50:10 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Mom Comments:

Dear Michelle - Oh, how to 'welcome' someone - it isn't really possible. But sure glad you have been lurking and wrote.

There are few words to comfort you right now. I can only imagine the agony that you feel as you are caught between disease, treatments, recoveries and the fear of death lingering in the future. That's something I never experienced to the degree you are going through.

I just pray that recovery is possible and that you have many more days, weeks and months with your Mom.

At the risk of sounding like a school teacher - or librarian, I'll give you my short list of books to read. The preliminary cancer one is maybe too simple for you now, but sometimes it helps to relearn what we forget during the hospitalizations and treatments...

"How to go on living when someone you love dies" Therese A. Rando, Ph.D., originally published as "Grieving" paperback, published by Bantam Books, August 1991 ISBN 0-553-35269-5 Covers adult, child, spouse, parent death. Sudden or anticipated.

I think Rando does an outstanding job - it has been a real help to me....

"Diagnosis Cancer" Your Guide Through The First Few Months Wendy Schlessel Harpham, M.D.

W.W. Norton & Company, 1992 ISBN 0-393-30982-8 (PBK) Author is an internist and a cancer patient. Excellent, but you've already been there.

"How We Die" Reflections on Life's Final Chapter Sherwin B. Nuland, M.D.

paperback, Vintage Books (Random House) ISBN 0-679-74244-1 Challenging to read, but enlightening, especially on cancer deaths - and it helped me to understand some of the consequences of attempting rescues or ....

I think if you add these to your tools, you'll be better able to get through what might happen.

Wish you didn't have to be here, but awfully glad you are with such nice people!! They are better than all the books in the world!

God Bless You,

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Wed, 24 May 2000 21:08:17 -0700

Subject: [F-AHEAD] Only Wednesday? & Internet grief resources

Dear Folks,

The subject refers to my exhaustion today. I mentioned in an earlier note that the pyschiatrist told me to start getting up on a fixed schedule. I picked 6:30 a.m. (dumb move) and did it! By noon I had a full days work done - then donated some of Ellen's clothing, then took some of her patterns to a senior center, visited Monk and Gracie, went to grief group, got home, grabbed dinner, stalled the horses and now it is 9pm. Okay Sam! Are you happy? I did my to-do list and then some! Can I go home now?

Had a good visit with Monk and Gracie. Gracie has been on oxygen for a couple of years. It was hard to see her, and it was like having Ellen around (without the painful memories) as I could pick up on her breathing, movements and sighs of pain. Dear lady is fighting for her life and she does know it. A brave couple. Both had spouses who died over 30 years and just celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary recently. So they do demonstrate that life can resume after loss of a spouse. Monk is a master gardener and delighted in showing me his garden, tools, and such items that interest menfolk.

The grief group was good. From all walks of life and types of loss - cancer predominates, but one new gentleman had a son on the Alaska Airline flight that went down by LA - and this was his first visit - very torn apart by the cruelness of the death, the abruptness of the death and the inability to retrieve the entire remains. A painful part of the session for all , but no more important or painful a loss then any of the others. Two people 14 months or so along on their journey - one doing fairly well, another still torn up a bit - but both dealing with grief well and certainly role models for the rest of us.

The facilitator passed out a list of internet resources. I simply scanned it in. Maybe one of these will be of interest to someone. I have not visited any of them. The words are those provided by the facilitator. Only because she had it on the list is the last one on my list - I don't mean to offend anyone by including a pet grief listing.

Hugs to all, and sleep well. I'm gonna try to! Dave

Bereavement Resources on the Internet

www.aarp.org/griefandloss/ Comprehensive site containing information on grief and loss, specific information for widows and widowers, how to help people who are grieving, etc.

www.willowgreen.com Source of information and inspiration in areas of illness and dying, loss and grief, healthy caregiving, life transition, and spirituality.

www.griefaid.com Information about grief, inspirational quotes, recommended books with links to Amazon.com for ordering, information on near death experiences and afterdeath contacts.

www.growthhouse.org Provides information on grief and bereavement, resource links to associated websites, information on hospice and home care, palliative care, etc. Also has an on-line chatroom.

www.thecompassionatefriends.org Organization for parents whose children have died. Provides information on death of children, support, resources, etc.

www.webhealing.com No other information on this site

www.thebereavementjourney.com No other information on this site

www.petloss.com Website for pet lovers who are grieving the death of a pet or an ill pet.Personal support, advice, The Pet Candle Ceremony, Tribute page, poetry, etc.
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Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 07:40:59 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] FACING PROBLEMS Comments:

Dear Patricia,

Your letter sure stirs a lot of things in my emotional bank. I long for the day when I can start thinking like you are right now and begin focusing more on the future.

I found your first note to us when you introduced yourself and you have since mentioned you quit your job to take care of Joe.

Maybe you've already gone through a lot of the grief and sorrow by your investment in Joe's care. If you knew death was imminent and you were able to care for him - which you did - and if you had to address issues, you could have done a lot of grief work already.

Your tears may have already been shed and if you were anticpating his death, then some of the reactions I feel as a result of a surprise death, you dealt with ahead of time - when Joe was alive and things could be talked or worked out.

Selling the home, moving and finding a job won't be the answer to everything - but nothing is. Leaving and selling will sever another connection with Joe. That might trigger something. Certainly finding a job and starting a career will offer new possibilities and will require some focus and attention.

You sound ready to make the move. There is no concrete timeline. And actually we could use a little more elbow room down here in the well. Just kidding!

If I were a worry-wart the only worry I would have would be something like -"if I sell, and if I move and get distracted by a job what will that do to my feelings of Joe and the emotions we shared during that time"? Once you cut the cord to the past, like this, there will be no going back there. Only you can decide if this is an issue for you.

As to the inability to cry - I wouldn't worry - if you need a cry, it will find a way out. Believe me. Some of my biggest crying periods came from emotional feelings that really didn't tell the truth - or simply stated came from mass confusion on my part - and part of that is because I have not been doing enough to take care of the future. Muckin' around in the pity pool helps a lot, but if one stays too long (as I have at times) you get sort of muddy and it is hard to see through muddy glasses.

Sounds like you have a clear vision, so go for it! Go with your heart and take care of Patricia...

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 13:03:44 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Thank you Dave!! Comments:

Dear Jacque,

Thank you so much for the very kind and generous words. They mean a lot. Especially on a day like to day, when I am emotionally drained and feel like a desert.

Your days are so hard right now. I could look in my notes and try and recall the numbness and blank-faced-look I had then - though I think I'll pass - the pain you are going through is so difficult and my heart goes out to you.

It is easy to share the love of Ellen with a group as open and helpful as are these folks.

There is no judgement, no unasked for advice and there truly is a lot of support. I'm indebted to everyone.

Be gentle with yourself, Jacque, take one step at a time, and you will make it through these days, one by one, tear by tear.

For you, for me, and each of, 'it is not a choice of pain or no pain, but how we will manage the pain for today'.

Hugs - Dave
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Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 13:09:49 -0700

Subject: [F-AHEAD] Advice please on birthday

Need some help from those of you with experience -

Ellen's son, Lee, has a birthday coming up. Obivously his first without his mother.

Most of you know he has totally avoided any discussion of her, and has not been able to show, and I don't know if he has, any interest in any of her posessions (crucifix, bible, jewelry, photos, furniture).

I've no way of knowing if he is in denial or happy as a clam. My requests to meet have fallen off the face of the earth. Lee and I have not been close, nor was Lee real close with Ellen. He'd forget her birthdays, mother's day, etc. Not too unsual for a male child but bothersome to Ellen.

Given that - has anyone got advice on what one might give a 35 year old man? I was thinking of a reproduction of portraits of Ellen - or her bible, or her crucifix, or ?

Has anyone dealt with a similar situation with a daughter or son?

Dave Palmer "We are all born originals - why is it so many of us die copies?"
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Date: Sat, 27 May 2000 11:29:28 -0700

Subject: [F-AHEAD] Time to cry

Saturday morning, and drizzle and more drizzle out here in western Washington.

For whatever the reason - a desire to move through the grief work, the weather, or the idea of Memorial Day weekend, I stumbled into mounting, for a scrapbook, the cards sent to me and the family at Ellen's death in Feb 2000.

It is a good feeling to have it done. Now I can sit down and read the words. But during the process the tears did flow. All by themselves. No thoughts needed, just pure, simple tears of grief and loneliness. Had taped music (Zamfir - and romantic, emotional songs) in the background - so innocently enough - and with no plan to do this today, I suddenly found myself in a strong, emotional, but not unpleasant grief land. (My original plan was to eat breakfast and go outside and pick horse stalls, so I was way off original course.)

Typically it rains in Washington on Memorial day. Typically we had a fire in the stove and watched the national ceremonies on satellite and celebrated the day very quietly and low key. Looks like it will be another one of those years, although a tad bit on the lonely side.

Some weeks after Ellen's death an ER nurse sent me this - and it seems to fit all of our grief relationships - parents, spouse, friend or child...

"Just as each love is unique in its beauty, a journey for two through a lifetime of sharing, each loss is unique, with its own path of grieving, and, someday, its own road to healing and peace."

So I hope your journey on the road finds you healing and closer to peace.

Love to all,

Dave
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Date: Sun, 28 May 2000 21:28:51 -0700

Subject: [F-AHEAD] Son's gift

Dear All,

Thanks for the many responses and suggestions about a gift for son Lee.

I called his Mother-in-law and had a good talk. Got some ideas for his gift - and was surprised when she thought copies of two portraits of Ellen would be appreciated.

So - I'm off to get copies made on Tuesday. (He'll get the originals in all good time - but by then I won't be around to worry or fuss over it.)

I quizzed her on the grief thing with Lee. Her response was 'it is a guy thing' - and that is the way (showing/doing nothing) that is dealing with it.

Having paved the road of life with a few major boo-boos and disasters when I responded in a 'guy way' to life's events - I suspect he is due for a big crash one of these days. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink, and Lee is typical, of this, I guess.

Today was a downer - even went back to bed with my heart just throbbing. No idea why - but a couple of hours rest helped. My mantra, from Sam, got a lot of use today, and it did help.

Tonight, out of the blue, I was motivated to move all the memorial and Ellen related papers into the room she fondly called the 'Crap Room' which was really a craft room. It makes sense to do it, since there are work shelves and a table to spread things out on. I simply hadn't planned to do it, and hadn't thought of it, until I was actually moving things. As a side benefit it will free up the dining room table :-) and it actually, now that I think of it, will help me separate that work from normal day to day living.

I watched the National Memorial Day service. The letter from the sweetheart of a Viet Nam casualty really tore at me and my sense of grief and grieving was expanded by it. My heart goes out to everyone who has suffered such an abrupt loss - my pales in comparison.

Love to all - wish me well tomorrow - I'm going to the cemetery for the local American Legion military services - my first return to a cemetery. I'm sure my thoughts will include the veterans and a few other significant people in my life - not the least of whom is Ellen.

Hugs and prayers,

Dave
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Date: Sun, 28 May 2000 21:43:40 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] scrapbook Comments:

Saron,

Thanks for the positive feedback about scrapbooks and memorial records.

The process is sad, but for me, it was an uplifting process - sort of took me back to the days of caregiving, and I guess I felt useful.

Dang it, as I typed those words, I started crying again. Boy there sure is a pain bone in there somewhere - I guess I feel useless these days without Ellen to care for or better yet to enjoy. Hope this feeling passes in time. No one wants to be useless for life...

I'll have to start thinking something like:

"I did do all that I could have done, and there is nothing I can do about her death." Maybe that will help me get through this part of the puzzle. Sure hope it works...

Take care,

Dave
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Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 13:58:14 -0700

Subject: [F-AHEAD] Tears and onions

Sure have a case of diarrhea keyboard today.

Went to the Memorial Day Ceremony. Very touching and very emotional for me.

I've not walked in a graveyard in some time and my feet on the ground pulled tears out of my eyes. Wow! This well never seems to dry up.... I have to admit these tears are more peaceful than they would have been even a couple of weeks ago.

Returned home quietly and relieved that I'd done what I set out to do. And now another hurdle is behind me.

I started working on cleaning up more of Ellen's things. We each had a 'kitchen drawer' where we could stuff keys, wallet, checkbook or whatever. Both of were great on 'whatever' and neither drawer was ever big enough.

I was doing okay until I got to the wallet. In it she had taped her medicine list (18+ per day), emergency instructions and alerts in case of transfusion needs - at that point I broke down again.

This is like peeling onions. Everytime you finish peeling one onion, another pops into view and it has to be peeled too. My onions seem to have bruises, so I have to peel off another layer of onion or two before I can be done with that one.

I've stopped peeling onions for the day. 2 or 3 in one day is enough and now it is time to do something like mow the lawn - that will be really beneficial - just kidding....

There seems to be a real advantage to moving things off the dining room table - I can leave a project in mid-air and walk away from it, without it haunting me. And I felt comfortable just walking away. So I can tackle things in smaller pieces now - maybe no more than 30 minutes or so at a time. That will help.

I sure hope everyone on this list has made it through Memorial Day. Veterans are true heros, but our loved ones are personal heros that made our lives wonderful and happy.

I came across this in Ellen's kitchen drawer (she was a master gardener), in a note pad: "Old gardeners never die, they just lose their bloomers" Hugs and

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 14:21:25 -0700

Subject: [F-AHEAD] it helped me today

Last post, I think.

This was talked about in a taped service I listened to while working on Ellen's things.

The service didn't recite it all - but it touched me and I found the entire poem on the internet at: http://www.websyte.com/alan/iamthere.htm

I Am There

I wrote "I Am There" when my first wife was dying. When I first found out how sick she was, a doctor told me there was no hope for her. This just came to me; I wrote it down; I didn't think of it as writing. I wrote it down as I prayed for my wife. By James Dillet Freeman

Do you need Me? I am there.

You cannot see Me, yet I am the light you see by.

You cannot hear Me, yet I speak through your voice.

You cannot feel Me, yet I am the power at work in your hands.

I am at work, though you do not understand My ways.

I am at work, though you do not understand My works.

I am not strange visions. I am not mysteries.

Only in absolute stillness, beyond self, can you know Me as I am, and then but as a feeling and a faith.

Yet I am there. Yet I hear. Yet I answer.

When you need Me, I am there.

Even if you deny Me, I am there.

Even when you feel most alone, I am there.

Even in your fears, I am there.

Even in your pain, I am there.

I am there when you pray and when you do not pray.

I am in you, and you are in Me.

Only in your mind can you feel separate from Me, for only in your mind are the mists of "yours" and "mine." Yet only with your mind can you know Me and experience Me.

Empty your heart of empty fears.

When you get yourself out of the way, I am there.

You can of yourself do nothing, but I can do all.

And I am in all.

Though you may not see the good, good is there, for I am there.

I am there because I have to be, because I am.

Only in Me does the world have meaning; only out of Me does the world take form; only because of Me does the world go forward.

I am the law on which the movement of the stars and the growth of living cells are founded.

I am the love that is the law's fulfilling.

I am assurance.

I am peace.

I am oneness.

I am the law that you can live by.

I am the love that you can cling to.

I am your assurance.

I am your peace.

I am one with you.

I am.

Though you fail to find Me, I do not fail you.

Though your faith in Me is unsure, My faith in you never wavers, because I know you, because I love you.

Beloved, I am there.

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Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 19:26:00 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Tears and onions Comments:

OOh well....one more hurdle we made it over.

I just finished peeling onions Dave...

Juanita - Thanks for the chuckle - I understand what you meant, it just sounded silly, and a little silliness helps at times.

If you need more onions, I've a bag full ;-))

Glad you made it over the hurdle and be you are proud of your daughter!

Dave
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Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 19:32:40 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] JUST TO LET IT OUT Comments:

Patricia -

You hit a lot of nails on the head for a lot of us.

I keep this around where I can see it:

Your sorrow is an emotion, not a disease.

The only cure for grief is to grieve.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ You don't have to prove that you're "so strong" and "doing so well".

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In listening to you, I'd like to make another offering . . . .

I attend a grief group meeting locally every two weeks.

This was a handout:

Don't tell me that you understand Don't tell me that you know.

Don't tell me that I will survive, How I will surely grow.

Don't tell me this is just a test, That I am truly blessed, That I am chosen for this task, Apart from all the rest.

Don't come at me with answers That can only come from me, Don't tell me how my grief will pass That I will soon be free.

Don't stand in pious judgment Of the bounds I must untie, Don't tell me how to suffer, And don't tell me how to cry.

My life is filled with selfishness, My pain is all I see, But I need you, I need your love, Unconditionally.

Accept me in my ups and downs, I need someone to share, Just hold my hand and let me cry, And say, "My friend, I care."

Joanetta Hendel Bereavement Magazine

We love you Patricia - just scoot ovr a bit, the well is crowded and those dang onions make me cry!

Dave
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Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 19:40:10 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] JUST TO LET IT OUT Comments:

Dear Kim and Patricia -

I'm almost 4 months away from Ellen's death and the only picture I have, mentally, is Ellen as she died. It hasn't faded and it hasn't gone away. I really long for the day when I can recall the true Ellen as she was for all the years I knew her.

The image of her dying seems fainter now than it was - but it is still the only one I can dig up from my memory. It seems like all the other mental doors are shut tight. I still have yet to do much dreaming (that I can recall) so my visual recall is really down the tubes and I think I am suffering more because I can't recall pleasant dreams or pleasant memories.

Friends and neighbors have stayed away by the hundreds. We didn't have hundreds, but if one person or ten people stay away the impact is the same - so I could say they are staying away by the thousands. I seem to be the one initiating the phone calls (all except 1), and the one that has to go to them -

I just hope I remember these days well, so that some day in the future another mourner won't be left alone, ignored or told 'you'll get better in time'.

I had a chance today to laugh at the cat a couple of times - and laughter is such good medicine - especially real laughter. It sure looks like a seed for the future and I hope it grows, and I hope you both got a laugh, big or small, today.

Hugs,

Dave
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Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 19:44:36 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Introduction Comments:

Dear Denise,

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss.

Whatever the reason, or whatever might be the cause, cancer is a terrible enemy and monster. I wish you and your Mom did not have to go through the process at all.

You may have seen this already, but it helped me when Ellen died of Multiple Myeloma in February.

God saw you getting tired when a cure was not be, so He closed His arms around you and whispered, "Come to Me".

You didn't deserve what you went through, and He gave you rest, God's Garden must be beautiful, He only takes the best.

And when I saw you sleeping, so peaceful and free from pain, I could not wish you back to suffer that again.

--

My heart goes out to you. Join with us with whatever you want to say whenever you are ready.

May God be with you and your family.

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Tue, 30 May 2000 18:55:37 -0700

Subject: Re: [F-AHEAD] Do I need to be here? Comments:

Kate,

I think you are in the right place at the right time.

I joined facing-ahead once, before Ellen died, and then retreated and left.

I wish I had stayed online and at least kept my eyes tuned into the issues and discussions as it would have made life much simpler - both for Ellen and me.

I rejoined after Ellen died in February, from Multiple Myeloma, and was welcomed. Sadly I have learned that some of the issues and concerns I had, before Ellen's death, were routinely discussed here. I could have learned a lot if I had stayed with it.

I do hope and pray your father has tamed the beast for a loooooooong time. In the meantime you will benefit by the knowledge you gain here and I hope you stay with us.

I'm going to recommend two books - oh heck, I'll recommend all three. You are dealing with a serious issue and even the basics get overlooked sometimes.

How to go on living when someone you love dies" Therese A. Rando, Ph.D., originally published as "Grieving" paperback, published by Bantam Books, August 1991 ISBN 0-553-35269-5 Covers adult, child, spouse, parent death. Sudden or anticipated.

"Diagnosis Cancer" Your Guide Through The First Few Months Wendy Schlessel Harpham, M.D.

W.W. Norton & Company, 1992 ISBN 0-393-30982-8 (PBK) Author is an internist and a cancer patient. Excellent

"How We Die" Reflections on Life's Final Chapter Sherwin B. Nuland, M.D.

paperback, Vintage Books (Random House) ISBN 0-679-74244-1 Challenging to read, but enlightening, especially on cancer deaths

I wish I could instead recommend something light and entertaining, but we seem to be in a place where all the reading is serious and heavy.

Do take care and stay around?

Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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Date: Wed, 31 May 2000 22:40:00 -0700

Subject: [F-AHEAD] Just checking in..

I'm very tired, but unable to call it quits tonight. Been swamped on projects and doing all kinds of work - some planned, some (car repairs - electrical - yuck - but necessary) unplanned and when I get done I can't seem to relax right away. However I have managed to put off paying the bills, and that will catch up with tomorrow morning! Darn!

I'm coming up on 4 months since Ellen died of Multiple Myeloma. And if this is a repeat, consider the source. The grieving process is progressing. Way back I felt like I was at the end of a long, long tunnel. Sometimes there was no light. Other times there was a light at the end. One tunnel would lead to another, and so on.

Then the mental image changed to falling into deep, dark, wet wells. I'd climb out of one and fall into another.

Now the mental thought of grief is peeling onions. Layer by layer. When I'm done with one, another appears. I guess a shrink could have fun with the images, to me they represent a move from huge, long term issues, to many smaller, short term issues. Sometimes the onions are sweet.

The severity of the pain and tears seems related to the length of the tunnels, depth of the well, and the size of the onions. It has gone from horrendous, through painful, to almost manageable - as long as I remember to listen/feel for it and take care of it right away.

And if I look around the house, there are hundreds of onions - maybe a thousand. Still lots of clothing to donate, lots of craft materials to put to use, a zillion trinkets to clean - wrap and store for a granddaughter or son. Like my Dad did for Mom - and don't ask me why - I've started a scrapbook process - I think it is an extension of caregiving and answers a need to complete a process or a project. It is a rewarding task, and for now I take a great deal of pleasure in doing it. I think as progress and time go on, it will get a little painful as the memories and dreams become attached to pieces of scrapbook paper and the books start occupying shelves.

In the living world the flower garden is a source of beauty and a little pride. I think it is doing well. I wish I knew more. But I am taking snapshots and keeping records so I can learn more over time and have the benefit of pictures to help me identify plants in the middle of winter when I have time to read and study.

I'm still eating and keeping clean, but I have to admit I have not cleaned house since shortly after the funeral service. I have a central vac, but I just ignore it. That is one monster that is going to get me real soon. The laundry, dishes, beds, linens all get done, I even sweep the garage, but something stops me from using the vac.

The horses aren't quite as much fun as the garden, primarily because one is lame, and grandma is eldery (38+) and I am in a caretake mode with her. She was Ellen's first horse, and the emotional ties with that mare are deep and strong and the fear of the future looms over my head. Two losses in one year will be tough. The collie (Lillie) is ailing too, and each day sees her slow down. A shame, she is so young, the breeding process which produced her needs to be abandoned, so that dogs can have healthier and longer lives. Our first collie was healthier at 12 than this one is at 6, and he lived to be 15.

A Cancer Relay is coming up Friday night and I'll be there. I'm a guest at an organization dinner on Saturday night, and Sunday off to Portland to visit a grieving friend and then my granddaughters, inlaws and family. Home Sunday night and my son Keith arrives for a three day visit. This is my biggest series of 'away' events since before Ellen died. In fact the trip to Portland is the furthest I've been able to go in 2 years or more.

Having said all this, I am still extremely lonely and hate an empty house. The stillness is deafening, and the lack of Ellen's prescence is something I still cannot easily live with. Doggone it - sometimes life is not fair - but I know in my heart she is where she needs to be, and I am the luckiest person alive for having been allowed to be a part of her life. But none of that makes up for a broken heart.

Thanks to all of this family for being here and being a part of my life! You do help and it is so wonderful to be able to type-talk with you.

Love and hugs, may your hearts heal too! Regards, Dave MM Caregiver 1996-2000
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