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(15 replies, posted in In Remembrance)

First off, Jeff, I'm very sorry to hear about Marc.  My wife Kristin died of complications related to CC last fall, and I'm still having a tough time, so I know the road ahead will not be easy for you.  I feel for you, buddy.

It does help, though, to have oncologists who care.  When Kristin's learned that she was dying of sepsis and pneumonia rather than the cancer itself, he did not visit her at either the ICU or the hospice, nor did he attend the memorial service.  No condolence message from his office.  I guess since the cancer wasn't involved, it was no longer his concern, so he just moved her file to the "inactive" drawer and moved on to his living patients.  I found that remarkably callous and unfeeling.

Meanwhile, the best advice I received was from a Buddhist friend in the form of a poem by the nature-oriented poet Mary Oliver, and I'll pass it along to you:

Hello all,

Although it seems that many here are quite religious, I am not, and I'm sure that there are some others out there who are not, either.  As an atheist, I find no comfort in people praying for me or for my deceased wife Kristin; though well-intentioned, such prayers are not only meaningless to me but ultimately insulting.  Telling me that my wife's death was God's will or that she has "gone to a better place" are equally unhelpful attempts at consolation.  Consequently, I have found most grief support groups, either online or local, lacking, since most of the members are religious to one degree or another. 

But I have finally found a group of like-minded people on a Facebook page called Grief Beyond Belief.  According to their mission statement, it is "an online support network for people grieving the death of a child, parent, partner, or other loved one -- without belief in a higher power or an afterlife. Atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers and anyone else living without religious beliefs are invited to participate. If you are in the process of reevaluating or letting go of previously held religious beliefs, you may also join the community and seek support."

If there are any of you out there who feel similarly, I hope you will join me in this online group.  It has helped me tremendously in trying to process my wife's death nine months ago.  Following is the link.  All you have to do is "like" it, and you're a member.  Bear in mind, however, that proselytizers will be booted.

http://www.facebook.com/faithfreegriefsupport

Best, KevinKY
Berea, KY

Rose and Jennifer,
I'm very sorry for your losses.  I lost my wife to complications from this disease last October, and even at almost nine months, the feelings of pain and loss have not decreased.  I'm told it gets better, but I'm still waiting.

My best to y'all. 

Kevin

I am very sorry to hear of your loss.  My sincere condolences.  My wife, Kristin, passed away last month in a hospice.  She had originally thought about hospice care at home, but in the end, she decided against it because of the effect her dying here would have had on me.  I'm so glad she made that decision--it's hard enough being alone in this house that feels so empty without having the additional knowledge that she died here.

The care she was given in the hospice was outstanding, and she died peacefully and with dignity.  Her room faced west, and while she was there, there were gorgeous sunsets over the bluegrass farmland she could see from her bed, birdsong wafting in through the open windows.  Friends and family surrounded her until the end, and I was even allowed to bring the dog to say her final goodbye.  I could not extol the virtues of hospice care more.

My best wishes to you.  We are both beginning a very rough time.

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(17 replies, posted in General Discussion)

After a couple days in a hospice in central Kentucky, Kristin passed yesterday (Thursday, 10/7) at about 4:30 PM.  While she was still aware of her surroundings, she was happy for the move to the hospice.  Her room commanded a view of the rolling bluegrass hills, and the sunsets were gorgeous while she was there.  She was surrounded by family and friends the entire time, and the funeral director told me she looked as peaceful as anyone he's ever seen in his capacity.

She had returned to the Catholic religion of her youth recently, so I'm sure she reckoned she had gone on to a "better place."  At one point, she said she could be with her dad again.  I'm a nonbeliever and wonder what the point of it all is beyond the ones we make for ourselves, but given her suffering of the last few months, I will agree that she has gone to a "better place," even if its only meaning is an end to the suffering.

She will be cremated and the ashes strewn in the glacial lake in Wisconsin that she loved so much, "so I'll always be there and everyone will always know where to find me."  I'm saving some of her ashes so that they may be strewn with mine, wherever that may be, probably back in North Carolina.

Thanks very much for all the support she found here.  She loved you people, and you were very much a part of her life.  What I am going to do without her is unclear to me at the moment.

I've had since 2004 to prepare for this, and I thought I was, but it never happens like you think it will.  And you're never as prepared as you think you are. 

Kristin had started chemo three weeks ago, and there were some grounds for optimism--new research showing improved results with the treatment.  But on Wednesday last week, after only two treatments, she came home from the library with severe shivers.  That happened several times over the next day, and she was becoming increasingly addled and unresponsive, but we both thought it was side effects of the chemo.  She even soldiered on with her work into Thursday.

Yesterday morning she was totally unresponsive, so I called 911.  It turned out that she had developed pneumonia (one lung filled up totally from her last x-ray on Sept. 22nd) and then sepsis.  She's now in the ICU at the local hospital, and her vital signs are improving, but the doctor informed me that her kidneys are failing from the sepsis.  He wouldn't give a time frame, but the ER doctor didn't give her much longer than two days (meaning tomorrow).

I walk around the house, and all the things from our time overseas bring back memories of her, and I can't stop crying.  I look at the empty rocking chair in front of the woodstove, where she would sit reading every night during the winter, and regret not taking at least one picture of her there with the glow of the fire on her.  I don't know how I can continue living here after she's gone.  --Kevin Millham

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(8 replies, posted in Introductions!)

Thanks, y'all for the welcome.  All good vibes have been relayed to Kristin.  @Lalupes: Haven't gotten around to thinking about which month I'd be.  Maybe something like August, buried in the middle of the calendar?

Kevin

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(8 replies, posted in Introductions!)

Hey y'all,

My name is Kevin, and I live in Berea, Kentucky, with my wife Kristin, who has been a member here for some time.  She has told me about the many fine, supportive folks to be found on this discussion board, so I figured it was about time I, as her main caregiver, join.

Like Kristin, I'm self-employed as a kind of writer.  It's a weird little niche--I write indexes for scholarly books and the occasional cookbook.  From 1985 until 2000, I taught English language and literature in Korea, Japan and the UAE.  It was in Korea that I met and married Kristin.

At the moment, she's in St. Joseph's Hospital in Lexington.  A PTC was done on her last week, but there have been numerous problems with the drain tube since then.  It's looking like it's finally squared away, though, and she hopes to be back at home on Monday.  When she is, I'm sure she'll resume posting here.

She told me about the recent Facebook Challenge, and I joined the FB group then.  I hear there's some talk about a calendar if they can find enough volunteers.  Hell, I'm a good sport--I'll volunteer.  I'm an old hippie, I'll try most anything once, and I've never been a pin-up girl before.  Hey, I'm only 5'4", I might not look too bad.  At any rate, it should be a hoot.

Cheers,

Kevin Millham
Berea, KY