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how long does intense grief last?
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how long does intense grief last?

I lost my husband suddenly almost four weeks ago. For the first week or two, I think I was in a type of shock. Now, I cry almost daily and it is difficult to control, I just feel so unbelievably sad. We were very close and I miss him terribly. I'm not sure how to get past this feeling although I am really trying. I just can't picture my life without him. To anyone that has lost a spouse, how long does it take to get past these very intense feelings? I don't think it has reached a point as beyond normal, however, I'm finding it hard to answer the question "how are you doing?" yet saying "I'm fine " is a real stretch. Comments?
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332074_tn?1229564125
I am so sorry for  your loss, and let me tell you one thing I learned when I lost my dad, I was not fine for a very long time, and I learned it was okay to say I was not fine. People know that you are not fine when they ask, they just don't know what else to say to you. So, give yourself permission to be honest when asked. It may make some people uncomfortable when you say it, but people who really care about you really want to know how you are and if they can help you they will.
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Avatar_f_tn
Caroline I'm so sorry for you loss,There's no time table for grief.Give yourself at least a year,their's steps they say you'll go through in your own time.My Mom passed August 14th of last year,its been so hard.I was doing so poorly that I finally decided to go on an anti -depressant,she passed of Ovarian Cancer.My panic attacks became so severe.I had to Do something.The anti-depressant turned my panic attacks into a twenty-four hour event complicated by asthma,not just one or two panic attacks a day like before.Start writing letters to your husband ,God,even just how you feel about the situation.Get your emotions out before they consume you in a journal.Losing your life partner is a big deal.Do what makes you happy exercise,eat healthy,don't booze it up every night,trying to make you smile.The hardest part for me is realizing and accepting that my Mom's not going to knock on the door anytime soon.We have to learn and accept life must be lived in a different way now,were strong women,we can do this,we have no choice to learn to live without them..If I can help you in anyway,let me know and I'll do my best.Big Hugs to you.Jen
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Avatar_f_tn
Thank-you both for your replies, you give good advice. I think  I am reaching a point where I have to really accept what happened and begin letting go. The sadness will be with me for a long time maybe even the rest of my life but I have to decide it is time to begin living again. I know for sure this is what my husband would want me to do because he was one that really enjoyed life.

I am very sorry for your losses too. Whether a death is sudden or caused by and illness, it is really tough when it is someone we love. Coping is so difficult at first that we don't know if we'll ever be able to go on.

I understand how painful it is to lose a parent as I have lost both of mine. It was five years ago last week that I lost my Mom. She was on life support the last two years of her life and this was very difficult because I was forced to make decisions for her. It was my husband that was supportive of me then and I really drew off his strength. I was just beginning to have peace with her passing just recently. In contrast, my Mom really suffered. My husband did not, he had a massive heart attack and they tell me he did not know what happened or did he feel pain. I am thankful for that.

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165308_tn?1323190145
I agree so much with Jimi..you are NOT fine and you won't be fine for a very long time...and that is ok...it is all a process.  I say you need to feel what you need to feel and cry when you want to...don't hold back...Your loss is so new and your pain is so raw.  It will get better, in time.  I haven't lost my spouse, but I have lost my parents.  I found that you take it one day at a time. To this day, I can't think about "forever" without them.  I live in the moment.  live in today, and know that i will get through it.  Don't think about tomorrow...it is too overwhelming.  Think of this moment only...and tomorrow will take of itself. Take care.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi there.  I am so sorry to hear about your loss.  I lost a dear man who was like a dad to me over a year ago and I still miss him.  His wife, his life partner for more than 36 years, was devastated and I had to be strong for her and I helped her in any way I could.  I told her that if she wanted to cry, to do so and to take a day at a time.  

Nowadays, she still misses him and at times, she still cries, but she has come a long way since then.  She tries to keep herself busy, with her daughters and grandchildren, doing things around the house and going out to get distracted.

It isn't easy and I found the best way to deal with his death was cherishing his memories, keeping him in my heart and talking to him.  I know he is listening and that someday I'll see him and we'll be able to enjoy his company as I did.

So don't rush into anything and take one day at a time.  It comes a time when things will get easier, and you'll be able to go on with your life.  But keep him close to you and take him everywhere you go.

Take care,

Neta
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Avatar_m_tn
Hey

I lost my mum nearly three years ago to cancer when I was 17. I still feel like she died yesterday and I remember her so very clearly. You will never forget your loss and no one expects you too! I always remember all the good times we had together which at first made me upset but now these good memories of her put a gentle smile on my face. I'm sure one day you'll realize everything is okay.
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696092_tn?1238620367
dear caroline, I am so sorry. There are no words that can comfort and no pills for the pain.... the passage of time is the only soother. I lost my little brother on 15th August last year......I still cannot believe he has gone and I miss him so much..even now.
There are so many emotions we have to go through in this awful journey of grief, and,emotions completely alien to us before our loss. The loneliness and despair you must be feeling is so painful..but it's a rollercoaster. One day it's less painful than the day before, the next day..it's twice as bad. Don't pretend to be fine,don't suppress your grief...I personally found it prolonged the agony. When you feel that you can let go and not bear this terrible burden alone, and hopefully have a loving, supportive network of friends and family, you will start, in time, to heal. God Bless xx
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760723_tn?1235236325
I am so very sorry for you lost. My heart goes out to you.
Like so many has said, it is ok to not be fine. It will take some time to be fine. Let your self take what ever time you need, and know it is ok.

I lost my best friend Aug. 07 and I am only starting to be some what ok, Ok I am kind of in the angry stage now. It can be so hard some times to think of him, but I can't seem not to think of him. The first Christmas was the hardest, and I am one of the biggest Christmas nuts I know, but I just wanted that first Christmas to pass, I felt so bad, thinking how can I celebrate with out him here. I just couldn't, and any one that knew me and knew what I lost, understood.

He was only 48 when he past, it was a total shock, so please give yourself the time you need, and be kind to yourself, your husband would what that for you.

Gentle hugs, 2Pegasus
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Avatar_f_tn
Thank- you all so much for your replies and support. It does help to know others can relate and understand. I have made some progress, but it seems so much like back and fourth. I am still not in control of my emotions and am feeling stressed out with all the paper work and all. I cry just looking at our pension accounts and other financial paperwork because I think he worked so hard for this and now doesn't get the opportunity to enjoy it. Everything I see or do reminds me of him. I just miss him so much.

I try very hard to contain myself around family members and friends, but I think they are thinking I am doing very well. I really don't want to worry anyone because I do know that eventually I will be OK. There really isn't anything anyone can say or do that would make me feel better anyway. All the bereavement cliches in the world, like take one day at a time, keep yourself busy, time will heal and is there anything I can do? don't seem to help, although well intended, I understand. Broken hearts do heal eventually but at different paces.

I am not trying to supress grief, it's just that I've been crying so much and it really zaps my energy and ability to concentrate. I only hope that soon, I will be able to be in better control of my emotions. I never thought the day would  come so soon that I would be without him. I just wasn't prepared for all this.
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Avatar_f_tn
I am sorry for your loss.  I lost my partner suddenly on May 27, 2008.  8 Months ago.  I can tell you that it does get easier with time.  I was in shock for the first few weeks as well.  I was the one who found her on the couch.  Anyway, I got this book called "I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye"  It was a huge help.  You can order it on half.com
I can also tell you, you are not the same person as you were when he was here on earth.  Your life has changed and so have you.  If you are religious, just know that he is looking down on you, keeping you safe.  Like I said, it is hard to let go.  Do so slowly.  I am slowly letting things go.  Time does heal, but you will always, always miss him.
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Avatar_f_tn
Thanks, crystal and I am sorry for your loss too. You bring up some good points, about not being the same person and about letting go. I think they have to be two very important issues and I have thought about them yet never could quite put into words these feelings. We kind of do battle with ourselves because we don't want our lives to change, we want to be the same person and we want our partners by our side. This is probably why we are unable to let go. By letting go, we are preparing ourselves for a life without them but because this is not what we want, we continue to hold on. Do you think, and this may sound a little crazy, that deep down we hope they will somehow come back? Or do we feel guilty about letting go for some reason?

I am trying to sort through alot of these feelings so I can make sense of them. I keep telling myself that my husband did not suffer and if you have to go, that's probably the best way. At the same time I think, but why now? I will have to look for that book, thanks for the suggestion.

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Avatar_f_tn
I still think any day now she will walk in the door and say"Ha Ha I got ya!"  But deep down I know this is not going to happen.  Everytime I do something to let go a little more..I do feel guilty.  This has been the hardest thing I have ever had to go through and I know I NEVER want to do it again.  It *****.  I want to be the old careless me.  But that will never be.  You have to get used to the "new" you.  Just give it time.  It does get a little easier everyday.
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Avatar_f_tn
I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I actually know how you feel as my dear husband died 2 years ago after 50 years of a happy marriage.
I still cry and I still get that real pain in the stomache  as I miss him so much.
The things that keep me going are my family my friends and my faith.I know I will see him again but without the multiple myeloma which was terrible.Prayer is comforting.Never give up, but take comfort from those who love you.
Let us know how you are getting along.
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768236_tn?1234895685
I am so sorry for your loss.  I haven't lost a spouse but I lost my only child 19 months ago. Jordan was 20 and it has been a roller coaster ride to say the least.  For me going to counseling and a grief support group was invaluable and I was on an antidepressant for a year.  I cried often.  Do not stuff your grief. Let it out. You may go to the store and see a food that reminds you particularly of your husband. I can't tell you how many times I went to the grocery store crying walking down the aisles.  I will never forget my darling son but I have finally come to an acceptance and have gotten back to living and laughing.  The first year is the hardest I believe as you go through each holiday and remember what you were doing that time last year with your loved one.  Grief work is the hardest work you will ever do.  Take care of yourself, go for a walk, eat right, drink lots of fluid. Treat yourself extra kindly. You need that more than ever now.  You're in my prayers.
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Avatar_f_tn
Thank-you both for your kind and comforting words. Fifty years or one child---I can't imagine. I have begun to have better days but I seem to be going up and down a lot. I just cannot take crying all the time, it is exhausting and consuming. I am not trying to "stuff" my grief, I am trying only to gain some control. I believe I have come close to accepting this in heart and mind. Believe me when I say this, I have to be thankful for the fact that my husband did not suffer. I watched both parents, family members and friends and just the other day a woman from work I've known for years. Her husband just succumbed to C and suffered many years through all the treatments. I've said this in other posts, and I know you may not agree but there are worse things than death. If my husband were to have survived with brain damage with no quality of life, that may have been more intolerable for us both. You have to see this first-hand as I did. I do believe he is at peace now and is looking down on me. Thanks again for caring. Tomorrow is another day and my feelings may change (I'm sure you understand) but I acknowledge the fact we really aren't in control of mortality.
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Avatar_f_tn
For a long time thats all my dreams were about. That she was still alive. Or cobwebs bound me tight taking away MY control. it got to the point I didnt want to sleep anymore. I thankfully went to a head doctor and she gave me Seroquel to stop the madness in my head. Im not saying thats what you should do. I am saying that if things get to be too much, find someone to talk to. sometimes we just need to hear our voices say it out loud and professionels make good sounding boards. They dont know us and r not there to judge so we can tell them anything. If you do decide to get a therapist, shop around till you are comfortable with one.
There were a couple things i remember being told not to do. Dont give anything away, or destroy anything for the first year. Because of emotion you may give away something that later you may regret. Kindly ask someone that asks for something if you could put their name on it because your not ready to start giving pieces of him away.
Another thing is to have patience with what others say. People are going to tell you how strong you are and such. Know that they are just doing their best to console you and in the long run it makes them feel better.
for some people it helps to keep a journal. If you read back on it remember you may feel those same feelings u did when u wrote it. i rarely go back and read mine but prefer to leave it in the past.
Expect to have that drained feeling for a while. Its good to hear that your not keeping it all in. If you get angry take it out on something soft like a pillow. If thats not your style maybe go down to the second hand shop, pick up some dinnerware and find a place to smash em.
Lastly... always look for signs. There is always someone or something trying to tell you that everything will be as it is and they are alright.
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Avatar_m_tn
Caroline,  

I'm so sorry for your loss.  I know how you are feeling.  I understand the daily tears and the pain in the gut.  I lost my wife this past January after we fought her cancer for about a year.

I was glad that she didn't have to suffer anymore but I was not prepared for the pain and emptiness that has filled my life since she left us.  I know that she is in a better place, but that doesn't make my life any less painful.  

I know that I have to go on without her.  She told me I should find someone and get married, but I just can't imagine finding anyone that I could ever feel that close to again.  Relationships are so hard.

They say that the healing only comes as we FEEL the pain and express it.  Like you, I hope this emptiness and sense of loss goes away soon.  I have found one support group and I'm looking to find another.  I hope to find a good counselor, someone who knows how to guide you through this grief process, but progress there has been slow.  Work takes a lot of my time and prevents me from getting things done.

I hope I haven't cried on your shoulder too much.  I found this site just today googling "grief".  When I read your first post, I just had to talk to you.  I feel better just "talking" to someone who seems to be where I am and where I've been.

If it helps, my sister lost her husband when they were in their mid 50's.  She said it definitely does get better.  She said it goes from several bouts of crying each day to a few each day, to once a day, to less and less often.  As time goes on, the crying fits turn to weeping and then to maybe just a teary eye.  The deep sorrow turns to a more subtle pain and later, the pain is replaced with the joy of life with only an occassional return to that deep sadness.

I feel better just repeating what she told me so soon after my wife passed.

Thank you for listening to this old man.  I hope that something I've said here touches you or someone else
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Avatar_f_tn
Thank-you tyesage and rog60 for your responses. I am very sorry to hear of your losses as well. I am beginning to deal with things a little better than when I first posted the original thread.

Rog60, one of the things that I kept thinking about early on (and I don't really understand why) was if it was more difficult to lose someone so suddenly as I did, or have to watch them suffer with an illness similar to your situation. I felt so robbed of the opportunity of being able to say goodbye, it was over so quickly. The shock was really awful. In a matter of minutes, my life had been changed forever. This thought sounds crazy now, as they are both horrible!

Your sister offered you some valuable insight and I appreciate your passing it along. I have attended a couple grief support meetings as well. I went for the purpose of learning about the grieving process itself and to understand if some of my feelings were within the norm. Surprisingly, the moderator discussed these feelings with us even prior to us explaining any of them. I learned that humans express grief in a very similar manner. It is also helpful to hear input from others because if we can walk away learning just one little thing, it could be useful and is well worth the time.

As far as relationships go, you are right again, they are very hard. I think these things are best left to a time when we are thinking clearly again, however, I think I understand your point as it has crossed my mind as well. I was married to someone that treated me so well, I don't expect that could ever happen again. And, that will have to be OK. Wishing you peace,
Caroline

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684030_tn?1357024374
I lost the "Love of My Life" a little over 2 years. Have I gotten over losing him? Well, sometimes, I think that I have. Then, I hear a song on the radio that reminds me of him or; I'll see a car that looks just like the one he drove; or I'll pass by a restaurant where he and I once dined. Then, it seems like I'm right back where I was when I learned of his sudden death. And, the emotional flood gates open up and the sorrow emerges. So, I don't think that we ever completely get over our grief... But, in time, one does move through the sadness and loss more quickly. I almost said more easily... but, the sadness really doesn't get easier... you relive the loss... then, it seems to quickly lift and drift away or submerge itself back within you. So, the grief does reach a point where it doesn't weigh you down as much.
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Avatar_f_tn
It seems a little strange what you've just written. This AM, I was driving to breakfast to meet a group of people, and had to stop for a redlight. A song came on the radio that was popular when my husband and I began dating. It brought a tear to my eye, but when a car pulled next to me (I was in the left-hand lane) I looked over and next to me was a car just like his. Do these things really happen by chance? Sometimes I wonder.

What you say about getting over the grief, a person who is a friend of ours and also had lost his wife several years ago, told me almost the same thing yesterday. He also said you will learn how to be happy again. I'm sure this is all true. I have always been an optimist or at least leaned in that direction so I really do have hope. I just never knew it was possible to hurt this badly. Anyway, thank-you for your "timely" response.
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Avatar_f_tn
No,I think you were meant to feel that he is still with you! I've had many experiences like that.When my Mom first passed,I was in my Mom's car,which was always painful and I seen a women passing me from the other direction,she looked like my Mom and had a big smile on her face! It depends how close you were and how open you are to spirituality! You feeling better,it takes alot of healing and is also a time of self -discovery.Its a feeling that you can't make anyone understand,that you need to find this new person that you now are without your loved one..Its hard,but only as difficult as we make it! I was my Mom's caregiver and am dealing with my issues of feeling that I failed to save her.But Ovarian Cancer is a *****! Especially Stage 4.I don't even think I had a chance against this beast.In time,You will feel better,we must make our loved ones happy by being happy,their souls are still around,until we are at peace with their new home heaven! Just my belief! God Bless,Jen
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Avatar_m_tn
I just lost my Dad to a severe heart attack.  It was 2am and we were bringing my Mom to the emergency room.  She was having CHF.  I offered my Dad that I drive, seeing his driving hasn't really been up to par. But he insisted that he drive.  On our way down the highway he had a massive heart attack, in return caused us to have a horrendous car accident.  The car spun and when it stopped it started to tip, but then landed back on all four tires, or what was left of the tires.  Once I evaluated who was okay, I noticed my Dad to be unresponsive.  I jumped into the front seat and started CPR on my father.  This continued for 15 minutes until the arrival of medics.  The medics also began working on my mother.  I called my 26 year old son frantically from the accident.  He is a paramedic for the city.  He was there in no time...assessed my abrassions and then jumped in the ambulance to work on my mother.  At this time the ambulance with my father had already left for the hospital.  I knew at that moment, that my father was gone.  At first I had felt the guilt that I had not performed CPR correctly and that I could have saved him.  My son later confirmed that it was the heart attack that killed him, not the accident and there was nothing I could have done to save him.  

I still have nightmares of that night.  It has been 2 months.  I see and hear myself doing the CPR begging my Dad not to give up and pleading him not to leave us.  Sleep is so hard for me to deal with.  Just weeks before the accident he was attending one of the biggest nights of my life.  I was performing at the Massachusetts Country Music Awards Night.  I was singing a song in which my Father had picked out called "Just Might Make Me Believe" by Sugarland.  I took home 2 awards that night....he was there thru it all.  Never had I felt the love from my parents as I did that night.  How proud they were of me.  

Being in my own band and playing out every weekend, as I grace the stage, I am asked to sing that song.  It is now the most difficult thing to do, but I will do it each time I am asked.  I do it for my Dad.  Although as I sing it the tears stream down my face...

Christmas is coming upon my family.  I live with my mother and it is so difficult watching her go thru this sadness knowing I can not take away the pain.  They have been married for 57 years.  There no way for me to fill her emptiness.  I hold her often when she cries and comfort her.  But I know it is not going to heal her broken heart.  I hold back my tears the best I can.  I have not had the chance to actually grieve or let out my tears all together.  I feel as though if I start to cry, I will not stop.  I need to stay strong and in control for my Mom.  I know I will have my turn to grieve, but for now it is in a place that I hold for later.  

My life has changed quite a bit in these past 2 months.  I can not go to work, in fear of leaving my Mom alone.  So money has become an issue.  Luckily the members in my band are understanding to the lack of shows until I can get back on my feet.  For that I feel blessed. Even though our band is in the top list of bands and at our prime...I need to pull back from it.  Things I am sure will be back to normal. Maybe not the same, but back.  Until then...Mom comes first...she is all worth it!!!!  I WILL NOT let her go thru this alone!!  

It has been very inspirational reading some of these post.  If makes me believe that things do get better...thank you to all!
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Avatar_f_tn
I found this forum by accident. Unresolved and Stuck in grief for to many years. Everyone moved on a long time ago, not me. Why?
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Avatar_n_tn
Dear Caroline,
I am sorry for your loss, and I mean it because I know what it means to lose a beloved spouse.  My wife Grace passed away on August 31 this year after battling two cancers for 21 months.  She passed peacefully and without pain, and with faith to Jesus Christ, and for all that I am grateful.  I miss her terribly.

I have never experienced such intense pain in my life, much more than with the loss of parents and other relatives.  There is no comparison to the loss of a spouse, because you not only lose and miss your spouse, you also lose a way of life.  After the funeral, mourners go home to their families and resume life with minimal disruption, but the surviving spouse is often left alone in the house in deep sorow and struggling with new roles that were once handled by the spouse.  Phone calls and visits from friends and family are no substitute for our beloved.

Time alone will NOT heal all wounds; it depends what you do with time.  I joined two bereavement support groups for people who lost a spouse which have been invaluable and a source of comfort and knowledge about the grief/mourning process.  One was a 6-week program offered free of charge by the funeral home; the other was a 7-week program offered free of charge by hospital hospice where Grace passed on.   And no one else will be able to listen to your story as empathetically as fellow travelers on this particular grief journey.  So if you have not done so already, I encourage you to look into and join a bereavement group (or two).

One thing I learned is that grief and mourning are different.  Grief consists of the private feelings, thoughts, and emotions we experience with a loss.  Mourning is the outward expression of that grief, especially where you can tell your grief story to others and honor your lost loved one.

Another thing I learned is that grief/mourning takes time (possibly 3 years or more), depending on circumstances.  Slow down and take your time, even though friends and family members will offer the usual cliches about moving on quickly (out of their ignorance and desire to see you out of pain).  They mean well, but they are incapable of understanding the depth and meaning of your loss.

Finally, if you are a Christian, you may find comfort and support from your faith and the fellowship of your church.  I have found Bible study and church fellowship helpful and recently joined the church where my wife's memorial service was held.  Faith and fellowship have been blessings.

I pray you find relief and comfort as you journey down this incomparably painful grief journey.  When we decide to love someone deeply, we have also deciding to accept the inevitability of deep grief when they pass and leave us alone with our memories of them.

Sincerely,
Ray
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Avatar_m_tn
I think grieving is a different cycle for everyone.  We all process and deal with grief differently and have our own ways of coping.  You will begin to move forward with time but you will be forever changed.  I am so very sorry for your loss!
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi Caroline.  Thinking of you today and hoping you are having an up day.  Sending thoughts and hugs!
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Avatar_m_tn
I lost my son to cancer almost 2 years ago.  He was only 28 years old.  He had his entire life ahead of him.  He was a kind and loving man.  Everyone who knew him, loved him.  I lost both my parents years before.  My father, 30+ years ago, and my mother about 10.  Although it is sad to lose anyone, your parents are supposed to go before you.  There is no sorrow greater than losing a child!  Especially having to watch that child suffer for over a year in great pain.  His death was actually an eventual blessing, but even after nearly two years I still feel the pain as if it were today!  Anyone who has had to watch a loved one die from cancer or another long-term disease, has suffered twice.  Once with the loss of their loved one, and also from the nightmare of watching helplessly as the one they love suffers.  I am fortunate to have good friends, and another son who is doing wonderfully - but I really don't think I'll ever get over the heartbreak of losing my child!
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