Wife died of rapid cancer - tips on processing it


I’m 47 and lost my wife ( age 45) to an aggressive breast cancer earlier this month. She had kidney issues since the birth of our son 12 years ago and she had a transplant in 2012. However everything has been fairly good since the transplant until June 2018. My wife looked after her health and had a good job and was fit. She had a few issues in June which the doctors thought were related to the kidney. After a hellish summer in and out of hospital they still couldn’t diagnose her condition and believed it to be inflammation in the bowel or pelvis. To cut a long story short they eventually did a colonoscopy and we got the results at end of October . The devastating news was that they found cancerous cells but not from the bowe - it was a spread. It was unknown primary for next 2 or 3 weeks. The thing I’m finding so difficult on top of everything else is the rapid decline in the last 2 to 3 weeks. From a cancer diagnosis at the end of October to her passing in early December. Her health nosedived rapidly with ascites and breathing difficulty. She was still shopping with me in mid November but died 3 weeks later. The final diagnosis was aggressive breast cancer that had spread to multiple sites . I know the immunosuppressive regime ( for the kidney) may have hastened the cancer but the speed was untrue and left us all completely unprepared . Does anyone have any advice about how to process this and deal with grief relating to such a sudden event? She was due chemotherapy but never actually got there.( I have no gripes with her care and treatment by the NHS). Thank you , Paul

Hello Paul
So sorry for your loss of your wife,i can say that i understand grief relating to a sudden event,in a different way from your lovely wife,my husband died from a cardiac arrest at home,one moment he was stood in the bedroom in front of me he spoke,i turned around and he was on the floor breathing heavily,he went into a coma for 4 days ,never came back,he was 59 yrs,the shock is immense and cannot be processed all at once,it takes a long time for it to sink in,i was in shock,and numb of emotion for months,i think our brain helps us to process trauma slowly little by little,then our grief seems to thaw a little and release emotion,there are many on here who have lost loved ones from cancer and they will be able to give you their experiences,i can only say again im sorry you find yourself on this site where none of us wish to be,but we are all together in the grief we feel and i hope you find some comfort here,please take care of yourself and your son,through these first trouble months as i know it can be a time we neglect ourselves physically and emotionally,and we need strength to keep living on through it,take care x

Hello Paul, my husband,Tim, passed away on 2nd December just 6 weeks after diagnosis of bile duct cancer. He went from being strong and healthy to really poorly in such a short time. I and our family are still in shock, really struggling to make sense of it all. I wish I could offer some advice or help but I too am floundering. I am so sorry for your loss


In reply to Paul K

Hi Paul
I’m so sorry for your loss.
My story is extremely similar. My wife Margaret died on the 2nd of July from bowel cancer that had spread to her liver,ovaries, lymph nodes and pancreas. She had no previous symptoms we were in Dublin at the end of may at a concert and she complained of a pain in her side that would not ease. I took her to A&E and that was it she was admitted to hospital on 21st June was offered no treatment and given 2 weeks to live she died 10 days later she was 51 years old and we had just celebrated our 25 wedding anniversary and were together for 30 years. As for any tips I have none. It will be 6 months on Wednesday and I have no idea how I’m still here. The best advice is one day at a time or like I do 1 hour at a time. Please take all the help you can. My 3 adult children and little granddaughter who was born 5 weeks after Margaret died have been fantastic. I found this site by accident and it has been a godsend I don’t post as much nowadays but still read a lot of posts. Keep posting on here someone will always reply it will help.
Please take care

Thanks Robina, very kind words. As you say, it actually helps to know you’re part of a wider community and that others are going through the same thing. It can be very lonely while everyone else carries on with their Christmas. Paul

Thanks Josie. Yes I always thought there would be warning signs and time to say goodbye properly . I never saw it this way at all. My son is keeping me going though. Paul

Thanks William. Yes very similar pattern which is so cruel and hard to process. Almost like a car crash I imagine. I find that talking lots helps me and I’m sure this community will give much needed mutual support. I believe taking advice is the best approach , given I have no clue how to process this .

In reply to Paul K

Yes talking helps at the beginning I would talk to anyone who would listen.
I also find reading books on grief a help it sounds odd but it helps in feeling you are not alone and how other people cope.

My wife died from brain cancer, a Glioblastoma. Four years ago she was given 12 months to live but she actually lived for just over 4 years. I don't know how she lived under that cloud and coped with 2 brain operations, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. She had some relatively good days and I was glad she was there for so long.
However, had it been me I'm not sure that I could go through all that. I think I would take a different shorter route.
At a selfish level I had time to prepare, although I didn't really.
I would suggest you get the book "Its OK to not be ok" by Megan Devine as she has walked the walk. Maybe have a look at her website plus one called What's Your Grief.
I can't offer any easy answers. Sorry.

Yes great book also cs Lewis a grief observed or being Adam go lightly for widowers.