I posted information on this site in March and thought I would share the evolution of my grieving process after the loss of my wife. In July of 2010, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I had a robotic prostatectomy in September of 2010 to remove the prostate, and the surgery was deemed to be successful. My wife served as my caregiver and spiritual coach, and I literally could not have made it through this without her support. Almost exactly a month after my surgery, my wife was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. Upon our initial visit to the oncologist, we were told that the book on triple negative was that it is usually very responsive to chemotherapy but has a high potential of recurrence. The oncologist told us at the end of this meeting that he felt Janice had a 90% chance of a full recovery. After seven different methods of chemotherapy, none of which worked, and a single mastectomy, my wife passed away in September of 2011,less than a year after her initial diagnosis.
Since Janice's passing, I have gone through several stages of the grieving process. Initially,
after her death I joined a small group support group which helped me immensely, as I was able
to express my feelings to a group of people who have stayed together and become comfortable
with each other over the past nine months. As we entered the new year. I felt I was handling
the grief as well as possible and was throwing myself into my work to take my mind off the
issues. I was feeling frustration at not being able to help my wife overcome her disease, anger
based upon the oncologist's initial prognosis and sadness that I was now alone and would never
see my wife again in this life. However, I was able to function and seemed to be making
In early March, I was experiencing business pressures, pressure of having to leave my condo for
several days for a termite tenting, news that my pet cat had a bacterial infection and the normal feelings associated with the grieving process. All of a sudden, I had a complete
meltdown crying much of the day, battling insomnia and feeling as depressed as I have ever felt in my life. I decided that I needed medical assistance and went to visit my personal physician. I also conferred with two friends in the medical field about anti-depressant medications, as I am very much an anti-drug person. I was told that some of the newer drugs could be extremely helpful in this type of situation, and when my doctor prescribed two low dose medications, Lexapro and Xanex generics, I was comfortable that this was something I should try. I started
taking the Lexapro at 7:00 am and the Xanax at night for sleep. At the same time, I increased my workout regimen to 5 days a week to offset the "foggy" feeling of the daytime medication. After a week, I began to notice a change, and today, approximately three months later, I feel
better than I have in years. I only take the Xanax once a week when I need to sleep through the night and have implemented a dietary and nutritional supplement program through a nutritionist. In addition, I now do beach power walks five days a week supplemented by the weight resistant 20 minute workout twice a week. The exercise does wonders for one's mental state.
What I have learned over the period of my grieving process is that it is vitally important for one to recognize when he or she needs outside help. I have also learned that the grieving process is totally different for each individual. The real issue for me is how to make sure I remember the past while taking the proper steps to move forward into the future. I briefly saw a clinical psychologist at the height of my depression, and she asked me a very poignant question. "What would Janice want you to do?". I know she would want me to remember all the wonderful times and not dwell on grieving about the past. Therefore, I am doing things to create a positive future like getting involved in the fight against cancer and participating socially with friends and neighbors. The reason I share this long post is in the hope that it will provide some food for thought for those on this board who are experiencing what many of us have and are going through. May God bless you all!