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Moving on . . . .


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Moving on. Physically, yes, but emotionally, no.

Peter and I had actually looked, mildly, for a smaller house before he was diagnosed with PC. We had seen a couple of bungalows, but either they weren’t in the right area, or else were much too expensive, or were snapped up before we had a chance to view, so we hadn’t done very much about it. And then, of course, we landed on Planet PC and all other matters paled into insignificance.

Despite having lived in this house for almost 40 years, I’ve never really been crazy about it. It was a convenient purchase when we were looking for somewhere suitable for my father, Peter and me, and my stepson, and suited us well enough. But now it feels too big and wasteful for just one person and a cat, and so it’s time to move on. I put the house on the market and a lovely couple with a little girl and a baby boy were the first viewers; I asked what they currently had, and it was a two- bedroomed bungalow just a short drive away. They hadn’t got around to putting their property on the market, so I asked them to postpone doing so until I had seen their house. And guess what ?

So we are swapping houses as soon as our respective lawyers get their collective acts together. It means that the nice young couple won’t have to pay commission or advertising fees, which is good, and also I don’t have to traipse about getting somewhere just too late to put in a bid on any suitable property, and moving day can be accomplished without a chain of buyers all tripping each other up.

Missing Peter gets harder every day. I’m still waiting for his key to turn in the lock; I still find myself checking on him several times during the night, and the stupidest things cause me to cry and cry until I find it hard to stop. Not wracking great sobs, just a general leaking at least twice and sometimes three or more times a day. My kind friends just produce tissues and wait until I stop. Crying in the swimming pool is OK though, tears don’t show there, and I can always duck my head under. Acquaintances ask, “How are you getting on ?”, and are embarrassed when the tears start to fall. So many hurdles. So many falls. A sunny day makes me cry. Snow on the hills makes me cry. Driving past the golf course makes me cry – there are three of them, quite hard to avoid them in this city. Would he approve of this house move ? Probably. At least, I think so . . . . .

Despite having ‘done’ grieving when Peter was diagnosed I seem to have plenty of scope to grieve anew every day. It’s constant. People pat me kindly on the arm and say that in a year’s time I will feel differently. Meantime I am clinging to my grief because it’s all I have left of him. I’ve efficiently shredded all sorts of paperwork and disposed of clothes and other belongings, but you can’t shred feelings of loss and emptiness. I didn’t ever make a ‘cause’ of fighting cancer, so I don’t have a campaign to miss, but it’s hard when you have devoted every minute to caring for somebody and suddenly you’re redundant. But then all of you on this side of the divide will know about that already.

Going grocery shopping is still difficult. I keep on picking up little ‘treats’ for him; salmon, sea bass, new young spinach, new and expensive varieties of olive oil - and then I have to put them all back because he’s not there to spoil. Several times I have abandoned a trolley in Tesco and just left the shop because the wretched tears have started again and I need to go and sit in the car until they stop. And the back of the car is full of unused medication which I keep meaning to return to the pharmacy and something stops me every time. What’s that all about ?

I think that one of the hardest things is just ‘pleasing myself’. Having always been a daughter or a wife or a step-mum, it’s quite hard now not to have to please somebody else with my choices. Or not please them, and winning – or losing – the resulting argument. There’s nobody to argue with now. Except for Boris, and he just purrs.

Perhaps writing this was a mistake. Tears are running freely – again – and the roll of loo paper which sits on my desk to mop them up is rapidly diminishing in size.

Time to check what's on TV. Or play my choice of music quite loudly. Or something.

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Oh Mo, I so know what you mean. It is the little things - no-one to call out to when you come home, the empty chair, the empty side of the bed. I thought I was doing so well - immersed in paperwork,

joining the U3A, applying for voluntary work - but someone only has to mention Stephen and I start

weeping and yet it feels so wrong to avoid talking about him or thinking about him in order to avoid upsetting myself. I have the last of the "firsts" at the end of this month - our wedding anniversary -

and that will be a hard day. But we soldier on.

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And soldier on we must...but I'm here to tell you that it doesn't get any easier. People say time heals, but it doesn't. People say that you learn to live with it, but I'm 18 months down the line and find myself crying much more and generally just feeling very morose a lot of the time. I feel like my life has been ruined...all those things we planned to do...all those things we hadn't yet planned to do, but would have done at some point...now won't be done. The prospect of facing the rest of my life on my own (yes I know I've got Phoebe, but it isn't the same) is daunting, yet I can't even begin to think about finding and being with someone else. The 'please yourself' aspect starts off very well, but then quickly turns into 'I can't make these decisions on my own' and everything becomes overwhelming and then I cry. I find myself prattling on to workmen or shop assistants about stuff just because I've no other adult at home to talk to, to bat ideas off or just take the pressure off me. I'm lucky in that I've got a lovely family, but they're all grieving too (for my Dad, my sister in laws Mum, Bob next door etc) and sometimes that in itself feels like a burden, that despite me losing both my lovely Nige and my lovely Dad (also a Nige), I'm the one that has to shore up everyone else. Sometimes it's too much. The couple next door had a silver wedding party on Saturday and I just thought to myself that I'll never have a silver wedding party...25 years...I managed 11 with Nige. Even if I marry someone in the next few years (very unlikely), there's a good chance we won't make 25 years. See...it's pathetic things like that which get me down.

Mo, the house swap sounds like a great plan...how amazing that it all came together just like that.I hope you'll be happy in your new home when you finally get in. Be kind to yourself, we have to be able to cry when we need to...and if it makes people uncomfortable, then that's just tough.

Loads of love


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. . . I wish this Forum had been called "NOT coping with loss/memorial".

Thanks Veema and Sandiemac. I avoided the pool this morning and went this afternoon instead, when it would be much quieter. I did my workout, not very strenuously, then treated myself to 10 minutes in the jacuzzi, and immediately started thinking that if Peter were still alive I wouldn't have been able to grab 10 minutes in the bubbles, I would have had to go straight home instead. So the tears started again.

That's what we used to call 'Stinking Thinking'. Negative. Wallowing. Poor attitude. Instead of relishing 10 lovely minutes I used them being miserable.

Has anybody else had a crisis of confidence ? I went to an event at the Golf Club on Saturday and tried on and rejected three separate outfits before I could leave the house. I'm amazed that I could even find three outfits because I'm not really into clothes, and I had to spend the hour or so that I was out avoiding mirrors because I thought I looked so dreadful. Acting like an elderly teenager.

And now I just don't know how I am going to cope with packing up the house. It's such a daunting task to face on your own, and although I could round up a posse of swimming pals, ("Just think of the calories you'll burn, girls !") I don't want to pile further burdens onto my long-suffering friends. I've made a couple of feeble attempts, and have distributed china and crystal to various charity shops and bubble-wrapped the meagre remains, but that only accounts for two shelves of the cupboard so far. Perhaps once I've got a moving date I'll be able to galvanise myself into action.

Boris thinks that all his birthdays have come at once because of the cardboard boxes everywhere. He's tried on about 8 of them for size and there's another 20 to go. Thank heavens for my furry boy.

Love, Mo

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My confidence is nil. And I used to have it in bucketloads...I've worked all over the country, lived alone in many different places and more or less tackled anything that was thrown at me...now I'm a quivering wreck at the thought of going to asda on my own! I still do stuff because I have to...like trooping off in the campervan...I can manage it, but I hate it. And galvanising myself into doing anything is hard work...I can't even clean the house.

After writing all these things down, I really think I need some happy pills...I've avoided them thus far and always put on the cheerful, coping face when I see the GP, but I think I'm kidding myself...

I'll stop there for fear of adding to your woes Mo...I am absolutely sure that things will become more bearable with time and that we've just got to keep plodding on in the meantime.

Perhaps tackle one cupboard a day...?


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  • 2 weeks later...

The last time I wrote I said that perhaps "When I had a moving date I would be able to galvanise myself into action".

Well, I have, and it hasn't. Galvanised me, I mean. I've been galvanised enough to book a removal company, who, for an additional £100, will pack everything for me. So that means I'm about to pay the better half of a week's pension money to a bunch of strangers so that they will pile the contents of my house into cardboard boxes and carry it about a mile up the hill. On 15th June.

The obnoxious lawyer who was doing Peter's Will has finished, and I've paid him. And after I paid him I told him what I thought of the efficiency of his firm: they couldn't even spell my name right on the Court papers, and on the same forms they tried for two different versions of my address and neither of them was right. I didn't want to tell him what I thought of him before he submitted the account in case he charged me extra for listening to a few home truths. Plus VAT of course.

I went to see my nice GP because I couldn't stop crying, and she has given me some happy pills. They worked almost immediately, which means that they didn't work at all, it was just the placebo effect of having admitted to somebody that I wasn't coping. Chemicals take more than 3 days to work, but what they have done is give me the most voracious appetite. So I'll see her again to say that I really don't want to take any more, and what else has she got to offer ?

My garden is beginning to look sensational - it's a late Spring garden, just in time for Chelsea - and of course I'm leaving it all behind. I have allowed myself to make a plan for the new, (currently very nasty), garden and it features two strong and good-looking men with shovels and a JCB. Quite a lot of slate, some choice alpines, no water-feature, and probably no grass. And if I don't get a fence put up PDQ no cat, either. Boris has been booked into a local cattery where he's been once or twice before. Poor furry boy doesn't know what's coming, but is very much in favour of me furnishing the entire house with cardboard boxes.

And if my current state of mind continues he will have plenty of time to get used to cardboard furniture, because paying somebody to fill up boxes is the easy part. Emptying them will be a lot harder, especially since hardly any of the furniture will fit into the new, smaller house. Perhaps we can start a new trend ? Cardboard furniture instead of mdf ?

Hope you are all surviving OK. Have to go and water the potted-up cat-nip so that we can take it with us.

Love, Mo

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Mo x

Sorry to hear of your struggles, I guess we all can relate to it though we are all different so I won’t say “I know how you feel” cos I don’t, but I empathise totally with everything you say. I’ve been having counselling at the hospice for about 8/9 months now. I can honestly say it’s been a massive help for me, I know it won’t help everyone but I’m a very closed off person generally, I don’t like to talk to family and friends about my feelings and worries but the counsellor is nobody to me and I can offload everything that I hold in without fear of a reaction. I talk constantly for an hour (almost without stopping for a breath sometimes!) and now go 2-4 weekly depending on how I’m feeling. I still break down in front of her, it’s coming up to the year anniversary for me so it’s getting tough again, but I don’t feel embarrassed about it and it’s nice to get it all out. I would consider asking the gp for a referal, as “happy pills” mask the problem and maybe dealing with the grief will help you in the long run better? I’m not preaching I promise, just a suggestion. Carl’s mum hated counselling, but I think her counsellor was just someone she couldn’t relate to, took me a few sessions before I felt comfortable with her and like it was helping, but I know it’s helped me a lot.

If not, hope the new tablets work better for you and don’t make you eat too much! I comfort eat anyway so if I had them I’d be humongous! Lol

Much love



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Thanks so much Rob. You are kind. I did wonder if you were still on the forum, or if leaving it was part of your 'moving on'. Nice to know you're still part of the family.

The MacMillan nurse arranged counselling for me about 6 weeks before Peter died. I had a massive and very disabling chip on my shoulder which I unloaded onto her, and felt a lot better for it. She took all my feelings of resentment and guilt and put them tidily in a box so that I didn't have to carry them around any more. After Peter died the Hospice wrote and offered me counselling; at the time I wanted the Hospice right out of my life so turned it down. However, it was an open-ended invitation, and I can get in touch with them if I want to.

My nice GP changed the type of happy pill to something which will also treat my chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy as well, thereby killing two birds with one stone. I hope it works. I will see how I get on for the next month and if things are still unmanageable I will get in touch with the Hospice and ask for an appointment. Trouble is that although I don't have any trouble expressing myself in writing, talking is another thing entirely and I don't find it easy.

Thanks for your kind words. My thoughts are with you, and with everybody who has lost a loved one to this ghastly illness. Once I feel a bit more human I will throw myself into fund-raising for PCUK.

Love, Mo

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