The First Stage of Transition: The Ending

A transition always starts with something coming to an end. We may not have realized it yet; we may still be in the throes of the beginning of an end, coming to terms with it. It also often includes many mini endings before the final one.

I would say the beginning of the transition started about 5 years ago when my husband had his prostate removed because he had stage 4 cancer; then he was fine for about 2 years following which he had radiation therapy; only to then find out in August, 2014, that he had an aggressive mutated cancerous mass growing. It was recommended to him in September that chemo therapy was only palliative in nature; to likely extend his life 6 months to 1 year, as well as greatly improve his quality of life.  Without realizing it, my transition really started then.

I was shocked at the diagnosis of terminal cancer. The doctor was proposing chemo therapy only to improve the quality of life and to extend it for a short period of time. It certainly should not have been a surprise; I already knew he had an aggressive cancer for at least a month. It felt like it was the first time I had ever heard the news. I am not the type of person who believes this should not happen to us. Even so, I realized it really does not matter how much the mind can absorb such information, the emotions don’t react the same way at all!

In response to the shock, I realize now that at that time I felt like shutting out everyone else, to close in. I was not feeling much of anything, except the occasional crying of coming to terms with losing my life partner.  It’s like I wanted to stay “inside and not go out” any more.

It is only after the urging of some of my friends that I reluctantly asked for help from our amazing network of friends and family by putting in place the ”care calendar”, to share news and ask for the help we needed (I highly recommend this online tool: http://www.carecalendar.org/  – a charitably run website where people are informed on what is happening as well as they can schedule the time they would like to come for a visit or help).

The outpouring of love that came back was incredible. Even so, it was still hard for me to take it all in. The urge to stay in the cocoon, insulated from the outside remained strong.

More to follow!

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