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Thread: My Wife's Father is Dying - She Has Shut Down - Please Help

  1. #1
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    My Wife's Father is Dying - She Has Shut Down - Please Help

    About 18 months ago my wife's father was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, that has now spread to many other organs. For the past 18 months my wife has changed and it has affected us in a major way. She has become cold to me.

    While I have tried to be patient it is hard. I know I have slipped and made things worse trying to capture the affection. I am now to a point where it is getting worse and don't know what to do anymore.

    Last week he was rushed to the hospital. We don't yet know if it is the chemo that is the problem, or the cancer worsening, but none the less he is getting much worse. A 200 pound man down to 130 at the most, etc.

    While the past 18 months have been difficult, the past week has been unbearable with her. She has literally shut down. She won't talk to me about it, and our relationship has moved into one of small talk when necessary. I tried to hold her the other night and she literally wanted nothing to do with it.

    I have suggested that she go and talk to a counselor as I thought she might be depressed, and you can imagine how that conversation went.

    We've been married for over 20 years. I just don't know what to do to help, other than just walk around like a Zombie not trying to do anything. I fear our relationship is at serious risk anymore as she seems to be just pushing me away.

    It has been 18 months and I'm not going anywhere, but I can't take it anymore. She won't talk to me, she won't go see anyone, and she won't realize what she is doing to people around her. Our kids also have been affected by the coldness in a major way. She has gone as far as telling our kids she doesn't want to live past 69. Our 14 year old has cried himself to sleep with statements like this.

    I need help, advise, or kind words.
    Last edited by brainman; 02-07-2011 at 03:17 AM.

  2. #2
    Administrator Top User brainman's Avatar
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    Oh, I also so sorry! Some people just have a harder time than others. Have you suggested that the two of you go talk to a counselor? I believe that would be more helpful to both of you. I does sound like she is depressed but that depression is not just affecting her; it is affecting the two of you. If she will not, then maybe you should go in order to "vent" and maybe to learn some new coping mechanisms. Good luck.
    Jim
    Long-term cancer survivor
    1992 Astrocytoma grade 2, left motor strip
    2005 Recurrence this time said to be an Oligodendroglioma grade 3, same location.
    http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=2405
    My Story Part 1: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=2528
    My Story Part 2: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?p=7350
    My Story Part 3: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=8029

  3. #3
    Administrator Top User pbj11's Avatar
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    I'm truly sorry this is happening and agree with Jim that counseling of some type is in order. I became totally detached from everything about a year after my husband passed away. It's depression, I have no doubt. I too need to get some counseling to not sleepwalk my way through the rest of my life. It's not fair to my adult children. Be tactful or maybe suggest that she comes on here to discuss her situation with others who have been down this road.

    You'd have to delete your post if she does or you'll be in deeper water! Let a moderator or administrator know if you need this thread deleted.

    We've pretty much seen every type of emotional reaction out there from both patients and loved ones.

    God bless,
    PBJ
    Husband diagnosed with NSCLC Stage IV in 3/2005. Fought & lived over 2 1/2 years with multiple lines of treatment.

    Post describing our journey: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.ph...er=asc&start=0

    Left my embrace to live with our Heavenly Father in October of 2007 and now breathes with ease forever. I will miss this gentle, giving soul with the easy smile for the rest of my days, but have faith we will be together again. He's just getting a little break from me!

  4. #4
    Administrator Top User brainman's Avatar
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    The is something else you should look into. She might need an anti-depressant to help her over this hill. But that would require her to go see a doctor for a prescription.
    Jim
    Long-term cancer survivor
    1992 Astrocytoma grade 2, left motor strip
    2005 Recurrence this time said to be an Oligodendroglioma grade 3, same location.
    http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=2405
    My Story Part 1: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=2528
    My Story Part 2: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?p=7350
    My Story Part 3: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=8029

  5. #5
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    Response

    Thank you all for the reply. I have suggested that she see someone. I have suggested that "we" see someone. I have suggested that she might need a drug to help her. None of these have gone over well and actually tend to start a fight.

    She tells me she is "fine!" I fear this is like an alcoholic that won't recognize their own symptoms. I just don't know what to do anymore.

    I can't talk about her coldness either or else she feels I am making the conversation all about me. So I walk around having to bite my tongue constantly and watch her just sink into a non emotional state. In 18 months she hasn't cried to me once about it.

    As for the boards, I very much appreciate that advice. I don't think I have to worry about it however. I recommended she join some forums and like I said above I was told that she didn't need too because she is fine.

    I wish I could do an intervention! I don't know what is going to happen when he finally passes.

  6. #6
    Administrator Top User pbj11's Avatar
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    My heart goes out to you O man of mystery. If she's detached for this amount of time, the actual loss may shatter her. She's functioning, but I see all of the same things I'm doing in your description of her. I recognize that this is a problem, so that's half the battle. Do you have grown children? It's my kids that have been all over me and they push me no matter how hard I push back. Have to be honest and tell you that the first step for her will be recognizing it's a problem and then, the next step is actually doing something about it. I'm at the 'next' step, with a lot of prodding from my kids. I ask about your kids, because a Mother's heart will listen to her children. Enlist them if possible. We lie and say we're fine, when we're not.

    She's doing this as a coping mechanism. It really has nothing to do with you or her love for you. She's protecting herself. It's a safe place for her to be in. I'm sure it's not pleasant for you. Your analogy about it being like an alcoholic is a reality in my home with one of my kids who lives with me. Home doesn't feel good anymore. Walking on eggshells constantly makes one weary and depressed.

    If I come up with some brilliant idea, I'll pass it on to you. I thank you for sharing, because it shows ME how my kids must feel about my own detachment.

    I wish I could tell you this is normal -- and some of it is -- but to go into a shell during the illness and over a parent, when you have responsibilities to your spouse and children is not good, even if you are trying to protect yourself from hurt. She'll regret it, should the day ever come when you are no longer there. I never abandoned my family emotionally despite going through both parents with cancer. The loss of my husband has been overwhelming, but I recognize my problems. Fortunately my kids are all grown and only one lives with me. It still hurts them nonetheless.

    Big hugs of understanding,
    PBJ
    Husband diagnosed with NSCLC Stage IV in 3/2005. Fought & lived over 2 1/2 years with multiple lines of treatment.

    Post describing our journey: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.ph...er=asc&start=0

    Left my embrace to live with our Heavenly Father in October of 2007 and now breathes with ease forever. I will miss this gentle, giving soul with the easy smile for the rest of my days, but have faith we will be together again. He's just getting a little break from me!

  7. #7
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    Response

    PBJ... You sound like such a nice person, and to go through this with a spouse must be that much harder.

    Our kids are 19 and 14 - two boys. They too both recognize there is an issue, especially the 19 year old. We all have learned that we have to walk on eggshells however because her getting help is not something she wants to talk about.

    She got our 14 year old really upset recently. With her dad like he is she has this attitude that she doesn't want to live past 69. And has been very vocal about it. The 14 year old cried himself to sleep a few nights over this. She has since pulled back and won't say that again knowing how it affected him, but she has no hesitation telling me how she wants to die before getting too old.

    She is very close to the 19 year old, but even he has to be careful what he says. We just can't approach the topic. Again, she doesn't realize she is depressed. I wish there were a magic way for her to learn of her own depression and seek help.

  8. #8
    Administrator Top User pbj11's Avatar
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    It's not funny, but I've done the same thing to my kids. I figured I wouldn't last long, nor do we have longevity in my family. Here I am -- three years later, so I guess I'll be around for a while. My kids got ticked off at me when I'd talk about dying young. Then the BIG lightbulb went on that they deserved ONE parent alive and functioning for their future.

    I really wish I could talk to her. I'd knock some sense into her head. Time flies and you can never go back and reclaim that which is lost.

    She is not being honest with herself and, trust me, she knows it, but will never admit it to you and the kids until she's ready. Depression becomes a vicious cycle.

    I'm sorry for the rest of you while you keep walking on eggshells. They hurt the feet. I'm at the point where my son recognizes he has a drinking problem, so both of us have made some baby steps in the right direction.

    Life can be so complicated sometimes. We find ourselves in positions we never dreamed possible. Cancer is insidious in more ways than one and the fall out sometimes seems never ending.

    God bless,
    PBJ
    Husband diagnosed with NSCLC Stage IV in 3/2005. Fought & lived over 2 1/2 years with multiple lines of treatment.

    Post describing our journey: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.ph...er=asc&start=0

    Left my embrace to live with our Heavenly Father in October of 2007 and now breathes with ease forever. I will miss this gentle, giving soul with the easy smile for the rest of my days, but have faith we will be together again. He's just getting a little break from me!

  9. #9
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    PBJ... I just read the entire posting you did a few years ago when your husband went through all of this. You are truly an inspiration. I wish I could have helped you back then. However, maybe today I can. You see part of what my wife is going through. If you indeed are still going through some of this, look at this maybe as a lesson to help you. As I tell my wife (not that she is listening), there are a lot of people in the world that love you and your reactions have deep impact on their lives. It could be good impact, or bad impact. Remember, good impact is always better... better for them and better for you.

    Thank you for all your kind advice.

  10. #10
    Administrator Top User pbj11's Avatar
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    Thank you for your kind words and I will take them to heart. I look at that post and don't know even know the woman who wrote it anymore. The best I can do is continue to pray to God for guidance with a new direction for my life and that he looks with favor on my children.

    We'll all end up just fine.

    PBJ
    Husband diagnosed with NSCLC Stage IV in 3/2005. Fought & lived over 2 1/2 years with multiple lines of treatment.

    Post describing our journey: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.ph...er=asc&start=0

    Left my embrace to live with our Heavenly Father in October of 2007 and now breathes with ease forever. I will miss this gentle, giving soul with the easy smile for the rest of my days, but have faith we will be together again. He's just getting a little break from me!

 

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