By mchristie, Oct 7 2014 8:44PM
Many of you will now know that my beloved husband Dick has recently died of pancreatic cancer. I am heartbroken but have also been struggling with an inordinate amount of anger towards his avalanche of visitors. Dick was no saint but was popular, generous and well liked in the community and I fully understand the emotional needs of the people who came in their droves to see him. To be fair, his close family were also victims of his popularity as almost everytime they visited they would find the living room thronging with guests. And this meant, that as they understood him more than most, they cut back their precious time with him to allow him some much needed rest. A lot of people seem to feel that it is only me that had a problem with the visitors but I can assure you that Dick would implore me to stop them coming but I always maintained that as they were his friends and family that he would need to say that for himself. They just would not have accepted that from me. I cannot point the finger at any one individual as it was the collective that was the problem.
My bereavement counsellor asked me the question, "If you could rewind the clock now - what would you do differently?" And so there is the question. I have discussed this with many people and we seem to have decided that the following would be a fair system. Obviously it goes without saying that some families might feel very differently and would welcome the house to be full of well wishers but if you don't then....
1. Please believe the main caregiver - I would intercept people at our gate as they arrived and say that Dick was tired/in pain/vomiting a lot etc but then Dick would puff himself up so as not to appear weak to his guests and they would notice a mismatch between what I was saying and what they were seeing. Naturally they chose to believe their eyes and then quickly I gained the reputation of being something of a 'policeman' and not to be believed! Telephone calls asking to visit dried up as people circumvented me and just showed up. Dick's innate sense of politeness meant he would never ask them to leave or limit their stay.
2. Possibly set up an appointment system - something like visiting hours in a hospital, this would allow time for medication, eating privately (important for Dick as he would vomit frequently as the tumours blocked the outlet to his stomach), taking a nap (he was kept awake at night by abdominal pain) and for private time that you could rely upon. Another idea would be to allow the sick person to choose which visitors he wished to see and then call them up and summon them accordingly. We did do this with a couple of family members who were respecting our privacy whilst Dick was keen to see them.
3. Limit the length of time of the visit - 20-30 minutes would be sufficient time to say all the important stuff, having to hear what a great life you are having is not entirely helpful and flags up what the sick person is missing. Dick would get very tired trying to keep up his air of normality. I would watch him with my professional nurses eye combined with my eye as his wife and my heart would bleed with frustration as I saw the pain etched on his face. I would murmur that Dick could do with a rest, they would expectantly turn to Dick and he would say, "I'm fine!" and the conversation would resume with barely a flicker! As soon as they left, Dick would visibly collapse and I would fuss around him with pain relief and high calorie goodies to tempt his appetite and keep up his strength (vomit bowl at the ready, retrieved from its hiding place behind the sofa!). Then the next car would arrive and the process would start all over again.
Dick was my second husband and as such he had a life before his life with me and I do take on board some of the criticism aimed at me on the Mail website but it is to my credit that I did not stop a single person from visiting even though I wanted to scream on both our behalves that "enough was enough". As Dick's illness progressed some of the initial intense visiting slackened off but then when he took an eventual turn for the worse it suddenly intensified again - just as we were struggling with more extreme and unpleasant symptoms.
For me, this was our home, our retreat from the world, a place of love and peace and comfort but we were besieged, our space invaded and we could not relax. Even my daughters, Dick's stepdaughters, did not feel that they could come "home" to spend some time with him as our home was full of people.
Many of you will have seen The Mail article which, as these things go, was sensationalised with words that I did not say and of course this has caused a lot of upset within Dick's family - but all I can say is that Dick loved his family and really they were not the main problem, as they did limit their visits but everyone is moving forward with their lives albeit without their father/brother etc whereas I am here in our home alone and bereft, the walls testament to the empty hours sipping tea when all I wanted was to hold his hand, kiss his dear face and keep him comfortable. We have an African grey Parrot and do you know what words he picked up during that time........."Cup of tea? or a cup of coffee?!!"
That kind of sums it up!
By mchristie, Feb 25 2014 6:18AM
Our coins form a shield, nice one!
By mchristie, Feb 22 2014 6:55PMRead more...
By mchristie, Aug 23 2013 5:10PM
I am very excited to say that my flash fiction story, "Midnight Caress" has made it onto the Twisted Tales long list!! If you haven't done so already then I thoroughly recommend that you download the Ether Books App which will enable you to download a whole load of free erotic words (well.....not just erotic!!) Great for reading on the move.
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