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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 45 - Stages of Grief: Acceptance

Today we're linked to Messy Marriage's Wedded Wednesday.

And so, to the last letter of DABDA...A for Acceptance.

We've gone through denial, anger, bargaining, and depression...and now we accept...what?

What exactly are we accepting as the caregiver for a terminally ill spouse?

And what is the dying person accepting?

There are really no facile answers here...have I accepted that I'm going to die of this? No. I've accepted that I'm in the fight of my life, but I'm not giving up...not by a long shot. I'll fight to live with everything I have.

I don't want to die. I do not accept the death sentence. I accept that the outlook is not good, sure; that's not hard, especially seeing what has happened to me over the past few months. But roll over and wait for the Reaper?

Not hardly.

And what does acceptance mean for my wife, or for any caregiver?

Just this - that there is the possibility, or the probability, that she will be a widow sooner rather than later, and that life as we knew it - as she knew it - has changed. There are different priorities now, and things like painting the living room are no longer at the front of the line.

Doesn't mean the living room won't be painted; it just means that the chance to spend time together, going to McDonalds for an ice cream cone if I'm well enough, takes precedence.

It also means looking ahead and planning for things that might be unpalatable...the need for a hospital bed, for example, or oxygen, and home hospice. The time for denying that stuff is past; it may happen, and the caregiver has to be willing to consider the possible need, and budget time, space, and money.

It means looking at what happens if and when death does occur...burial or cremation? A service, or nothing special, just dispose of the body in the most convenient manner...after all, it's the Klingon way.

And it means considering what lies beyond that permanent change.

Stay in the same house, or move? (Most experts suggest waiting a year to make that decision, unless finances force the issue.)

Consider remarriage, or not? (Again, most experts advise a waiting period...but this is a subject we'll take up in a future post.)

The point is to look at these questions...things that will have to be addressed if the illness matches the prognosis...to look at them without denying their reality, or resenting them and reacting in bitterness.

That last, that's the key...

Acceptance is the laying aside of denial and bitterness, and choosing to live the life that's there, however hard it may be, with all the goodwill and faith one has at one's command.

For the religious, it's the taking of God's hand, trusting that His guidance will be sufficient unto each day ahead, however harsh it may be.

Acceptance is saying...

And I'll do my share, to make the best of it.


  1. 'Thy will be done.'

    Perhaps the hardest prayer we ever pray? And yet the most freeing ...

    1. Definitely the hardest; and when we take that leap into actually living it, yes, it is the most liberating.

      Kind of a spiritual skydiving...

  2. Andrew, another beautiful post, packed with passion and truth. I've heard people who are struggling with a life-threatening disease say that their focus, their priorities become very narrow. Like you mentioned, instead of prioritizing painting the living room, time together takes a higher place on that list. It's amazing what becomes less important when life is at stake.

    For the spouse, I imagine acceptance comes in pieces, rather than all at once. And this definition? "Acceptance is the laying aside of denial and bitterness, and choosing to live the life that's there, however hard it may be, with all the goodwill and faith one has at one's command." It's the best one I've heard yet.

    I'm continuing to pray for you and Barbara, friend.

    1. I think you are right, Jeanne; acceptance does come in pieces. Both for the spouse, and for the dying person. (It wasn't a problem for me; my life was so keyed to the possibility of sudden violent death that I really never went through DABDA...but I may write of that view later).

      And yes, priorities do change...but sometimes, interestingly, what seems like it should be trivial takes on a very high priority...like painting the living room. I think that is because it's a connection to the normal; if one can just concentrate hard enough on the mundane, then maybe the monsters will go away...what do you think?

      And thank you so much for the prayers. For some reason, the past couple of weeks has been really, really rough. Very hard to get anything done, and concentrating to write has been...well, painful. But worth it.

  3. I really don't know how you do it, Andrew. This aspect of the grieving process and unpacking it for all of us must hit you especially hard. I suppose, I don't really want to think about this part for you either, especially when I hear your determination to live is still so strong and evident in your words and heart. But again, I thank you for your courage and honesty. Those two things--courage and honesty--make the accepting of any unfair and harsh reality better, though still bitter. My thoughts and prayers are with you, my friend. Sorry that I did not come by yesterday. I've been nursing an infection that has me thinking of how incredible you are each week to push through the pain anyway. I just couldn't do it yesterday, but am trying to today. :-)

    1. Beth, I hope you're feeling better!

      No, it isn't easy to face this sort of thing - and write about it - but I've never thought of it as unfair. The world is as it must be, for free will to operate, and free will is needed for us to choose God...so the 'stuff' like illness has to be admitted, too.

      It is harsh, but I do believe that all will be put right, and the sorrows of today eternally consoled.

      Thank you so much for being here, my friend.

    2. I do hope you are doing okay too, Andrew. I would have expected a new post today, so I'm just checking in with you to see how you're doing. You are in my thoughts and prayers, my friend!

  4. Oh, yes, Andrew! Acceptance IS trusting God and taking His outstretched hand to guide you through all of the decisions that must be made - maybe not now, or soon, but eventually.

    Thank you, Andrew...your words, as always...

    1. And thank you for being here, Barbara...your support means a lot to us.