Discussing Husband’s Mesothelioma Death Eases Emotions

Cancer & Caregiving
Reading Time: 4 mins
Publication Date: 03/26/2018
Fact Checked
Our fact-checking process begins with a thorough review of all sources to ensure they are high quality. Then we cross-check the facts with original medical or scientific reports published by those sources, or we validate the facts with reputable news organizations, medical and scientific experts and other health experts. Each page includes all sources for full transparency.
Reviewed

Asbestos.com is the nation’s most trusted mesothelioma resource

The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com has provided patients and their loved ones the most updated and reliable information on mesothelioma and asbestos exposure since 2006.

Our team of Patient Advocates includes a medical doctor, a registered nurse, health services administrators, veterans, VA-accredited Claims Agents, an oncology patient navigator and hospice care expert. Their combined expertise means we help any mesothelioma patient or loved one through every step of their cancer journey.

More than 30 contributors, including mesothelioma doctors, survivors, health care professionals and other experts, have peer-reviewed our website and written unique research-driven articles to ensure you get the highest-quality medical and health information.

About The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com

  • Assisting mesothelioma patients and their loved ones since 2006.
  • Helps more than 50% of mesothelioma patients diagnosed annually in the U.S.
  • A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
  • 5-star reviewed mesothelioma and support organization.
Learn More About Us

Testimonials

"My family has only the highest compliment for the assistance and support that we received from The Mesothelioma Center. This is a staff of compassionate and knowledgeable individuals who respect what your family is experiencing and who go the extra mile to make an unfortunate diagnosis less stressful. Information and assistance were provided by The Mesothelioma Center at no cost to our family."
Lashawn
Mesothelioma patient’s daughter
  • Google Review Rating
  • BBB Review Rating

How to Cite Asbestos.com’s Article

APA

Kember, L. (2020, October 16). Discussing Husband’s Mesothelioma Death Eases Emotions. Asbestos.com. Retrieved October 6, 2022, from https://www.asbestos.com/blog/2018/03/26/discussing-husbands-mesothelioma-death/

MLA

Kember, Lorraine. "Discussing Husband’s Mesothelioma Death Eases Emotions." Asbestos.com, 16 Oct 2020, https://www.asbestos.com/blog/2018/03/26/discussing-husbands-mesothelioma-death/.

Chicago

Kember, Lorraine. "Discussing Husband’s Mesothelioma Death Eases Emotions." Asbestos.com. Last modified October 16, 2020. https://www.asbestos.com/blog/2018/03/26/discussing-husbands-mesothelioma-death/.

Life as we know it cannot go on forever. This is a given. But how many of us are prepared to talk about our death or that of a loved one?

I found my answer to this question when my 52-year-old husband Brian was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Accepting that he had the asbestos-related cancer was difficult enough. But believing he had less than a year to live was impossible.

After researching mesothelioma online, I had to accept that Brian was going to die of the disease — and soon. Coming to terms with this reality was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.

As I struggled to control my emotions, I was deeply concerned about Brian’s feelings. How was he coping? Did he believe he was dying? It was a question I dared not ask him. For the first time in our life together, there was an elephant in the room.

Starting the Conversation About Death

With the thought of Brian’s death ever on my mind, I desperately needed to talk about it. The problem was I had no one to talk to. Brian lived in hope of a cure and our three children were not ready to accept that their father was dying.

As wife and mother, I endeavored to remain strong for everyone, but it was incredibly hard to do when I was feeling so broken. At times, the burden of my grief became so overwhelming that I found it difficult to cope with everyday life.

Thankfully, Brian’s sister Pat turned out to be the one person with whom I could unleash my inner turmoil.

Whenever we came together, which was usually once week, we found an opportunity to talk about Brian and how his disease was progressing. I also discussed my fear that I would not be able to cope with watching him die.

Though our conversations always ended with me crying my heart out, the relief that came with it was beyond measure. So too was my gratitude toward Pat, who always rose above her own grief to comfort me.

Brian Was Ready to Talk About Dying

Now that I had addressed Brian’s death with Pat, I felt better able to cope with what lay ahead. But I could not help but wonder how Brian was coping. It had become obvious he was not going to get better.

Did he need to talk about dying? How could I encourage him to do this?

Fortunately, I didn’t have to. Shortly before his courageous battle with mesothelioma came to an end, he began talking about dying. It started with a question: How many Christmases had he celebrated since his diagnosis? It was an especially poignant question because he asked it on Dec. 20, 2001 — just two years after his diagnosis and a few days before Christmas, which had always been his favorite time of year.

Hoping against hope that he’d be with us for Christmas that year, I answered “Three.”

My heart missed a beat when Brian replied, “I don’t think I will be here for another.”

Hearing this, I could have said of course he would, but I realized Brian wanted and needed to talk to me about his death. As sad as the moment was, I was so grateful for it because I knew Brian had accepted his fate and was at peace with it.

Now that I was able to talk to him about my plans for his funeral, I was greatly relieved when he agreed with my decision. Thanks to Pat, who was again there to support me, I decided on a beachside memorial to celebrate his love of the sea. Afterward, we would hold a private cremation only for family members.

Despite the strongest of wills, Brian did not get to celebrate Christmas that year. He died on Christmas Eve, just a few hours short of his favorite day of the year. The pain of losing the beautiful man who had been my husband, lover and best friend for 37 years was deeper than I could have imagined.

But I found peace knowing he was no longer in pain.

Moving on with Life

Grief is a personal journey.

Widowed at 51, I felt like my life was a jigsaw puzzle with half the pieces missing. Over the years, I have put that jigsaw puzzle back together, but it will never be the same.

No matter what happens in my life, I will always love and miss Brian. I know you don’t get over grief. But you learn to live with it, and this is okay.

Knowing I was able to discuss his impending death with his sister and Brian helped me heal and move on with my life.

Get Access to Free Resources for Patients & Loved Ones
Free Mesothelioma Resources