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Young Cancer Spouses

By Sandra Ray, Staff Writer

(Page 2 of 4)

The cancer came back, but Mark’s eight and a half month survival surprised his doctors. His passing at age 29 in October 2004 in the home he shared with Karen was only one portion of the grief that is expected when a spouse
is lost.

Other Types of Loss

Karen and Mark lost a portion of their youth to this journey. While people of their parents’ and grandparents’ ages might be able to call upon their children for help, they had none. Friends and young married couples might be there for their friends, but unless they’ve navigated healthcare/insurance systems, they may just be a companion rather than a guide.

Grieving the loss of a future with the beloved incorporates the dreams shared, and also the secret ones that each spouse keeps until the time is right. The possibility of loss doesn’t mean that one shares those secrets, either. It may be something as silly as “I started saving so we can take a trip to Paris for our tenth anniversary,” when one has only been married a few years. It may mean having to turn down a promotion that would have allowed for a move to another area. While many spouses would research what the move would mean to their ailing partner, cancer is a life changing process that takes center stage. For some, it may be easier to turn the promotion down and continue the battle in the same location.

Aftermath We Don’t Compute

Adding up all the variables for a spouse who survives the grueling regimens of therapy only to lose their loved one is difficult. After the passing, the surviving spouse must begin anew, making decisions on whether to live in the same home and other decisions.

Friends and family may open their homes to the young widow(er), who may be in need of financial help after huge copayments for treatments and other expenses. Still, a plan has to be made because initial hospitality can only last so long. Even if Mom and Dad have the resources, they want their child to be able to live a full life.

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