Thursday, March 7, 2013

Trying to adjust...

Paul has been gone for 10 days now…which means I am 10 days closer to seeing him again!  I am trying to keep really busy so I don’t do much thinking…but there has been a couple of days that I was not very successful…my emotions definitely got the better of me.

Paul’s funeral was amazing!  I am so grateful for all the wonderful family and friends that came to show their love and support.  What a tribute to Paul!

After Paul’s funeral service, we had hired a man to play the bagpipes at the graveside service.  He played Highland Cathedral…it was so beautiful.  We also released 6 white doves and 52 (Paul’s age) light blue balloons. I know that Paul was very pleased!

Paul had the best day he’d had in a couple of months on Valentine’s day.  It was such a good day.  I believe it was a tender mercy from God.  We got to have a last wonderful day together as a family.  By the next day he started to decline again…

Our older children came and spent a lot of time with us the last two weeks of Paul’s life.  It was nice to have visits with the grandchildren…sit around in our bedroom by Paul and talk about everything under the sun…including his funeral arrangements. I know that even when he couldn’t say much while we were talking, he was happy.  Every once in awhile he would give a thumbs up sign…or nod his head in agreement.  It was very hard for him to talk.  He was happy because his family was here with him.  His family was the most important thing to him. 

The last week of Paul’s life was so painful to watch.  He had terminal agitation…he had hallucinations, severe restlessness, anxiety, etc.  A few nights before he passed away, was the most brutal.  He kept getting up every 10 minutes and trying to get out of bed.  I would hear him and look over to find that he had ripped off his oxygen and was sitting on the chair by his bed trying to get up.  I would go over to him and he was gasping for air because he needed his oxygen to make him more comfortable.  I would get the oxygen put back on and get him back in bed…only to have it happen again about 10 minutes later.

By about 3:00 a.m., I was so exhausted I went and got Sheila to be with him while I went to get a little rest in the other room.  I was grateful to have our older girls spending the nights that week with us because I found I needed their help on a regular basis.  Paul could not be left alone at all…my sister came and stayed the weekend with us as well.  It was amazing how many of us it took to care for him.

The biggest problem at this point for me was that I was so exhausted.  I had been Paul’s primary caregiver for months now.  I was the only one trained at home to give him medications in his port and/or PICC line.  Finally the Friday before he died, we trained the girls how to do it as well.  Which turned out to be a huge blessing for me.

Another problem was that hospice had not given us adequate medications to make him comfortable.  I will not go into detail of the mistakes, but lets just say that we did not get morphine and Haldol going until the Friday before Paul died.  Those medications made a HUGE difference!!!  He was finally able to relax and just sleep.

Paul slipped in to a coma on Sunday, February 24th.  I knew that he was going to be dying very soon.  I woke up Monday, February 25th, at about 3:45 a.m.  I was listening for his breathing…I could not hear anything…I touched his chest…I could not feel any movement…I flipped on the light…I watched to see if there was any movement…there wasn’t any…I knew he was gone.  I am grateful that I awoke when I did because he must have just passed.  He still had some coloring in his face and his head and upper arms were still warm.  Had I woke up much later, he would not have had any color or warmth left.  I really feel like his spirit woke me up so that I would not wake up to his body all cold and grayish…about 30 minutes after I found him, he did not even look himself at all…he had no coloring left (very grayish) and was very cold to the touch…I think that would have traumatized me to wake up to that.

I think the hardest part of that day was when the mortuary came and got his body.  I could hear them getting him off the bed and bringing him down the stairs (I did not watch).  My friend had come over and got the girls so they would not have to see them take their daddy out of the house…that was not a memory I wanted them to have.

My heart is very happy for Paul, but very sad for me.  I could feel that he was happy to be free from all his pain.  I could feel his presence with me.  In fact, I felt his presence with me a lot last week.  Oh, how I love that man!

The night of the viewing was the first time I saw Paul since his death.  I was not sure what I would find.  In fact, I was thinking we would probably have a closed casket funeral.  He did not look anything like himself when he died.  He was so thin…somewhere in the 120 pound range (he was 6’3’’ tall).  Ultimately, I watched my husband starve to death.  He looked like he had been in a concentration camp…

As I walked into the mortuary that night, I totally lost it.  I did not want to see his body…I just wanted to run away as fast as I could…I did not want to have the image I had in my mind, on the day he died, brought back into my memory.  He did not look like Paul. 

Family came out into the foyer and told me he looked okay, so I finally went in and saw him…I really cried…but I knew it was just the tabernacle that housed his spirit…he was not there.  It still did not look like Paul to me…but at least he had some coloring (from all the make-up).  I could feel his spirit with me, which brought me great comfort!

I have my good days and my bad days.  Yesterday was definitely the worse day I have had yet.  I cannot adequately describe the sorrow you feel when you lose someone you love so much.  Your whole body aches with sorrow.  I think I was dehydrated yesterday from all the crying… I think I am getting a small glimpse of what our savior felt…

I have prayed to Heavenly Father that I won’t have to feel this sorrow…He is helping me through it, but I still have to feel it.  We are here to experience mortality.  The only way we can truly understand sorrow is to experience it.  The purpose of our earthly life is to learn things here in a mortal body…things that cannot be learned without a mortal body.

I am grateful for loving family and friends who are helping me through this difficult time.  I know that Paul is still watching out for us! 


  1. Love to you and the girls Sandra.

  2. Sandra, you are amazing. Paul must be so proud of you.

  3. This post is beautiful Sandra. You have such a great spirit about you and it's such a blessing that you really understand our Heavenly Fathers plan. I felt Paul's presence at the church, and I'm sure he's with you now. Wishing you comfort.

  4. You are AMAZING! You and the girls are in our daily prayers. Always remember that your Loving Heavenly Fathers is there on those hard days to carry you through. We love you!

  5. Thank you for sharing your experiences and deep feelings. I'm grateful to know more about Paul's last days. I'm so proud of both of you.

  6. I've been thinking of you a lot, Sandra. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself; this was beautiful to read. I wish so much that the sorrow could just be taken away. It is a beautiful thing that you are allowing others to learn through your experiences; I'm sure you are doing so much to strengthen others just by doing that! You'll continue to be in my prayers. Love, Heidi Wilson

  7. I am a friend of Shawnee Kennington and her sweet family, I have been reading your posts for a while and I just want to let you know your family has been in my prayers for many months now. Your strong spirit and beautiful attitude have touched my life. Though I haven't even met you, I can tell that you are as close to a heavenly angel on earth that it is possible to be. I'm so sorry that you lost your partner. But I thank you for touching my life, changing my spirit, and giving me an example to strive towards. I wish you and your family lots of love, comfort, and healing. -Paige Beach