Grief in GeneralSpecific to Our Story

You Stayed Silent

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that you felt uncomfortable.

I’m sorry that you didn’t know what to say.

The truth is though, your silence made me sick.

And I think less of you, today.

My wife died and You Stayed Silent.

When she was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer, You Stayed Silent.

When she underwent her eight hour surgery to remove her kidney, You Stayed Silent.

When she spent twenty two days in the hospital post-surgery, You Stayed Silent.

When we learned that she actually did not have stage four kidney cancer, but instead an extremely rare and aggressive form of sarcoma, You Stayed Silent.

Did you not hear the news?  Did you not see the daily updates on Facebook?

 Did you not know what to say?  Or did you just not care?

 You Stayed Silent.

When she was eighty eight pounds post-surgery, You Stayed Silent.

When we traveled to Boston and New York for more opinions, only to find out that her cancer was something that only one person a year in the world got and it was a certain death sentence, You Stayed Silent.

When they thought the cancer had returned three months after her surgery, You Stayed Silent.

I suppose you were busy.

You Stayed Silent.

During all the chemotherapy, all the radiation, all the trips to the Emergency Rooms and all the long hospital stays.  You Stayed Silent.

It must have been rough on you.  Not knowing what to say. 

You Stayed Silent.

Day in and day out, we lived with the fear of something we both knew was around the corner, her eventual death.

You Stayed Silent.

When the incredible happened post chemotherapy, and they said they thought that she was cancer free, You Stayed Silent.

A quick text expressing your happiness to that news was more than you could spare.

You Stayed Silent.

When the cancer returned in her lung, liver, ovary and tailbone, and the terminal diagnosis was firmly in place, You Stayed Silent.

You knew.

You heard the news.

You saw the posts.

You stayed silent.

More surgeries.  More radiation.  Immunotherapy.

Incredible physical pain.  Off the charts mental anguish.

The knowledge of death soon to come. 

Lives torn apart.  Hearts broken. 

Dreams of a future, destroyed.  From you, not a word spoken.

The saddest tears I’ve ever known.

You Stayed Silent.

And then, hospice.

The final act, in the tragic play.

You Stayed Silent.

Twenty three horrific days. 

Sixty pounds.  Bowel movements on herself.  Soul crushing hallucinations. 

Fluids draining from her body.  Wrestling her to the bed with the aid of three nurses, time and time again.

A thirty year old woman dying. A slow, painful and awful death. Her husband watching her go.

Her daughter seeing her mother about to die.  Her hero at an all time low.

You Stayed Silent.

Then:  Death.

I mean, DEATH.

You Stayed Silent?


Even in DEATH, You Stayed Silent?

Shame on you.

You act like you didn’t know she was sick.  You certainly saw the news.

You act like you didn’t know she died.  Your lies are pathetic too.

Our lives turned upside down.  Our everything gone.  From you, not a peep, not even a single sound.

You see me now and still don’t say a word.

Like my wife never existed. 

Like you still never even heard.

I didn’t expect much from you, just one supportive word.

© Copyright 2017 John Polo

17 thoughts on “You Stayed Silent

  1. This is an incredible work of art but such true words. My story but a little different. Everyone stayed silent as well. No phone calls, texts or cards. No how are you doing? How are the kids holding up? I don’t know you well but I will never stay silent John.

  2. As I read this I actually felt “lucky’. My Love went so quickly with less hope… And there were people who I never dreamed would desert me but did. there were others who came into my life who helped me then and now. I know reliving these agonizing details will eventually fade and the funny happy times will come from behind to sustain you and your Daughter!!

  3. I am so sorry that you went through this. When I lost my husband, “we” had friends that I thought would be supportive and be there for me but I barely saw them and 74 days after losing my husband, I was told that they couldn’t handle me or my grief. It was such a blow but then I realized that if they had indeed been the friends that we thought they were – they would have been there for me. Hugs & prayers for you and for Emma.

  4. I am so sorry for your loss. Not only if your beautiful wife but also for the friendships you thought you had. I understand completely. The people I expected to be there weren’t and the ones that were surprised me and showed me true love and support. God bless you and your daughter.

  5. I can’t tell you how much I can relate. I can feel the anguish in your writing, the disappointment and the anger. Been there, too. But this is so spot on. I can’t say enough how sorry I am about the loss of your wife. Keep up the excellent postings.

  6. I suddenly lost my husband 3 months ago. I realize that some people do not know what to say to you. I don’t think it means that they don’t care, they are at a loss for words. I am very sorry for your loss and hope that you and your daughter are doing well (as well as you can after such a loss). My prayers go out to you and your daughter. Peace and Love, Jania

  7. Wonder who “you”is. I have a couple in my life too. So very hard to understand along with this terrible loss. Much love

  8. My husband died in a second…literally here one second and not the next. For him, I was happy he didn’t suffer as he was always afraid of dying. For the rest of us, it was an unbelievable nightmare! I can’t even imagine the pain you and your wife suffered through during her Ilness. I’m so glad she had you by her side. This is a very powerful and well written piece. I can feel the pain in your words. We have all felt this as life goes on for others and our lives come to a screeching halt. Life just isn’t always fair. It’s good to get the anger out or it will eat you alive. Hugs & prayers to you and your daughter. 💞💞💞💞🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

  9. Thank you for sharing this. This happened to me too….even within my family. I still wonder about it. You are a very brave person. All the best. I care about all widows and widowers and those who are ill.

  10. Loved this post of yours! It was perfect. You couldn’t have said it any better. My wife passed from rectal cancer on Jan 3rd 2016. My dear friend turned me on to your blog since our situations were so incredibly similar. After I read “You stayed silent” I was blown away and felt very validated in my feelings and position with those people. I wrote the following back to my dear friend that shared your blog and she said that I should share it with you, so here’s a part of it:

    “It’s an angry and sad post he wrote. What he hits on is one of the hardest realities for me—the people that stayed silent. Others stepped up and amazed me, some did exactly what I knew they would do and others totally exceeded my expectations in such a wonderful and caring way that I’m still in awe. Then there are those that were lifetime friends or family—and they failed miserably. It’s sad and disappointing but also empowering. It was like a forest fire ran through my life and once it was extinguished the only thing standing in the forest were the tall strong Oaks that will always stand with me, while the scrub brush and weaker trees were burnt away, making room for new growth and making us stronger—no scrub brush or weaker trees depleting our resources anymore.”

    Thanks John Polo! I wish you all the best and I hope that your blog helps you as much as it helps all of us!

    1. Hi John. I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for the kind words. I’m so glad you felt as though my post helped a bit. If you don’t already, follow me on FB as well. Reach out anytime.

  11. amen to this one… so many people I used to love did this to me while my husband was dying for 21 months with brain cancer and I was caring for him… I feel so alone, but I want nothing to do with the people who did nothing at all while it was all happening. Nothing. Ever again. And after he died, nothing again. I am all alone and those people are the reason. Family to me, the other F word.

  12. John, I am so sorry for you. Two things in life make people show their true colors… and death. I hope you find true happiness again.

  13. Hi John. The pain in your posts can be felt, and I’m sorry. I can relate to the abandonment but I don’t feel it that deeply because, for some reason (so unlike the normal me) I didn’t care. It was odd, but I really didn’t. I kind of figured “fuck ’em.” But on another note, your wife’s story resonated with me. We were also told kidney cancer, which was bad enough. Stage 4 by the time it was found. After my husbands surgery we were told that in fact it was Collecting Duct Carcinoma … rare and almost unheard of. No treatment, no chance. So I very, very much relate. And where your “friend” couldn’t say anything to you, I will tell you how sorry I am for your loss.

  14. Deafening silence. First, when the tumor squeezed the speech center in her brain, so she struggled to find words. Silence in the house, when she was in hospital then hospice. Then, the silence in the room when her breathing stopped. Silence from the empty bed beside me. No more cheerful singing around the house, just because she felt like it. And, the silent phone. Where is everybody?

    Thanks, John, for saying something.

  15. This post resonated with me so strongly. For me, it was my mom’s death. She was my best friend and I was utterly broken. Three of what I thought were my closest friends couldn’t even be bothered to acknowledge it, and one had the temerity to actually send me a Christmas card 6 weeks later saying “hope you had a GREAT year!” Conversely, my husband’s best friend, who I barely know offered to fly out and stay with us and do whatever was needed despite having a wife and small children at home, and although I declined I will never forget the offer.

    I love your writing and am so sorry for your loss. Your daughter is very fortunate to have you in her life.

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