A month after proposing marriage, Diana Denholm's husband was diagnosed with colon cancer and later congestive heart failure. Following a heart transplant several of her husband's body systems began failing forcing Diana to become his primary caregiver for more than a decade. The Caregiving Wife's Handbook is a step-by-step communication guide to help women maintain emotional, physical and financial health in their unique role as caregivers to their dying husbands.
Women are suffering physical, emotional and financial burnout as the United States' leading caregivers. Of the 65 million caregivers in the U.S., 66% are women, and these numbers will only increase as the population ages. And while statistics and resources abound for caregivers in general, very little exists for women in their unique role as caregivers to their dying husbands.
Traditionally, caring for a dying husband has been seen as a "wifely duty." Most wives don’t label themselves, and aren’t labeled by others, as caregivers. But advances in medical technology are making this distinction an imperitive since women are under more stress as caregivers than at any other time in history. Although there are generic similarities in caretaking, caregiving for a dying husband is distinctly different, and the longer the dying process, the more complex the problems.
When a husband is in the process of dying for many months or years the experience is quite different than a husband's sudden death. On top of dealing with the tragedy, the wife must figure out how to make life work. Sometimes a woman is married to the love of her life and sometimes not. Some marriages strengthen, while others disintegrate. Some women are in abusive relationships and find the abuse continues, and even increases, during these times, while others find, much to their surprise, that they become the abusers. Still some will start or increase substance abuse and others will have affairs to get by.
The Caregiving Wife's Handbook aims to help women get through their husbands' illness and death with compassion, emotionally whole and without regret by helping them communicate clearly--and in steps--about issues affecting this unique caregiving relationship.
Without specific direction, many women find themselves over the top with stress as their lives change radically. As a board certified medical psychotherapist and primary caregiver, Diana Denholm recognized the need for a step-by-step process to help women communicate with their husbands to avoid irreparable damage and regret.