When Dina Veach lost her husband in August 2015, she felt like her whole life had been taken from her.
“Everything was so different after he passed,” Dina said. “I didn’t know what to do, how to feel, how to act, who to talk to, where to go.”
Joe, Dina’s husband, had been diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer a year earlier. “He fought so hard to beat it,” Dina said recently, while reflecting on that time in their lives. She talked about an impromptu vacation the couple took to North Carolina two months before Joe died, describing how they hiked to the top of a mountain ridge during the trip. “I think he wanted to prove a point because was a fighter. He was the happiest I’ve ever seen him that day,” she said. “I think the journey helped him make peace with his fate.”
The hike wasn’t easy for Dina. “I got choked up when we reached the top, because I was losing my best friend,” she said, “but I held it together for him. He didn’t want me to cry.” After the couple returned home, Joe’s condition quickly worsened. Joe passed away at home, surrounded by family. He was just 42 years old.
Swallowed up in the deep fog of grief, Dina struggled to cope for several months on her own before reaching out to Lincolnland Hospice Bereavement Counselor Dawn Sexton. Lincolnland Hospice offers bereavement programs and services, free of charge, regardless of whether the bereaved used hospice services prior to a person’s death.
“I stopped eating and all I wanted to do was lay in bed,” Dina said. “I felt like I didn’t have permission to cry, because I knew Joe didn’t want me crying over him.”
Dina started meeting with Sexton twice a week. “It was so helpful just having someone to talk to. Counseling taught me that it’s good to cry and grieve and talk through the pain,” Dina said. “Dawn is so understanding and she helped me so much through all of this.” Sexton also gave Dina reading material to take home and helped her start a journal to record her thoughts.
Joe’s death changed Dina in many ways. She learned about the depths of sadness and the brutality of loss. Dina also learned that with the help of bereavement counseling, she could choose joy and meaning and how to laugh through your tears. “I still get choked up once in awhile, but I can function now. I can eat breakfast and lunch and go grocery shopping,” she said.
Dina continued with bereavement counseling for an entire year; gradually, she started focusing on the good times. She loves to reminisce about the happy memories of her courtship and marriage to Joe and the special bond Joe developed with her son Jeffrey.
In reflecting on Joe, Dina said, “He was my sunshine. He was always making me laugh and told me to always look for the beauty in the world. He [once] said, ‘Do you think the sky tastes like blue cheese?’ I think about that every time I look up at the sky too. I just think of him and smile.”
For more information on Lincolnland Hospice bereaverment counseling services, call Lincolnland Hospice of Sarah Bush Lincoln at 1-800-454-4055.