Husband Lost His Job, I Am Tired and ... - SHARE Metastatic ...

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Husband Lost His Job, I Am Tired and Stressed


You'd think that having mbc puts all of life's negotiable woes into perspective. I've been doing pretty well with that, and focusing on not letting the crap of life take it's toll. Having cancer makes us see pretty clearly that other "stuff" is merely details. My husband lost his job a few weeks ago. He is 60, I am almost 65, so he has longer to go before he can fully retire. He was the primary breadwinner by far. Our mortgage is only half paid for, we are late bloomers and bought a house 15 years ago. I insure us all (husband, son, myself). I hadn't planned on working more than another few years. Who knows if I'll still be here, but I was hoping for a few years of retirement. Being free of the alarm clock and stress of work. I have tried really hard to be upbeat about his job loss, not to pressure him, to encourage him to meet with friends and acclimate to his new status of unemployed. Today I came home from work, and he rattled off a list of what I had to do to so we can figure out what we are going to do. Then he told me about his idea to flip houses --the man can't change a light bulb. He knows nothing about selling real estate or construction. It unhinged me, because I cannot bear the stress of all these financial changes and listening to him go on about a high risk scheme that he has no expertise in. I am trying really hard not to stress out. We are not broke, but things will have to change. I feel trapped. Like I'll have to work until I get too sick to work to keep it all going. I apologize for whining. People have it worse. Lots of people don't have our savings. But our savings won't bail us out of all the changes headed our way. I don't know how I can handle all this. If I didn't have cancer, it would be a lot different. I think I could handle his moods, flights of fancy, and giving me a laundry list of what I need to do. I know I will ultimately do what I have to do, but right now I am feeling sorry for myself and stressed. Thanks for reading. Just had to vent.

23 Replies


You have every reason to feel stressed and upset about what's going on in your life right now. I don't think it is selfish to say this, but I really feel that when we are faced with cancer we deserve to be cared for and to have some of the weight of our responsibilities shared by others in our family.

It sounds like your husband is looking for ways to make money though, which is good. But it may not be feasible, as you say he does not have experience in doing up houses and selling them on. Could he perhaps look into getting a part-time job, if full-time employment is not available? At least then there would be an extra income coming in. How about seasonal work in the run up to the holidays? I don't know what the retirement age in America is, but are you eligible to retire soon? Have you thought about downsizing? It might help to move into a smaller property with fewer running costs.

I was also thinking about what you said about how your husband has a list of things for you to do when you get home from work. I would talk to him about that and tactfully remind him that you have been out at work all day so need time to rest when you get home, even more so than someone without a chronic illness to deal with. I don't think it's a lot to ask him to prepare the dinner, do the laundry or take care of other tasks that need doing around the house. That would help take the burden off you and allow you to spend the evenings resting, which is so important. I don't see rest as a luxury anymore, but as a necessity so I can carry on and not burn out.

I hope that things improve for you and that some of the worry and stress you have been feeling will soon be gone.

Take care,

Sophie x

Hidden in reply to SophSP


My original reply to you got lost. Thank you for taking the time to reflect on my dilemma. I think when my husband gets stressed he goes into “project” mode and treats me like one of his staff. I tend to react very strongly to this and it ends badly. I did tell him to be careful about creating more stress for me. He is doing things around the house, and is ok with a bowl of cereal for dinner. Honestly some days I come home so tired. I too place a premium on rest. I cannot afford to get run down. So I have become protective of my down time. In the US you can retire on social security at 62. He is slated to reach full social security age at just under age 67. If you go out at 62 you get less. We have no national health care so you can go on Medicare at 65 or disability earlier. Usually you have to buy supplemental insurance. People with good pension benefits, usually govt workers, get supplemental health insurance benefits to go with Medicare. We don’t have that luxury. Since he is only 60, he has to figure out what to do until retirement. He is covered under my health plan at work. So how long do I work to cover him? I also really like my house. As long as I work nearby I’d like to live here. Prices for a rental or a smaller place would be about the same as my mortgage unless we left the area. Details. I feel less stressed today and will take on one thing at a time. Ok, maybe two things. I appreciate your taking the time to support me. Although we don’t know one another, I think being on this board means we know a lot about one another in a way that our best friends can’t possibly know. Thanks!

SophSP in reply to Hidden

Hi Nrocks,

You're welcome! I'm glad you are feeling less stressed about things. It sounds like your husband needs to get his head around things and the change in circumstances. It must have come as such a shock to lose his job. It's not like a generation or two ago where you left school, walked straight into a job and stayed put until retirement. I hope he manages to find something else soon so that you can have some of the pressure of being the main breadwinner taken off your shoulders.

I remember my husband telling me about being able to retire early at 62. He's American, from Montana originally. I lived in America with him for 7 years, first in North Carolina and then in California. We moved back to the UK in 2012.

I also agree with how we get to know one another, even though we do not know each other in person. I tend to keep a lot from family and friends, as they just don't understand what having metastatic breast cancer is like. If I do say something, I feel I have to explain everything and I don't always feel like doing that!

Take care and happy Wednesday!

Sophie x

HiYou really don’t deserve to be stressed at this time in your life..I’m sorry to hear about your hubbys job loss and his ideas of what he wants to do

Have you told him how you feel that it’s a bad idea and you don’t want to be worried about this

You need to be focused on you!!.. selfish as it sounds

I always try to look at this sort of problem from the other side do you think he would feel if he had our disease and you were planning on a new career with no guarantee of success?..

I know I’m no help but I’ll keep you in my thoughts

I know this is a cliche but things often do turn out ok and if not then worrying won’t help..remember 99% of the things we worry might happen..never do happen

Barb xx

Hidden in reply to Barbteeth

You are right, Barb. Things work out and spinning our wheels is most often for naught. We need to stay calm and come up with a plan. I don’t know how he’d be if he was dealing with this lousy disease. I just hope his health holds up. I did tell him he had to take care not to dump on me. Losing your long time job at 60 is tough. He has to rethink who he is and how he moves forward. Thanks for responding and being supportive. Only we know the stress of our new normal.

I am so sorry you have this added stress. I love reading your posts because they are always full of good thoughts and advice and uplifting so it makes me sad that you are dealing with this. I think most of us would be as frustrated as you are. Sounds like what I call " a come to Jesus meeting " is required. I am not sure how he can expect you to do this laundry list of things when you are working at he is at home. Sometimes I wonder about men. My boss who is also a good friend deals with the same things. I think our men rely on us so much to run the household and figure things out and forget that we are dealing with cancer and sometimes just taking over and doing the littlest things are a huge relief for us. I am glad we have this site to vent and get support from those of us who understand what you are going through. Hang in there my friend. Sending love and hugs your way.


Hidden in reply to Kimr2081

Thanks Kim. I think you’re right about men. Most don’t multitask and most women do. Most couldn’t handle how much we endure and how much we do at once. Thank you, i am glad I found this site. It is a lifesaver. I feel I am with “my people,” women who know what this is like. The empathy is comforting. Even though his job loss does not fall under cancer, it certainly is one more thing to add to the sh;t pile. Thanks for “listening” and being there for me.

Always there for you!! You have provided me much inspiration and I thank your from the bottom of my pea picking heart.

First, take a deep breath then exhale and breathe. It’s essential. I assure you I am on passage with you on that same boat. Just a different age range. We just turned 48 this year. We are only 9 years into our mortgage. Because it’s been so long our savings has been depleted. I am too sick to return to work and for that matter so is my husband. He has very bad neuropathy pain and tremors like a Parkinson’s patient. Because there is so much we cannot change we must accept that. With that breathing comes easier. Our home is essential but it doesn’t mean if we need to we won’t sell. I say my life is worth living and will take the necessary steps to continue that. As I know you will too. It’s okay to be sad, mad and sorry for yourself. It might be that motivation you need to make the changes you need to.

The best of wishes and best of luck to you and your family. You will pull through everything the way it was meant to be. One step at a time.

Hidden in reply to Ibelong

Of course you are right. That would be the first thing a meditation teacher would tell you, to breathe. I am humbled by your story. Perhaps the only solution to such “challenges” is to become stronger. To ride the wave. I have a magnet on my refrigerator “Let go or be dragged.” Not so easy to move forward from the illusion of permanence and safety. I have been trying to break my pattern of needing to fix everything all at once. One step. My mantra for now. Thanks and my best to you and your husband.

I could say snap. My husband is also 60 and was made redundant this month. I expected it, he didn't. He has always been the main bread winner in our house but I also work full time. Since learning about his redundancy he has come up with all sorts of bizarre ideas about what to do next. I think it's just shock and panic. He's worked for the same company for 27 years and thought they couldn't manage without him.

I am taking a deep breath and just calmly saying no to him investing his redundancy pay in schemes that will not work. I'm not being negative, just sensible. He is not a sales man and ill health and lack of qualifications means that he would struggle to renovate houses to sell for profit - yes he has the same idea as your husband - perhaps it's the age.

I'm younger than my husband and my job is my sanity, that's where I go to escape. As others have said a deep calming breath does wonders. There is always a solution to every problem, just not always easy to see. I'm sure when the shock has worn off my husband will start thinking sensibly about what to do next, I'm sure yours will to, just give him a little time to get his feet back on the ground, don't agree to anything that you feel isn't right and don't let him stress you out in the mean time - it's not good for us! 🙂

Ps my husband is as likely to fly to the moon as do the housework! He's an engineer but gets confused by the washing machine!

Hidden in reply to Julie2233

Double snap! How uncanny our stories are so similar. You are wise and have a good read on the situation. My husband was in systems projects for an investment firm. Guess who set up the home network. Yes, this English major turned nurse. I am extricating myself from his tangled web of reaction and unrealistic frantic “solutions.” Thanks for your calming post. It is hard for me not to react but it is also depleting and pointless . Good luck to both of us!

I was “downsized” at 60 too! There should be a law to protect those who have worked all their lives for a company only to be abandoned at the magic age of 60. Too young for social security and too old to find a good paying job. And here we are in our golden years facing these challenges. It is my hope your husband may find a job where can use the wealth of knowledge he has such as IT consultant. My thoughts are with you both.


Thanks, Tam. I agree that it is blatant ageism and a way to get rid of older, probably more highly paid, workers. Trying to prove it is daunting, as most corporations can outspend and outlast you in court. Also, if they give severance, you will lose it. This mbc life has made me much more aware of this kind of social injustice. Once the dust settles, he will find something. Even if something at a store or other part time work. Besides the financial aspect of it, he is not ready to stay home indefinitely. The other day I came home to him in his PJs and I told him this is not a good message to send yourself. I am sorry you lost your job. It is tough to fill in the gap between 60 and full social security. I hope u got severance. What are your plans going forward? Sounds like not only ageism, but violation of Americans with Disabilities Act. That’s the one I’m going to pull out of my hat if they sideline me.

Dearest, N,

So sorry to read your post this morning. I am sure that I am probably echoing all of the earlier replies to your story: The last thing your husband needs to drop into your lap right now is "trying something new" in his own life. Is there some reason he can't simply go out and apply for a "normal" job. My first instinct is to suggest that he try career counseling to steer him toward job opportunities in your area. I'm assuming he is now getting unemployment compensation. That can last a long time as long as the recipient is making legitimate efforts to find work.

Is he open to a heart-to-heart discussion about your stress level? If not, then I'd suggest that YOU seek counseling for your own well being. Everyone here supports you and prays for your physical and emotional health! Please stay resolute about what you need to reduce the anxiety and stress in your life. You are in my heart and prayers!

XXOO Linda

Hidden in reply to SeattleMom

Thank you, SeattleMom. I do go to therapy although I’m taking a little vacation from it now. I am setting boundaries of what and how he can discuss this situation with me. I feel better thanks to you all. I tend to get myself into a tizzy initially and then take a calmer, more thoughtful look at it. He will be going to an outplacement company for career help. You are right, we all have to protect ourselves from stress and set boundaries with people. Sometimes I think others forget that we are working hard to stay on this planet. Along with all the other stuff we have to do, we have to always advocate for ourselves. Thanks for your prayers. They are working!

as dear abby would say - maybe have a glass of wine and show him this post. and say you wrote it and really need to talk through this. i think husbands don't get that we are changed now...and we are not the super powers we have been thru the years... (i might delete the part about him not knowing how to change a i just think you should speak your mind, even if you are scared. keep in mind he is probably scared to death too, but can't articulate it... i am in the middle of a house staging - because i am making some downsize and simplifications to my life! - but i will write more after we list and i have time to sit around and wait for offers:) hang in there baby. friday's coming!! and remember to breathe deeply ten minutes a day. it is all gonna be fine!

Hidden in reply to kit5

You know,kit5, it will be fine. It’s ironic how I go on about my Interest in Buddhism, and then in a pinch it all goes out the window and it’s Henny Penny running around waiting for the sky to cave in. It is almost Friday and next week is a short week for me at work. And I will have that glass of wine and laugh at the universe. It certainly has been able to laugh at me. I still have a pulse and those 10 minutes a day make a big difference. Good luck with staging your house. I’m gonna cling to mine for a while. Thanks!

Nrock’s- You have been an inspiration to me through many of your posts. Thank you for your frank honesty and clear vision of how things are at the present moment. I am not great at opening up - like who cares a flying-fig what I say or think? - so I’m particularly grateful for the posts of all your “Sisters” who have provided wisdom and empathy beyond my capabilities. May peace be the strongest force in your life today.


4th Time. Don’t ever underestimate yourself or your power. Sometimes when I read about how my posts seem helpful and lucid I ask myself, are they talking about me? Your post was kind and loving, and that’s the best thing anybody can share. Thanks 💕

First, I want to send you a giant hug. I always get sicker when I get kicked while already down and I've learned over time that my health has to come first sometimes, even when it feels like everything is falling down around me. Second, we did the flipping thing...once. Never, ever again. You need health and wealth to flip houses because it is the most stressful thing we've ever done. Thirdly, and some may laugh, but learn to meditate. I poo-pooed it for a long time but once I decided to try it, I was amazed at how much it helped me cope. I use the app, headspace, everyday. I cope better, sleep better and am finding I relax easier.

Oh, and when hubby gives you YOUR list, tell him he should get right on that before he gets behind (kindly of course)!!

Best of luck! Another hug. Donna

MY list, of course! Thanks for the cyber hug. I am totally not knowledgeable about real estate, flipping, financial things, but I can see it is a big gamble and a big money pit and people like my husband, who think they can hire people to do everything and make a profit will learn a hard lesson. We can't afford that now. The last few years I have looked into meditation, and Buddhism, and have found comfort in both. You are so right about meditation helping you feel stronger, healthier and able to cope. I tuned in to Kris Carr's Cancer Summit last week and heard about scientific evidence that shows changes on a cellular level with both stress and meditation. Advocates of meditation have always said it, but there is scientific evidence that stress can destroy you at the cellular level and meditation can heal at the cellular level. I have to make it a daily practice, and not just a salve for stressful. I listen to Tara Brach and Pema Chodron and it really helps. Thanks again, Donna.

Thanks for more meditation ideas. I've just recently started but definitely feel that cellular level improvement you mentioned. Daily has become a must for me as well. Let's hang in there together.

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