My wife died from cancer! How do I go on?

My name is Michael Stalter and my wife, Mary, died from breast cancer January 6, 2008. As she was in the hospital for the last time I came face to face with all the different scenarios that Mary and I had talked about since she was first diagnosed with cancer back in 1990. We had tried to plan for the day when I would leave the hospital without her and how I should go on with my life and how I should finish raising our children, Tom 18, and Sarah who had turned 13 the day before.

The last good conversation that Mary and I had a couple of days before she made that last trip to the hospital, she had told me that I needed to find someone and to be happy, because she had seen how hard it was on me losing my dad 4 months earlier to a heart attack. She also said she knew how hard it would be on me to lose her and that the kids also needed a mother, especially Sarah. However, we had also talked about other things before that, what to do about raising the kids, how to survive financially, and what to do for her funeral.

Mary had wanted a closed casket; she didn’t want people to remember how the cancer had made her look. She wanted people to remember her from her pre-cancer days or to remember her for her smile or to remember her for many other reasons than what the cancer had transformed her into. So my first priority was to have a funeral that she wanted but that was also what Tom and Sarah felt comfortable with. Mary had felt very embarrassed and humiliated about what the cancer had done to her body. I was going to protect her until we laid her to rest and I did. I was a Rottweiler on guard duty and I was rude to a few people who came early to the visitation while family members were viewing Mary.

About 3 months after Mary died, I felt it was time to start working on the other thing Mary had told me to do. I needed to find someone for myself and a new mom for my kids. There were no guides or manuals or books that I could find to help lead me in this task Mary had set for me. I was in a haze and I thought if I did what I was told to do like I had for the last 23 years of married life, things would be fine. This wasn’t going to be the case! Mary was wrong in not telling me to wait until I was out of the haze of her and dad’s death. She was right in her goal but neither she nor I realized that I needed to have a grief-less mind before I started on this task!

I made the biggest and most humiliating mistake of my life. I met and married someone 18 months after Mary died. Most people would say that 18 months isn’t too soon to remarry after the death of a spouse and I would agree. However, the mistakes I made were not listening to friends who said I had picked someone who didn’t match me, someone who was so different from Mary that it wouldn’t work, someone who had too many red flags for me. After being married for 13 months I asked for a divorce. I felt ashamed, humiliated, and embarrassed because of this failure.

My name is Michael Stalter, and I wrote a book about my wife’s 17 ½ year battle with breast cancer and the 4 years since her death. I talk about these issues and many more that a couple has to deal with when the wife has cancer. I hope that I can save other men, their children, family, and friends from my mistakes by telling my story. I have a driving hope that I will one day find that right woman to share my life with and I now know how to do it after failing once.

About the Author
Mike was born and raised in Pontiac, Illinois; he graduated from Illinois State University in December of 1982. Mike worked for his father in the family business while growing up and all through college. He learned to operate heavy equipment, bulldozers, backhoes and excavators, working on farm drainage projects. He met his future wife, Mary, in May of 1983 and they were married in January of 1985. After getting married, Mike went back to Illinois State University to earn his teaching certificate, becoming a Social Studies teacher. His first teaching job was teaching inmates at the maximum security prison in Pontiac, Illinois, in May of 1987. After teaching inmates for almost 2 years, Mike was promoted into the Business Office as the Business Manager, where he stayed for the rest of his career in Corrections. Mike took advantage of an early retirement buyout in 2004, leaving as the Chief Fiscal Officer of the Pontiac Correctional Center. Taking the early retirement buyout due to Mary’s long battle with breast cancer, Mike returned to teaching in the public schools, after dealing with his father’s death, Mary’s death and a failed second marriage. Mike took the advice of some friends and decided to write a book on his experience of being married to a woman for 23 years who fought a 17½-year battle with breast cancer and the struggles he has had in the 4 years since Mary’s death. With the encouragement of his 2 children, Tom and Sarah, Mike has written a heart-felt book titles Still Have Faith, on what he experienced over this time period. His hope is to help others understand the struggles associated with having a loved one fight against a terminal illness. Mike also hopes to raise awareness for the caregivers of terminally ill people and the jobs they do. This is a story about a husband’s emotions, feelings, and struggles in dealing with his wife’s 17½ year battle with breast cancer and the 4 years since her death. Over this time period Mike had to deal with the deaths of other family members, raising his two children, his relationship with God, and rebuilding his life. It is a very compelling story written from a man’s perspective on how men think and feel in a very down-to-Earth style like it is being told to the reader by a friend. For every book sold $1 will be donated to cancer research.
I'm Grieving, Now What?