The very word “widow” sounds sere, old and sour like a glass of bad lemonade. It’s not a term I would ever have thought of using to describe myself. Divorcee has some glamour, married has the feel of comfort and contentment, single is ripe with possibilities. Widow and widower sound like the final, sad end of a life.
I suppose I should download the Kubler Ross book for Kindle so I can make sure to go through the expected stages of grief in the correct order and in an appropriate manner. Right now I’m clearly in denial, as I can’t quite grasp that he’s never, ever coming home and I’ll never, ever see or touch him again. My worst moments are those where I’m forced to confront the finality of what has happened. Earlier today, planning the funeral and hearing that his body had been delivered; bad; handing over the clothes he’ll be buried in; worse.
My coping mechanism is to be busy, find a task, act useful; be the good girl who gets things done. At the hospital, meeting with doctors and fighting to get him on the transplant list, I so wanted to be the best possible advocate for him, to be so good and so rational and so helpful that the doctors would just choose to give him the transplant no matter what. In the back of my mind I thought that maybe, just maybe if I was very good and very smart I could make the right things happen just by dint of my hard work. I wanted everyone on my side. Despite all my hard work, he still died.
I don’t think there’s any “good” death. The long, slow drawn out deaths from cancer give everyone a chance to say goodbye and to get ready, but they can also devastate a family’s finances. People lose jobs from taking too much time off, and they go bankrupt trying to find a cure. The long disease period can cause so much stress that by the time the death finally happens the other partner is almost relieved, which can leave a lot of guilt. The fast, unexpected death is horrible because it is so unexpected, and most of us aren’t all that tidy in how we manage our lives. So you leave for work snapping at your spouse about something small and petty, and that’s the last the last interaction you ever have with them, which can leave feelings that you wasted what time you had.
In my case, my husband went several years undiagnosed with a disease. During those years he changed physically, emotionally, and behaviorally. Our marriage underwent a lot of strain. When he was finally diagnosed it was too late to do anything. Within 10 days of being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease he was in the hospital, and he never came home. I was able to spend time with him, to somewhat get used to an empty and lonely house, and to be with him when he died. I wasn’t able to talk with him, or to have him participate in the any of the decisions that were made. It was better than it could have been, but so much worse than it should have been. I feel like those teary faced kids who say “but – it’s not fair!”. It wasn’t fair. And there’s nothing I can do.