by Laura Crum
This is going to be a short, sad, somewhat bitter, and unsettling random post. Don’t read it if you don’t like the sound of that.
Since my husband died I have had so many people talk/write to me about how they can’t imagine what I’m going through, and referring to my “unimaginable” loss. I know they mean well. But lately a certain bitter truth keeps trying to jump out of my mouth. So here goes.
Imagine it, people. Because you will be faced with it. If you love someone, either you or that someone will inevitably be facing what I am facing now—some day or other. The pain of loss is part of this mortal life. Most of us have lost loved dogs and horses and understand that grief. But some day you will lose your husband or wife or child or much-loved person of some sort, and/or they will lose you, and this pain will be your/their lot, as it is now my lot.
I’m not sure why I want to say this. I only know that it keeps coming up for me, so I decided to put it out there. I loved and still love my husband very much. I always understood that death is part of life. I’m coping with the pain as well as I can, doing the things that need to be done so my son’s life and our critter’s lives can go on. I think it would be even worse for me if I had somehow been blind to this inevitable ending of the mortal life and felt unjustly cheated. As if my husband wasn’t supposed to die.
But I know that we all die. And none of us know when we will die. We, or our loved others, could die tomorrow. Including our much-loved horses and dogs and cats. This is the way it is. Best to be clear. Possibly best if you imagine it ahead of time. Because Andy and I did some practical things based on our clarity that we might die that are definitely a help to me now. And, as I said, despite how desperately I miss him, I am spared that angry, I’ve-been-cheated feeling. Because I did and do understand that we are not in any way guaranteed any special length of life. I am grateful for the years we had together. I am grateful for the happiness we shared and the family we became. I will allways love him. I will always miss him. I truly believe his spirit watches over me and our son. And death is part of life. So imagine it.
You are so right and I do imagine it, all the time. Pretty freaking amazing and terrifying. Every day is precious, period.
Good vibes sent your way
Laura, I'm not sure if the people actually mean it's unimaginable to them, or if they really mean that they don't WANT to imagine it. No one does. But you're right, this existence ends and we don't know when. I don't think I've actually imagined my life without my hubby, but I've told myself that if it happened I'd be okay. And you're also right that even if you don't WANT to imagine it, you should prepare for it, for everyone in your house.
Sending you warm thoughts.
In my experience, I feel like the ability to realize that life is not forever is only after the first loss of someone really important. I mean, I knew death was inevitable, but it was only after my mother (who was my very best friend) died that it really hit me: we are well and truly mortal. Maybe I was naiive, or it was because I'd only spent 25 years on this Earth, but that was when I really knew that death touches everyone. And I do think about death more now, and feel more prepared: my husband and I have made plans, and I've even had quite a few talks with my Dad about his plans. In some ways I wish I could go back to that person who couldn't imagine death and loved ones dying. Thank you for writing this very real post...and sending you lots of hugs from here in North Carolina.
You're totally right, but it's still such a difficult thing to imagine. And when it finally happens, you know there's no way to imagine that feeling of being kicked in the gut and having all the air sucked out of you at the same time.
You were very fortunate to have each other, even if it wasn't long enough.
Since no one can really know how another person feels, especially when they are experiencing the depths of grief, maybe what was meant by "unimaginable" was "I acknowledge I can't understand exactly how this is impacting you - exactly how you're feeling, or what you may want and need from me in terms of support - but please know I realize it's tremendously difficult and painful, and I'm here for you."
Perhaps it was said in reference to and out of respect for your individual feelings. I suspect most of us have imagined the loss of loved ones, but no one wants to dwell on such thoughts, but rather be here in the moment to appreciate what we have.
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