- It is not the same as an elder.
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Just before the holidays, I suffered the pain of losing my spouse due to complications resulting from COPD, something she suffered with over the last few years. I cannot begin to describe the incredible pain my family experienced as a result of her passing as it is very personal. I have attended a lot of family funerals over the years, including both pairs of grandparents, a set of great-grandparents, and my father. As much as we mourned their passing, it was somehow to be expected. The passing of a spouse though is different.
One of the first things I observed was the outpouring of sympathy and love by our friends, family, and the community during this terrible hour. We were overwhelmed. As a young man, I learned, "We enjoy life through the help and society of others." This was particularly true since we lost my wife. People were very kind.
From this experience, I have learned there really is a lot of love out there among us, but we have somehow forgotten how to express it. It's a shame we have to wait for tragedy to strike to express our feelings. Love represents such things as acceptance, affection and belonging. When you think about it, we all crave love but are either clumsy or mute in how to express it. There is nothing wrong with a hug, a handshake, a slap on the back, possibly a gentle kiss, or a word of kindness now and then. We, as human-beings, all need it. Just reach out and tell someone how you feel about them; take nothing for granted.
Since my wife's passing, we have been on an emotional roller coaster. I think I've experienced just about everything;
* Denial, that she is gone. I still expect her to be there when I come home, with all her breathing tubes and medicine. In the morning, I used to prepare her medication, her breathing treatment, and her breakfast. I would also pick her a hibiscus flower for her in the morning and set it on the table to brighten her day. She was my delicate flower. Since her passing, I wanted to just hold her hand and talk with her again. I found myself even going into her closet to smell her clothes, just for the memory.
* I also experienced guilt, that I could have done something more in those last few moments, an image which will forever haunt me, but I felt so helpless. I felt like I let her down.
* I even felt a little anger; that she would leave me so suddenly. We all knew her day would come, but we weren't prepared for it so soon. I always thought it should be the husband who passes first.
* In the end, I finally came to the conclusion that it was her time. That her lungs and heart had been through enough. And so, reluctantly, I had to accept she was gone.
Yes, her passing still hurts, but I am starting to figure a few things out; three things in particular:
First, I have learned how frail we are as human beings, both emotionally and physically. So it is important we enjoy every moment God has given us and take nothing for granted. It's the little things in life that are more important than material possessions. For example, I always enjoyed giving her a kiss in the morning, and before going to bed. I still pick a hibiscus for her every morning. And I relished our talks, particularly this past year, and we laughed together, a lot.
Second, I have learned why the emotional pain hurts so much. As I mentioned, the passing of a spouse is different than someone from the family tree. If you have a strong marriage, you become one. Allow me to explain:
As a notary public, I have married a few people over the years. Before doing so, I admonish them that marriage is like dancing the Tango. "It takes two to Tango," and it's a matter of the couple working together as a team, both equals, in a spirit of cooperation, give and take. And if you do it right, it's a beautiful dance; so is a marriage. And when your spouse passes, you are actually losing a piece of yourself, which explains why the pain is so hurtful.
As part of this, I have learned no matter what you do to help or comfort your partner towards the end, I can assure you it's never enough, and you will beat yourself up over it. I know I have.
And third, I have come to the conclusion the pain never goes away; it never subsides; you just have to learn to live with it. There is no magic pill to get you through this, and sometimes you just have to take the pain; plain and simple.
I want to thank those of you for your kindness over our family's tragedy. I cannot believe the overwhelming outpouring of sympathy expressed through cards, calls, and social media comments. I hope I can repay you someday. You really are special people, and I want you to know how much your love has affected us, and the spirit of my wife.
God bless you all, and goodnight my D.F.
Keep the Faith!
P.S. - Also do not forget my books, "How to Run a Nonprofit" and "Tim's Senior Moments", both available in Printed and eBook form. Great holiday gifts!
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Tim Bryce is an author, freelance writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
For Tim's columns, see: timbryce.com
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