The ‘closest’ person to me to have died was my father. However, ‘close’ is a relative word as, up to his death in the early 1980’s, I had seen the man fewer times than the number of fingers on my hands.
Harry Mac, as we affectionately called him, was an ex’s father and was more of a Dad to me than my own. He made his transition in the 1990’s. Publicly, I was stoic and, along with my ex, we planned and hosted the memorial to celebrate his life. Privately, I mourned with a passion so deep it was unspeakable.
The death of a spouse I have never experienced.
As the now late Mrs. Mac mourned the loss of her husband and for a very long time, I became somewhat impatient with her demands. Not yet trained in chaplaincy, having not witnessed and stood in the gap with persons mourning the passing of their loved ones, my thought was “Enough already!”
She was reaching out to fill a void – 30 years of togetherness with one man – but it was one that truly no other person can step into, not completely. Although they could not, she tried to get her children, particularly the younger one – my ex – to try. That was what made me impatient and even angry at times.
Changed Relationship With Death
My relationship with death has changed very much over the years. More so since the first publication of this post a few years ago. I have moved from fear, bordering on major panic attack should a hearse drive by and impatience for those needing ‘a long’ time to mourn.
The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. Mark Twain
Today, thankfully, I have learned the lessons of grief and comfort. My training in inter-faith chaplaincy, particularly my experience observing a multiple heart bypass surgery and not seeing ‘the soul’, preparing bodies in the morgue of the hospital for family viewing and private farewells, along with my very personal spiritual journey have taught me compassion and patience with others’ experience of grieving.
Death is no longer something that I am afraid of and I understand much better the meaning of loss of a loved one, albeit not a spouse. Yet I continue to struggle with the word “loss” and much prefer “transition” as death to me is not a loss but a movement. This is all “simple” for me to say, having not had a spouse transition. So I turn the question over to you.
Have you had this intimate experience of the “movement” of a spouse into the other realm? How did you cope? What is the most important suggestion you would give to someone having this experience now?
It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things. Lemony Snicket
Death is one of the life challenges, paradoxically, that can either open us or close us to living even more fully. So, please share your thoughts and your wisdom in the comment section below, as well, consider joining our community by subscribing. You will receive my monthly newsletter as well as Weekday Wisdom© which is a daily motivational email sent to you every Monday through Friday.
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