ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FROM A GRIEF SUPPORT MEMBER
Ann’s husband passed away in October of 2010 and she wanted to share her experiences to help others. If you have lost a spouse or know someone who has, please click on the following links for insights from Ann.
WHAT EVERY COUPLE NEEDS TO DISCUSS
Fortunately, Pete and I discussed funeral arrangements about six months before he died. We just happened to talk about it, even though we were looking ahead to retirement together. I knew his wishes and he knew mine. We both wanted cremation. I didn’t know that before our talk. Neither of us went to cemeteries and we didn’t want to take up space. It suited us. It needs to suit you. Some find comfort at the gravesite with their loved one. Talk about this topic, death comes sooner than you expect.
Having a life insurance policy on both of you is smart and practical. They aren’t just for funeral expenses which run $10,000 and over, but for the roof that needs to get replaced or the appliance that dies or helping your kids with their education and the list goes on. It is sad to hear of the widow that has to move because she can’t make the mortgage payment plus all the other bills on one salary. I am grateful that Pete secured our future.
Learn what each of you does around the house, inside and outside, so “when” the time comes, you will be more ready to deal with the many challenges that come your way. I learned about reset buttons after Pete’s death. It isn’t difficult to reset an outlet so the appliances work again; you just have to know where they are and do it. We had to have our sewer pumped and locating the area to dig was a lot of work. Now we have a collar or lid and will never need to dig again in 90 degree weather. This list goes on too, from food preparation to laundry, bills, taxes etc. Know what your spouse does, and practice doing it while you both are alive.
Cherish each other daily. I wish I had a second chance to love Pete better. God gave me a priceless gift. Take time from your busy lives to slow down and talk and cuddle and hold hands. Nothing is more important than the ones you love. There will always be problems, pray about them together. Live by the Serenity Prayer, “God give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. “ ~Ann
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW WHEN SOMEONE YOU LOVE DIES
My husband died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 56. My world dramatically changed forever. As I look back over the first year, I see myself dealing with his death on four levels.
First, of course, was the grief. Dealing with the sorrow and loss was overwhelming at times. I had my families (mine and his), close friends, my church family, neighbors offering condolences and help, and my faith in God to see me through this difficult time. Whatever you imagine the loss of a spouse to be like, is nowhere near the reality. You have to experience it to really understand it. Plus, each person’s experience is unique to their circumstances. I was blessed to have people surround me who cared and wanted to help. I just had to ask.
I was working full time and the mother of two children, ages 14 and 19. Besides these “jobs” I was also dealing with the paperwork that comes with death, which is the next layer. It seemed to go on forever and was squeezed in between my other responsibilities. I can’t count the number of appointments I had with our insurance agent, as we changed beneficiaries and made other changes. I also saw our lawyer to revise our will. The list continued as the name on the papers went from Ann & Pete to Ann. Each change brought tears and the continued reality that Pete wasn’t coming back.
The third reality layer is all the firsts without your loved one. Pete died Oct. 16, 2010. We always carved pumpkins for Halloween, but that did not happen. We were supposed to have his family over for Thanksgiving, but that also changed. I was only able to stay for a couple hours at his sister’s house before I had to leave because being there without Pete was unbearable. We got our Christmas tree much later than usual and managed through a quiet holiday. You soon realize there is a holiday every month plus birthdays and of course the wedding anniversary. Again, we were blessed to have people call, visit, send cards, and pray for us. This all helped.
The last layer is dealing with the practical everyday things that go wrong. The garage door didn’t work, the garbage disposal stopped working, the door handle wouldn’t turn and the list goes on. I had to ask for help and learn how to do many things.
How did I get through this? Prayer, family, friends, and reading materials on grief helped me. I also saw a grief counselor, joined a grief group, allowed myself to take an anti-depressant, and lived in the present moment. Going back doesn’t help unless you are reliving pleasant memories. Worrying about the future isn’t helpful either. God will see you through any difficulty, if you let Him. ~Ann