Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sudden death

Mary, I can't get it off my mind how different the experience of loss is for those who get whacked by the surprise of sudden death of a spouse and those who get to say good-bye. My thoughts go back to what I wrote in our book about Joan Didion whose husband died right before her eyes while she was making dinner. Another story I recall is a neighbor whose husband had a heart attack while they were making the bed together. She thought he was joking. How does anyone survive that shock?

I remember when I was in my bereavement group. The people––men as well as women––fell into three different groups: those who had someone wiped out in a moment, those who had a tolerable time to say good-bye (like me)  and, finally, those who kept care of a spouse for years and years, and while they grieved as much as anyone, nevertheless, had reached a point of relief that had been a long time coming. Not surprising, we were often almost talking past each other, the experiences were so different. 

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