Piece 4

​I remember the night my husband passed and I felt the pain for the first time. I had been feeling pain in my heart prior as I watched him slowly succumb to the disease, but it was bearable. Bearable in the slightest sense of the term, but I was able to keep moving. When he left me though, I was stunned with pain. I felt as if I was simultaneously getting ripped apart from my core and hit by a train. December 8th will forever be the most devastating day of my life.
I want to talk about it.
I returned from dinner with my parents and the nurse met me at the front desk. My husband and I, and our dogs, were living at the hospice house in his final days. I remember my heart racing and my limbs feeling cold. I know she tried to be as relaxed as possible, but I could see it in her eyes that something was different. “I need to talk to you.” That ominous phrase, in my life, has proven to always be a precursor to anything bad. I quiver when I hear that phrase.

“OK, is everything alright?” I asked though I was barely able to get the words out. My breathing quickened.

“I just need you to know that I have noticed a change in your husband.” At this point we had reached the room and she walked me over to his bed. Her brow furrowed and tears swelled in my eyes.

“He’s getting closer. We are seeing the signs.”

I can tell you right now, no matter how prepared you think you are, no matter how long you and your spouse have been living with the understanding that their cancer is terminal and they will pass away in the near future, you will never actually be prepared when the healthcare professionals around you confirm that your spouse is dying. I was quickly wiping away tears and stood up straighter as though I was trying to strengthen my wrenching soul with my spine.

“It is difficult to tell with younger people because we know their hearts are stronger, but I think it may either be tonight or tomorrow.”
It being my husband leaving me for the rest of my life. It being me torn away from my person. It being the end. The end of everything of our life together in the physical world.

So I responded, riddled with anxiety, and shaking at that point, “OK.”

“I’m so sorry,” she responded, “call us if you need us.” I thanked the nurse and she left the room. I realized I had to quickly wrap my mind around all of this. Instead of sleeping on the window bench as I had been, I moved the recliner chair up close to his bed. That night, I sat vigil by his bedside, waiting for the worst pain of my life.

I allowed myself to sleep in 10 minute increments only because I remembered someone once mentioning to me that spouses usually don’t want the other to see them pass, so they wait until the other isn’t paying attention. I didn’t want Chris to hold on longer than he had to because, while I couldn’t bear the thought of him leaving me, I also couldn’t bear for him to suffer any longer. So I allowed those increments of sleep just in case. When I was awake, I kept repeating myself to him. “I love you, my love. I will be OK, you may go in peace, love. Don’t be afraid to go.”

I tried to stay as calm as possible. I know he knew I wasn’t actually going to be OK, but I had hoped me trying to reassure him would make him feel a little better. “I want you to know that I forgive you for anything and I pray you forgive me.” Even though he couldn’t speak, I could see his eyes squint and I knew he was saying yes. That is one of the most important things I said to him before he left. I thank God I remembered to say it. Forgiving for everything was just a way of saying “I love you” in a deeper form. That’s how God loves us. That’s how he calls us to love each other too. We forgive each other because we love each other in the deepest way.

I was praying throughout the night too. I begged God to take him peacefully. For him to feel no fear, no pain, no stress of any kind. I prayed and prayed… Blaze jumped up in my lap and I hugged him close as we sat there by Chris’ bed. He relaxed me as I pet his back and we sat there for a little while. Then it happened.

Chris’ breathing quickened and then slowed, and then he gasped for air a few times. I sensed it was time and got up off the chair. I was trembling and I couldn’t control my tears, but I kept my voice as calm as I possibly could and said my last words to him, “I love you. I will be OK. Go in peace, love. Go in peace.”

And he went. He took his last breath and his soul slipped from his body.

I was numb at first. I knew there was some importance to knowing a patient’s time of death, so the part of my brain that was logical and rational made me immediately tremble down the hallway to the front desk to alert the nurses. I could have pressed the call button, but something made me think that would be too alarming and just not peaceful enough in my husband’s sacred moment. When I got to the desk, they knew. I didn’t even get the words out of my mouth entirely. All I could say was, “I think. I think.” They ran down the hall and I followed, still numb. When we entered the room, one nurse had me sit by her on the window bench as the other examined him. I was shaking as we sat. When the nurse finished her examination and nodded to us solemnly, that was it. It must have just been that my brain needed the confirmation, because I lost all control once she did confirm that my husband was gone. I remember bits and pieces now. I remember screaming. I screamed and sobbed so deeply that my whole body, down to my individual cells was responding to the pain. The tearing. Tearing of my soul as I felt the pull and the spreading distance away from my body. The distance of him from me.

I remember thrashing about on the floor and then getting up and throwing myself on his body. I then laid there for the rest of the time before my parents arrived.

I really can’t properly describe the pain. My words simply don’t suffice in construing exactly how it feels. I still feel the pain. Every moment I think of a fond memory…

My husband is gone and it hurts. It rattles me to my core. I want to thank him though for allowing me to be a witness to his new birth. I remember whispering, “Happy birthday, love. It’s your birthday.” When I was laying and sobbing over his lifeless body. My priest reminded me of that prior. “It is a death of this life and a birth into eternal life.” Those words gave me hope. My husband allowed for me to experience the most intimate, incredible thing a lover can do for the other in that circumstance. I am eternally grateful to him. Not everyone can say they were able to help their spouse transition into the next life. While death is ugly, the transition into eternal life is beautiful. Referencing my second post, God healed my husband.

While I am stuck here with the pain of his loss, I am at peace knowing he is no longer suffering.

I’ll be seeing you, love.


Piece 3

Last night I began watching a movie and had to turn it off after the first 5 minutes due to its content. I’m pretty sensitive, so that isn’t rare for me. What was different for me this time, though, was the fact that I immediately wanted to curl into Chris’ chest and lament over the evils of this world, but I couldn’t. He would have held me and tried saying something goofy to distract me. I could just hear him, “Oh love… just some snuffs”, *snuff* *snuff*, and I would giggle and snuff him back. Snuffs were one of the many actions of affection we made up. I won’t get into detail to keep it special between Chris and I, but I wish to be snuffed by him again so badly. So, I cried. Let me tell you how sick I am of crying! I have always hated to cry and now I am crying just about every day. It is driving me mad. The only thing that helps is that I read it has a scientific, chemical purpose in the grieving process, so I will let it slide.…for now. 

Evenings are the hardest for me by far. I believe it is because of the quiet. I’m not busy with the hustle and bustle of the day, so I have nothing to distract me from the onslaught of emotion when I am just laying there in bed. Not to mention, Chris and I did spend a lot of time in bed as he got sicker. The bed was our place of solace. It was us and the pups and Netflix, and we would cuddle and talk. It was our own little safety bubble, protecting us from the pain of moving and the stressors of life. Damn, I miss that so much. I think the fact that I still have our pups is the only thing that is keeping me somewhat emotionally stable. Blaze and Yuki are my own little grief counselors. I don’t know what state I would be in without their presence. While we didn’t have children, Blaze and Yuki are a piece of Chris that he left behind for me to take care of. They are our babies. Even as he neared his death, he expressed his concern about leaving me and the pups behind to fend for ourselves. They were apart of the equation just as human children would have been. I promised him we would all be OK, so I am trying to keep my promise. Staying afloat. 

One of the greatest things I am struggling with is the fact that Chris became MY PERSON and not having him here makes it so difficult to cope with anything. He was the only person on this planet who was instantly my person and will remain the only person to ever walk this planet to be that for me. So when I say I cry because I couldn’t just roll over and curl into his chest, I mean only his chest. I don’t want just any human support, it is his support I want. I crave. It makes me feel uncomfortable just thinking about seeking emotional support from any other human. That’s just not what I want. That was never what I wanted before I met Chris. Chris was simply my person. So, it is the most devastating and confusing feeling when you are facing the most intense pain of your life and you can’t turn to the only person you would turn to. That is the best way I can put it into words. I am sure that must be normal though. I mean, we marry our spouse because we want to be one with them. We are each other’s person. I can’t imagine I am alone in this conundrum of despair. My person is gone, my person is who I want to turn to in my grief over my person being gone. You see?

I suppose that is a normal part of the process though. It just feels the most difficult. My soul just has to stretch farther to reach my husband now. Maybe that is part of the pain. And maybe with exercise and practice, the pain of the stretch will lessen. We will see. 

Piece 2

​I yelled at Chris last night. I suppose you can say I am beginning my “anger” phase though I am still very much in denial. “Why did you have to leave me?!” I shouted at the ceiling of my dark room. I was sobbing and flailing about my bed like a small child who didn’t want to go to sleep. “I hate being without you! I don’t want to be without you and you left me here! I need you, love!” I was pissed. My heart was wrenching and I felt out of control. I am out of control. I want my husband back and I can’t bring him back. I couldn’t keep him from leaving me either. He had to. I know he had to. It is actually very selfish of me to have wanted him to stay longer. His body was failing him and he held on as long as he could. So then that brings me to my frustrations with God. Not that I actually have the compacity to put into question anything God does, but I am upset with Him that He couldn’t have just healed my husband and taken someone else who has lived a long life. Someone who should go. It just doesn’t make any sense and it is maddening that good, young people like my husband are taken away before they can really do great things in this life. 

“God heals in three ways: He heals through miracles, He heals through medicine, and He heals through death.”

Our hospice chaplain shared those words at my husband’s memorial service. I was taken aback at first and I know others were too. We sat there, stiff, and not ready to accept those very true words spoken. It is much easier to be angry with God than it is to accept this outcome. It’s even easy for me to be selfishly angry with Chris because he left me. I’m the one who is stuck here feeling the most intense pain I will ever feel and having to do it alone. The one person I want to share my pain and sadness with is my husband and he is gone. So yeah, I’m irrationally mad at him for not just healing himself of the cancer and popping up out of his hospital bed to live a longer life with me. But the chaplain’s words still ring in the back of my mind. I hate it because I know why I don’t want to accept it, because it actually softens my heart when I do. I want to stew in my anger, dammit! I want to feel powerful in the most vulnerable and helpless period of my life and softening my heart means to give up my power. God has a way of humbling us though. Humility is another lesson I am learning in this process. In my humanity, I forget the greater purpose of this life. It isn’t to covet what we have here on earth including the love we share with our spouses. This life isn’t ours, we don’t own anything here, and the love that we share was given to us. What we have is God’s, so our goal should be to take up our cross and walk a life in Christ so that we can experience the true life, eternal. This may not be what everyone believes, but even from a more general spiritual standpoint, we can know that this world only brings death, but our energy goes somewhere else. So in a way, I should be rejoicing for my husband because he is experiencing eternal life now. He isn’t in pain anymore and he isn’t struggling with the anger the disease in his brain caused. He is in the place we all want to be, with Christ. God healed him. 

So as I struggle to soften my heart in my selfish and prideful humanity, I want my husband to know that while I am angry at the circumstance of his loss, I am happy for him too. I watched his body degrade for months and he struggled a great deal in his body as the disease spread, so it would be cruel of me to not feel some joy for his relief now. I thank God that I believe in the resurrection of Christ. It brings me some peace knowing that my husband now shares in that resurrection. So for now, I will allow myself some anger, but I won’t let it get out of control. I can at least control that. The rest is God’s. 

Piece 1

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

My husband and I shared an incredible love. We were blessed as we loved wholly, unconditionally, and without any question. We were married for only a little over a year before he passed away from metastatic lung cancer. I lost my very best friend, my most intimate relationship, and I am feeling adrift without him. There is a gaping hole in my being now and the pain of the emptiness is the worst pain I have ever felt in my life.

The purpose of this blog is to share my emotions and thoughts as a young widow while I navigate my grief and the life I must now live without my dear husband. It is not often you hear stories of the loss of a spouse from people in their 20s and 30s, which is actually a positive thing, but as a 25 year old widow, I have felt quite isolated as I read the countless stories of people who are middle-aged losing their spouses. While the pain is the same, there are naturally some differences between the experience of a 25 year old widow and a 65 year old widow and I wish to share about those differences too.

As I write this piece, I am struggling a great deal to hold back a waterfall of tears as he left me only recently. My husband passed away on December 8th, 2016. Today is the 1st of January, 2017. I must say this is even more difficult than Christmas. I believe it is because I can’t fathom the thought of beginning a new year without the only person I ever wanted to spend my years with. I have thrown so many temper tantrums to the heavens as if it would somehow work and he will come back to me. As if he was just visiting a friend or away on business this whole time and he will be back soon. I guess you can call it my “denial” stage, but I just don’t want to live thinking he will never come back even though I know he will never come back. Part of it is also the fact that I know I have so many years to live before I can see him again if I am meant to live to the statistically expected age of 81.1. I am forced to move through my pain and find a whole new lifestyle and career so I can support myself in this world throughout the rest of my life….alone now and afraid. I fear so much, but I am trying to have faith that God will show me a right path ahead. Perhaps sharing my story is a start. 

My wish is for my blog to bring solace to those who may be sharing in my grief and to bring light to the challenges of loss and bereavement as a young person who lost a spouse. I am vulnerably slicing open my chest and revealing my heart and soul in the most intimate way I can. By that, I pray I can comfort or inspire you. Follow me on this deeply emotional journey as I share my pieces with you. 

Thank you for reading.