The End of Our Life Together


John Wright


This is my time of mourning. My darling Marie died at home this past Monday, at 2:15 A.M., January 21, 2008. Her best friend Linda and I were with her and we gave her our words of total and undying love and permission to let go, and we told her we would be okay so she shouldnít worry about us. We stroked her hair and held her hand and kissed her softly many times. She slipped peacefully away for I had started to medicate her against feelings of suffocation and emotional distress for somewhat more than a day before her death, and leading up to about 15 minutes before her death.

Hospice provided the end of life medications for my use that worked well. A Hospice nurse came within an hour of her death and pronounced her dead. Then the funeral home/crematory folks took her body to Boston and her brain, spinal cord and all other organs were harvested for medical research. Her remains were returned to Manchester and cremated. I now have an urn with her ashes and I will keep it in a place of honor until I later cast them back to nature in places very special to Marie and me.

Perhaps I should be thankful that her period of steep decline leading to her untimely death was only a little over two months. In the sense of acknowledging unavoidable pending death that notion of thankfulness sounds reasonable. Somehow it doesnít feel reasonable at all. No, I am not at all satisfied that she died, no matter what the explanation.

Perhaps I should be thankful that Marie received the very best medical care from the onset of her illness about two years ago. That makes more sense to me, but it isnít enough. And perhaps I should be thankful for Hospice, which allowed her to die at home which was her wish given no choice about death. Yes, a less painful death in surroundings comfortable to the patient does seem superior. Yet, it is not enough. Nothing can be enough to justify the loss of life of a beautiful, vibrant, fun, highly intelligent, loving and giving person Ö in this case the only person in the world for me.

Here is the personal loss part of my thinking. As long as I could speak to her and get knowledgeable responses from her by her squeezing my hand I still felt connected and emotionally whole even in the face of her pending death. But once her death happened an entirely different sense of emotion took over my psyche. And with each passing day now my sense of loss becomes ever larger and sad. This is probably because I was too busy trying to help her for the difficult months before she died and I didnít allow my mind to process any thoughts about the time following her death. But even if I had done so I know that I wouldnít have come close to understanding the now obvious depth of my sorrow. To say that I miss her is a terrible understatement.

I now realize how much of what we did we did for each other. Our joy in creating and enjoying the environment and relationships that we had was that of a true partnership in all aspects of life. As I look around me now and see what I have done I am forced to realize that all the things I did for her she can no longer enjoy. That makes me feel really empty inside. And all the things she did for me I can no longer enjoy as she intended, for they were meant to be shared and derived their meaning and their importance from the wellspring of our love for each other and our individual creativity.

There is no bringing her back at any level. Signs of her are everywhere around me and I realize the talent that she used to make our home really comfortable for all visitors and special to us is not within me. I cannot do what she did. I do not want anything to alter her touch and her sense of style, yet I know this feeling must pass before I will be able to look at my surroundings objectively and continue life with any degree of feeling okay without her. Right now I canít imagine that I will ever feel okay again, for my pain in losing her is so overwhelming and deep. I canít even say that I hope that I am wrong, for it sounds completely disloyal of me. Our bond of love was so strong that I think instead only of the future time when I will no longer be here either.

I expect that my feelings are very normal for one going through the death and immediate aftermath of a dearly loved spouse. And I suppose learning to accept the reality of her death, and some time to grieve and purge my sadness, will eventually allow me to accept a life without her and become other than a tragically sad person. We see examples of people adapting and then moving on, even marrying other people. But somehow I wonder if deep inside those folks still actually feel the deep pain of loss and simply donít talk about it? I wonder if it is even remotely possible to be able to love deeply again? Alas, I believe that there has been a permanent change in me that will preclude that possibility.

All this musing and crying and trying to stay focused on the needs of the moment at a practical level is not a good place to be. Friends and family are certainly doing their best to give me emotional support. For some intervals I can function without being too far down, but then the full reality of what has happened bites me again and the feeling of being overwhelmed takes over. I am not surprised. There is only so much others can do to redirect and supply love and other support. As is true in almost all areas of life for all of us, it will be up to me ultimately to solve my own problems and to figure out how to deal with my issues successfully.

For the moment it is too early for me to expect much of myself. I can and will carry on but with no sense of wellbeing or happiness. At least for now. Later, and I donít know how much later, I will again write to capture for you the evolution of my experiences and feelings. And I hope to abide by the idea that "Brevity is the soul of wit."

If or when you experience what I have talked about in this article do call me or send an email and I will try to help you get through the really bad times. I will have known them well.

Marie, if your life force is anywhere that you can know what I am thinking, then you will know that I will love you forever.