One of my cherished friends died this week at the young age of 69. One day, she was healthy as a horse and the next day she had cancer and was in pain. The pain continued over the next nearly year and a half, no matter what treatment she received.
My greatest fear as the years went by was that my spouse might die first. Having had no children, the thought of my husband dying first and me being left alone in the world was something I simply couldn’t bear.
Dealing with grief is tough. When someone loses a spouse or loved one, a numb feeling sets in and they are stunned and surprised that something so horrific has occurred. Initially, they may feel literally frozen in place because essentially, they are in a state of shock.
Judith Viorst, in her book Necessary Losses, promoted the idea that the first half of life is about acquisition and the second half is about letting go.
One year ago today I was fighting for my husband’s life as he spent 19 days in hospital with unrelenting abdominal pain. The nursing staff had grown weary of his presence and his care was deteriorating. In my mind, any day could be the last we might have together.
When it comes to aging, while concerns about sagging skin, baggy eyes and low energy might preoccupy your thoughts, they can seem superficial when it comes to fears of developing Alzheimer’s or cognitive decline, losing your memory and developing dementia.
One thing that’s almost certain, once you’re over 60, is overcoming grief.
It’s hard to avoid grief unless we die early or we’re incredibly lucky. By now, many of us have already lost our parents, even if they lived to a ripe old age. Mine passed away at 89 and 90. Although it was hard, (they died within two weeks of each other) it was expected because of their age and was easier to deal with.
I confess. I’m in love with the blank page.
It’s a metaphor for how one comes in to the world. The moment you announce yourself with a whimper or scream your blank page begins to fill with memories. Throughout childhood – when you are most vulnerable – memories are often written for you. Not all of them happy.
Marie’s son was distraught. He had told his mother he would have the doctors do everything they could – but now they were saying that they didn’t know how long she would be able to breathe on her own without the tube, nor did they know how long she might last if the machine continued to do most of the breathing for her.
I never thought about death much, other than as a concept, until my husband was diagnosed with cancer in 2010. Then it made its entrance with a bang. Even though he was 65, it felt far too young to be contemplating death.