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What’s Worse? Waiting for the End of a Loved One’s Life? Or Going on After Losing Them?

By Waverly Hanson April 22, 2023 Mindset

Back in 2018, my second husband passed from this life, and one of my friends asked, “Would you have married again if you knew he would be gone in 6 years?” That is a hard question to answer.

It made me think for just a minute. On some level, I think I realized things might go that way, but I never actually acknowledged it. Would I want to give up these last very happy six years we spent together? No; both of our lives were enriched by our choice to marry again.

A More Difficult Question

About eight years ago, another of my good friends and neighbors received the news that her husband had a brain tumor and was not likely to live more than six months.

Three years later, he was still alive, experiencing many good days, although he never had the same good health he enjoyed before his diagnosis.

For the past two months of my husband’s life, my friend and I were on the same path more than once. Both of our husbands were in the same local large hospital at exactly the same time. In addition, we both brought our husbands home with Hospice within a day of one another.

However, after her husband arrived back home, he rallied and said he wasn’t ready to go yet which was wonderful, though it did not last very long.

My husband passed within nine days of being brought home, while her husband’s health went up and down. At times his condition had been very bad, he’d gone back to the hospital and was again with Hospice.

My friend asked me at one point, “Waverly, you’ve been in both places. Which is the hardest: waiting for them to leave this earth or going on after they are gone?” I replied, “Let me think about that. I’m not sure yet.” After a few weeks, I had my answer.

Both are very difficult situations, but once your loved one is in a place where there seems to be no hope of recovery, I think it is easier after they have passed. Then you no longer have to watch them suffer or worry about them and try to anticipate meeting their every need as much as possible.

Still Struggling with My Answer

At this point, my faith is a great source of strength because I do believe that he is no longer suffering and in a much better place. I also believe he is at peace and that I will see him again.

Unfortunately, being in this kind of mental state is way too familiar. But after surviving most parents’ worst fear ­– losing my son at age 24 – and the death of my first husband, I realized I could make a go of life again.

After losing our son, it took me a long time to work through the depression and hopelessness. I had to decide again and again to go on with hope for the future.

Now I have the perspective that I have gone through the worst and coped with God’s help.

Some of My Survival and Coping Techniques

Looking back now, I recognize the different ways I survived.

One of the true stories I read during my time of grief was about a woman who lost all of her children during the civil war due to various causes. She took that experience and started a school for both black and white children together, which was unheard of at that time.

I recall how much that story impacted me and gave me hope that I could survive and go on and accomplish things that mattered in spite of my deep loss.

One memory I have is of going into a beautiful store filled with all kinds of art and beautiful glassware. I remember how it seemed to feed my soul and give me hope that there still would be good things ahead in spite of the great pain in my heart.

When my first husband lost his job, I was forced to take what I had always considered the worst job in the world – Child Protective Services. It felt awful, trying to protect children who appeared to not be valued by their parents, while my heart was breaking over losing my own.

On one of my dark days, I stopped by a paper supply store which just happened to be inviting customers to try out some of their items and showing how to use them.

And wonder of wonders! As I began experimenting, I noticed for the first time in a very long time I was actually having fun. I felt like I was back in kindergarten, enjoying myself. I’d lost that capability along with my son and doing the heavy on-call emergency type of work with children and families.

The paper store experience ended up being very therapeutic for me and has brought me many hours of pleasure since then.

Now my art has branched into jewelry making and is still a great release from dealing with couples, individuals and families going through difficult times.

Satisfaction of Helping Others Go On and Overcome

I have been in private practice for many years now. I’ve also worked with the military, helping service men and women returning from war to reintegrate with their families.

Getting the satisfaction of seeing hundreds of miraculous turnarounds in people’s lives and marriages is very rewarding and fulfilling and keeps me going.

I always say, everyone who lives long enough will go through difficult times. Some people go on with life for a very long time without trauma, while others experience it early in life.

Life can be beautiful again when we live with purpose and faith now and in the future!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Can you relate or has life been pretty smooth so far for you? How have you survived your difficult times? Any suggestions to share with others based on your own pain? Please join the conversation!

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I lost my husband to Lewy body dementia. I lost him over and over before he died. Your article captures the roller-coaster.


Me too. May 2, 2023 he died from lewy body dementia and non-tremor parkinsons.
Roller coaster with him for sure. He grieved as did I during his illnesses. Now I’m grieving alone.


Such a timely article for me. I lost my second husband last year after 3 years of cancer treatment. I feel sad for the reality of his absence, but really have hardly cried at all. I was his care giver, and yes, it was harder to watch him die in slow motion, than the actual death (and it’s aftermath) itself. Thank you for putting into words what I have been struggling to express.


I once asked my pastor why we can’t just keep living on a “high” all the time and he replied and said “we need those “lows” to appreciate the “highs” in our life”. I think whenever life feels good, I always think how long is this going to last which robs me of the joy in the present moment. I hate that! Just enjoy it and soak in that joy for as long as you can cuz you just don’t know what is around the corner!! Whenever I am with my 86 year old mom, I give her a extra long and big hug because I just don’t know if I will get to do it again. She’s been though so much in her life and I wish her the happiest in her golden years. She’s living with my cranky dad who is 89 years old…it’s good and bad. Take care all. The pain in life is better shouldered with others and I am grateful of the support I have in my community and in a faith in a great God! He is my inner strength.

Alainnah Robertson

What a lovely article, Waverly! I lost my second husband to dementia, after seven wonderfully happy years. I would agree with you that it was worth it to have that time together. We did so much, and experienced so much, and felt young again. I wouldn’t have missed it.

Even the years when he gradually faded with dementia were an experience. I learned so much, and we were in it together. He has been in a long-term care facility for almost a year now. Much as I was loath to let him go, I have to admit that it has made life much easier for me, and he is better cared for than I and his caregivers could do any longer.

As you say, life gives us many difficult experiences, and the companionship of the Force of Life and Evolution can help us through.


I experienced the same feelings as you did the 10 years I was my daughters caregiver. At her wonderful care facility she got excellent round the clock care, good medical attention, good food, and was able to have a life around the workers and other residents, though they were much older. Everyone there knew and loved her. She fulfilled her purpose in life by bringing sunshine to others, even though she spent a lot of time in bed. At home that would not have happened. It gives me comfort knowing that she had somewhat of a social life, despite her pain and suffering. Slowly, the bad memories are being replaced with hope. She passed on 8/5/22. God will open a new chapter in my life.

Laura Joy

My husband was diagnosed with Central Nervous System Lymphoma, a very deadly rare brain cancer in 2002, and then 2006. He had 48 chemos to the brain under anesthesia. A “friend” once said to me, “You know, we all thought he would die.” That was a shocking and insensitive thing to say. We did know several people who died of the disease. He was considered “cured” because he was cancer free for 12 years, but it returned in 2019. So here he is after 20 years. And we feel blessed. I didn’t think he would die. While he now has macular degeneration because of so much chemo into the brain, he rarely complains. He is now 80 years old, blessed with knowing 6 grandchildren, and produces piano jazz concerts (when covid isn’t plaguing us). Because of my gratitude for living so long I’ve trained as an end of life doula, and was part of hospice for several years. I’m giving back to my community, and enjoying life with my husband for as long as we have.


Such a wonderful outlook. I’m trying to find the best in life for the rest of my years. I’m 76 now. Helping other people any way that I can, gives me peace.

The Author

Waverly Hanson is a coach, counselor, author and military consultant. Her positive, nurturing and gently challenging style works well with her mission to save marriages and help people find life choices. After 25 years, she is still awed by the hundreds of “miraculous turnarounds” experienced.

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