Monday, February 21, 2011

The Process of Grieving

It has been one month and three weeks since my husband died. I am still grieving. I have learned, through the deaths of other family members, that one never "gets over" such a catastrophic loss. Instead, you just learn how to live with your loved one's absence. There will always be a hole in one's life which only that individual could fill. That doesn't change with time or tears or remembrances.

My thoughts often go to the day of his death. We know he died of heart failure, and that he had a damaged heart to begin with. His ejection fraction was a very low 25 and his doctors say it is unusual for a person to live much beyond 50 with that condition. We also know he had a lot of prescription drugs in his system at the time of his death, and that he was severely depressed. We have not yet received the results of his autopsy, but in any case it will probably say he died of heart failure. A drug overdose can also stop one's heart. We will probably never know whether it was a natural death, an accidental one, or a suicide.

He had mentioned suicide to me several times and I always thought I would never be able to live with that if he did commit it. I thought I would blame myself for his death, and always wonder if I could have prevented it. As it turns out, with the support of a number of people, I do not blame myself. I believe I did the very best I could for him, and finally, it was his choice. He had the right to make his own decisions.

The fact is, he was dying slowly, piece by piece. One part of his body would go awry, and then another, and then another. He became obsessed with his own death. I personally believe life is eternal and tried to share that conviction with him, but he was in doubt. I also tried to steer his thoughts away from death, knowing that what we think has a lot to do with what happens to us, and believed that his fixation would bring him to an end even sooner. As it turns out he didn't hear me.

I sometimes think God in His mercy decided to end his mental and physical anguish and brought him home at last. He seemed unusually calm and peaceful the day he died. The thought brings fresh tears. Then I wonder if he did commit suicide, and realize that while I do not agree with his choice I can understand fully how and why he could reach that point and can forgive him. His was a tortured soul at the end of his life.

I continue to live in the same place we shared together. I have donated most of his clothes to a mission for homeless men (I think he would fully approve of that.) Other than that, I have left most of his belongings just the way they were when he died. Some I gave to family members who requested them. When I am ready I will decide what to do with the rest. In an odd sort of way they comfort me, and I do not want to change anything. Sometimes I still wake up thinking he is there. This will probably go on for awhile more.

For now, the thing I wish most for both of us is peace. I do not know exactly what happens when one dies, though I think it is probable that we go through a period of probation, where we examine our lives. I do not know if he is at peace yet or not, though I pray that he will find it. I do not want my loneliness and tears to keep him from going on the spiritual journey that is meant for him. For me, it will probably be some time before I will reach that state, but I have confidence that I will, eventually, arrive there.

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