View Full Version : Death of a Spouse

09-21-2016, 07:05 AM
Hello lovely people. If you or someone close to you has experienced the loss of a spouse, I would be eternally grateful to listen to your stories. You can send them to me privately or post below. These are the questions I am trying to unravel:
1. What is the first day like? The first week? The first month?
2. When did sex with other people become become a desire for you? When did you act on it?
3. How did your memories of your partner change over time? For example, did you start off only remembering the good times?
4. What did you do to cope with the loss? Did you spend time with yourself or with other people?
5. What were useful things that others did to support you? What were the useless things you wished they wouldn't do?
6. How did you go about building meaningful relationships after the loss? Was it easier or harder?

Feel free to add anything you find was important to your experience.

09-22-2016, 11:05 PM
You may have had answers already by PM, but I thought I'd pick up on this thread as no-one else had.

Few questions to refine this:

1, Why are you asking these questions - as in what sort of book will you be using the answers in?
If fiction,
2. How old a couple?
3. How long had they been together?

Other than that, will vary massively with the people involved, whether the spouse who died was a sudden accident or a long, debilitating illness. Were they very wrapped up in each other, or did they each have a big circle of friends, and so on.

09-22-2016, 11:49 PM
Yesterday would have been my husband's birthday so I am thinking about him, the loss, the recovery, etc. I lost him suddenly when he was 49. We had been married almost 26 years. We had three daughters, all in college at the time of his death.

#1: The First Day-- I had had about two weeks to get used to the idea that he would be down for a long time. Another week when things went hopelessly downhill and then I had to make the decision to unplug him. The doctors thought he might linger all summer in a coma. It was April 21. He died the very next day. It puts my stomach into knots to say this but there was some relief on my part. He was a grade school teacher. I was a high school teacher. We were living in a small town about three hours and a little more away from the hospital in Wichita where he had been airlifted. We were both running out of sick days. The credit cards were charged beyond triple what we had ever charged before, and that happened months before, when our daughter was sick so just a tankful of gas to get to Wichita was an awful expense. There was a motel across the street from the hospital that gave special rates to people with family in the hospital. I remember the desk clerk and the shuttle driver being so kind when I came in about 4 a.m., after he died. You just don't think of people like desk clerks being sensitive and kind.

The traveling to and from Wichita was so stressful. When I got home there were only more bills in the mailbox and worries on top of worries, the phone was shut off for a few weeks--landlines only in those days. The oldest girls were talking about quitting college. I said no way.

Our youngest daughter had been gravely ill all that winter, in ICU at one point. She was just beginning to regain her health when her father fell ill. The other two girls were in college. My husband and I were out of sick days and the expenses were mounting at an incredibly scary rate. No. We had insurance, good insurance, but you cannot believe how fast the average family can be drained even with health insurance. This beautiful kid went out and got a job in a nursing home the week after her dad died.

So, really, that first day was numb. I remember Columbine happening and talking about it with a nurse but other than that not much thinking except to nurture my sick daughter, get the girls together and comfort them, make the arrangements and pay another set of bills out of nothing. Being under contract my husband's salary ended the day he died. I was on part time sick leave. Thank God for my colleagues who had donated their sick days to me. Teachers of Ingalls, Kansas, District 477. Great people.

That morning before dawn I drove 4 hours to pick up our middle daughter from college and then another six to get home. We cried and we laughed. Don't remember what about. She and her sister say we stopped for Chinese. I have no memory of that. When we got to our house friends were there waiting for us--co-workers, neighbors, parked all up and down the street. My brother flew in that night from Eugene, Oregon. I have gone on record saying that my brother drives me nuts but I fell into his arms and cried.

The first week I worried that I might lose the house. The first month I wrecked the car for some stupid errand and could not scrape up the deductible to get it fixed until the life insurance and pension checks came in, in August. Oh, and the girls and I figured out how to start the my husband's tricky lawn mower. His friends had been mowing for us but that couldn't last forever.

The first year I talked my youngest into enrolling in the local junior college. She went part time and was terribly depressed about her father but managed to work and go to school. I paid her tuition by teaching night classes. My oldest graduated and moved to Ohio. The second oldest graduated that spring and came home to live with us.

The first year I decided to sell the house and move into teacher housing which was free. I wanted to move to another town because everyone always associated me with my husband. I felt that I would always be a sad widow lady if I stayed in the same town. The two youngest girls moved with me. The middle girl worked in my school. The younger stayed at the nursing home and managed to graduate from Dodge City Community College with an AA, despite the depression and meds.

All of us working and living together was not ideal. The teacher housing was a trailer but a nice trailer. Still, a trailer in a town of 288 people after a 4 bedroom house in a city of 26,00 is an adjustment. It was the only way to get out of debt. My girls were angry about the move. I wrote a novel about it--Fruit Salad and Wings. Funny thing, it is a comedy.

#2-- Sex? Hate to disappoint but no way. No man has ever looked remotely sexy to me in the last 17 years. (Well, there was that photo of Haggis a few years ago, but that was just a flash- pan, David Crosby thing.) He was not my first love and we definitely had a quirky relationship--female high school teacher/male second grade teacher? He was Virgo. I am Gemini.

I think the thing that most knocked me over was how much I loved that guy. In the20 some year whirl of raising 3 daughters, two careers, dealing with insane family, old Victorian house upkeep, I guess the true, blue, deep red, heart wrenching love between two older adults had been buried. Our girls were away from home that year before. For the first time we had time to bake bread and make our favorite soup and sandwiches together, to have real conversations and to share old memories of college days. He even admitted that he had seen the ghost I swore was haunting our basement. So, no. It was kind of like the tragic end to a first love. I just want him and I am tearing up right now.

09-23-2016, 12:23 AM
Yesterday would have been my husband's birthday so I am thinking about him, the loss, the recovery, etc. I lost him suddenly when he was 49. We had been married almost 26 years. We had three daughters, all in college at the time of his death. <snip> I just want him and I am tearing up right now.Us too, Shakey, us too.

09-23-2016, 12:54 AM
S6 told her story with such emotion, I'm welling up also. Heed her words when you do write your story, shadblove.

My best friend's husband died suddenly at the age of 62, right on their 40th wedding anniversary. I ran over to her house in my slippers on that cold, snowy day this past January. She was in shock, of course, and still is. For her she had her married daughter and married son who don't live far. With the help of them, she made it through one hour at a time. And this is important: one hour at a time in the beginning, because it is hard to think ahead even a day. She kept shaking her head throughout the Mass, unable to believe this happened. For her, anger and the "what ifs" were and are a biggie. She wished he took better care of his health. She wished she checked on him while he watched the football game (he died that afternoon, watching it on tv). She goes to group grief counseling once a week. It helps to a degree. She is able to go out by herself to restaurants. She cries at little things. I never remember her crying before. She used to hold everything in. She used to think crying was weak. That is, until the love of her life died. Now she sees it as part of the grieving process and a sign of strength; that she loved and loved well. She will not remarry. I know this. She is staying in the house they built. For now. Maybe for good.

Everyone is different, so your characters should be based on their own personalities. The above is just my take on how my friend is grieving.

09-23-2016, 01:27 AM

09-23-2016, 02:28 AM
Google the five stages of grief and loss. Or seven. Or 12. Depends on who's writing it and at what level, but it all began with On Death and Dying.


09-25-2016, 02:01 AM
What are you writing? I'm curious. My first book was being published during the time my husband was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. My on-line diary is published at http://ropeburns.wordpress.com I don't know if it's helpful to you or not. I hope one day to be unemotional enough to publish it (with editing of course).

09-25-2016, 02:59 AM

My dad died after a three-day hospital stay. Young man, 30th birthday, leaving my mom (age 31) with four young children and 7 mos. pregnant with number 5.

We've asked her how she felt, how she coped: she said these first days, she was numb. She berated herself for not knowing enough to seek 2nd, 3rd, 4th opinions but it was back in the early 60s, times were different back then. Having children to take care of 'saved her life,' she said. Family came from out of state to help until after Christmas (he died in late October.) She had my sister in late Dec., and got deathly ill in Jan or Feb. with pneumonia, from everything...

Sex was the last thing on her mind. She did what she had to do, she said. Automatic pilot, cried and then she went to work for the first time in her life, as a waitress. Later, she put herself through college...

In retrospect, she thinks they would have eventually divorced because he was a "wonderful father to you kids," but very chauvinistic, not wanting his wife to work, things like that. She didn't know it at the time, but she was a forward-thinking woman. I believe her will and sense of responsibility to us kids is what drove her to do what she needed to do: to provide for us, to be a strong role model for us.

09-25-2016, 01:20 PM
Yes. I think your mother is right. In retrospect, having the kids and dealing with the financial nightmare saved me. I did what I had to do, automatic pilot. Exactly right. I'd like to meet your mom.

My husband's mother died when he was only 8, leaving his father with 5 young children. He was doing the same thing, automatic pilot. I can see it now although I couldn't when he was alive. He never dated a woman more than once or twice. Never really had the strength for a relationship.

He lived in New York so we didn't see him much but I remember that his daughters, when they were grown, used to get frustrated with him because he wouldn't date. He would clam up, never say much. He'd been a radio gunner in Sicily during WW2 so the war must have had something to do with his not wanting to talk about emotions. His daughters urging him to "find someone" made him angry. He didn't yell. He'd say "you don't understand. I hope you never do." And then clam up for days. --s6

09-25-2016, 02:06 PM
My own father, a WW2 vet also, was widowed at 58. I know he loved my mother. She was only 53 when she died. Dad had a acouple of years of deep mourning and then he became quite the collector of elderly hearts. I was doing laundry at his house and was shocked to discover that Scrooge McDuck had bought all new pajamas--baby blue. I tried to tell my husband something was up with my Dad. He wouldn't believe me at first, then there were 2 or 3 girlfriends. And then he married my step mom at 65. When my stepmom died I'll be darned if Dad didn't take up with his old (I mean OLD) high school girlfriend. People are different. Naturally they approach life differently. --s6

09-26-2016, 02:47 PM
wow. S6 thank you for your vulnerability and strength, and everyone else thank you for your guidance. i'm want to write a full length book - as of now it's a novella, but I'd like to deepen in. the idea of death intrigues me, because i've never had to lose anyone close to me. so that's the idea originated. the characters have been married for fifteen years before the husband dies in an accident. but in many ways, their marriage was already dying. still, loss has a way of affecting memories and reactions and the way people live, which is something i'm trying to explore with this research.

please keep the conversations going. if in the writing of the memories, in the sharing, you are able to grow, then do know that i am growing with you.