I found this poem, again. Rob believed that he had experienced a life/death choice during his surgery and wrote this poem from it. I always read it thinking of cancer and illness and death. Now I feel he wrote it as a lifeline to me.
After my husband's death, I came home to complete silence. He died in the midst of a Michigan winter. This meant it was dark by 6 p.m. and cold. Curled up with a blanket on the couch, I had the fantasy that I would quit my job, move to Hawaii and walk on the beach.
It has been seven weeks since the sudden death of Patrick, my partner of 23 years. You might say that I have stepped out for intermission. Maybe I could tell you that the production has been shut down, that the play will be rewritten for later debut in a more hospitable season.
After all I’d seen, all I’d done and failed to do, I couldn’t imagine having the will again to take on responsibility for another person. The idea that I might stand before my friends in a white dress and pledge to love someone else in sickness and in health? Unthinkable.
The widowed community generally spends a lot of time talking about how much late spouses are missed. Not only is this completely and totally normal, it is also a welcome catharsis and a necessary factor in moving through the grieving process. But do you ever miss 'you' as well?
We weren't totally done with our mourning, we never would be, but that day we were all ready to celebrate. Bill had captured us all with his smile, his sincerity and his love, and now we were celebrating a new beginning with a man who was welcomed in with a communal hug.
When we talk about caregiver burnout, compassion fatigue or the stress of caretaking in general, perhaps the most important dimension to address is that of the emotional upheaval, the undertaking of the grieving process that often begins in earnest and lies buried in silence far too long.
What is one's moral obligation when the ex is seriously ill? For a variety of reasons, former spouses will react with sadness, remorse, guilt, bitterness, and, dare I say, relief that the end is in sight.