Courtesy of the New York Times | April 5, 2010 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/06/health/06cases.html?_r=0
As my husband of 43 years approached the end of his life and the anguish within me welled like a dam ready to burst, I realized something both simplistic and profound — losing a spouse is nothing like losing a parent.
I lived with my parental family for 17 years before I moved out to begin an independent life. My mother died just before my high school graduation, and I had known for several months that there was no hope for her recovery.
As the older of two children, I thought I had to be strong for my father and young brother, and I factored my mother’s illness into my life as if it were an after-school activity. During her final months, I visited her daily in the hospital and did what I could to keep her comfortable and assure her of my love and admiration for the wonderful woman she was
Likewise with my father, whom I adored and who remained an extraordinarily important person in my life until his sudden death when I was a 41-year-old wife and mother. Though sad about all he would miss — especially the grandchildren he doted on — I took his death in stride; after all, parents are supposed to die before their children.
When we marry “till death do us part,” do we really expect to be parted by death? I know several women who lost their husbands after relatively brief marriages, forcing them to raise young children on their own. I thought I could imagine their pain and anger at the unfairness of it all. But I also knew they could not afford to wallow in grief, if for no other reason than that their children needed them to be emotionally intact.
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