I can’t imagine a more difficult or trying period: coping with the death of a loved one. This is especially true when they are relatively young or not showing a sign of a previous illness or disease. Auto accident victims immediately come to mind because of their proliferation. But there are other ways and means to cut short a life. Yet, does it really matter in the end? The result is that friends, relatives, and other associates remain here on earth to deal with the tragedy. I feel somewhat qualified to write about this because it happened to me twice.
When I was 22, just months out of college, I took a trip to Europe in the fall of that graduation year. When I returned, I found my mother in the hospital and was told she was terminally ill with cancer. Three weeks later, she died at the age of 50.
About three years ago, my wife of 29 years died from a heart attack in our living room. She was in fairly good health and it was very sudden. She was just 54 years old. Although the incidents were decades apart, the impact was similar. All the various stages of grief came into play, from disbelief to anger. Through it all, I discovered something about myself: I grew stronger.
It’s my nature to look for a positive impact from a negative situation, so please bear with me. Of course I regretted the losses, went into a state of depression where I lost 25 pounds and wouldn’t eat, but I eventually regained control and tried to objectively analyze my situation. I still had a 19 year old daughter to care for and to get through college. I also had to continue to work to provide for both of us. I had taken a minimal amount of time from work, but they and I realized I had a job to do. So life would go on, in spite of my feeling that a large chunk of my being had been removed.
One thing I noticed right away was the memory loss. It’s not what you might think. It has to do with the nearly 30 years of shared memories that no one else could ever relive or understand. It was a growth time for both of us that included our first house, birth of our child, and all the other good, bad, and ugly details of our coexistence. Many were humorous and became ‘in’ jokes that either of us could laugh about by merely saying a key ‘trigger’ word. Instantly, we were transported back to that exact instant where the scene occurred. Today, I must be content to live with these memories alone.
I was fortunate to be married to a wonderful woman and I can give thanks for that, She got to see my daughter through her first year of college. But I was missing her from the second I was told by the doctor, her life was over. Everyone deals with loses differently. My daughter and I went into grief therapy for relief. We had family and friends to help us and offer support during the weeks following the event. I eventually recognized how lonely I was and sought companionship through Internet dating sites. I was lucky enough to find a new lady friend who had great empathy for my condition. You see, by a strange stroke of fate, she had also recently loss her husband to a heart attack,
Today, we are man and wife and survivors of mutual loses. If I could give a few words of wisdom, it would be to live your life to honor the dead. I know that my late wife wanted me to move forward: she had told me many times as we contemplated our possible passing. I am uplifting her memory by living my life to the fullest and I would bet that most spouses or loved ones, would want that for their remaining significant others. That’s the most we, or they, can hope for. We are carrying on their thoughts and deeds in our hearts and can pass this on to the next generation. Mourning only serves a short-term purpose, while living our life the best way we know how, serves the greater good. I believe they wouldn’t want it any other way.
Jeffrey Hauser was a sales consultant for the Bell System Yellow Pages for nearly 25 years.
He graduated from Pratt Institute with a BFA in Advertising and has a Master’s Degree in teaching. He had his own advertising agency in Scottsdale, Arizona and ran a consulting and design firm, ABC Advertising. He has authored 6 books and a novel, “Pursuit of the
Phoenix.” His latest book is, “Inside the Yellow Pages” which can be seen at his website, http://www.poweradbook.com. Currently, he is the Marketing Director for thenurseschoice.com, a Health Information and Doctor Referral site.
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