Fingerprints: Losing a Husband, Living with Grief

When he used to take off his socks next to our bed and throw them ceremoniously to the cork floor, he would spread the fingers of his chubby peasant hands on the wall of our bedroom to keep his balance before rocketing into bed beside me. It took at least three years to have a finished wall in that bedroom. Seeing his greasy fingerprints all over my carefully chosen hue of green with a matte finish made me grouchy. Now, I recline with four pillows surrounding me as I look at his fingerprints, which are almost all that is left of him, except the ashes in a plain wooden box on my dresser, which used to be his.
Seems so silly everything that every made me grouchy about him. I would take twenty more years of all the “what I thought was bad stuff” to what I have now, which is a six-foot, two-hundred-forty pound personality void where my husband used to take up space. I see his face and he looks alive, filled with love for life and me and our son. How can someone who looks like that in pictures be dead and gone for 6 weeks already? How can nearly twenty years of my adult life be a memory? I still like him and love him and want him from somewhere so deep inside of me I can’t reach it.
It was so fast and felt eternal all at once when he left us. Unreal, so fucking unreal, yet every day we are farther from it means it is more real. It cannot be undone no matter how much we clap, or cry, or scream or beg. I am in a club now that I did not request to be a member of or pay for entry or for that matter, even know it existed. I now know up close and personal what it means to lose my best friend, lover, partner and husband to death and a traumatic one at that.
I am beyond tired of the roller coaster of sadness and madness. It was insane while we were trying to save his life, the ups and downs of “he is improving, he is worse” every single day for nearly a month. Those days produced anxiety I have never experienced. But since it is different, the adjustment to a Rick-less existence thirty years before I expected it.
I just want to get over it, not him, but the pain. The remembering and forgetting that he is gone, and when I remember it hurts as much as the first day when I watched his last blip on the screen. My thank-you notes are filled with sentiments about my darkest hour or family crisis or gratitude from the bottom of my cracked open bloody heart. People who sit near me as I sit in the pain like I am in a kiddie pool or a claw foot iron bathtub soaking in agony. They just sit and stroke my back or pet my hair.
They must want to run, to leave and never know this pain and not want to even look at it. Until ten weeks ago my husband and my mother are likely the only people who have ever seen me look so hideously ugly with dimpled chin, eyes so swollen they pain me, behavior only expected from three-year-olds suddenly popping out of my unintelligible maw. I say the same things over and over: why did it happen? what did I do to deserve this? We were just getting to the good part.
I want my son to have his papa back. I want him to be able to out-wrestle him in the ocean waves next summer. I want them to build that computer they have always talked about. I want them to do the chemistry set I bought them. I want them to see the end of Game of Thrones together, goddamnit! I want him to learn to play the ukulele I bought for him for his 48th birthday. I want his mother to die first like the natural order of things. I want to take away her pain of losing her son. I want to understand the unfairness.
Then I just want to win grieving. I want to be the best at it and the fastest. I want all this nonsense I am reading about to be for people not like me. I want the tools and to use them so I can be the most resilient widow in history. I want to be stronger. The trouble is this man was my job for nineteen years. I took care of him in ways he did not even know about. I took care of things he could not. He took care of things I could not.
And now I am left with all of the things and very much without him. But I feel the depression of the unemployed workaholic hovering over me. I am a doer and now I have a lot of nothing but grieving on my list. That is a super uninteresting list to me. Yet if I try to fill life up with stuff I could have a meltdown over the number of plates to put on the table or the empty pickle jar I can’t throw out or the picture of us with the letters “happy” surrounding us. What now?



Kim Shute

More Articles Written by Kim

Kim has experienced bereavement first hand after her husband of 19 years died suddenly of Leukemia at the age of 48. Kim has been a stay at home mother for seventeen years and homeschooled her only son for most of that time. She has a B.A. in theatre/dance and a M.F.A. in Performance Arts. Kim has done course work in Individual and Group Crisis Intervention with first responders, clinician and clergy for Hurricane Sandy and 9/11. She has done bookkeeping for local contractors, taught ESL for a literacy program, run her own gardening business, taught speech communications and acting. She also helped managed and promote a twenty million dollar housing project in Massachusetts. She has been heavily involved for ten years at Channing Church where she researched, wrote and offered many services as well as helped with marketing and community outreach. Since her husband’s death she has been reading and studying up on the funeral industry and grief support. She has always loved writing and is thrilled with the opportunity to share her stories to help others feel understood and less alone in this crazy club, no one ever wants to join. She lives in Newport, Rhode Island with her teenage son and retired mother.


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  • Johanne says:

    Oh Kim,
    My bone deep beautiful friend,
    “sweet girl, my sweet girl” was all I could say when i stroked your hair in the direction of your sorrow. You were an open wound, an open grave, blown apart by your savage loss. You are a mix of powerful and strength only seen in 8 year old girls and women brave enough, like you.
    Write more and more and more. Please.
    Your words are true and fine like needles.
    Thank you
    I love you my girl

  • Heather Maxwell says:

    This is beautiful and brave. Much love to you, dear sister.

  • Kay F. Tate says:

    Thank you for sharing. Unless one has been there they will never understand.

  • Dawn says:

    Thank you for writing words to explain my feelings after losing my husband at age 44 to cancer as well. Fast and furious it was. The grief is furious but not fast.

  • Shirley Nicolino says:

    This exactly how I feel. I lost my husband after a battle with 2 types of cancer. He fought hard and
    even had a total laryngectomy. The poor man had 3 months of not being able to eat or drink anything, and how he did love to eat. He was fed with a feeding tube which I had to administer to him. It was so unfair that he had to die after enduring all of that pain. I am so lost!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    He has been gone for 1 month 22 days.

  • Michele Miller Brown says:

    Yes. This is how I feel – I just want to get through the pain, the sadness as fast as possible, and yet I will never get over losing him at 40 years old. It’s just not right. Cancer is not right.
    And I want nothing more than for my husband and eight year old daughter to have more time, more of everything together.

  • Lisa A Burke says:

    Thank you for sharing your feelings. I am you. It has been 10 weeks since my husband died of Aplastic Anemia (bone marrow failure) after a long 15 month battle. During the illness you just push on and do whatever it takes to get him better, and then he dies and all you have is time. Your enemy. I spent 4 weeks looking for him everywhere, like he was going to reappear. His ashes are on his bureau so I know he is not coming back but you can’t except the love of your life is gone.
    I am lost. I want the love and memories to remain but the pain to go. Everyone says it takes time and take one day at a time. i could scream every time they say it. Every day is he same, painful. I want the instruction manual on how to get thru this. Anybody have one?

  • David says:

    My wife and I have been together for ten years and have a little boy. Three weeks ago my whole world imploded. She is 35, has a successful business and works out of town for weeks at a time. I work full time and keep things going on. She has been cheating on me with her client, and a lot of it, going as far back as last year, maybe beyond that. Thank God I found Scott.
    Through his Gmail Username::: scottcyberlord11
    Whatsapp:: +1 62 8 20 4 3 5 88, Text:: +1850 631 5 5 9 7.
    Recommended by my best friend for spying on her and extracting all the info i needed from her phone (Whatsapp messages, Text messages, Viber, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram iCloud including her call logs, deleted messages and so on) to confirm she was cheating on me. So far this hacker is the best, his works are discreet, secured and perfect without trace. You can contact him to catch your cheating partner. Tell him i referred because he can be picky at times.

  • Kallie A. Jurgens says:

    My husband died last summer; we were married two months short of 59 years, and I thought I was doing okay until suddenly about two days ago I couldn’t stop crying about him. I don’t know why it seems to come and go; I just loved him so DAMNED much even though he could be a SOB at times. I miss him so much; I sold our townhouse because I couldn’t stand living there without him so I’m in an apartment now closer to our son. He was the one who wanted to move up north so he could go fishing all of the time and that’s ALL he wanted to do besides visiting family 3 to 400 miles away twice a year in the summertime. I never got to know my grandchildren because when he died, we’d been there for 22 years; now I must get to know them and they me. It won’t happen all at once though. Of course. I had to tell the place because I was so darned lonely and my son was over 250 miles away. I wish I could go back to three or four years ago but the nightmare’s going to continue until I meet my Maker and see my loving husband again.

  • Donna Dawson says:

    I lost my husband of 39 years in December of 2016. he was 66 years old and was diagnosed with prolific myloid neoplasm on November 7th and the first of December it changed to acute leukemia and he passed away December 28th. I feel so lost and alone and I wish everyday that god had taken me instead of him/

  • Michael Cline says:

    I too took care of my beautiful wife for so many years and the stresses seemed to grow on me often finding myself complaint about things Cindy could not change. She too did many wonderful things for me and loved to entertain and make special trips planned for us. At times I fought depression and my wife was always there to support me too. The day cindy passed away from MS complication tore a whole in my heart that only my belief in a resurrection and seeing cindy again will completely mend my heart. Like Kim Shute said; “Seems so silly everything that every made me grouchy about him. I would take twenty more years of all the “what I thought was bad stuff” to what I have now.” Cindy passed away Nov. 25th, 2017 and my life has been empty since..