Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Reader's Favorite- Surviving death of spouse

This is a much more serious topic than what my readers usually submit as "a reader's favorite" but stay with me. It is just as beneficial to think about these serious topics as it is to think about the fun stuff. This reader wants to discuss what happens at the death of a spouse- how a spouse prepares for death or how one prepares to be the surviving spouse.

What do you do with the love you have for your spouse at the time of death and afterward? As you fall more and more in love with your spouse through time and also through your awakening, how can you prepare for the loss which you will eventually face at the time of a death? Can one adequately prepare? Do you presently live each day with your spouse like there may not be another day or is your relationship such that you and your spouse are still taking each other for granted? For a surviving, high-SD, Christian spouse-- What is a healthy way to go on living? Can you rely on your Christian Faith to carry you through that season of life and if so, how? Be specific. (ie, It is not enough to say, "I will pray and read my bible." As part of the grieving process it is not uncommon for one to initially be angry at God so prayer may be challenging at best.)

If I may just add one more thing before I go---

GR and I view death the same way we view the birth of a new life. We see each as a natural part of life and as such, we do not view death as a scary thing. This was not always the case for us. Our comfort around death came about through the deaths of loved ones in our past. There are several good books on the market which pertain to death and dying. A few that we have are:

*A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis, ISBN: 0-553-27486-4
A current edition would be ISBN: 0-060-65238-1

*Surviving the Loss of a Loved One, Anthony M. Coniaris, ISBN: 0-937032-89-1

*On the Issues of Aging, Sickness and Dying, Stephan Jarmus and Andrew Jarmus, ISBN: 1-895096-02-2

And here are several books that I have not read but they all looked to be interesting and were rated highly at amazon. If you're interested in reading more on this topic, the 3 books I mentioned above and the ones I list below, could be useful. If you have a different favorite book that you love on this topic, please feel free to post about it in a comment.

*On Grief and Grieving, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross , ISBN: 0743266293

*I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One, Brook Noel, ISBN: 1402212216

*How To Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies, Therese A. Rando, ISBN: 0553352695

*Finding Your Way After Your Spouse Dies, Marta Felber, ISBN: 0877939322

*Widow To Widow: Thoughtful, Practical Ideas For Rebuilding Your Life, Genevieve Davis Ginsburg, ISBN: 0738209961

*Getting to the Other Side of Grief: Overcoming the Loss of a Spouse, Susan J. Zonnebelt-Smeenge, ISBN: 080105821X

9 comments:

Ancient Mariner said...

Gemma:
7:00 am
I hold the same views that you and GR have on death: it is a natural part of life, and I do not fear it. I had a strange, strange experience when I was 18 that led to this attitude: I almost died. In that instant, I was transported into another existence where I was looking down at my body. It was all so peaceful yet exhilarating, I did not want to come back. I knew in the back of my mind that my family would miss me terribly, but I wanted to keep on going. So, that experience, coupled with my Christian Faith, leads me to believe the words of the Bible, “Oh Death, where is thy sting?” For the person who is dying, it can be a wonderful, joyous experience.

But, what of the survivors? As I fall more and more in love with my wife, and as our awakening continues, our love for each other becomes almost unbearably intense. I need her in my life as much as I need oxygen to breathe. When I am in the same room with her, I have to physically touch her. Our lovemaking is tender and passionate, and we do truly become one flesh. How then can I stand to be left alone on Earth while she moves on? It was bad enough when my father died; I shut down emotionally for a full year. If I were to lose half of myself, what would I do? Of course I would try to go on for the sake of my kids, but I think that all the color would drain out of the world. During the period of intense grief, there would be no question of even thinking about sex, because I am sure my SD would simply disappear.

Now, if my life regained some semblance of normalcy, and my high SD returned, what would I do with it? I know several people who have lost spouses. One, an 83 year-old neighbor, lost his wife to cancer when they were 50. He tried dating after he recovered from the shock, but no woman measured up. Today, he lives alone, and carries on as best he can. Every time I talk to him, he brings her up. She is still very much in his life. At the other extreme is another older gentleman I know who got remarried too soon after his first wife’s death. The shrew he married realized what was going on, had him sign everything over to her, and took him for all he had. I really don’t think I know anyone who has happily remarried after the death of a spouse.

I am sorry I am not adding much to this conversation. I think you have to struggle through as best as you can, but not wallow in the sense of loss and self-pity, because you will see them again. God may be merciful to you and take away your physical desires, but if he does not, then you will have to deal with those too according to your faith, because you would not want to jeopardize your eternal existence by succumbing to the “temptations of the flesh.” For some, it may be remarriage, although I cannot see being married to anyone else. Also, I would not want to go through another grieving process if my second wife died. I know, however, that if I were to die first, I would not want my wife to be alone and to give up another chance for happiness just to be “faithful” to me. As much as it saddens me to say it, in that case, I would not mind sharing her with another man, provided he was a good man.

I really don’t know. Even writing that last sentence fills me with a sense of loss. Perhaps reading the books will give me a new perspective...

Ancient Mariner said...

9:00am
Well, I have just come back from a long jog, with the hymn “Guide me O thou Great Redeemer” banging about in my head. Nice hymn: 4/4 time, steady cadence, good for setting your pace.

There is nothing like a little morning pain to clear the head. Believe it or not, my thinking has evolved a little from the dark gloomy one I had previously. The idea of living each day as if it were your last is an excellent one. As mortals, knowing that there will be pain at the end of life, all we can do to prepare is live each day to the fullest. Strive to love your spouse as thoroughly and completely as you can--no guys, I am not talking about poking her 5 times a day, although that is good too, if you can manage it--I am talking about growing together in your marriage spiritually and emotionally, and never taking anything for granted. Find little ways to continually demonstrate your love and caring for your spouse, build and strengthen your marriage together, then, at the end of life, there will be no regrets or recriminations about missed chances and opportunities. You will be able to say, “I have loved you to the best of my abilities, and have taken care of you, as you have taken care of me. I have to go on, but now I release you. Do not grieve too much for me, but go and find the happiness you still deserve to have, knowing that I will always love you.” They may be taken aback to find you telling them to go off and be happy even before you are dead, but in the lonely months and years to come, they will find comfort and strength in your words. If they do remarry, it will be without guilt. If they don’t they will be comforted by your final loving words.

Then I had another thought: What if your wife (in my case wife, since I am male) decided to remarry? So there I am, in Heaven 20 years later, and she and her second husband die together in a car accident (let’s say). They come up to Heaven. I would be delighted to see her again, him, not so much. After all, who would welcome the guy who has been shagging his wife for 20 years? And the wife of a dead man, no less?? Perhaps that is why St. Paul advocated celibacy for those who are able to handle it... Still, if he is in Heaven, he can’t be ALL bad, right? It is not totally his fault that he is a mangy, randy dog sniffing around your woman, is it??

As you see, I am still a little conflicted, so forget I said that. Make the most of the time you have, and cherish every moment together. After all, it is not for the creature to question the wisdom of the Creator. I am sure God has it all worked out for our benefit and happiness in Heaven. Which loving father wouldn’t?

Gemma said...

A.Mariner,

You are absolutely right in your comment about living life so that we never have to look back with regrets. And I think it is only right and fair for spouses to tell each other, "In the event of my untimely death I would want you to remember me but also to go on and live a good and happy life even if it means remarrying some day." I feel strongly about that because if I died prematurely I would not want my dh to spend the rest of his life void of intimate love and he feels the same about me.

As for what happens in heaven after dh, dw and second spouse all die... I truly believe that God in his infinite wisdom has got that all ironed out so that it won't even be an issue for us. If we knew the plan now we probably still wouldn't understand but God has that all worked out.

Command0-182 said...

The death of a spouse? How do you prepare for that. I don't see how I could. I deal with death by making myself distant from the deceased. It'd be hard for me to emotionally distance myself from someone who was my whole world. I probably wouldn't have a clue how to deal with what I was feeling.


As for death itself. I'm terrified of it. I'm terrified because I duno what God's going to see in me, looking down, or what I'm going to see, looking up.
"As for what happens in heaven after dh, dw and second spouse all die... I truly believe that God in his infinite wisdom has got that all ironed out so that it won't even be an issue for us. If we knew the plan now we probably still wouldn't understand but God has that all worked out."

I heard that there won't be any marriage in Heaven. I hear it both ways actually. I hear some people seem to imply that there will be marriage in Heaven, and I hear others say that there won't be any.

Gemma said...

You can only do so much preparation and then you have to leave the rest in God's hands.

Hiswildcherry46 said...

If my husband died, I would be destitute and not for financial reasons. He is truly my soul mate.

I would not be able to think of sex with another man for a very long time. I am able to be totally free with my man and that is not something which I could replace quickly.
I would sink myself into my kids even more than I already have during the past 23 years.

Part of the reason for my sexual frigidity, before my sexual awakening last year, was that I so fulfilled in raising my kids that I did not need the sexual apsect of my marriage. Sounds wicked but the truth.

My husband is my life and sex with him is the fulfillment of my day. To think of living without him...at this time, I cannot!

Yet, I know myself. He is adament and convinced that I would go on strong and make something of myself with the constant reminder of how much love we shared.

I leave this site to lie close to him and absorb his body heat with all that I have in me. I adore him with my full heart. I break up thinking of living without feeling him beside me. Sorry, just me I guess.

Ancient Mariner said...

HWC:

Those are wonderful sentiments, beautifully expressed. I wonder whether as mortals, we are meant to experience the ecstasy of loving someone, then also the deep loss when they die, to give us a small taste of what God must feel when a soul turns away from him? For us, it is temporary; we look forward to experiencing the joy of Heaven, and reuniting with our loved ones. But for him, if the soul refuses to turn back, it is a permanent loss.

Thank you for sharing that with us.

bunnyhunch said...

AM: As I fall more and more in love with my wife, and as our awakening continues, our love for each other becomes almost unbearably intense. I need her in my life as much as I need oxygen to breathe. When I am in the same room with her, I have to physically touch her. Our lovemaking is tender and passionate, and we do truly become one flesh. How then can I stand to be left alone on Earth while she moves on? ...If I were to lose half of myself, what would I do? Of course I would try to go on for the sake of my kids, but I think that all the color would drain out of the world.

It is an amazing thing to have such passion for one's spouse!

Ancient Mariner, the love you have for your wife is incredible and inspiring, an you write about it so well. Funny, after all the changes I’ve made in my attitude and acceptance in the past several months, even though I know in my heart I am loved by my husband, it seems impossible for me to accept that it is with as much depth as you describe here. Yet when we talk about such things, tears come to his eyes.

The sense of oneness is very strong in our marriage. When the day comes when one of us leaves the other behind, the pain of separation will be hard to bear.

Our marriage is absolutely the primary focus for both of us. We want not only to make it last, but to keep our relationship strong and fantastic. We make it a point to care for and please each other as much as possible. Since my awakening, that means I strive to love him fully with my physical being as well; nothing is held back. At any time one of us could be gone, and we don’t want to be left with regrets.

We haven't experienced the death close at hand yet; our dearest relatives and friends are all still living. That doesn't mean we don't think of it, though. Last fall we came very close to losing our youngest son in a terrible accident. Just the memory of that event & the possibility of loss is overwhelming. I realize losing a child is in many ways more tragic than losing a spouse, but still, WOW. DH is a part of me, as my son is, though in a much different way. I do not want life without him.

My Christian faith would not be shaken by it if it did happen. That doesn't mean I wouldn't be mad at God, but He is still sovereign no matter what happens. That realization would probably tick me off during a period of grieving, but it would also be comforting. No matter what, God is still God. He an take it of I'm angry for awhile, and His shoulders are big enough for me to cry on. Hard. I've done it before and will do it again. Romans 8:26 comes to mind here, about the Spirit interceding for us with groans that words cannot express. I expect the grief would be that deep - I'd need to count on the Spirit interceding on my behalf.

That's how my faith would help me. But then it would be important to share that experience with others going through the same thing.

I always find myself selfishly hoping that the end doesn’t come swiftly for either one of us. Not that I’d want suffering for either one of us, it’s just that we’d have time to better prepare for what is imminent. Living our days to the fullest, as though each day is our last is one thing, but to be saying good-byes is another. I want that time. If DH died suddenly, though there would be no regrets, there would also be no time for those last things we’d want to say or show. I think it would be much, much harder to deal with. Again, that is selfish on my part, I’m sure.

HWC: I leave this site to lie close to him and absorb his body heat with all that I have in me. I adore him with my full heart. I break up thinking of living without feeling him beside me. Sorry, just me I guess.
HWC, I know exactly what you mean! Sometimes I think I can't get close enough. I want to savor everything about him, every moment together. I know that's sappy, but it's me.

Anonymous said...

This subject hits me where I live and breath. I lost the love of my life, my wife, my best friend, my lover and partner in life on August 3, 2006 because of an accident during an out-patient procedure. I cannot explain how hard it has been to live without the one I had spent almost thirty years with. We had an exceptional marriage but we were still learning about each other and enjoying each other more and more. One song I have found that kind of describes the feelings is “Chiseled in Stone” by Vern Gosdin. The nights and days are lonely but I still have to go on.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTrPJvEzmwQ&feature=fvw

I stumbled onto TMB, (which brought me to Gemma’s blog) while I was trying to find some information for a friend who is married to a woman who has abuse in her past and is a refuser. I have to smile at some of the things I read here because some brings back memories and others make me appreciate who my wife was. I was truly a blessed man. I realize with time our marriage could have been even better but I have no real complaints.

I am a Minister and I appreciate everyone who is working to bring married sex back into the context God intended it to be. I fully applaude Gemma and the TMB site for their efforts. I feel I can refer people to these sites.

MVP