Bereaved Spouses/Partners

“Hang In. It Gets Better!”

by Elle Fagan

Elle Fagan

Sudden death of a beloved spouse can be so dramatic that dozens of books, stories and films have made it their subject.

I remember finding that fact especially annoying when it was me, suddenly widowed, with two in early teens. More than annoying!

We are about life, to the core of our being. Then, without warning or permission, we lose our own life in a way, lead against our will, through this experience of the downside of the human miracle. Money, tasks, and more are suddenly different. Feelings are very different and not by our choice. That one fact explains it all in a blinding flash, if we ever wondered why it’s so bad.

I am resourceful; but helplessness gave me rage. Such rage that I thought for a moment he’d been murdered and I was going to catch the murderer and murder him right back! Only God, and love for my husband and our children, saved me on that day. I felt more kindly toward my anguished self. My love was a motivator for good, at least.

I learned a thing about sudden death: one or more forms of short-term insanity in reaction is considered normal. Our minds do all they can to buffer the shock. It usually, spontaneously passes. A few other reactions to sudden death may be:

  1. curled or graying hair, loss of speech or continence
  2. homicidal or suicidal urges
  3. hallucinations involving hearing and smelling or feeling the deceased around the house
  4. hallucinations of roaring noise in the head and mind and irrational fears
  5. dissociation – a removing of the self from the whole experience, in an abnormally objective state
  6. acting out the desires to BE the deceased, to restore the loss

Respect grief as an actuality that can be dealt with, although it is an exhausting and nonstop companion, for a bit. Special prayer, counseling, diet, rest and exercise help.

Our medical care was the best, so I ran to the doctors with our aberrations. They said, “hang in, it gets better”. It did.

And one thing more. They said that, in cases of shock-grief-loss, there comes, often, just as suddenly and dramatically, the healing. A “great day in the morning!” The grief gives up and goes. It did!

I’d prayed the prayers, done the mental and physical therapies, and cried oceans without succor or relief for some time. Then, one morning I woke and the sun was there! After all that, I was fine and knew I was fine – so oddly simple.
We are pretty fancy stuff. “Hang in. It gets better!” Look for the lights and they will come.

About the Author: Elle Fagan was born in Fairfield, Connecticut. She married sweetheart, Vincent “Peter” Fagan, Jr. in 1966. Peter died suddenly from Berry’s Intracranial Aneurysm at 39 in 1981. Since widowhood, Elle, an artist, continues to show her work worldwide and is a member of the American Watercolor Society. Elle is a lifelong member with American Red Cross and assisted during Viet Nam, local disaster, Operation Desert Storm and Y2K. She currently donates some of her prize-winning art to help good causes, from her studio on the waterfalls at Fox Hill in Vernon, Connecticut. She has two children, Peter John and Amy. You may visit Elle at her website.