What is your role when your ex-husband dies?
I have shared the sadness and anguish of my two daughters in the last year during his dreadful illness. I have felt for them as they made emergency dashes to the North for fear that death was near and shared the relief when he rallied and seemed to be responding to a new drug. I have felt their heartache and disappointment as doctors told them, time and time again, that the treatment failed to work.
He passed away on Saturday 10 December 2011 at the age of 60 having suffered from a particularly rare form of Encephalitis.
When I last saw him October 2010, it was clear he was unwell and as we departed we had a big hug. It is that hug I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
We were married in 1975 and divorced in 1995 after 4 years seperation. There was no animosity between us and as the father of our two beautiful girls we had a bond and he will always have a special place in my heart. I have happy family memories and in recent years, with our grandchildren, there was a further bond, these are never broken. My pain is that I have lost him again.
The girls spent a lot of time with him in the hospital the week before he died. They hope that he was aware that they were there. Many people don’t get to say goodbye to their loved ones and to be able to tell them things they have always wanted to say but never did. I know they have also been a great support to his wife of 10 years who has had her future happiness taken away from her.
I am finding it tough because not only am I grieving for the young man I married and the lost times ahead sharing family gatherings and birthday parties of grandchildren. I grieve for my daughters and their loss.
When your children are little you can give them a lolly, put a plaster on the hurt and give them a big hug. It doesn’t work that way when they are women in their 30’s. They don’t live near me and we haven’t yet got together since his death. Both are married, they have turned to their husbands for support, which is only to be expected, it is right and fitting. Like an itch that needs to be scratched, I ache with the need to hug my girls,
At the moment they are dealing with their grief in their own way. Daughter #1 has taken on the role of writing to friends, past and present. This has proved difficult for me, because I would have liked to tell those friends that we had during our marriage but understand her need to do this. Daughter #2 has been busy helping his wife with the funeral arrangements.
This is where my question of “what is my role” comes in. Friends, say “Just be there for your girls”. They will be with their husbands at the funeral and standing by the side of their step-mother. I will have to step back, watch their pain and be just one of the funeral party, remembering that as the ex-wife I have no place of importance on this occasion. My hugs will have to wait until afterwards and with God willing we will have many years of hugs ahead of us.
Daughter #1 posted a most wonderful poem on Facebook that I want to share with you.
When God saw you getting tired
And a cure was not to be
He put his arms around you
And whispered come to me
He didn’t like what you went through
And he gave you rest
His garden must be beautiful
He only takes the best
And when we saw you sleeping
So peaceful and free from pain
We wouldn’t wish you back
To suffer that again
Today we say goodbye
And as you take your final rest
That garden must be beautiful
Because you are one of the best.
Daughter #2 has set up a Just Giving page in memory of her father and the Encephalitis Society. Please take a look as she explains what he died of.
I hope that we all have a happy Christmas with fun and laughter again, although it will be tinged with sadness.