When Death Won’t Leave the Family Home

There are far too many people in this world who lost a newborn child today. The life they thought they would shape and nurture, one full of hopes and dreams, was gone before the parents could even recognize their real roles as parents. Then there’s my Aunt Bea. She’ll turn 100 in March. And she’ll make it. She’ll probably still be here in five years. Death doesn’t always make sense.

On December 1, my mother-in-law succumbed to a heart attack, when her 81-year-old body simply couldn’t recover from an emergency bowel surgery and tracheotomy that happened in early October. She spent the last 8 weeks of her life in the hospital prior to the heart attack that took her out. My father-in-law died this morning, 18 days after his wife. His cancer recently returned and he developed pneumonia over the last several days. He, too, had a heart attack and passed away shortly after sunrise.

My mother-in-law’s funeral was held yesterday. He was feeling too weak to go. He’d missed the wake the night before.

My wife, at 50 years old, lost both of her parents in less than 30 weeks.

Not Too Much More to Add

There are just so many thoughts running through my head and most involve my wife and children. You hear about those spouses who die one after another, but less than 15 hours after your spouse’s funeral? Unreal.

There was a year early in my journalism career where I edited the obituary page as part of my job at a local newspaper. While there is no scientific evidence for it, what I have heard doctors call “broken heart syndrome” seems to have enough circumstantial proof. I saw it time and again at that job. One month you write the husband’s obituary. The next month you’re writing the wife’s.

I don’t know what happens from here protocol-wise. I’m not sure any of us should know. You shouldn’t plan for things like this. That way, when they get here, it’s just surreal. I keep laughing thinking that she may have wanted a vacation in the afterlife. He gave her 18 days. Death has a sense of humor.

Moving Ahead in Life and Death

Our rituals around death are important, and the more religious or spiritual a family, the more important they are. My wife and I are spiritual, but not religious, like her father. Her mother was religious, like her sister. Last night, my wife was able to have a conversation with his dad about his wishes. Here’s to hoping the rest of the family appreciates and accepts them.

I’m thankful my son is here and my daughter lives down the street. I’m thankful my parents live 3.6 miles away and are healthy. In a weird way, I’m thankful we’ve seen so much extended family this week so they could be prepared that he was on the downswing. We just didn’t think it would be this fast.

Ironically, in a 10-hour window between the funeral and him being rushed to the hospital, we put up the Christmas tree. My wife wanted something happy. I think it may be a while until we get it.

Lead Photo by Ksenia Chernaya from Pexels

One thought on “When Death Won’t Leave the Family Home

  1. Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy. It’s a real thing, both brought on by conventional grief and also grief arising from betrayal and infidelity.

    I’m so sorry for you family’s profound loss. I’m glad your wife has you – healthy you- to rely upon as she moves forward through the coming holidays and the weeks and months after. ❤️

Leave a Reply