If you are lucky enough to still have your spouse intact, I have a question.
Do you ever discuss, you know, the D word? Is ‘death’ part of your warm, couply vocabulary, or is it one of those subjects like exes and the fact that it took him SO FUCKING LONG to propose that is never broached?
Even after He was critically ill, and the click-whoosh of His mechanical heart valve kept me awake at night, my husband and I never discussed what would happen in the event of the other’s death. It was taboo, I guess because it had almost been reality and neither of us wanted to think about the what ifs.
Besides, that Registrar in the hospital, the little fella with whom I high-fived like a fucking cheerleader when I saw him months later in the heart clinic, stated quite clearly that Mark ‘would have a normal life span’ post-surgery. So why would we spend time as a couple talking about, you know, the D word, when we had three Mad Men box sets to get through?
After the unthinkable happened, I spent a considerable amount of time and money amassing books on the subject of grief and how to deal with it. I wanted an answer to this devastating conundrum I was suddenly faced with and I convinced myself that titles such as ‘I Wasn’t Ready To Say Goodbye’ and ‘After You’d Gone’ were key texts in achieving this.
Whilst they work for some people, I quickly realised that they weren’t going to do much for me. In fact, no book can tell you how to grieve, or how to get over the death of your spouse. There is no antidote.
One book which remains well-thumbed though is entitled ‘In Loving Memory’ (sent to me by a friend in the aftermath). This morning as I was hunting for some sage words to help me get through the day, I opened it at a quote by Winston Churchill. It is an excerpt from a letter to his wife and is entitled ‘In The Event of my Death’.
“Do not grieve for me too much,” he writes. “…If there is anywhere else I shall be on the look out for you. Meanwhile look forward, feel free, rejoice in Life, cherish the children, guard my memory. God bless you.”
Oh to have been Churchill’s widow upon reading those words! He had given her a steer, given her permission to move on. Stated his wishes for her life from beyond the grave.
Stuck out here as I am in this vast ocean of grief, I can’t help wishing Mark and I had had that discussion, that he’d lent me that guiding hand.
For I’m lost. What would you want me to do, love?