My husband of 19 years at the age of 46 died suddenly on August 2nd of this year. I have so many unanswered questions as to why this happened to him. He was a good man, in relatively good health. I am still angry with myself for not pushing him to go to the doctor since I knew he wasn't feeling totally wonderful. We never think it will be the last time we see them, or we talk to them. All I have been told so far is that it was not a heart attack. I'm not sure how this process works, does someone call me when they have a cause of death or do I just get a notice in the mail? My husband did not die at home, he was on his yearly golf trip with friends and they found him the next morning in his hotel room. It makes me wonder, was he in pain? Did he know he was going to die? Did it happen fast? Did he feel bad and just couldn't reach out to someone? I don't know if I will ever get the answers to some of these questions. I try not to obsess about them but my mind wanders especially when I'm alone, which is a lot now.
I also have a ton of questions about other things with my new life now, How will I survive with two children on one salary? Should I force my kids to get into therapy? My worries are endless. Any pieces of advice anyone can offer would be greatly appreciated.
TeresaNY, please accept my condolences on the loss of your husband. Your grief is still so new and so fresh; you're still in shock.
Do you have friends and family nearby? Someone you can trust to help you make decisions? There is a phenomenon called "widow brain", which is entirely too real. It's brain fog. You can't remember who told you what, etc. We're here to help, but please ask for help from someone close to you to go to appointments with you and take notes.
I know it took about six weeks to get my husband's death certificate, and he died in a hospital of a stroke. Very clear-cut. Perhaps your family doctor could help you with that?
You do have so many unanswered questions. So many things to process. It's good to have help while you handle everything.
Please don't be angry at yourself for not insisting he see a doctor. We all seem to do this after we lose our Beloved. Most of these sudden deaths are just that; sudden. Nobody could have prevented it. Please don't hurt yourself more than you are already hurting.
How old are your children? How are they handling the loss of their father? Perhaps the school counselor could help you with the therapy question.
We're so used to asking our spouse for advice, then suddenly these enormous decisions are entirely up to us! We can hardly move from grief, yet we have so many decisions to make. I will tell you that you will make these decisions, handle these questions, and eventually be amazed by your strength.
Right now, though, please keep coming here. There are wonderful people here who've been through just about everything. You'll find help. I would have been lost without these good people.
Please ask for and accept help from friends and family. Take care of yourself.
My heart is with you,
Thank you so much for your reply. I never heard of widow brain but I imagine since there is such a thing as pregnancy brain it makes sense. You gave me a lot of good advice, much like so many others here.
I have two children, one started college this year and the other is 15 and home with me. I think we are doing the best we can be at this point and we do have a lot of friends and family that are incredibly supportive.
It’s hard to express how badly I feel for you. My partner died three and a half years ago, also very suddenly. The cause of Loren’s death was aortic dissection, which is when the aorta (large artery that takes blood from the heart to the lower part of the body) got a hole in it, which eventually caused it to rupture.
The cause of your husband’s death should be on his death certificate. There is no way to know whether a visit to the doctor would have changed the outcome, which is what is so difficult about those kinds of questions. As far as your kids and therapy goes, I think it depends on the child and how old they are. When I got a divorce 15 years ago, I strongly encouraged my kids to get some therapy. I told them I wanted them to try it for X number of sessions and then if they wanted to discontinue it, they could. They were both teenagers and stayed in therapy for quite a while.
You are very early in your grief journey. I think the most important thing you can do at this stage is take care of yourself. Try to spend some time with supportive friends. Get a massage. Post messages here. Get extra rest. Don’t push yourself too hard to figure everything out right now. You’re in shock and you will be there for a while you process this bereavement. Many people here find grief groups and grief counseling helpful. One book that helped me was “I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After Sudden Death” by Brooke Noel.
I know it is impossible to believe right now but you will get through this. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and there were days when I didn’t know how I would make it. But I did as have many others here.
Thank you Amy for your reply. I will definitely check out the book your mentioned. On my husbands death certificate under the cause of death it states pending. I'm still waiting to hear from someone or get something in the mail with the autopsy report. I suppose after that they update the death certificate to list the actual cause. Unfortunately, it doesn't change the outcome of my situation or anyone else's knowing a cause.
“TeresaNY, I’m so, so sorry for your loss. So, depending on the state your husband was in on his golf trip will determine some info for cause of death. They may determine to do an autopsy, but any death certificate, once you receive will list cause of death. When my husband died 8/18 my death certificates came via the funeral home. So, if you are using a funeral home, I would call them first. No one gives us a book on, ok here are all the steps after your spouse dies. Tom came in code blue via ambulance for heart attack after I found him on the floor at home. I knew they never were able to get a rhythm back after the 3 attempts with a defibrillator before he was transported. I knew he was probably gone when I found him. Once I was put in the “room” at the hospital I knew that was the case. When the social worker came in with about 6 pages of funeral homes I just looked at her. I was like, so what do I do now, how are you even supposed to know which to call. Her answer, well call the one closest to where you live. All these things no one ever discusses, you now have to make immediate decisions.
Anyway, read Its ok you’re not ok by Megan Devine. I also like the chapter on Loss in Real life, preparing for the 7 most challenging days by Dr Phil McGraw one sentence in loss is, “when someone you love dies, you don’t get a vote” so true
6 months after my husband died, my neighbors husband died. He was 50 and tragic loss after a simple surgery. Three boys, 10, 13, 15
she has her kids in individual therapy. THEY DID NOT WANT TO GO. So this is info the mom has told me when she comes to talk. The oldest refused for months to actually acknowledge his dad had died. The therapist said he thinks he is still in the hospital, the funeral was not him, and he will come home. That lasted until early summer. The youngest cried and expressed his sorrow, and was doing ok In therapy. The 2 older boys did not cry— much for months. I told the mom, it’s ok to cry in front of them, but for months she did not until the therapist made her. They 13 year old was different than his brothers. I would see him outside with all his friends, not to upset. Well, they went on a trip in June that was planned and paid for. The mom felt she needed to honor her husbands wishes to do this. On the last week, she said the middle was acting so bad, no one wanted to be around him. Then, the mom found on her husbands phone he had been texting his dad over and over with, I’ll be good, please come back, I’ll do better in school, please come back. Things like this, so you and your kids need to,see a grief counselor. I got great advice from a friend who lost a daughter. If you and the counselor don’t fit move on. I have a bereavement counselor. I started 10 days after the death, and still go. I have a lot of info I’ve given to a few widows on this site. I hope you can find some of my posts to get more info to help process this journey. One is a web site. Whatsyourgrief.com. So many articles. I have a need for info now on grief, I watch and read a lot.
many hugs to you and your children
Thank you so much for your reply. I will look into that book you suggested and the thought of therapy is constantly on my mind. Thank you for sharing your experience.
Teresa I too would like to express my sincere condolences. As stated by others your pain and sorrow is in the very early stages. My husband was much older but he was in the hospital where we assumed he would find out what had caused him to feel so poorly. The last time I spoke to him he was happy and upbeat. The attending physician had told him to get ready to go home. Less than 30 minutes after our last conversation I received a call telling me he had taken a turn for the worse. A hour later he was gone. I still remember the attending physician saying he didn't know what happened and that the only way would be to have an autopsy performed. The hospital minister was in the room when he said this. Immediately, I was informed that if I wanted an autopsy it would be provided at no cost to me because at that moment even the doctor was unsure what had happened. Of course my children and I agreed to an autopsy and signed the necessary paperwork. It took about four weeks for them to get the results back to me. I do remember making a follow-up call to inquire when I would get the results. Due to the circumstances of your husband's death hopefully an autopsy was requested. Sometimes this information is not given voluntarily so you may have to inquire. As stated before the death certificate will have the cause of death but I found the autopsy provided information we nor any of his other doctors were aware of despite his having seen various specialists leading up to his admittance into the hospital. Initially there was a delay in getting the death certificate because none of the attending physicians wanted to sign off on the cause of death. Hopefully, you have had no problem in this area.
It was suggested that you have someone to assist you in sorting out what steps you need to take in the coming weeks and months. This is excellent advice. I also went online and googled advice for a new widow. I found a checklist which included information from handling funeral services to dealing with creditors. Perhaps a close friend or relative can assist you. I found it easier for me to make a checklist and start to prioritizing the things that had to be dealt with first i.e. insurance policies, employment benefits, monthly income, credit cards, etc. Again, if you have someone you trust seek their help. It can be overwhelming so that's why I found having a checklist beneficial. One other point, don't make any major decisions until you feel comfortable doing so.
Regarding your children, I don't know their ages. My children are all adults but even they needed the support of a close friend or relative. When my cousin's husband passed away she had three children under the age of six. The youngest one was not quite two years old so she wasn't really aware of what was happening but the older two did question where was their father. The youth minister and others at her church were very helpful in providing support to the children. Seeking help from your school counselors may also be a viable option. My cousin also contacted social security and discovered her children were also eligible for benefits which was a huge help until she found viable employment.
As stated you are still in the early stages and everyone handles their grief differently. I found after six months that I needed additional help outside of family and friends. That is what led me to this site. Plus, I found a Griefshare group in my area and I attended their 13 week session. That was very helpful in helping me sort out some of my feelings.
I also suggest you get a physical exam. Some things started happening which had not happened before so I had then checked out. Turns out most of my symptoms were related to stress which was understandable. At my worst point I took a short trip. I just had to get away to cry it out and gather my thoughts. One friend said she started volunteering. (She was older like myself) The cousin with the children found that having to focus on the well being of her children and getting back to work helped her through the most difficult moments. Just know that how you are feeling is not at all abnormal. In fact it is very normal. Have faith. Take it one day at a time. You can do this. (After 16 months I tell myself this every morning) God bless, , ,I will be praying for you and your children.
In Australia the coroner gives you a code, so you can check in with them about the autopsy. My husband died of Aortic Dissection at 40. It took a long time to get the certificate but they did ring me when they were certain this was what it was. I think they have to put other cases before natural causes, hence the time. Well, this is what I got told anyhow.
My husband wasn't feeling the best either. He went to the doctor about not feeling great but nothing was picked up, so I think maybe things get missed when they're as young as our husbands..
It's been two years for me and the kids, and we're still up and down. I moved to a regional area in order to afford doing it on my own. It was the best financial decision I've ever made. Everything is cheaper here.
I'm so sorry this has happened to you. xx
I have been reading the replies to your post and they are all excellent. I was widowed 3 1/2 years ago. My husband died at 58 of an aortic Dissection as well. I don’t know anyone else this happened to so reading the previous comments from two other women who lost their husbands from the same thing is interesting. I got in touch with my husband’s doctor 10 months after he died. I wanted the paperwork from the hospital from the day he died. They did not do an autopsy on him as they were sure of the cause of death. The doctor gave me all of the copies from the different doctors from the hospital. He explained different medical terminology to me as well. I went a number of months after he died so I could try to comprehend what was being said. The “Widow brain” lasts a very long time. Please know that this takes a long long time to process with many peaks and valleys. Be good to yourself and rest or hide out when needed and contact friends and family for help when that is needed too. Keep in touch here as well. ❤️
[email protected] I too lost my husband of 18years and was left with 3 children.
Hi Teresa. I am so sorry for your loss. I have a couple of things to share that I hope help.
First: if your husband's cause of death isn't clear, you should be able to talk to the coroner who is handling the reporting of the death. You can and should speak to them. They are serving you.
Second: you can apply to social security for survivors benefits for both you and your children (if they are minors). Once you have his death certificate you can apply but before that you can set up the appointment to apply while you are waiting. The benefits you will receive is a complex computation that social security will walk you thru. Once you receive them, you will also receive a lump sum of whatever was coming to you from the day he died on. Then every month you will get benefits, directly deposited in your bank account. I actually have more income now than I did when my husband was alive, because he wasn't working as much in the last year's of his life.
My employers started a fund for me at a local bank. This was a wonderful help to us and gives people a tangible way to help you and show they care. Don't be afraid to accept help of this kind. You need and deserve it. You should not have to worry about money right now.
About therapy: it is wonderful and helps a lot but grieving is a long process and everyone does it differently. Try to think about what you need first. It's like the proverbial oxygen mask on the airplane: put yours on first. Take extremely good care of yourself, and then also your children. Do what feels good to the three of you. If you feel like going out to dinner, go. If you want to take a trip to see close family or friends that love you, go. Think about what would feel comforting right now (that is not harmful to you or your kids) and do it. You three have been through a trauma and you need TLC. Ask yourself: what can I do that helps me today? Start looking for a therapist but be choosy and you don't have to force your kids. Just make it easy for them to go with you, find someone who does family sessions that yiu like and connect with. Sometimes it takes a few tries. If there are other significant people in your children's life like coaches, teachers, pastors, babysitters, relatives who want to help, let them. Kids need support from people other than their mom sometimes too. One thing my kids found very comforting was talking with others who had lost a parent at a young age. Because they understood in a way no one else can.
I will be thinking of you and your kids and holding you in my heart. What happened is so not OK...but you will be ok. Feel free to message me if you want to talk more.
Thanks for your reply. You gave me some good pointers and advice especially about the coroner report. I will reach out to them this week if I don't hear in a few days, they did say 6 weeks but this is NY, things usually take longer unfortunately. I did go to the SS office already and their big lump sum was $255. However, I will get benefits since my son is still a minor. It's just amazing to me that so much has to be done and I honestly would not have been able to do half of it without my family and friends. I can't even imagine not having them around me to help.
I will admit you mentioned about going out and seeing friends, this is difficult for me at this time. I have been feeling some anxieties that I never had before. I'm sure it is because I feel that I had no control over the death of my husband and I'm just trying to be in total control all the time. I know this is an unrealistic thing to try but I sometimes can't seem to help it.
You said it perfectly, what happened is not ok, and I do indeed hope I will be in time.