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Have I Told You That My Husband Died?

I can't stop myself from telling people my husband died. Now what's that all about? Ken died five and a half years ago, yet I haven't reached the point yet where I can keep it to myself. I'm like a little parrot: my husband died, my husband died, my husband died. It's like a verbal tic; it has to come out. It's the fact that must be known.


I will say that I have improved in this regard. I rarely tell total strangers anymore while standing in line at the post office and I don't open my window and shout it out into the neighborhood at random moments. Still, if I were to just meet you, and if we were to exchange words leading into a conversation, you might find out that I am currently doing a lot of work for a brand new experimental library, I have two children, I love to write, and, well, my husband died five years ago.


My eyes are blue, my hair is gray, I grew up in Canada, and my husband died when I was 44 leaving me the only parent of two young children.


The other day I was driving around doing some work with three women who I've met within the last three months or so. The conversation turned to the tornado warning we'd experienced the night before here in Chicago. Well, here was a perfect opportunity for me to mention that when my late husband had been at MD Anderson in Houston for his second stem cell transplant in 2005, we were there for both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. Just can't stop myself from bringing it up.


So here's the thing: I'm quite happy now. My health is excellent. I have a very lovely boyfriend, I feel like I'm doing a great job raising my kids, I love where I live, I'm doing work I enjoy. My friends and neighbors are wonderful. I am no longer in misery or drowning in grief. I'm having a good time.



my husband died.


It's as if I still can't really believe it happened.

When I talk about it, I keep some of our story alive.

He's dead, but what happened to us is so real and so present for me.

Don't you think for a moment when you see me happy that I have forgotten him.

He died. I remember that every day, again.

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Comment by Eileen on June 28, 2011 at 5:00pm
i just told the plumber this week and no, he did not lower the ridiculous price.  And just today when the vet asked me how I am (he is genuine) I felt the need to tell him it is my wedding anniversary.  So he said "well not a good day then"  And I said "No it's not...".  I felt supported and understood....but as far as the is just one of those things...I do the same thing.  As Daddoffour said it is a part of who I am now.
Comment by MsKris12 on June 27, 2011 at 10:20am

Yep-I do it!  I try not too, sometimes biting my tongue because I do not want (A) the sympathy look (B) the conversation to come to a slow, awkward end (C) my eyes still tear up and my voice cracks when I say it out loud.

Great post Jill!

Comment by denisec on June 26, 2011 at 5:27pm
Great blog. I think I may just be starting to bring it up more now at the 1.5 yr point. It still seems awkward to bring it up but I too feel the need for people to know Jim was here in my life.
Comment by dadoffour (Floyd) on June 26, 2011 at 7:33am

I think we all do it. I will have to say, that I have learned that people will tell you the most important facts about them within the first five mintutes, usually. Listen closely, you will know it when you hear it. I tried to ignore the fact of her passing and in the first three months had some severe issues, the counselor said to me, "what did you expect?, was it different the last time you lost your wife of 27 years?". The point is, that this is a trauma, something, that will forever be in the bullett list of your life. It is part of all of us, and yes, at times it is important for the people we are talking to to know. I am getting better, I don't do it at the drive up teller window anymore.



Comment by Jill on June 24, 2011 at 9:55pm
That is great Dianne! Maria and Stella, thanks for replying so that I know I'm not the only one!
Comment by Dianne in Nevada on June 24, 2011 at 9:48pm

I posted this quote on my FB page today ...

“Laughing faces do not mean that there is absence of sorrow! But it means that they have the ability to deal with it”. ~Shakespeare

Comment by loveliveson on June 24, 2011 at 8:48pm
Beautiful!  It really does become a central fact, doesn't it?  Like one of the most elemental parts of who we are.  I can completely relate to the need for others to know a bit of our story, and that our loved ones are not forgotten, no matter how normal we may look.  I actually found myself filling in my late husband's name on school and sports rosters this year, followed by "(deceased)."  It brought him into the present with us somewhat, sort of... and I'll be damned if people think we've forgotten him because we smile, look and often are happy, and carry on.  He IS their dad.
Comment by stella777 on June 24, 2011 at 12:25pm

That is amazing.  I do that also.  I find myself especially telling repair people.  Almost as if they should be especially helpful to me because I am a widow.  It's been 4 years.  I think it is actually a step forward for me.  For the first 2 years or so, I could barely verbalize it.  If I did have to tell someone, I would tear up and feel devastated for several hours.  By saying it, it made it real.  Now after 4 years, I know it's real.  Well, not always.  Sometimes I still question the reality of a healthy husband suddenly getting sick with pancreatic cancer and be dead less than a month later.  I feel like I have to tell everybody about the suddenness of his death.

I wonder if I will continue to feel compelled to tell strangers for the rest of my life.


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