When it finally hit us that Ken was likely to die pretty soon, hope continued to blind like being wakened by a flashlight following major surgery for multiple gunshot wounds. We were stuck in a hospital room across the country from our home, our friends, and our kids. Ken had been in that room for almost a full six months of stem cell transplant complications. We were exhausted. He wasn't going to get better.
Still, it was almost impossible to discuss what his impending death meant. To me. To him. To our young family. To our children. Discussing it would have meant that it was real and true. Talking about it felt like giving up on hope.
In the end, we didn't talk too much about what his dying meant to me or to him. It was one of those things that was just too terrible to face; it was a time where words just couldn't do the talking. But, there was one reply he gave me that I will never forget, one reply from my husband, a trained and born therapist whose world of work navigated the world of emotions. His words were inexplicable, obvious, hard to grasp, disturbing, comforting and true all at once.
"Ken, what if everything falls apart after you're gone?" I asked.
His simple reply was this: "Sometimes it will feel like everything is falling apart."
Sometimes you feel like everything is falling apart. When you are there, in that feeling, you can know that you won't always feel that way. Emotions come and go and change. What a gift he gave me. He didn't try to falsely assure me that everything would be OK, or tell me that I would survive or happily move along. Ken told me what he knew from experience. If my life ever felt as though it was ruined, and it probably would, the feeling would not be permanent.
Sometimes it can be hard to imagine you will ever feel differently than you do right now. What difficult feelings are you holding now? Write them out where you can see them. Sometimes you feel this way; you may feel this way now, but it is likely that these feelings will not last forever.