A time for everything.

Jose had brought his son to the emergency room for some febrile illness. I knew him and his family quite well.

It was one of my friends who called me from the hospital.

“Jessie’s husband came with his son to the ER. He collapsed there and lost consciousness.”

I was at home. I would usually wait for the call of the resident physician. Many doctors get offended if you go and see a patient without their request. But I knew Jessie too well, she was one of my favorite staff members and I also knew her husband. After a difficult start, he had established a business which was growing very well and every thing was just falling in to places.

Jose had a deep seated bleeding in the brain. We placed him on ventilator and kept him in ICU and later shifted to the care of a neurosurgeon at another center. We wanted him to get the best of options. He died at that hospital with in few days, without regaining full consciousness at any time.

I have seen how difficult it is for a woman to deal with problems after the unexpected death of her husband. Their business was running smooth till then. Many employees and their numbers were on the rise. Works going on at different locations. Payments were due to be submitted to the banks. Money to be collected from clients. Jessie had no idea about any of these. She didn’t have an idea where the bank accounts were. How much money was to be collected and who all were the clients. How to take care of business transactions. Her children had not finished their education. It was as if suddenly the world has fallen apart. She would often just sit in the pantry and pray. I hadn’t seen her cry much. She had some kind of strength from somewhere. She was a strong believer and her faith had helped her. Though I often entered in to arguments with her on matters regarding faith, I had secretly admired her intense faith.

I remembered the movie “Places in the heart’(1984) which I had seen recently.

The Spalding family prays together at the breakfast table. That is how the movie starts. A bite of sandwich and Mr. Spalding gets a call from his work place. He kisses his children, leaves the table and gets shot to death by a drunken boy within minutes of leaving his home.

Edna Spalding finds herself, after 15 years of marriage, with two small children to support, a farm which the bank is about to take over, no money in the bank and no talent for anything except cooking and keeping house.

It is the story of an ordinary, simple woman facing the sudden death of her husband, and fighting for the survival of her children, for her land, and for the greatest dream there is...the future. It is a touching movie. It made me cry.

I remembered this story when I faced Jessie. Hers is not an unusual story. Women who face the sudden death of their husbands are often left with heavy responsibilities and have no idea as to how their husbands were running the show.

It’s very common for women to feel both financially and emotionally lost after her husband dies on .Women are numb, lost, emotionally drained,lonely, fragile, weak, frightened, vulnerable,and occasionally, guilty. Some of these feelings surface and some stay hidden.

Death comes uninvited and often suddenly. It doesn’t give us time to hand over business details or say apologies or to say the much neglected words of love to the loved ones. Instead, there is a sudden destruction of the world you used to know. There is no gradual transition, nor time to make changes in yourself, your expectations about your life, or your world. In sudden death you are called upon to face a massive gap between the way the world should be, with your loved one alive, and the way the world is. The person whom you loved, and who provided you with security, is taken away without any warning. This is a major violation of your expectations.

I have often wondered. What would have happened to us if my father had died suddenly? My mother had never stepped out of our home and had no idea about the outside world. She would never know where my father had kept his accounts. She dint know how to write a bank check, leave alone, to go and buy things for daily needs.

Jessie told me. “I’m not the only one. If other women can get through this, I can too. And my God will guide me through” And she was right. There are millions of widows living with the memories of their husband. If the couple shares things such as bill paying, business information and financial details, you’re a step ahead. If not, now is the time to have your banker or a knowledgeable friend teaches you about money affairs. And to husbands.. now is the time to tell your wives what they ought to know about money matters, and tell them what they do not know about your business.

Sometimes the death of a loved one brings up not only grief for what you lost, but also grief for what you never had and now never will have. For example, if you had a very conflicted relationship with your mother or sibling, when she dies you may grieve not only for what you have lost, but also for the fact that you never had a better relationship with them. You realize you could have improved relationships and given them better care. In such a case you grieve for the past, present, and future.

One can always learn from the mistakes of others. Now is the time to learn and to reconcile if you have reasons to do so.

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live".


  1. Hello Dr,

    I came here floating by her (hip hop grandmom's post).

    You have carved out the truth of being alive while living. In a world that is less emotional today, it makes sense to be reminded of our true spirit: To love and to be loved.

    some nice lyrics i hear in the background as i read your post:
    Say it loud, say it clear
    You can listen as well as you hear
    It's too late when we die .....

    thank you

    best rgds

  2. " What dies inside us while we live". Doc I have not come across a more powerful statement of fact than this , now for long.When you measure with this yard stick, there are not many who are really alive in this world today!

    There is another matter after reading your post that brought me back to think. We rue and lament death visiting us or our dear ones without an appointment. But can we look in at the scenario where Nature was such that we were foretold about the imminent death- the time, place, day etc. Will we continue to live until death part us? It will be miserable and devastating living until death do come. Hence it is better that death is stealthy.

    As for the hold on faith in situations of grieve and desperation, well if it saves good. It is only I think a little beyond and would seek answer. Why has not the faith that we hold on so obstinately passionate, not saved us the agony in the first place? Does it not really Natures' way of telling,"look fella it really doesn't matter whether you, your husband or wife or children or xxxxx live for my scheme of things. I will have the sun rising and setting even if you and your cohorts are around or not. The moon , the stars and the whole nature that came before you will stay and move on. So do not ask,"why me"?You are only incidental.

    And another matter is woman, I guess Balan too will applaud this, the species are biologically, evolved to survive. Be it man or beast the female of the species will outlive male.

    My sympathies and good wishes to the lady and her family.

  3. “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live".
    and this is forcing me to think over something that is going around me and what I'm doing to rectify it.
    Thanks for sharing the lovely post. I keep a regular check on your blog and it's so nice to read your words...soothing words.


  4. Your last statement is to powerful. 'I'm not the only one' - this is enough to set you sail. We often think ours is the worst problem in the world; without realizing there are others going through more worse.

    If it has come to you; then you can handle it for sure. And women - yes they are weak yet strong

  5. Wonderful, thoughtful and very powerful post. I agree with your last statement “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live".
    You are an excellent writer. I learn a lot from your each and every post and love to read it.

  6. Very Thoughtful post. You shared a very touching and inspiring story. teaches how to stand against all odds.

    You have raised some points about dealing and settlement of financial issues by spouse after death of husband. I think every person should share basic and core financial transactions and decision with wife too. I hope you would be agree too..??

  7. I can't tell you how beautifully you have voiced the problem of widowhood! Death is probably the most certain thing in our lives but it is untimely or sudden death that is the terribe blow for the loved ones!

  8. The last Line says a lot and gives a important message ..
    Life's experiences , the behaviour of people around , the reactions .. sometimes do make a part of you die inside while you are still alive and that is dangerous .. but world is not that great a place ... and people are very bad .. the one who says they love you are the ones who usually stab that knife right in the middle of the heart...


  9. I have seen a friend feeling shattered after her husband's death. She was financially sound and capable of managing things. But her main problem was that she led a protected life all along and an ordinary act of waiting in a queue for the unique ID form reminds her of the person she has now lost. She does not feel bad about standing just that she had taken so much for granted when he lived.

  10. I salute to the women of substance ! Have seen personally how it gets hard for a family to run without the father.. God give the lady and the family courage to move through the tough paths.

    Weakest LINK

  11. A deeply sensitive post, sir!

    Thank you for kindly visiting...
    Aloha from Waikiki;

    Comfort Spiral

    > < } } ( ° >

  12. -Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live-

    I so much agree with that. btw, happy ied, doc :)

  13. I have seen that many times adversity brings out the best in people,.once a couple known to us dies suddenly in an accident and we wondered how their children will cope, but today they all have come out in flying colors and placed very very well in life due to their hard work and a zeal to work out their life..may be thats the god's way of compensating.

  14. Very thought provoking..

    One can always learn from the mistakes of others. Now is the time to learn and to reconcile if you have reasons to do so.

    but stubborn as we are.. we never learn.. let me try...

  15. Wow, what a wonderfully powerful and moving post and to end with this quote was perfect.

  16. A very meaningful post. I too pray that Jessie handles everything smoothly with God's blessings. For those whom no one is there to support, God will be there..

  17. Missed you and the posts Doc. Its always better to say what you feel, what if you never get a chance again. Life is so fragile. Loved the last statement. So many things have died within me, I am doing a bit of soul searching now. But I guess it will never compare to the loss of a loved one. I dread to even think about it. I will sure give him a tight hug today and let him know that I am glad I am back in his life here in Dubai.

  18. thanks for sharing for tears,some facts are so hard to face but we the human are have no option except face them with deep faith in god and great confidence in our self.

  19. very well explained and so very true!its sad..but its destined and I guess each has to learn and make its way when they are in deep trouble..
    God ,the almighty gives each and everyone enough strength to handle and even solutions to each problem!
    quite a Moving post..
    revived some old memories!

  20. Touching. It is hard. But as a doctor you probably view these events differently.

  21. hi..
    Doc...how r u?
    how is everythin goin?
    hope to se ya blog soon..

  22. Stopping by to say hello. I hope all is well.

  23. I'm beginning to admire Jessie. She for sure is a strong woman. Sorry about your friend. No more words.

  24. Hai Dr where r U ? V all R Missing U. Anything wrong with your new Job ?


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