>> Friday, September 2, 2011
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".