Last night I went to a support group for persons that were dealing with the death of a loved one. As I listen to other people share their experience, I become aware of how amazed people seem about death. I want to shake them and say, “Are you nuts? You are shocked that someone died? Did you not expect death? Do you know anyone that lived forever?”
I get it. We are shocked when it happens. When my husband died, I was shocked. He was 76 and in good health. His father lived into his 90s and his mother died at 87. So he talked about his good genes. And then he drowned. So, yes, I was shocked on that day that his death had been at an early age.
But we had talked about death. It is a transition from one part of life to another. Period. As a Christian, it is a positive transition from one part of life to another. The only sad part of death is missing the daily presence of that other person. But knowing that other person is now in a glorious home where we all desire to be, is fine with me. I look forward to being there also. How can you live each day as a person and not be aware that you or someone you love may die immediately. It is as clear a fact as you breathing each moment.
Don’t get me wrong. I miss my husband. I mostly miss his companionship. I miss his hugs. I miss the things he did for me. I miss his role in the family. I have my moments of sadness. I have triggers like a song I hear or someone’s voice that sounds like his or seeing something that was very special to the two of us. I miss him so much.
But I expected to miss him. I expected him to die. Not in the way he did, nor at age 76, but I knew this would happen. I had visited this in my mind. My daughter said to me last night that maybe part of out grief journey is in our expectations. I think she is right. I listened to people last night and wanted to say them, “What did you expect?” They talked about lingering illnesses and older persons dying. “What did you expect?” Did you not think about the future? Did you not prepare for this moment?
There are two things that I think has helped me in this process. One is my perception of life. I see life and death as one. It is a continuous life. Death is just the transition from one dimension to the next. And it happens to everyone. As a Christian, it is a happy transition.
The second is the preparation and the expectation of this transition. I was not surprised it happened. I was surprised it happened at 76 and by drowning. But not that it happened. I prepared myself with the legal paperwork, by living each day to the fullest with my husband, and with the expectation that every day together was a gift not a given. I want to say to everyone. Get with the program. Don’t ignore the inevitable. Live and enjoy each other and expect that tomorrow you may be separated. Be joyous in the transition.