Grief & Loss: How To Experience Grief And Cope With The Death Of A Spouse

Grief has touched my life in the most personal and intimate of the way since first writing this.

My husband was murdered on July 4, 2020. This article was written in June 2014. With minimal updating, sharing it with you today as I continue to process grief and loss. Read below.

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Experiencing Grief And Loss

“The ‘closest’ person to me to have died was my father. However, ‘close’ is a relative word as, up to his death in the early 1980s, I had seen the man fewer times than the number of fingers on my hand.

Harry Mac, as we affectionately called him, was my ex’s father and was more of a Dad to me than my own. He made his transition in the 1990s. Publicly, I was stoic and the backbone of the family, alongside my ex, as we planned and hosted the celebration of his life memorial. Privately, I mourned with a passion so deep it was unspeakable.

The death of a spouse I have never experienced [until 2020].

As Mrs Mac mourned the loss of her husband for a very long time, I became somewhat impatient with her demands. Not yet trained in chaplaincy, having not witnessed and stood in the gap with persons mourning the passing of their loved ones, my thought was “Enough already!”

She was reaching out to fill a void – 30 years of togetherness with one man – but it was one that truly no other person can step into, not completely. Although they could not, she tried to get her children, particularly the younger one – my ex – to try. That was what made me impatient and even angry.

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Coping With Grief

My relationship with death has changed very much over the years. I have moved from fear, bordering on a major panic attack should a hearse drive by, to impatience for those needing a long time to mourn. Today, thankfully, I have learned the lessons of grief and comfort. My training in inter-faith chaplaincy, particularly my experience observing a multiple heart bypass surgery and not seeing ‘the soul’, preparing bodies in the morgue of the hospital for family viewing and private farewells, along with my very personal spiritual journey has taught me compassion and patience with others’ experience of grieving.

Death is no longer something that I am afraid of yet I understand the meaning of the loss of a loved one, albeit not a spouse. Yet I continue to struggle with the word “loss” and much prefer “transition” as death to me is not a loss but a movement.

This is all “simple” for me to say, having not had a spouse transition [until 2020]. So I turn the question over to you, our readers, who have had this intimate experience of the “movement” of a spouse into the other realm – might we say? How did you cope? What is the most important suggestion you would give to someone having this experience right now?

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The first anniversary of my husband’s death is not too far off now.

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Claudette Esterine-Campbell

Some days are way better than others. Then, there are the days that numbness is my modus operandi, how I make it through the hours.

Writing, communicating and being vulnerable are my coping mechanisms. As the anniversary draws closer, those are my tools to cope with loss.

With a grateful heart, I say “Thank you” to all those who have cared for and carried me through these months.

Blessings,

2017

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