My husband had a good life and he also had a good death. He died on 13 March 2013. A date that will always be etched on my brain. A date I’ve written down many times. Andrew was 48 and left behind me, his wife of nearly 12 years our 10 year old son, and our 7 year old daughter. His five year battle with cancer was over. He’d given it all he had. He’d fought to stay alive for as long as possible for our children but it won. It took him from us. We had to let him go. I was a widow at 44. We were both too young for this to happen. We were given between three to six months to prepare for death. In the end we got three. The news came at the beginning of December. Andrew and I decided to keep it from the kids until after Christmas. It became both the best and the worst Christmas we ever had. We threw a lot of money at it. The kids got spoilt. We bought the finest food and drink. We went to great efforts to enjoy ourselves. We succeeded but it was hard. Hard keeping up the charade of happiness when inside we were screaming. Hard to hear all the ‘happy new years’, ‘here’s to a great 2013’ and ‘this is going to be your year guys’. Hard to think we would never be sharing those times again. The next few months were filled with hospital appointments, community care and emotionally charged last visits by friends and relatives. Life took on a surreal quality having death so near. Our humour got blacker. We clung to each other as our fear mounted yet also found ourselves travelling in very different directions. Andrew was preparing to leave and I was preparing to be left. Our journeys were going to be very different. As Andrews health deteriorated so did our grip on reality. We were in our own little bubble, that just happened to be in a car travelling towards a brick wall at great speed. Don’t ask me who was driving. Death became all we could talk and think about. It should have been life. Andrew should have been ticking things off a bucket list and living his last dreams. Instead he was planning his funeral and I was buying black outfits for the children. Its important to look good whilst mourning. Like I said, surreal. We managed at home as best we could. But after one horrendous morning trying to get to hospital, Andrew conceded that a hospice might be best. It meant I could be his wife again, rather than his carer and nurse. It meant we didn’t have to struggle. It meant we could prepare for his death. He had one more week to live. In the end, Andrews death was as we had planned. In the end he had a good death. He managed to say goodbye to all those who counted. He’d been given the last rites. The kids got to say a final goodnight. He wasn’t in pain. He wasn’t scared. He was at peace. He was in my arms. I got to see his final breath fall in his chest. I got to tell him he was done now and that he could go. I got to hold him. I got to share 16 years of his good life. But perhaps most importantly I got to share his good death.

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A good death

Aside

7 thoughts on “A good death

  1. Having lost my sister and my mom recently we (my family) had our good byes I never looked at it being a good death it has certainly help me re think how to look and has given me a new prospective on grief. Thank you.

  2. theroxby says:

    These are such beautiful words, so easy to read yet so hard to fight the tears back. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, it gives a real insight into the last few months, so honest and so true. I’m so glad he had a good death. I’m so glad you were there with him at the end. How sorely you must miss him. You are in my thoughts tonight and I’ll send a few special ‘I Love You’s to the people I love because of you. X

  3. Joanne kemp says:

    JO I’m shredded reading this. I’m right back there on that terrible morning when we took him to hospital. You have written a beautiful account here but believe me when I say he was the lucky one having you there beside him on that journey, We were all cheated but you have been the anchor to which all the Baker crew clung and continues to cling. Keep going with this – you are doing a good thing.

  4. smc68300 says:

    We have very similar stories. My husband died 10 days ago after a battle with cancer. I’m 40. Our boys are 7 and 9. We were married for 12 years. He had a good death, probably the perfect death of you had to choose it. Pain-free, not scared, in my arms. I’m sure at some point that will provide comfort. Right now, I’m lost

    • It will I promise you. Now is too soon as your grief is still very raw. You will get there in time. My advice would be to contact widow organisations and speak to others going through your hell. It will help and comfort….

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