I wonder who comforted my older sister when her husband died.
She popped into my mind as I stumbled into the car at 0 light hundred to go to my youngest sister whose husband died a few days ago.
I’ve been through more death now. I have a better idea of what to do. And I am sad for my lack of support those many years ago.
As Oprah says, “When you know better, you do better.”
I know now that older people (even parents) miss their mates. I understand that losing a husband or a wife or a life partner is a lonely grief whether it is through death or separation. Once the children are gone from the home, there is no one who feels the giant hole that was once filled by a warm body. Children and friends are a comfort but they can’t fill the gap.
There are all sorts of stock phrases thrown about when an older person dies.
“Well, at least he didn’t suffer.”
“She had a good long life.”
“There has to be a certain amount of relief. Didn’t he require a lot of care?”
“I hope she enjoys her life now.”
Now these phrases seem cold comfort drawn upon by those who are looking for the bright side. Yet I think I was guilty of all of those thoughts when my first brother-in-law died. They seemed so appropriate to the situation because my older sister was a great complainer. She was steadfast in her criticism of her husband. And I was naive enough to believe that she would be happier.
I don’t know why I was so callous. Youth? (But not that young.) Denial? Self-absorption? I still miss him being in the world, but I didn’t join with my sister in her grief.
She had to have been lonely. She must have longed for companionship and maybe even had a few regrets.
I wish I had been there for her.
I’ll do better this time.