Meanwhile the family goes through the torturous process of saying goodbye over and over again. I can remember distinctly being called to the hospital. I was told to call my children and tell them to fly in, that it was time to say goodbye, at least six times. Like many of the very strong chronically ill, it was just a rehearsal for the end. But, you never know.
The first time Miriam was called to the hospital to say goodbye, she was so upset that she passed a stopped school bus and got a ticket for over $500 and more demerits on her license than she could handle. The second time was a bit easier, having gone through it once before. She wasn’t alone this time. Her daughter was visiting. With a bit little less panic, she arranged for her grandchildren to stay with a neighbor as she and her daughter ran down to see her husband. The third time she got the call, she was having coffee with a friend. Her friend was shocked at her outward calm, not realizing that inwardly she was falling apart, as Miriam took herself down to the hospital and stayed overnight, wondering if she should tell her children to fly in again. And, again her husband defied the predictions.
Do the rehearsals make dealing with the death – when it finally comes – easier? To my way of thinking, it does and it doesn’t. Because you have gone through the motions before, you know where to go, whom to talk to and what you need to do. In that way, it is somewhat easier. But, because you have gone through the emotions before, and you have that repeated hope to hold on to, it is torturous. Going through the pain of losing someone, repeatedly, doesn’t make it easier. It is just intense pain, repeated. But that is just one more gift given to well spouses by their partners’ diseases.
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