Friday, April 8, 2011

give me one reason

In any tragedy, early loss or hard lesson, we look for a reason behind it. The "why". Over the last three years I have searched for the explanation, or rationale, for Jeff's death and all the aftermath of his loss. Not the reason written on his autopsy certificate or the coroner's report. Something deeper. Something less concrete but still as real...and "good". I have searched for a sort of justification for his loss. Some signal that the repercussions for his death were not all negative and in vain. I have felt the flicker of atonement when an acquaintance had heard that Jeff's reluctance to go to the doctor resulted in his death and insisted her husband go to the doctor for a persistently bothersome throat...only to find out that he had cancer and possibly had a chance to catch it in time. I felt some sort of rationale - maybe Jeff saved someone else's daddy in a round about way. While signing a co-worker's life insurance papers as a witness after telling them of our life insurance debacle and how life would be so different for the kids and me if I didn't have to worry about money, I felt an acknowledgement for our loss. Someone wouldn't have to face widowhood with children and not know how they would provide for them financially. After singlehandedly installing six fence posts correctly in our backyard with only the help of a postpounder, a level and a ladder (plus an extremely zealous four-year old boy), I wondered over whether I would have not only been able to do this before Jeff's death and if I would have had the confidence to unquestioningly tackle the project alone. I certainly feel that will never be a good enough reason for losing my beloved...But there may be some other purpose behind his loss. A string of positive happens that would not have happened if I were able to hold him just a little longer. Hopefully, each loss of each of our spouses has caused some amount of positive to ripple through humanity. Because I need some amount of rationale. Some amount of explanation. Some amount of knowledge that my love's life did not go unnoticed.


  1. Thank you for the post. I still struggle with this one too. I've been also told maybe to help someone along the way, maybe some ripple effect that I may not see. I still have an issue that my beloved had to suffer so much for three years and eventually pass and now I suffer this loss daily. I want to try to feel positive about this, but must admit I'm not there yet, it's still too painful. Thank you for sharing that I not alone in feeling this, what was the reason? What was the purpose? Why ? Maybe this seems a selfish way of thinking but as I sit alone missing him, I can't help but feel that way.....

  2. Wonderful Post Jackie,

    I read it and wondered . . . could your loss and your willingness to talk about it here on this blog be another small ripple in the universe?
    Did you save someone from despair, did you remind them of something beautiful, did your words seep into the darkest night where someone else - barely hanging on, because they were facing the loss of a loved one - read them and grasped tightly -
    because someone . . . understood what it was like to go to bed suddenly alone.

    I believe - that there may not be a reason why the universe decided our love ones, this time, this moment because that will happen to all of us -

    but more - that because it did come to us - others may love one another more, slow down, pay attention, forgive, praise love and let go of the small things that don't matter.

    Because today - your words touched me and reminded me that this blog has been one of the essential things that has helped me each day.

    Thank you!

  3. Jackie,
    I, too, used to ask "Why?". Many, many times. I even told God that He was out of His mind to think this could work. I was not up for the challenge. I just kept thinking over and over again, while listening to the surgeon tell me why my husband's surgery turned into a train wreck, "What were YOU thinking?? WHAT THE HELL were You thinking?!!"
    I, too, have seen some, actually, many positive things that have happened because of Jim's death.
    But I still don't know why. One day, a long time ago, I realized that even if God could come down and speak to me face-to-face as I asked Him,
    "Why?" ..... there would never be a "Because...." that would be good enough for me. There would never be an acceptable reason. Ever.
    And so I quit asking.

  4. Jackie

    I find it easier to ask the "what if" s than the why. As in, what if my husband had survived the heart attack that ended his life? Had Steve survived, he would have had to change his life, slow down, possibly been in a nursing home, confined to a bed unable to play with our 7 year old, unable to help with the house projects, unable to dance, unable to make love and those things in themselves would have killed his him.

    As I am holding his hand in the middle of the night in the ER, in my jammies, begging God to let Steve be the miracle that we so often would hear about on Sundays at church, the dr. says, even IF we could get him back he will not be the same.

    A dear friend of mine hears this story and reminds me that 7 years ago when Steve had bypass surgery that THAT was my miracle and I am blessed to have had him in the capacity in which I did. Full of life, full of hope. I believe this to be true.

    As you believe, I do too, God could not justify His reasons for Steve's death. He knows what He is doing. I have to believe this to be true.


  5. I believe my husband died of cancer because "shit happens" and no one is immune. More specifically, I believe that it was probably caused by our pollution of the environment. My husband was fit and healthy, always took care of himself, was a runner of 29yrs, and didn't even drink coffee or soda. He always ate healthy, kept his weight down, had his fruits and veggies daily. He had his physical exam yearly with all recommended testing. He had a clean colonoscopy 3 yrs before he was diagnosed with cancer. In six months, he was dead. Healthy one day, terminal in 6 months. I don't think there is any reason that John died other than shit happens, just as one is killed suddenly in a freak auto accident. But I believe God can allow us to use these events in positive ways, when we tap into the goodness and love within us. People say that my husband showed people how to die with his journey. We decided to live one day at a time and find the joy in each day, no matter how small eg. sunny day. He shared his cancer journey with everyone through and he was open and loving, his finest hour, and people showered him with love and kindness. We planned his funeral, the songs and readings, and had a wonderful family reunion weekend, where his four sisters and many nieces and nephews and our children all came to celebrate John and say goodbye. He loved it! No I don't believe that there is any reason John died too soon, but I believe we chose to make the best of a bad situation. His death just before our retirement after 40 yrs of marriage was so unfair, but we know life isn't fair. I miss him so much, and I'm still very sad and grieving him 2 1/2 yrs out. I'm still struggling with how to live without him and at times very lonely. But it is what is it. John just happened to get gastric cancer, just as some women happen to get breast cancer, or young children happen to get leukemia, or someone dies in a freak accident or in a war. These things are all part of life, and usually we don't realize this fact until it happens to one of our loved ones. It teaches you to live each day to the fullest and to treasure what you have and that life really is too short.

  6. I agree! Don always told me I was strong enough, smart enough, resilient enough to make it on my own...perhaps I always knew I was...just didn't want to find out for sure that I was! I didn't need him, I wanted him and I still do!