Friday, May 17, 2013

So Happy She Died!

(This great image is from Cory Parris' web site)

On Maggie’s Angel Day, at the suggestion of friends, I hosted a simple get-together.   When asked about hosting such an event, I immediately felt…  Yuck!  Why the hell would I want to have a party on the day my sweetie Maggie died?  She DIED that day.  What is there to celebrate?

Reflecting on that day four years ago is an exercise rich with many layers of emotion, no matter what the impetus.  My feelings that day were so complicated and fluid moment to moment that it’s difficult to capture in words.  It’s a day like no other I’ve experienced or frankly wish to ever experience again.  But I wouldn’t have rather been anywhere else on Earth.  I was right where I was supposed to be - by her side.

Just moments after she died I remember being so peaceful and happy.  I was relaxed and quite simply just happy.  Until now, I’ve tried not to dig too deeply into the psychology of why that would be a good moment for me to be all smiles and while I can assure you that the happiness didn’t last very long, for a while that evening, I was quite relaxed and happy.

My guess as to why I was Mr. Smiles that evening is, quite simply, that for the first time in way, way too long, my sweet wife wasn’t suffering.  I wasn’t watching her body slowly being eaten by an awful disease.  Our lives were no longer being painfully ripped apart.  Our futures weren’t being destroyed, one happy dream at a time.  We weren’t saying goodbye anymore.  The beatings had stopped.  It was over.

Last Saturday for Maggie’s Angel Day v4.0, while others were here having fun, enjoying the hamburgers and company, I celebrated that happiness again.  It may seem twisted to some but I never, ever want to forget the happiness that I felt that day after Maggie died.  I hope that feeling stays with me for the rest of my life.

I believe that the happiness that I felt just moments after Maggie died is my super power.  It reminds me that I have felt love and have loved so powerfully that my soul rejoiced when her suffering ended.  Yes, I realized that I had a lot of grief and more hurt was coming my way.  But that evening, while time warped around me, my tired soul savored the end of the suffering.  It was the happiest sad moment I’ve ever experienced.

That night four years ago, blissful and shell-shocked, I spent the next several hours in the kitchen with friends, laughing, telling jokes and just being not sad.  Oddly enough, the get-together for Maggie’s Angel Day ended the exact same way - me in the same kitchen with friends, laughing, telling jokes and just being not sad.  Perfect.

I’m very, very careful to not say things like “Maggie would want” because I learned early in our relationship that I really had no ability to predict her preferences, but in this particular scenario I’ll say with confidence that Maggie would have wanted me to spend that day just the way I did, in the kitchen with friends, laughing, telling jokes and just being not sad.  Thar.  We dun did it.  And fun was had by all.


  1. good for you...when your loved one is suffering there is certainly a thankfulness that it is over. i am glad you found a good way to commemorate the day

  2. I remember the relief of Dave's death. I was distraught to actually watch him take his last breaths, but relieved that the suffering and destruction was finally over.

    I have a hard time 'celebrating' the day. I have considered having get-togethers on that day to remember him, but it was so painful I just don't want to go there.

    But maybe if I did, I would get over it and somehow enjoy 'his' day with his friends. Something to consider I guess.

    Thanks for sharing here how you really feel.

  3. Beautiful...and so heart-wrenching. Thanks so much for sharing that.

  4. "It was the happiest sad moment I’ve ever experienced. "
    Ditto for me, I remember laying beside him all that last day, into the eve, telling him it was time to go, his body ravage by cancer also. It was the most difficult thing I have ever done, telling him it's ok to go, but wanting him with all my heart to stay.

    My Mom died a year later on the same day, I was with her, too. At first I thought "how can she do this to me? the very same freaking day?" But now it's a day I honor the two most important people in my life on. It's not a day I can be with anyone yet, but I celebrate them because of their influences on me. I do see advantages in you celebrating with friends, yours sound awesome, nice to know they are there for you.

  5. I am so glad you shared. I remember feeling just so peaceful when I heard my loving husband exhale his last breath on this side of eternity. I knew without a doubt that he was no longer suffering and finally he was resting without pain. I took my children to breakfast that morning afterwards and we set around the table just laughing and joking as usual. In the past two years, when I have thought of that day, I felt guilty, as if there must have been something wrong with me. Thanks for letting me know that such a moment was a gift from God.

  6. Beautiful Chris. I am not surprised at all by your reaction. I also felt happy in an odd sort of way, other than probably being in shock but I had to remove life support from my beloved Tim; it was what he wanted if nothing more could be done. I was happy to have given him a truly peaceful, dignified death that I was able to plan with family and friends singing him on his way. That was truly a gift to be able to choose the time and place, so many do not have that honor. You gave Maggie so much then and still do. Glad fun was had by all.

  7. seeing the person you love most in the world in pain and agony is beyond unbearable. It's not surprising that seeing them released from the pain and suffering should make you happy for them. It shows the depth of your love and compassion for Maggie that you could be genuinely happy that she was free even though your life was now shattered.
    I'm glad you have friends that you could share this most special and specially difficult day with.

  8. I too know the feeling of torn emotions on the day of my partners death. I was the one that gave the OK for life support disconnect for my companion after he had been in a coma for 2 days, with no hope of recoverey. At first the responsiblity haunted me terribly, and weighed heavily on my shoulders. Then I came to realize that I was privledged that he gave me that trust, authority and responsiblity and that I was there to hold his hand, give a final kiss and tell him how much I loved him as he took his last breaths. He did not die alone nor is the epitome of what we all want at the end...

  9. You are a good writer and its great to hear from a males point of view here. Im Kelley and I write every other Friday from you:) I have NEVER felt what you are describing - that happy feeling - because my husband never suffered at all. His death was completely sudden and shocking and he had zero symptoms ever in his life, so for me, the hell BEGAN on the day he died. I always say about losing someone suddenly and losing someone to long illness ... they are both equal levels of Hell, just a completely different kind of hell. Wishing you continued good things ....

    1. It isn't Hell, but part of our life and living. I don't like my position either, but we are so blessed to live in United States of what we have. Where there is life, there is death, and we generally don't' live that way thinking that, and preparing ourselves, or we just ignore the fact.
      Peace be with you.

  10. Thank you. This is the first time I've seen anyone write about that feeling of happiness and relief when their loved one dies. Ten months ago I had watched my previously healthy and fit husband die from cancer over a period of 3 months and when the terrible suffering finally ended there was a feeling of such relief. I spent the evening with two good friends and was sufficiently relaxed to actually eat and enjoy my food for the first time in months. I went to bed and slept properly for the first time in months. I awoke with the usual feeling of dread in my stomach, heaved a sigh of relief when I remembered that my husband was no longer suffering and promptly went back to sleep again. But after that first night the awful realisation that I was now alone and would never see him again sunk in...........