In terms of my own personal journey of widowhood, I'm what you'd call a sudden death widow. Greg was killed instantly in that car crash (as I've been reliably told by all and sundry who were there).
The fact that I didn't get to say goodbye (I was repeatedly told NOT to view the body and I listened - I kinda wish I hadn't) - this fact has caused major suckage.
The fact that I was unaware for over 5 hours is also a source of major suckage.
The fact that the shock of his death has permanently affected my ability to remember things is another PITA. I could go on but you get the idea....
I've never compared my pain to that of widows who had to watch the life force of their beloved ebb away through the cruel twists of disease or chronic injury.
I've never seen the point of a comparison.
To me, its just different rooms in hell.
That and we can only know so much of another's pain; even though we may have suffered the loss of a spouse, because we are not privy to the innermost feelings of others. I only know how *I* feel about the loss of my husband. I know much of what I feel is similar to many others here, but every person's grief is different.
Which brings me to long, slow, painful, drawn out deaths.
I've watched both my husband's parents go through agonising deaths from cancer ... but on some level, it fit the order of things in that we expect our elders to die.
We don't however, expect young, fit, vibrant, healthy people to die while they are in the midst of living.
On Saturday, I received the news that my oldest friend's little sister was diagnosed with incurable cancer just hours earlier: she began chemo yesterday morning. She should have started it on Sunday morning, but her blood pressure was too low.
She is the same age I was when Greg died.
I am having trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that this girl who I've known for most of my life.... this funny, ridiculous, shenanigator ....is fighting the battle of her life. The battle for her life. The battle which she has been told she has no chance of winning. The battle which has stolen her hope, but not her spirit, nor her insanely filthy sense of humour which we, her friends and family, all know and love.
....and I am devastated. I am devastated for her, for my friend, for their other sister and their mother. I am devastated for her nieces, for her uncles and aunties, for her cousins and for her friends.
As much as I know grief and how it feels, I only really know my own and I am lost as to how to tell this family how much love I have for them (I've said it, but it doesn't seem enough).
But I know I can be there.
I know I can pump out the stupidly upbeat, funny, crazy e-mails that lift my friend's spirits and make her laugh.
I know I can offer family portraits (because I know how important each and every photo becomes when you can no longer take any more).
I might not know their exact grief, but I know how to abide with them while it unfolds.