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Losing Two Family Members……Just 31 Days Apart

Losing one family member at a young age is bad enough, but losing two members only 31 days apart can test the inner strength of a person.  This is my story of the loss I experienced two years ago.

February is a tough month for me.  It might be the shortest month of the year, but for me it holds painful memories.  Nineteen years ago my father died on February 26th.  His death was very sudden and the pain stayed fresh for a long time.  Two years ago on February 4th my husband turned 49.  On his birthday he told me he was certain he would not live to see 50.  Two years before he had a stroke and although he recovered for the most part he was never the same.  My husband knew he was dying of cirrhosis and that it was just a matter of time before he died.  He had been trying to prepare me and our daughter for his eventual death.  Since our daughter was away at college most of the time, she was much less prepared than I was.  I kept him home until three days before his death.  Putting him in the hospital on February 14th knowing he would in all probability never come home again, was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.  He was very sick by the time he was admitted.  Many hospital personnel wondered why I waited so long before having him admitted.  They did not know that I had promised my husband to keep him home as long as physically possible.  My husband hated hospitals and only wanted to be admitted as a last resort.

My husband was in multiple organ failure by the time he was admitted. Two days after I put him in the hospital, the doctors said there was nothing more they could do and to have our daughter come home to say goodbye. My daughter had an over four hour drive to come home.  The doctors brought my husband out of sedation so he could say goodbye to our daughter.  No preparation in the world could have prevented the pain my daughter went through having to say goodbye to her dad.  My husband and I had talked extensively about his death and I was prepared for the final goodbye.  The last day of his life, he was moved to a private room and all treatment was stopped.  My daughter and I sat with him all day. Family came and went all day, but we never left his side.  The doctors said they were waiting for his heart to stop as all his other organs had already failed.  Before we left to go home that night we recorded the sound of my husband breathing so we could have that as a remembrance. The last thing we did before we left was to kiss him goodbye and feel his heart beating one more time.  At 11:40pm on February 17th, we got the phone call that my husband had died.  It was exactly 22 years and 2 months since we were married.  I still say to this day he died before midnight so he could say he died on our anniversary so to speak. Having someone so young die in the family caused much grief. Everyone knew he had been sick for almost four years, but it didn’t make his death any easier.

My husband comes from a family of eight children.  He was closest by far to his one sister.  His sister was also sickly for a long time.  She was a bad diabetic and had come close to death many times in the past.  They shared a bond through life that they were very alike in personality and lifestyle.  Neither of them worked for the last few years and both tended to be sick on and off.  This led them to form a strong bond of support for each other.  My sister-in-law took my husband’s death very hard.  He was the one person she counted on to always be able to talk to and get support from.  She kept in close contact with me and my daughter after my husband died.  Calling or emailing us almost daily to make sure we were ok. I could tell she was taking her brother’s death very hard.  She was always talking about how she missed him so much and why did he get to end his suffering and not her.  My sister-in-law turned 48 on March 1st.  She was in and out of the hospital with infections and such for many weeks.  She was getting ready to finally go home for a while, when suddenly on March 20th we got word that she had died.  They said her heart just stopped.  It is my belief that she missed my husband and their mother so much that she quit fighting and let God take her so she could be with them.

Even though my sister-in-law had been sick for years, she had no burial plot. She wanted to be cremated but the family had to decide what to do with her ashes.  I knew what my husband would want me to do, so I called the cemetery and asked if she could be buried in the same plot as my husband.  They said this would be possible since the container with her ashes would be small.  They could lay her to rest at my husband’s feet in the same grave. I told the rest of the family I wanted to do this and they agreed. I asked that they keep out some ashes that I could have jewelry made and also have some reminder of her with me always.  My daughter took the death of her favorite aunt very hard.  It was bad enough that she had just lost her dad but to now lose her aunt too was almost more than she could handle.  Losing two family members at such a young age is hard for any family.  Losing them only 31 days apart makes it extra tough.  I know God never gives us more than we can handle.  If nothing else their deaths have taught us to make every day count and never to take anything or anyone for granted.  If you love someone let them know, each day is a gift not a given.


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