On Death and Mourning // A Widow Must Come To Terms With A New Way Of Living

By Charna Kaspi

I lost my mother last year. Eleven months later, with no warning, I lost my husband. The wheel of life goes round and round and eventually touches everyone with loss and mourning. It is excruciatingly painful, and the inner longing is at an unreachable depth so that it seems inconsolable.

One mourns differently for a mother than a husband. It is another kind of despair. No longer having the long distance phone calls five or six times a week, which always lasted over an hour, left a gap in my existence. The trips home, opening the back door and being greeted with the loving smile as my mother said, “Welcome home,” will never be again. The warmth and love, unconditional caring, the advice and deep friendship are gone like the wisp that the wind whirls away. In its place is a bottomless black hole. How often I long to reach for the phone and ask, “Ma, what would you do?” or to say, “Guess what happened today?” That will never be again. That wellspring is stopped up forever.

But a husband’s death is a separate matter altogether. It is not another person dying. When he passed away, half of me died, too, and I was left languishing with no support for my being, because no matter how hard everyone tried to help, part of me will be gone forever. How can a plant exist and flourish if half of it is shriveled and gone? It can be watered and tended to, but what is dried up completely will never return.

The interdependence, the familiarity, the understanding of the unspoken word, the tenderness, the common will, the flowers, the footsteps on the threshold, the engaging smile and sense of humor, the comfortable shared quietude, the total togetherness are eternally silenced. The house is no longer a home. His presence filled the house. He was my home. I wail, tormented by the aching loss of that which was once part of me.

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