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girlofscience's avatar

What is it like to experience the death of a partner?

Asked by girlofscience (7475 points ) August 4th, 2009

This will obviously be a very hard thing to discuss, but I’m interested in knowing how it feels to lose the closest person to you through death.

- Does it differ from losing a close family member or friend? In what way?
– If it was a sudden death, such as a car accident, were you filled with regret about the quality of the your last interactions before the death?
– Do you think it would be harder to lose a partner suddenly or after a long illness?
– Did you desire to start a new life with a new partner after the death of your previous partner?
– Did you wish you had died first?
– Was it difficult to function normally? If so, for how long?
– Did people treat you differently, as if the death was such an awful subject, they did not know how to approach it?

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19 Answers

ShanEnri's avatar

It becomes hard for me to breath when I think about losing my husband!

TheCreative's avatar

You are going to make many people very depressed with this question!

Darwin's avatar

My husband went into a year-long major depression when his first wife died suddenly. He did blame himself for all sorts of things, even though her death really was a result of her own decision not to go to the doctor after a minor car crash. His family had to come make him eat, pay his bills, and do almost everything. The only saving grace for him was that he had a job and was programmed to go to work every day.

He continued to have difficulties over her death for some five years after she was gone. I know that for quite a while he wished he had died first, and in fact, assumed he would so she was poorly insured.

And obviously, he did want to have a new partner after he became a widower. Even though his first marriage had problems and might very well have ended up in divorce if she had lived, he needed to be needed by someone who would be his partner.

We have now been married 20 years.

I have come very close to losing my husband several times due to illness. Quite frankly, while it is terrible to contemplate losing him, loss after a long illness is much easier to cope with. I have seen this with many older friends as well. A long illness, or even one lasting a few months, gives one time to set things in order, say good bye, and all of that. Losing someone suddenly makes your heart literally stop. Sometimes it doesn’t start again.

And yes it is different from losing a family member or a friend, especially if you had a good marriage. The one person in all the world that really knows you and accepts you in spite of all of your faults is a spouse. When that person is gone you are very, very alone.

I know people who immediately took up with someone else. I know people who after while developed a relationship with someone else. I also know people who have never remarried. I suspect it is different for each person.

Personally, I can’t imagine remarrying. It took 35 years to find Mr. Right. I suspect I won’t be able to find another Mr. Right in the time I have left on earth. If I don’t, it doesn’t matter to me.

YARNLADY's avatar

I was on the receiving end of the “till death do you part” clause twice. Each person reacts differently, depending on the circumstances.

I have been happily married to my third husband for 35 years now. My losses occurred a long time ago, but I believe I can safely make a blanket statement here, you never get over it. I had counseling and a very supportive family, plus a child to take care of, so I learned to deal with it fairly early.

My first husband went out of the house in a fit of anger just after our son was born. It was a blinding snow storm, and he smashed into a bridge post. I was pretty much a zombie for at least a year, which I don’t remember much of.

When my son was two, my sister introduced me to her boyfriends roommate, and we married six months later. After 9 years of a marriage I was very happy with, he fell in love with someone else and initiated divorce proceedings. But when he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer, she disappeared. I took care of him until he died in hospice about three months later.

Garebo's avatar

When I was younger, I hung out briefly with a guy I think had a death wish. He definitely was fun to hang with-always an adventure. He asphyxiated himself doing drugs, his poor little sister found him dead in the basement. I know there were issues with his extremely wealthy family that leads me to believe it was suicide. I never attended his funeral because I was grieving my own fathers. I was saddened, but not surprised. My personal experience, even though it doesn’t directly answer your question, is people act or react very differently once they are aware you have lost a loved one.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

The thought of losing my wife is something I’d rather not consider. I just want to be blissfully unaware of the possibility of that. Now it’s time to move on to a happier question.

Judi's avatar

One of the hardest things for me was realizing how much I took for granted. Just having someone to reach over and touch is so special.

wickedbetty's avatar

I am sad to say I will be able to answer this question is 6–8 weeks…

Darwin's avatar

I am sorry to hear that, @wickedbetty. I have almost lost my spouse several times over but so far he has astounded the doctors and stuck around. However, it has meant that we work hard at not having any regrets that would haunt me after his death.

wickedbetty's avatar

Thank you @Darwin, things are tough but he was the same way, he has made miraculous recoveries 4 times in the last 9 years… however, sometimes enough is enough… Good luck to you and may God bless

justme1's avatar

i would rather not think about this, the thought of losing him is devastating. He is the only one I have ever been inlove with and the only man I think could ever love me as much as he does.

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Futomara's avatar

@YARNLADY as I’m sure the question wasn’t insensitive. What comes around goes around.

YARNLADY's avatar

@YARNLADY I have lived this experience – twice – and it is my opinion that your comments are not the least bit helpful.

Futomara's avatar

@YARNLADY You’re right. Someone asking about such a topic probably has some sort of anxiety issue or other mental health issue and I should have been more sensitive to the real issue. I just don’t think a person of sound mind would actually want to know or even ask the question asked. After all, if someone was burned over 95% of their body, would it be acceptable to ask how it felt? An insensitive question deserves an insensitive response.

But, then again, this question has yet to be tagged as a great question, so…..

GrumpyGram's avatar

@YARNLADY You are a wonderful individual. GG

janedelila's avatar

@YARNLADY I still love you btw. And it’s awful. I hope I never have to do it again, and I don’t wish it on anybody. I spent nearly three years wearing black, feeling black, living black. I dyed my hair black. Guilt guilt guilt. I still have black hair, and wear a lot of black. You are never again the same person. What doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger, but who needs it? I’d rather be a little weaker and not feel like I accidentally killed somebody.

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