My first wife died several weeks ago. We were married for almost thirty years, we have four children and four grandchildren, and we were divorced four years ago. Donna was ill for many years and her body eventually gave up. Sad as it was, it was also a relief. As I like to say, The Angel of Death is not always an enemy, and in this case it was true. But as difficult as the last few years have been between us, his death created new and heartbreaking dilemmas for me and the children.
I know no one wants to talk about this, but with our national divorce rate climbing higher and higher, there are now more “exes” in our society than ever before, and they will eventually die. What should we feel when that happens? How will we mourn the spouses who once loved us and we love them? How can we reverently bid farewell to those with whom we made a life and, sometimes, to children? spouses with whom we had mutual friends, created memories and shared life stories together? At the end of the relationship, maybe we weren’t in love anymore, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have deep emotions for them yet. Love does not die when a divorce is granted.
The death of a “less than loved” is indeed a double death. First, they died, and we were left with all the feelings related to the death of anyone we knew and loved. But secondly, the possibility of healing the pain of the broken marriage has now also died. We can no longer pretend that we can “fix things” with them, that time is forever over. Can we heal after his death? Yes, but it is much easier to do when they were alive. We face the death of the present and, furthermore, the death of the future. It’s not easy at all, believe me.
So this double death now translates into numerous decisions to be made:
Do we attend the funeral or not?
If they didn’t want us to attend, do we do it anyway out of respect and the need to say goodbye? Or do we stay home?
What do we say to our children, especially if they are divided in their loyalties between their parents?
How should we act to train in-laws?
How do friends comfort their friends in this situation? What is the appropriate sympathy?
These are new questions for me. I made my decisions, just like you do in your situation. What is the right way? “I have no idea. All I know is that it hurts. I pray that Donna’s soul now rests in peace, no more pain and suffering. She is gone, but those pain issues will remain. with me for a long time.