Eight years ago, on a quiet October day, I lost someone I loved very much. His name was Bob and he was my husband for 21 years. He loved life and there were so many things he wanted to do — travel, get the weeds out of the raspberries, catch a 50-lb. king salmon and lie in the sun on the beach in Mexico.
The initial shock from Bob’s death was overwhelming: How do I begin to manage my life, to pick up the pieces of day-to-day living when Bob was 50 percent of it? What bills are there to pay, who do I call to repair the furnace? And then, there was grief: that hole in your heart that is unfillable.
After this loss, I have also struggled to bring clarity to my life, to care for the important people in my life, and to accomplish some of the things I want to do. You may have seen the movie The Bucket List. It reminded me of Bob and of all the things he accomplished and of all the things he had to leave undone. It is so easy for all of us to get caught up in our daily activities and worries. We start to loose perspective about what really matters to us and what we want to do with our lives.
I have thought a lot about death since Bob died. In response to his loss I helped write and produce the book When You’re Not Here…, published by the Foundation for End of Life Care. Based on my experience, and the experience of others I know, this book is a short and practical guide for families preparing for the end of life of one of its members.
When Bob died, I needed to tell his story and to hear his name said by my friends. It is important to have a person’s stories and hopes continue on, not only in your heart but also in your mind. Stories help us remember who we are and where we came from. The stories of our lives keep us grounded. The stories of our family history, the birth of our children and events that changed our lives are a large part of what makes us human. Sharing stories is also important to help us move beyond grief and loss.
The year of 2012 was a rough year for many in Juneau. We have lost family and friends, many unexpectedly. A good story can encourage and inspire us as we face these losses. On Feb. 24, at 7 p.m. at Northern Light Church, Tom Cosgrove, a Juneau storyteller, will be sharing his stories of grief and healing. I encourage you to attend even if you are not facing a loss right now. We all will face this loss at some time.
Ginny Palmer, Past President
Foundation for End of Life Care