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Coping with the Death of a Loved One

~By Guest Blogger Idella Spann

So…like many of you, I have now evolved into a new phase of my life. I just turned sixty-five, retired from teaching this year, and lost my husband to cancer a year and a half ago. My children live away and I live in a big house with too many bedrooms, bathrooms, and memories. But…the bedrooms come in handy when the kids visit, the bathrooms can stay dirty until I know company is coming, and the memories are wonderful.

Bereavement: Mourning after a Loss

The memories are tricky, aren’t they?  I remember the first time I came home after Lee’s funeral and all the guests had left. On the back of the couch lay his favorite black leather hat. He adored that hat…how it found its way on the back of the couch was just one of those unexplained mysteries that continue to announce themselves at the oddest times. Of course, I grabbed the hat, held it tight and sobbed… it was just one of many inexplicable catharses that were to come. If you have lost a loved one, you know precisely that feeling.

Have you been “visited” by your loved one?  Some will call it a dream, others a vision, others a reality.  I favor those who call it reality. I only had two real experiences, but they were pleasant and I know without a doubt he was there, even though no one else would have seen him. Our loved ones are “there” in other ways too, aren’t they? Some may say this is just my way of coping with the death of a loved one but the feelings is so strong I know better.

Bereavement: The Potent Moments that Carry Us

The first Valentine’s Day after his death, I was very sad. A few days later I went down to his desk to look for something. Prominently displayed on the desk was a Valentine card, unsigned, but titled, “A Love Story for My Wife.”

I opened the card and it was a typical Lee card: sweet and nostalgic. I had been to the desk many times and had never seen the card. I called my daughters to see if they knew anything about it.  No.

I keep the card close, a reminder of his enduring presence. It helps with my bereavement. He may not be “seen,” but he is visible to me every day of my life- the friends, community, students, and families that he touched are still “seen” and remind me always of his love and influence.  I am slowly beginning to understand that being “seen” has never been as important or as fulfilling or as wonderful as being felt and being present.

About the Author:

Idella Spann: My husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in January of 2010 and died October 16, 2010.  Five years earlier he had been diagnosed with Stage 1 lung cancer, but had been in remission for those five years. We were married for 41 years but had only known each other for six weeks before we were married! We were both teachers. Lee taught vocal music and I taught English for 41 years. We have two married daughters.





  1. carl scheuer

    I’m very sorry for your loss I lost my mother inlaw last april I was with her when she passed i can see her in pain every time i think of her

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  3. Mirka

    Genia WellsJanuary 23, 2012I have been taking care of my dbseilad daughter for 13 years. She was dbseilad April 10, 1998 from an auto accident.she wasn’t doing anything but going to work and getting organized to go to college in the fall.We went from having physical rehab to training mom to do it. Then we went from having a bath aide to help 3 times a week to two 4 hour at a time respite time.Mom doing all the personal care,in which i have had some training) Then the funding was cancelled for this. We enjoyed having Oxford healthcare respite time. But when government funding cut again,now all I have is a nurse that comes in once a month to change April’s catheter and do her bloodwork dilatin check. That is all we have and we live in the rural part of Missouri and there are zero volunteers without money. If anyone would like to help a single mom and her 36 year old now daughter(quadraplegic with a feeding tube)no money needs to be sent to us, just the Oxford healthcare from Joplin,Mo.donated for us. Thanks just a mom

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