06 Sep Coping with Losing a Spouse by Resting in Peace Together
Single until the age of 38, for many years I worried about finding a husband. Four decades later, my fear is about losing him. Imagining either of us carrying on without the other is frightening. In addition to being the parents of a son, we were a comedy writing team, spending more time together and probably laughing more than most couples. Death is inevitable, but I confronted it by designing a cremation urn for the two of us that I personalized with our own plates and family photos. It’s attractive and puts the focus on what we had, which no other urn for ashes would have done.
I empathize each time a client commissions me to create a customized urn for a spouse. I read what PhD Alan D. Wolfelt wrote about mourning this overwhelming loss. He encourages talking about your feelings, pointing out that sharing your grief helps with healing. My process includes those steps as we begin with me asking to hear about the partner, what made him or her special and what they enjoyed doing together. Dr. Wolfelt talked about the importance of memories, which is what my crematory urns are all about. The photographs embedded into the pique assiette design tell the story of a life.
I’ve thought about what I would do with my husband’s things, the books written by his old friends, the guitar he nurtures even if he doesn’t play it, the notes he’s made for projects he may one day get to. I wonder what he would do with all my black t-shirts, skirts and pants (we live in New York, where black is the new black). Holidays without the other will surely be difficult. Ordinary days are also a concern.
Though we are aware that we all will die, it’s a topic many of us avoid. My pre-planning – having an urn for our ashes – has been the best exit strategy I could come up with. It’s upbeat, much cheaper than being buried and eliminates the cost of perpetual care. I’m pleased that I’m able to offer this option to others dealing with the loss of a partner.