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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 188 - Unexpected Death

Although this series is focused on caregiving for a spouse with a terminal illness, it might be worthwhile to step back and look at situations when death is unexpected.

It can happen in a 'terminal' scenario; my beloved writing mentor, Marvin Mudrick, was diagnosed ith inoperable prostate cancer, and two days later suffered a massive heart attack. Two days instead of the year he and his family had been led to expect.

Quite a shock. And the terminal diagnosis eased none of it.

And there is this, the event which led to this post...the crash of a hot-air balloon near Lockhart, Texas, on the morning of July 30, 2016. The pilot and fifteen passengers were killed.

Each of those lives, cut off in mid-stream. Books unfinished, bills unpaid, pets waiting at home to be fed by hand that will never touch them again.

Hot-air ballooning is somewhat safer than taking a bath. No daredevils here; no one seeking instant apotheosis with the final words, "Hey, dude, watch this!"

Just some folks going for a quiet drift over the Texas farmland, and meeting a fiery death. On the news there was a haunting photo, taken from the gondola and sent to a friend by a passenger, twelve minutes before the end.It all looked so nice.

And the family has to pick up the pieces.

And they need caregivers.

They don't need to understand the reason why; they don't need platitudes about God calling people home.

They need help in tying up the loose ends of a life that is over. They need a cooked meal and a quiet place to cry.

They need the silence of...not "I understand", because you don't...but the silence of I am so sorry, and I will sit here with you, and talk if you want, so you know you're not alone.

They need a friend who understands that grief does not keep a calendar, a friend who will be here with the meals and the hugs this week and next week and next month and next year.

Grief can be in this for the long haul.

You want to be a caregiver for the suddenly bereft, you better put on your seven-league boots.

It's a long haul


Marley update...he's received a lot of support, but STILL NEEDS HELP TO BE SAVED.

WE ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE! From a thousand signatures to OVER 160,000!

If you have a mment, I'd like to ask you to visit Change.org to consider a petition to free a 'death row dog' who has been separated from his family for ten months over a misunderstanding. Marley was saved from Afghanistan by a US serviceman; please help make sure this story doesn't end in needless tragedy! Marley's gotten a lot of support...but he still needs our help.

If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.


  1. Having just been through this process with a family member, I can say that it is a unique time in a family's life. You can never fully prepare for death, but you face it when it comes and go from there. Some grief lasts for years bc of the circumstance. Nice platitudes mean less than kind words, those words that offer comfort and care.

    1. Norma, you are so very right...you can't prepare, and no matter what you do the pain may never really subside.

      And platitudes can often only hurt.

      Thank you so much for your willingness to share here! (And please pardon my tardy response.)

  2. Grief support groups can be a big help, if they're well moderated. They may do more harm than good if they're not.

    1. So true, Jan. I know this from experience, in a different context.

      Thanks so much for being here, and please excuse my tardy reply.

  3. Those are the ones that are so hard to deal with...the "unexpected deaths"; and they don't get any easier...even, as with your writing mentor having received a terminal illness report, then unexpectedly having a heart attack...we just never know when that last breath will be taken...

    Not meaning to be so open or crass or whatever!! I really DO understand as I lost my "best friend", my mother unexpectedly in June 2012. We were very close and did a lot together. I had just visited her in the nursing home on Sunday, our day; that Friday I received a call around 6 am that she was taking a breathing treatment, the nurse left for a very short time to get her meds, and when she came back, mom was gone...

    In times of death and grief and trying to pick up the pieces and move on...it IS hard to know what to say or do... I love how you put it; and this is all that one needs to do in those circumstances:

    "They need the silence of...not "I understand", because you don't...but the silence of I am so sorry, and I will sit here with you, and talk if you want, so you know you're not alone."

    The deaths I find hard to take are those like the hot air balloon; and the shootings and senseless killing...yet, there are still those who need to "be there" for the survivors and the families and friends...these I try to understand and find it hard.

    Thank you for your words, Andrew! Prayers for you and Barb,; for the family of your mentor; for the families of those lives lost in the hot air balloon incident; and the many shootings, etc. And, prayers for our country and our leadership...prayers for myself and my family; and for all!!

    1. barbara, thank you so much for sharing the experience you had with your mother...it must have been had to write, and I do appreciate your willingness to bring it to this conversation.

      The senseless deaths are indeed the toughest...the sudden stop to what had been a bright trajectory always is redolent of tragedy, and the only answer we can give is, "I don't know why, and I am so terribly sorry."

      Thanks so much for being here, and we join you in prayer.

  4. Everything you said. And, you said it so well. You always do. xo

    1. usan, please pardon my delayed Thank You; I so appreciate your words and the heart that lies behind them

      XOXOX WagWagWaggyWhineWOOF!