Widow Shares Heartbreaking Story

I’ve read several blogs on widowhood recently, yours has a sense of peace and hopefulness. Thank you.

I lost my husband three years ago this June while we were traveling in Europe, my husband was an invited speaker at a distance education conference in Vienna, Austria. The day after his presentation we were getting on a cruise of the Danube River when he had a strong pain in his belly and couldn’t catch his breath. Gratefully two men were immediately by my side helping him – they both spoke English. They recognized the seriousness of his symptoms and called for the paramedics. He was rushed to the hospital, where they confirmed that he had had a heart attack. He was 51 years old, very healthy otherwise. They said the heart was caused by a blood clot.

He lived for over 36 hours and stayed alert most of the time but he was very weak and his heart was pounding in his chest. It never occurred to me that he could die. People had heart attacks all the time and lived. I was just wondering how long we would be in Austria, how long before he could fly again. When I finally spoke to his doctor in the US who had gotten through to the doctors in Austria I grasped the critical situation we were in. I was told that if he went into renal failure the only thing that would save him would be a heart transplant and they didn’t perform those at the hospital we were in. I begged them to move him to a hospital that could and would perform such an operation. They refused because he was not yet IN renal failure. I asked them that if he were, would they move him, they told me no, it would be too dangerous to move him at that point. The frustration! His condition worsened and I was escorted out of the room so they could intubate him. Before I left I looked him in the eye and told him that I loved him. He blinked back his response.
Two hours later I knocked on the door and begged them to simply let me be in the same room with him. The nurse looked at me and said in his far too casual and less than perfect English, “Sure, you can come in. But he died.” Those words will echo in my mind for the rest of my life. I could not believe that the God I had been praying to, been pledging everything to if he would only save my sweethearts life would leave me alone in a country where I knew no one and didn’t speak the language!

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I had been in contact with the local missionaries as soon as possible after arriving at the hospital. I could not have survived without the sweet and tender care of those boys. They were at a loss as to how to help me but they had access to resources and people who could. Other members took me into their homes; they helped me with the piles of paperwork and red tape involved with the death of a citizen abroad.In less than two weeks we were able to fly his body back to the US.

A sad side note to this sad story. My husband and I had only been married for 14 months. It was a second marriage for both of us. We had finally found what we had both missed for so many years! I had never been happier. We had plans for the future, plans we had never been able to make with previous spouses. It was all before us. Until it wasn’t. I was hurt and angry. I felt cheated beyond belief. My faith assures me that there is life beyond this. I am not at all sad for my husband. I believe he is in Paradise patiently waiting for me to join him. I believe we will be together again. And for him, it will be but a small moment in time. But for me, it will be years and years of loneliness.

Between us, we have six children. He had two boys and I had two boys and two girls. They are all young adults now, going through all the typical stuff and none of them lives at home. My nest seems prematurely empty.

Since my husband’s death I have completed an advanced degree, found a new job and am managing day by day. I cycle through periods of great hope, of contentment with my situation, to periods of resentment, frustration and anger. But I truly do try to focus on the positive.

I was given a second chance to discover what love really is, what marriage should be like. I count that among my greatest blessings. I don’t believe God punished me by taking him away, I believe he blessed me by giving him to me in the first place.
I remember saying to myself” I didn’t sign up for this! This was not the plan!” But then I realized that if the choice were; to have this man in my life, for only a short time, but with the promise of eternity with him or, never know him, never feel the loss of his death. I would have signed up gladly.

This was long. I’m sorry. I haven’t really told the story before. Thank you for giving me the opportunity.



11 Responses to Widow Shares Heartbreaking Story

  • @Julie
    Check out: https://www.facebook.com/americanwidowproject/

    Also, look for local widow support groups by contacting your local hospice, church or funeral homes.

  • I too, had finally found my beloved Robert..I had lived a life with alot of loss and sadness (father and brother committed suicide) and I thought my husband was God saying I finally could be happy.. My husband was a decorated army combat veteran of Desert Storm.. The VA misdiagnosed him, saying he had gallstones when in fact it was end stage organ failure.It should be noted he went once a year for a complete workup. It has been four years and it feel like it just happened.. Meanwhile, all my family is a country away.. The VA is fighting me over widows benefits. I had heart failure after I lost him. I did not know broken heart syndrome is real.. I barely have enough food, can not afford a car so I live in a very small world. I know I need to get out but when you have no transportation its not easy…I wanted to volunteer for Wounded Warriors Ranch, but thats not possible.. I feel my grief is like quick sand.. I feel Im so stuck and isolated I’ll never escape the sadness and heartbreak. All I can do is pray. Prayers to all who’ve lost their spouse.

  • Hi annalise- I lost the love of my life three years ago We were married for 32 years. It is so soon for you to feel even a little different. Time helps in that it changes how you cope. It doesn’t always get BETTER for some of us, but you do learn to cope better. If you are a spiritual person, Go to God, He is your help. Keep busy. Help others. Cling to family and friends. I will pray for your healing peace. Grace

  • Thank you, Ann, for sharing your story of love, grief and hope. I, too, am a widow of three years. It is awful. Very difficult, and doesn’t seem to get better on the inside. I need to make the Serenity Prayer my focus, I guess. I pray for your healing as well as my own. God bless.

  • Hello..

    Firstly I would like to thank you Joanne for having the courage to start such a website. My husband died 18mths ago in a car accident and for the first 12 months I had been in shock. Now I suffer with panick attack and I paralised with fear (that is hard for me to write). I have a 5yr old daughter and I was pregnant when my husband died, but I miscarried and lost the baby.

    I was 28yrs old when my husband died and I have felt really alone and different to all my friends and family. So I am grateful to read all of your stories and be able shed tears reading them and to understand your pain.

    I feel blessed to have such a loving and wonderful daughter and to been loved by the most amazing and magical person I have ever meet. I look forward to falling in love again, but I understand I need to grieve before this can happen. So please offer me all your ensight and knowledge to help me move forward.. x

  • Pam,

    thanks for sharing your feelings about where you are at in your journey. We all have to decide when it is the right time for us to remove the wedding rings, move the clothing out of the closet, and save the photos in other places than before. I applaud your courage to move forward with your life. You have proven that there is life after death and that doesn’t mean you forget, it just means you have found things to be happy about again, and that is good.

    JoAnne Funch

  • It’s been over 20 months now since he died and I’ve made another huge decision.

    The day before he died we had played golf at our favorite course. We decided to have a light dinner and he was helping me cook. I took his picture on my cell phone not realizing it would be the last picture of him alive.
    I saved it as my wallpaper.

    This week I took it off my cell phone and it’s still in my gallery of pictures but I replaced it with another. It was a monumental as taking my wedding band off after a year. It’s just one more step for me to move forward. Granted his shoes are still in the front hall and his clothes he wore the night before are on the hook in my closet and maybe next month i can take them down. I don’t know. What I do know is the grieving process will continue for the rest of my life. I may marry again, but he will always be in my heart tucked away in a safe place.

    I will always grieve but life continues and we have to hold on to our souls so we don’t fall the the edge of the earth.

    There is life’s music and we should listen for it’s song. Listen to the symphony.

  • Annalise,

    I emailed you a personal reply, know you are not alone and man of us on this site feel your pain. Please let me know how to help.

    JoAnne Funch
    Heartache To Healing

  • hilary
    i admire you.
    i lost my precious husband this february and am totally inconsoleable. i had 12 beautiful years with him but still feel cheated, bitter and angry.
    people like u make me realise what a lot i have to be grateful for.

    thank u
    annalise xxx

  • Gail,
    I’m happy to see you say you were blessed with 10 years, living in gratitude like that will bring you more blessings.
    let me share a quote that says it all about risking love…
    “The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief – But the pain of grief Is only a shadow When compared with the pain Of never risking love.”
    – Hilary Stanton Zunin

    JoAnne Funch

  • This was my second marriage also, I felt I had finally met my sole mate, I was blessed for 10 years. There was never a day that went by, That I had ever regretted meeting Steve. I also found what it was like to really love someone.

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