Memories of my Husband

Karen Dorrance

My husband Jerry, age 51, died on August 8, 1997 while we were on vacation in Maui. It was our last day and the children and I were having one more boogie board ride before our shower and drive to the airport. Jerry walked up to our condo early to shower ahead of us. When the kids (a boy 8 and girl 12) and I arrived about 1/2 hour later, I sent them inside to get ready. I turned and ran back to the beach because I forgot my sunglasses. About 5 minutes later my daughter came screaming down the hill saying that Dad was dead on the bed. Of course I thought she was wrong and he had had sunstroke or something else. When I got there my son was wailing on the lanai. When I went to my husband he was lying back on the bed with my snorkel in his hand and I knew instantly that he was gone. The paramedics arrived and worked gallantly on him, never getting a heartbeat, until I told them to stop. My only consolation was that he died instantly and never knew what hit him. When I received the autopsy report later it indicated that there was a double occlusion in both descending coronary arteries.

Needless to say those next couple days alone and making arrangements were terrible and yet incredibly special for the children and me. We had 3 days to talk and cry and be alone together before arriving home to a madhouse. I got to explain things to them that I probably would not have been able to had it happened at home.

I have been asking myself why I had to leave and send my children in alone where they found their father. I can only tell them and myself that this is some huge lesson for us all and that they will never ever forget that day. We all were changed forever.

It's only been 2 months now, but seems like a lifetime. Only a week ago, I finally slept. My appetite is slowly returning. I think I am beginning to heal. I have been emotionally and physically slammed headfirst into a wall of grief. My shattered being is slowly finding connecting pieces and putting my self back together again. I have never experienced such depression and loss, even though I have lost a sister, father, sister-in-law, and good friends. I was not immune or afraid of death. But this has been the ultimate for me. Every aspect of my life has been affected and has changed. I am surprised at how badly I am handling this and how slow my recovery is. I have forced myself to try and continue doing all the things we used to do. The children and their activities won't let me crawl into that fetal hole where I want to be.

Of course my memories of my husband are very fresh. We had a wonderful vacation in Maui and he kept saying he never wanted to leave. I never knew I could miss someone so much. He was so kind and patient. He loved us immensely. His children were his ultimate joy. The way he lived will always be an inspiration for me to be accepting, always happy and grateful for family, considerate and gentle with others. My husband tempered me, gave me grace and a serenity I never had. I will miss him forever. I am a different person for having been so fortunate to be married to such a wonderful human being. Thank you Jerry for my life, for our children, for the many wonderful experiences we had together. They can never be duplicated.

(Where do I go now? What do I do?)

Karen Dorrance

You can send email to Karen at: [email protected]
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anniversary date 08-08-97
date of post 10-04-97

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW