Will the Grief Ever End?

Ted Cerstvik

I had just completed the sixth week of a nine-week business trip to Saudi Arabia when I received a phone call from my eldest daughter informing me that my wife Joan was sick and she was taking her to the hospital. I asked my daughter to call me again as soon as she knew what the problem was. My daughter called back the next day and told me that my wife had suffered two cerebral aneurysms, one of which had bled.

On receiving this terrible news, I made arrangements to return home as quickly as possible. The trip took thirty hours and I didn't know what to expect when I got home. Two of my three daughters met me at the airport, and we went straight to the hospital.

At the hospital I found my wife in the intensive care unit in a coma. She lingered for a week, but the damage to her brain was so severe that she had no chance for a successful recovery. Additionally, she was suffering from respiratory failure. My three daughters and other family members concurred in my decision to take Joan off life support rather than have her linger any longer with no hope for recovery. Fifteen minutes after she was taken off life support she was dead. Never in my wildest imagination did I ever visualize myself standing in an intensive care unit holding Joan's hand and watching her die. It was the most devastating moment of my life. It wasn't until after my wife had died and was unhooked from all the life-support equipment that I was finally able to take her in my arms, kiss her goodbye, and thank her for the life and love she had given me unconditionally for the thirty nine years of life we had together. She was the music in my life, and that music came to an abrupt end.

Our marriage was a romantic, thirty-six-year love affair. We were college sweethearts. We began dating during our sophomore year in college. We were already in love by the time of our first date, and we never looked back. Two and a half years later we were married and graduated from college, both in the same week. In 1995 we went to Hawaii (where we had lived sixteen years before) to celebrate our thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. We had a vow renewal ceremony in a lovely, romantic, tropical setting. Joan looked so pretty and happy. I will never forget that ceremony for the rest of my life. Joan was a dedicated, loving wife, mother and grandmother. I consider myself blessed to have had her love for all those years.

Now, fourteen months after her death, I find my myself still missing Joan terribly and wondering if my grief will ever end. I don't think it ever will. I loved her too deeply for me to ever get over it. So many things can trigger memories that still cause me to burst into tears. I feel so lonely and adrift without her. When Joan died joy went out of my life. I wonder if I will ever be happy again.

Ted Cerstvik

You can send email to Ted at: [email protected]
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anniversary date 11-13-96
date of post 01-23-98

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW