Dealing With Death Brings Families Closer Together on Many Different Levels
My wife and I had a rough Sunday. We decided to take our kids to the beach, and as we were getting out of the car, my wife's phone rang. The kids and I were gathering our things when my wife began to tremble, the tone of her voice became somber as she asked in horrific confusion, "What?"
Our youngest is on vacation with my parents, so only our 8 and 9-year-olds were with us. I've always been proud of all of my kids, but I was very impressed with what happened next. Without me having to say a word, my very empathetic daughter sat in silence with a look of tremendous concern on her face as my son, a gaming junkie, took off his headphones, turned off his tablet and did the same.
While my wife was getting details, my children were able to infer that there was a serious problem and behaved perfectly. She had started to cry while talking to her mom, but when she got off the phone she cried out, "Oh, no!" then completely broke down. Her aunt was alive and well Sunday morning when she went upstairs for something. From what we understand, she collapsed and was dead before she hit the floor.
I have a hard time seeing anyone cry, but nothing stings more than standing by while your spouse or parents cry. You can hug them all you want, but you feel helpless... you want to do more, but you can't. In that moment, all I could offer my wife was my comfort and support. That times three, thanks to my kids.
I had only met her aunt a handful of times, but she always welcomed me with open arms and a good laugh. I admire her for donating her body to science, and for insisting on NOT having a funeral. My wife told me that her aunt insisted that they wait a month or so for the shock to wear off, then have a family reunion in her honor. I can't think of a more fitting finale!
In fact, I told my wife years ago that I wanted her to throw a party instead of a funeral when I die. I would much rather people laugh about the silly and ridiculous things I've done, the punny jokes, and stupid hi-jinks. My dad wants the song "I'm a Nut" played at his funeral. A family reunion to share stories and come closer because of her is simply perfect!
In a sad twist of fate, following the news of my wife's aunt in the early afternoon, I learned that my cousin died training for an ultra-marathon. What a heartbreaking day.