Understanding “Insurance”

When we find ourselves having to share that we have lost someone we deeply loved, the responses are varied. Most are not helpful, because the idea of loss is so uncomfortable.  But, some are right down hurtful. Yet, what I’ve come do understand is that most just don’t know what to say, so they say anything that comes to mind at the time. This at times may sound like a blame game. For example, I’ve heard responses, both directly to me as well as said and related to me, such as:

  • Well, my husband takes care of himself, so that probably won’t happen to him.
  • I work out and keep my weight down, so I won’t have heart problems.
  • I have kids who could give me a kidney, so I’ll be ok.
  • We had the COVID  shot, so that won’t happen to us.

I could go on, but I think this shows the essence of what I mean.  The main point that I want to express is that people really don’t mean to be hurtful when they say these things.  They don’t mean to be playing the blame game, even though it definitely feels that way at the time.  What they are doing is what I call “insurance”.  We’re all so afraid of death, or worse – being left alone by death – that we tell ourselves all kinds of things on a subconscious level.  Some people simply let these subconscious thoughts out when faced with a situation too close to home, as it were.

First, try not to take it personally.  They are simply attempting to insure that they won’t suffer the same fate.  We really can’t do that, but we want so badly to be in control of our own lives that we attempt to even control our own fate.  Most of the time, we aren’t really aware of this behavior.  So, this is definitely an occasion of speaking without thinking, or at least conscious thought. 

Second, try to give grace.  When I first heard these things, I will admit that I was irritated.  But, then I thought back to before I was here on this journey.  I probably said things that sounded just as ridiculous, simply because I didn’t  know.  People can never truly understand a stage or a journey until it happens to them.   

When we find ourselves having to share that we have lost someone we deeply loved, the responses are varied. Most are not helpful, but some are right down hurtful. What I’ve come do understand is that most just don’t know what to say, so they say anything that comes to mind at the time. This at times may sound like a blame game. For example, I’ve heard responses such as: Well, my husband takes care of himself, so that probably won’t happen to him.”

Our Love Story

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As part of my healing, I am writing our love story. I’m writing it out in my own handwriting, so that our grandchildren will have both the story and my handwriting as a memory. But, I have decided to share it here as well. I thought it might help others through the commitment that is marriage as well as grief.

As I was writing, I noticed that I was writing to him. As the reader of this blog, I felt that you should know the voice so that it would make better sense.

Our love story officially began on June 15, 1982. A few days before, I was sitting with Bob’s brother Jim and his girlfriend at the time and my sister Kim and her boyfriend at the time. Jim’s girlfriend and Kim’s boyfriend happened to be brother and sister, so we were at their house just hanging out. I was lamenting that I was the only one not coupled up. Jim suggested that I go out on a blind date with his brother as he was on recruit duty for the NAVY and was in town. Jim had talked about him so glowingly that it didn’t take much encouragement. (Bob had made sure the younger two, Jim and his little sister, had everything that he didn’t have in high school – class rings, money to go to prom, etc. I so admired his generosity from the beginning. He was so Godly!) When Jim showed me your official NAVY picture, I was excited to meet the handsome man in the photo.

You arrived promptly at 6:00 and knocked on the door yourself. I thought it was pretty confident that you didn’t send Jim to the door or even have him walk up with you. I was still getting ready, so Kim answered the door with Mom following to meet you as well. You handled that with the grace that I soon learned was one of your greatest strengths. You were such a people person!

Once I came up (about five minutes later), you walked me out to your Honda Accord. You opened my door and made sure I was safe, then went around to the driver’s seat. We were then on our way to the Huntington Mall to watch Rocky III. On our way, I noticed some pictures laying on the console in the middle of our seats. They were of you working in the Data Center on the ship, but computers were brand new (Remember this is 1982) so I had never seen a Data Center. I asked, “So what is it you do?” You politely explained computers and computer storage.

Then, we were at the mall….

My Popeye

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Bob had just come off a Mediterranean cruise when I met him. While they were traveling around the world to 36 countries on the USS Saipan, he didn’t have much to do in his spare time than work out. So, he was quite toned. Being a Sailor, I decided that I had my own Popeye. So, naturally, that made me Olive Oyl.

My 18 year old self was so proud to be his girl. He was the older, very handsome man in the NAVY. And, as the years passed, I became even more proud to be his wife. He genuinely cared for people. I can only hope to live up to the woman he saw in me.

He found small rubber figures of our namesakes at an Arcade while we were dating, and they now sit on my desk. These small reminders of our wonderful love story is what gets me through my days at present. And, that’s what early grief feels like. Each day finished is an accomplishment. We need to celebrate those small victories.

To help me heal and to get through these days, I have decided to journal our life’s journey in a “sub-blog” titled Our Love Story. I often counsel others, especially those going through difficult times in relationships, to remember the good times. And, I also counsel those going through difficulty to journal their days. I truly believe in the act of writing it down as a healing process. So, this blog will combine the recording of good times with getting through these difficult times. Please join me in the “sub-blog” at https://counselingtoday.com/lovestory.

Love to My Valentine in Heaven

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This was my first valentines without that amazing man. To help my heart, I read back through all those love letters from our dating days. You may remember that he was in the NAVY when we met, so we had a long distance romance for most of the year that we dated. Those letters are now priceless! He wrote in a letter dated August 14, 1982:

My Dearest Susan,

I miss you so much. I’m just not complete without you. I don’t know why the Lord would have us so far apart but I’m sure he will help us make it through this most difficult time in our lives. I don’t want you to ever be unsure of my love for you. Yours Forever, Bob

It was so interesting to read those words 38 years later to find that they are so appropriate for what I am going through now. I miss him with every fiber within me and am definitely not complete without him, but trust that he is walking the streets with Jesus and happy. I have faith that both my Lord and Bob will help me make it this most difficult time in my life.

And, I include Bob because I know he is looking down on me from Heaven. He promised he would. His last words were, “Dave, you take care of your Mom. Suz, you take care of Dave. Tony and Lauren will take care of each other and our kids. And, I’ll look down and take care of everybody.” And, I trust that because 2 Corinthians 5:8 tells us that: “The same person who becomes absent from his or her body becomes present with the Lord.” So, even though I miss him terribly, I know that he is happy in Heaven.

Even more, I can’t imagine the glorious body he is now – no pain at all. I Corinthians 6:3a says, “Do you not know that we are to judge angels?” I can’t imagine just being with the angels, much less being higher. So, while it’s more than depressing to miss him so much, I try to remember God’s promises. And, I will be with him again; this is just a pause.

A wonderful Godly friend, who lost her first husband even much earlier than I, reminded me very soon after Bob moved to heaven that he just said, “Good night.” Soon, we will get to say, “Good morning.”