Allowing Time to Let Go After the Loss of a Husband

A columnist senses a pause is important as she adjusts to a new life

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by Jaime Christmas |

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Two weeks after the passing of my husband, Aubrey, my four children decided that the company of a new puppy would be the best way to cheer me up. Looking back now, almost four months after Aubrey left us on May 22, Akira — an Aussiedor, which is a cross between an Australian shepherd and a Labrador retriever — has been a soothing balm to my grief and sadness. At 6 months old, she keeps me on my toes and distracted from chores I feel the need to complete.

But in that distraction, I’ve learned that not everything needs to be completed and done right away.

loss of a husband | FAP News Today | photo of the puppy Akira outdoors, with a waterfall behind her

Akira, my 6-month-old Aussiedor puppy, enjoys a hike up to the waterfall. (Photo by Jaime Christmas)

My husband was diagnosed with hereditary ATTR amyloidosis in 2013. After almost nine years of health decline, his heart became too stiff to continue working.

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Adjusting to the loss of a spouse has been emotionally and physically draining. It feels like I am shedding old skin and growing into my new one. The way of life I’d become accustomed to now no longer feels comfortable. Activities that once involved both of us don’t apply. He’s no longer at my side at social events. I don’t have a husband to discuss the well-being of our children or even financial matters with; I now have to cope on my own.

I look around the house and see all the reminders of what life was with him. I feel the pressure to create this new space, which still leaves traces of him, yet is fresh enough for me to build a new life.

His items and belongings are frequently on my mind to sort out. If it was not for Akira, I believe I would’ve thrown myself wholly into a tidying-up frenzy that may or may not work to my benefit. But since I now have this interval for pause and balance, I’m thankful that even though my surroundings will change, there’s value in waiting and intermission.

I look in the closet and see all his clothes hanging there still. Instead of the pull to pack everything away for the charity shop, I sit awhile longer with the memory attached to the items.

A Japanese tidying consultant Marie Kondo said, “Have gratitude for the things you’re discarding. By giving gratitude, you’re giving closure to the relationship with that object, and by doing so, it becomes a lot easier to let go.”

For now, as much as I want to speed up the closure process, there’s a time and space for everything. At the moment, I’m focused on Akira.

Note: FAP News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of FAP News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to familial amyloid polyneuropathy.


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