Learning to face a new year without my husband

There is no right or wrong way when grieving the loss of a spouse

Jaime Christmas avatar

by Jaime Christmas |

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In the blink of an eye, we’re already approaching the third month of 2023. For me, the ushering in of a new year came with poignancy and a new aspiration to do better as I move forward into a future without a beloved family member.

My husband, Aubrey, passed away on May 22, 2022. After nine years of suffering from ATTR amyloidosis, his body gave up, and in one final breath, he left our four children and me behind. Nine months later, we are still adjusting to life without him and carrying on in a way that would fit his legacy.

I am now focused on recognizing that no matter how challenging the loss of a family member is, life must continue.

The emotional toll the children and I are experiencing seems like a roller-coaster ride. Some days we are less affected by grief, while others we are hit by profound sadness and disbelief.

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I decided to join a gym to find the motivation to work out and do life again. It had become too easy for me to just sit on the sofa and watch TV all day. After being a couch potato for a while, I saw myself becoming woeful and depressed.

Today, after three months of working out, eating right, and sleeping earlier, I am slowly resuming a healthy rhythm. It is essential to accept that the more significant the loss, the more intense letting go can be. We really do not need to place a time frame on how soon we will get better.


The proverb “time heals all wounds” is somewhat erroneous, because I know that sometimes time doesn’t heal us. What helps us to heal is picking ourselves up every day and striving to do better, in memory of the person we lost.

Throughout our journey with Aubrey’s illness, each of us has had to undergo a transitional phase in which we gradually moved from ordinary family life to an upheaval of sorts that saw us grappling with an elemental fear of the day we would lose him.

The realization that Aubrey was dying became more evident from his weakening body. The stark physical aspects always caught our attention, because it was so noticeable. His continued weight loss, weakening limbs, and slow mental processing stood out the most. Aubrey went from fighting to live longer to desiring only to spend more time with family and friends.

As his caregiver and wife, I became more logical, practical, and sterile, and less doting and affectionate toward him. I inadvertently drew away from sharing how I felt about what I was experiencing with him. I didn’t want him to carry my burden because I knew it would only worry him.

This was my coping mechanism, because I loved him and had an overwhelming fear of him dying. It was easier to cut solid emotional ties so that my need for him would lessen and it would be easier to let go in the end.

Caring for a loved one with a terminal condition is so difficult. The advice I can give is to never lose hope or give up. While in the situation, hold on to the good and embrace whatever comes along with a positive attitude.

There is no right or wrong way to handle death. For me, living with the impending loss felt like I was alone and constantly walking an increasingly narrow path. This led me to unfamiliar places, and I felt more apprehensive, yet somewhat indifferent, with each step I took.

I kept walking until the ground under my feet became more recognizable and the view more apparent. Eventually, I noticed the warm sun on my face and the beautiful flowers along the side of the road.

As Václav Havel once noted, “Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”

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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