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04/07/2010

Writer Jane Brody examines her grief over husband's death

April 7, 2010 | 11:40 am

Jane Brody, who writes about health and medical issues for the New York Times, lost her husband, lyricist Richard Engquist, to lung cancer on March 18.

Only days before, Brody had described in a column how she was preparing for his death, saying "You never know when your time will be up, and so it is best to prepare for the end sooner rather than later."

This week Brody wrote poignantly about her fresh experiences of grief.

"As my husband of 43 years approached the end of his life and the anguish within me welled like a dam ready to burst, I realized something both simplistic and profound — losing a spouse is nothing like losing a parent. ...

When we marry 'till death do us part,' do we really expect to be parted by death? I know several women who lost their husbands after relatively brief marriages, forcing them to raise young children on their own. I thought I could imagine their pain and anger at the unfairness of it all. But I also knew they could not afford to wallow in grief, if for no other reason than that their children needed them to be emotionally intact.

But after the children have moved away and have children of their own, a spouse’s death leaves an emptiness that is hard to fill. There’s no one in the house with whom to share the events of the day, discuss the broken pipes and rotten politics, relish the antics and achievements of the grandchildren."

Click here to read the rest of the column, and feel free to post your comments below.

-- Claire Noland


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