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There can be different kinds of deaths. No death is easier or better than the other. There is the long expected death of an ill and aging person. The long slow death from cancer, other diseases or Alzheimers. Then, there is the sudden unexpected death. The one that comes out of the blue and hits us deep in our heart.  It is a hard thing to endure either way. There’s grief with death no matter if it was a long slow process or quick and unforeseen. Today’s blog is about the suddenness of an unexpected loss in life.

A dear friend of mine just lost a family member unexpectedly. In our brief conversation, she reflected on the suddenness of their passing. The unexpected feeling of one minute, they are here with us and the next, they are gone and are not coming back to us.  

It is a frustrating feeling. It makes you sad, angry and a bunch of other emotions all at once.  It takes your breath away. It makes you scream, yell, fight. It makes you curl up in a ball and not want to come out. It makes you…human.

I remember the concept of suddenness vividly. That morning, I went to work happily married.  That night, I was doing CPR on my husband who had already passed before I got home.  He had spoken to me at 10:30 that morning. How could he be gone?  How could he not be coming back to me and our children? That feeling is one that I will never forget. 

The shock, the numbness, the fog that enveloped me was overwhelming and all encompassing.  The whole world changed in an instant. Life would never be the same.  

When I talk to people about my Bob’s death, I usually say that it was easy for him. He had lived the life he wanted and had passed without a great deal of pain or illness. For him, it was over in an instant. One minute he was here, the next he had passed. There was no suffering, no lying in a hospital bed.  

The ones it was hard on were the ones he left behind. We did not expect to lose him and we were left to pick up the pieces. While I have not enjoyed that process, I do not begrudge him not suffering. I do not know how it would have been for him had that been otherwise.

Teresa —
When Jeni mentioned this topic, it resonated with a boom. Oh yeah, I get that suddenness. I too have that day etched in my mind for eternity. The gut punch of hearing your husband’s dead when you just said goodbye in the morning. How could that be true? No way, it’s just not possible. Bile building in the back of the throat, despair deepening. How do I tell the kids? How will we cope? Why? How could he be gone? Red blazing anger welling up, no way, you can’t leave me like this. Swirling emotions from the cocoon of numbness to molten anger and everything in between. 

Little did I know this was all normal in the stages of grief. We’ve written in depth about the stages. Click to read more: 

When we have a loved one who is ill for a time and then passes, there is grief and loss. In these instances, there is an anticipation of what is to come. Even so, the actual passage is difficult and emotional–for at this time, we experience the complete and total loss of this person’s presence in our life. When the loss is out of the blue and unexpected, the suddenness of the loss exacerbates the levels of grief and loss that we experience. The additional shock of what was not even in the thought pattern of life. It may be easier on the person passing as they did not have to suffer, but it leaves us to pick up the pieces and move on. The journey is more difficult for us. We cannot go above, below or around it. We must travel through and travel onward.  It is our hope that our words and stories will assist you as you take these steps to move through your grief.

Many blessings to you all,

Jeni & Teresa

PS: For additional support you can download our free copy of 10 Ways to Move Forward After Loss

In addition, we wrote Torn in Half: The First Days as a resource for the first days after a loss – available on Amazon in paperback and ebook.