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Alas, My Sister-in-Law Passed Away This Morning


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It was not unexpected, because she had been rather seriously ill for some time, but it was, alas, premature.  (After all, this was the woman my brother had hoped to grow old with, to serve a second mission together with [they met as missionaries in the then-Italy-Catania Mission, but, no, in case you're wondering [as if it's anyone's business! ;)] nothing developed romantically until he came home and she came to the States], and so on.)  Those closest to her are experiencing a mix of grief and relief ... grief at her passing, relief that she no longer is suffering.

I know we have some widowers here on the Board.  I'm not sure what to say beyond the typical, the standard, the (alas!) seemingly wholly inadequate. :( 

"Welcome back to The Bachelors Club!" ... no doubt is so incredibly, completely, indubitably, inanely, insensitively out.  (Of course, our situations are completely different: Less like "apples-and-oranges" and more like "apples-and-Buicks": Personally, I think whoever said, "It is better to have loved and lost" [which applies to him] "than never to have loved at all" [which, perhaps, applies to me] was a complete, utter, total moron.)

Thoughts?

 

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24 minutes ago, Kenngo1969 said:

It was not unexpected, because she had been rather seriously ill for some time, but it was, alas, premature.  (After all, this was the woman my brother had hoped to grow old with, to serve a second mission together with [they met as missionaries in the then-Italy-Catania Mission, but, no, in case you're wondering [as if it's anyone's business! ;)] nothing developed romantically until he came home and she came to the States], and so on.)  Those closest to her are experiencing a mix of grief and relief ... grief at her passing, relief that she no longer is suffering.

I know we have some widowers here on the Board.  I'm not sure what to say beyond the typical, the standard, the (alas!) seemingly wholly inadequate. :( 

"Welcome back to The Bachelors Club!" ... no doubt is so incredibly, completely, indubitably, inanely, insensitively out.  (Of course, our situations are completely different: Less like "apples-and-oranges" and more like "apples-and-Buicks": Personally, I think whoever said, "It is better to have loved and lost" [which applies to him] "than never to have loved at all" [which, perhaps, applies to me] was a complete, utter, total moron.)

Thoughts?

 

First of all, so sorry for the loss in your family.  I hope the many good memories and thoughts of her without pain serves to make things easier for all of you./As for what to say..what to do.  Wait..and just be there for him.  A hand on the shoulder and helping out with life things. 
 

(IMO) it is important to realize that you brother will feel very married quite awhile.  You just add some wit and humor (that I love in you) while he travels through  those stages of grief.  Hugs, Jeanne

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20 minutes ago, Jeanne said:

First of all, so sorry for the loss in your family.  I hope the many good memories and thoughts of her without pain serves to make things easier for all of you./As for what to say..what to do.  Wait..and just be there for him.  A hand on the shoulder and helping out with life things. 
 

(IMO) it is important to realize that you brother will feel very married quite awhile.  You just add some wit and humor (that I love in you) while he travels through  those stages of grief.  Hugs, Jeanne

Thank you, my dear.  Please don't read my comments in the other thread as intending any insensitivity toward your situation.  I can't imagine what you've been through.  I don't think God is like Seinfeld's "soup Nazi" ("No soup for you!" ;)) I don't think He'll tell any of us, "Ooooh, sorry!  You were mostly wrong." :(  Rather, I think He'll say, "Congratulations! :)  You were mostly right.  Here are some other things you'll want to consider." 

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34 minutes ago, Garden Girl said:

So sorry Kenngo... prayers for your brother and family...

GG

Thank you, my dear! :)

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1 hour ago, VideoGameJunkie said:

Remind your brother of the Plan of Salvation and just mention that your brothers wife just took the next step in that great plan.

True enough.  He certainly has a firm grasp on the Plan, though that's one of the paradoxes of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. It makes separation from loved ones both easier and harder at the same time: Easier, because we know it is a great plan, and that death is, as you say, simply the next step in it; and harder, because the Restored Gospel makes our relationships with loved ones that much deeper and richer, thus making separation (even though it's only temporary) that much harder.

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Mormonism is exceptionally well-equipped to deal with the temporary separation that is death.  Not that it's easy, but it's not the source of utter despair that can otherwise be the case.

I'm new here and don't know you so I hope this won't be out of line...

You categorized yourself as possibly among those who have "never loved at all".  I don't believe it.  You have way too much light in you. 

 

P.S.  Stan says hi.

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10 hours ago, Kenngo1969 said:

It was not unexpected, because she had been rather seriously ill for some time, but it was, alas, premature.  (After all, this was the woman my brother had hoped to grow old with, to serve a second mission together with [they met as missionaries in the then-Italy-Catania Mission, but, no, in case you're wondering [as if it's anyone's business! ;)] nothing developed romantically until he came home and she came to the States], and so on.)  Those closest to her are experiencing a mix of grief and relief ... grief at her passing, relief that she no longer is suffering.

I know we have some widowers here on the Board.  I'm not sure what to say beyond the typical, the standard, the (alas!) seemingly wholly inadequate. :( 

"Welcome back to The Bachelors Club!" ... no doubt is so incredibly, completely, indubitably, inanely, insensitively out.  (Of course, our situations are completely different: Less like "apples-and-oranges" and more like "apples-and-Buicks": Personally, I think whoever said, "It is better to have loved and lost" [which applies to him] "than never to have loved at all" [which, perhaps, applies to me] was a complete, utter, total moron.)

Thoughts?

 

The truth is you can say nothing, but you can be there.  Tell him you would like to be able to take the pain away, to say something truly remarkable, but no words can express your desires for healing his heart and filling the void left by the passing of your wife.  

Trite phrases are meaningless to individuals who have lost their loved one.  Heart-felt, sincere comments to help.  Stand by him; don't forget to do little things - go out for a ice cream cone, go for a walk together; go for a drive; listen to him. 

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My condolences to your family.   I have not been widowed but my sister is.  She still feels her loss,  12 years later.  The only advice I can offer is to help out with the chores, let him talk to you about his wife and his loss, don't give trite solutions, dont expect him to start dating or get over it other than at his pace and hug him often.

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Some who have been here for some time may remember (or not) that my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer just over 7 years ago (see my sig line).  In April, she was diagnosed with a recurrence.  One surgery done a couple of weeks ago, starting radiation next week, and then 2-drug hormone therapy for the rest of her life.  Fortunately, it is only in lymph nodes as of now, but a recurrence is never a good thing.  I try to keep my mind in the here and now and not play "what if," but that is not always possible.  We are moving forward with hope, but we know that this ultimately is beyond our control, and her (our) future is in the hands of Him who loves her most.

My prayers for your brother and all the family.

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On 6/8/2016 at 3:59 PM, ERayR said:

Sorry for your brothers loss.  I know the feelings of such a loss.

 

On 6/9/2016 at 0:19 PM, thesometimesaint said:

Condolences and prayers.

Thank you both. :)

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On 6/9/2016 at 4:19 PM, ERMD said:

Some who have been here for some time may remember (or not) that my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer just over 7 years ago (see my sig line).  In April, she was diagnosed with a recurrence.  One surgery done a couple of weeks ago, starting radiation next week, and then 2-drug hormone therapy for the rest of her life.  Fortunately, it is only in lymph nodes as of now, but a recurrence is never a good thing.  I try to keep my mind in the here and now and not play "what if," but that is not always possible.  We are moving forward with hope, but we know that this ultimately is beyond our control, and her (our) future is in the hands of Him who loves her most.

My prayers for your brother and all the family.

Best to you and your wife.  Rita was a nurse.  I imagine that a situation like this is more difficult for someone in the medical profession, both because, often, medical practitioners don't make good patients ;), and because perhaps they are more conversant than laypeople with the ramifications of diagnoses, challenges of particular treatments, and so on.  The chemo Rita was on wasn't doing her any good, so her oncologist took her off of it and bought her a ticket to Italy so she could go say goodbye to that side of the family: her sisters made a reciprocal visit to the states, and were here for a couple weeks a few weeks before she passed away.

I don't like funerals (what kind of a ghoul would someone have to be to like them?! ;) ) but as funerals go, this one was really, really good: summing someone's life up in a few tributes in a little more than an hour is an exceptionally tall order, but all the participants were equal to the task: her husband/my brother, her daughter/my niece, and her son/my nephew all did an exceptional job, and a trio of her friends, one of whom sings opera, put an amazing spin on some LDS musical standards.

Here's a question for someone to chew on, if s/he's so inclined.  Everyone in the family seems to be dealing exceptionally well with Rita's mortal loss, considering the circumstances. (I'm sure they all have their (perhaps-private) moments of wondering "Why Rita, and why now?") Though, in fairness, it would have to be described as exceptionally mild, I'm afraid I do have something of a case of survivor's guilt: speaking purely hypothetically, of course, if The Grim Reaper had come, had met with our extended family, and had said, "One of you is coming with me, and if no one else volunteers, it'll be Rita," I would've raised my hand.

The great philosopher, Billy Joel, once sang, "Only the good die young."  Rita qualifies, in spades.  In private, hopefully-fleeting moments, I wouldn't blame anyone for decrying the unfairness of the fact that it was her rather than anyone else, and that her time was now rather than a few decades hence (though saying even a temporary goodbye to loved ones who exit mortality doesn't get any easier no matter how old they are when we do it).  As I said, I would've raised my hand to take her place if that were possible, partly to spare the rest of the family the pain of her loss, but mostly for the (admittedly completely-selfish) reason that have absolutely no interest in enduring another 40-50 years of my own current status quo.

Thoughts?

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On 6/6/2016 at 2:13 AM, Eek! said:

... P.S.  Stan says hi.

Very clever! ;)  I doff my chapeau!  My first thought when I read that was, "What the ... ?" :o Then I remembered the link in my sig line.

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4 minutes ago, Kenngo1969 said:

Very clever! ;)  I doff my chapeau!  My first thought when I read that was, "What the ... ?" :o Then I remembered the link in my sig line.

Thank you, I appreciate that.  I was feeling really stupid for having posted like that in a thread about the loss of your sister in law, and man I really am sorry about your loss and your brother's loss.  And yeah sorry that I picked a really bad time to try my hand at stand-up comedy. 

But my brother's name is Stan, and he and I laughed our collective posteriors off at your warning and the link. 

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36 minutes ago, Eek! said:

Thank you, I appreciate that.  I was feeling really stupid for having posted like that in a thread about the loss of your sister in law, and man I really am sorry about your loss and your brother's loss.  And yeah sorry that I picked a really bad time to try my hand at stand-up comedy. 

But my brother's name is Stan, and he and I laughed our collective posteriors off at your warning and the link. 

Hey, not to minimize anyone's loss, but nobody gets out of this world alive, so one might as well laugh, even in situations in which some might say it's not called for.  In an episode of M*A*S*H, when asked by one of his patients why he jokes nearly constantly, Dr. Hawkeye Pierce responds that joking about some of the things he saw and experienced was the only way he could open his mouth about them without screaming.  Cancer, other terminal and serious illnesses, and other dire circumstances certainly fall into that category.

Reminds me of something funny my brother said this morning.  Rita had a fairly constant stream of well-wishers in her final weeks and days, many of whom brought floral arrangements which my brother had lined up along their mantel.  Surveying the "impromptu temporary garden" that had sprung up in her living room, Rita asked dryly, "Do they think I already died?" ;)  

P.S.: And of course, now your rejoinder that "Stan says hi" makes even more sense.  Back atcha, Stan.  Glad you both got a good laugh.

Edited by Kenngo1969
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2 minutes ago, Eek! said:

Hey I also love your avatar picture underneath which it says "Gender: Not Telling".  Ha! 

It's that obvious, huh? ;)  Hey, "sex" is one thing, but "gender," allegedly, is determined by one's own changeable, subjective feeling.  (Not to derail my own thread, but personally, I can't imagine someone feeling comfortable using a communal restroom whose other occupants' biology and physical characteristics don't correspond with one's own.  Allegedly, my own preferred solution to that problem (having a single-occupant-at-a-time "other" restroom) would be discriminatory.  Hard to fathom, but that's the world we live in. :unknw: 

(My reply notwithstanding, please don't take the thread further down this rabbit hole. Thanks! :))  

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On 6/6/2016 at 2:59 PM, sheilauk said:

My condolences to your family.   I have not been widowed but my sister is.  She still feels her loss,  12 years later.  The only advice I can offer is to help out with the chores, let him talk to you about his wife and his loss, don't give trite solutions, dont expect him to start dating or get over it other than at his pace and hug him often.

That reminds me of something else that happened at the funeral this morning.  A gentleman I didn't recognize (Gosh, I hope he isn't family! :o  If so, I'll feel even worse; I assume he's in their ward) said, "Rita was a great lady."  My reply was so quick, it might've even come across as a bit short, so I hope I didn't give him the wrong impression (I hope he doesn't think I was upset with him, because I wasn't), but I quickly said, "Is."

Edited by Kenngo1969
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Fools rush in, and pearls and swine, and all that, but here's a letter I wrote to the family and gave to my brother, my niece, and my nephew this morning:

Quote

 

June 11, 2016

 

Dear Family:

 

As much as I wish I didn’t have to write this letter, and as much as I know mere words are wholly inadequate for times such like this, unfortunately, they’re all I have.  If, as you’re reading this, you think, “Gosh, what an insensitive jerk!  He really put his foot in his mouth here,” (it wouldn’t be the first time that’s ever happened!)  I hope you’ll at least give me credit for trying.  Maybe you can save this letter and read it – or read it again – with the additional perspective of intervening months and years, when the wounds aren’t quite so fresh.

 

The poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson, once wrote that, “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”  Personally, if I were Thomas or Nicolas or Gabriella, I would wonder if Tennyson wasn't just plain nuts, or if not that, whether he ever lost anyone he loved (though I must admit, he probably did). 

 

The truth is, no one will get out of this world alive: we're all going to pass on sooner or later, and whether mortal life is long or short, however long we have with loved ones – whether it's many years or not as many as we would like – it's never easy to lose them in mortality.  (I can't speak for Thomas or for Rita, but if I know them as well as I think I do, and if someone had told them, “You'll only have 26 or so years together in mortality as husband and wife, but what wonderful years they will be,” they would gladly have accepted.)

 

We might wonder how and why something so bad could happen to someone so good.  What I’m about to say may be cold comfort now, but eventually, it won’t be: As Rabbi Harold Kushner put it, “Expecting to have a trouble-free life because you're a good person is like expecting the bull not to charge you because you're a vegetarian.”  As the current GEICO advertising campaign might put it, “Bulls charge people; it's what they do.”  And, unfortunately, “Cancer kills people; it’s what it does.”

 

The only thing we can do when confronted with such circumstances, in the immortal words of that great philosopher, Colonel Sherman T. Potter from the television series M*A*S*H, is “hit what's pitched,” and, while we might not like where we are at any given moment in our lives, especially not just after we’ve lost a loved one, as he said on another occasion, “If you ain’t where you are, you’re noplace.”

 

All we can do is make the most of whatever time we have left (whether it's days, weeks, months, years, or decades—and no one knows for sure), do our best to ensure we die with as few regrets as possible, and do our best to live well enough so that people miss us when we die rather than, heaven forbid, celebrating our passing.  In Rita’s case, mission accomplished; In my case, I hope people do the former rather than the latter, and I hope at least someone simply shows up at my funeral!

 

With the Apostle Paul, I ask, “O, death, where is thy sting?  O, grave, where is thy victory?”  (1 Corinthians 15:55).  The truth is, death does sting quite a bit for those left behind who miss loved ones who pass on, and the grave does claim at least a temporary victory.  But neither death's sting nor the grave’s victory is permanent: eventually, the sting fades, and both death and its sting are overcome in Christ.

 

Because of the Plan of Salvation and the Atonement of Christ, even if we, like the Apostle Paul, are “troubled on every side”; if we are “perplexed”; if we are “persecuted”; and if we are “cast down,” we need not be distressed, nor in despair, nor to feel forsaken, nor to be destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).  Why not?  Because Christ is our hope: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

 

And, while mourning is hard, and while we may wish we had nothing to mourn, in fact, we are commanded to “mourn with those that mourn” and to “comfort those who stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:9). Why?  For the same reason that Christ wept with Mary and Martha even though he knew He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead: because He had empathy for them, just as He has empathy for us: again quoting Paul, “For we have not an high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15).

 

In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord commands us, “Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die, and more especially for them that have no hope of a glorious resurrection” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:45).  The good news is, if anyone I’ve ever known has hope of a glorious resurrection, Rita does.  And it’s worth remembering that for every sorrowful parting in mortality when a loved one dies, there’s at least one joyful reunion in the spirit world, for example, with a Salvo [her brother], and a Giuseppina [her mom], and a Rafaele [her dad].

 

And the only way to take the sting completely out of death is to take all of the joy out of life, and no one wants that.  As Lehi reminds us, “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:27).  If we did not know what sorrow is, it would not be possible for us to know what joy is, either.

 

Ether 12:4 says, Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.”  If anyone exemplifies this scripture, surely, Rita does.

 

Some of the hard things we go through in life are because others abuse the free will God gave them by mistreating us; some of them are the natural consequences of our own choices; and some of them, such as cancer, are simply because we live in a fallen world in which, inevitably, sooner or later, people get sick and die, often sooner than they – and than we – would like.  So often, we cannot choose our circumstances; the only thing we can choose is how we respond to them.  Again, in Rita’s case, mission accomplished: While I’m sure she had her moments, she chose well how to respond; as hard as it might be, we can choose well how to respond, too.

 

I love you.

 

–Ken

 

 

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34 minutes ago, Kenngo1969 said:

Fools rush in, and pearls and swine, and all that, but here's a letter I wrote to the family and gave to my brother, my niece, and my nephew this morning:

 

Beautiful.  If the family pulls out this letter every year..they will see the truth of your words.  A  few years down the road, they will smile just a little.  How true..that without the pain..there is no joy.

You are a good bro and uncle.  God Bless You in your own sorrows.

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13 minutes ago, Jeanne said:

Beautiful.  If the family pulls out this letter every year..they will see the truth of your words.  A  few years down the road, they will smile just a little.  How true..that without the pain..there is no joy.

You are a good bro and uncle.  God Bless You in your own sorrows.

Thank you.  Likewise. :)

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