Have you ever wondered how your husband or wife would have coped if they had been the surviving spouse? My husband was a packrat. He referred to me as the Space Police – it was not a term of endearment. I kept our living space livable; how he kept his man cave in the basement would leave many speechless. And so I envision my once beautiful house on an episode of Hoarders, the voiceover mentioning “since the death of his wife, he hasn’t thrown anything out” accompanied by shots of boxes stacked two stories high reaching to our cathedral ceilings; narrow walkways through rooms crammed with Price Club purchases; piles of discarded clothing on chairs; columns of old newspapers piled high; the dining room table a mountain of unopened mail.
The phrase ‘Surviving Spouse’ sounds like a reality show of a life interrupted. How do you envision their life without you? What would they have done differently? Who would they have relied upon? Would they have risen above the devastation and created a meaningful life for themselves? Or spun out of control and spiraled into a dark and dangerous place? How they would talk about you, post mortem? When would they start dating? Would they remarry? ‘Survivor’ – to remain alive after an event in which others have died. Captured in that one word is both an end and a beginning. How do you imagine your partner would have begun their new life without you?