A marriage, even in grief

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…To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, for as long as you both shall live?

One of the best parts of marriage is that a shared history gives you an understanding of how your spouse will react in certain situations. Over time, you will experience highs and lows, triumphs and tragedies, and all of the middling life stuff that occurs in between.

This weekend, M and I sat on the floor of our library and watched our eldest cat take her final breaths. When the light left her eyes, we pet her soft fur for the last time and weeped.

Once the tears finally abated, the mourning process began. This is something that we experience very differently. Sharing stories about the deceased helps him, as does actively seeking distraction. For me, I need to efficiently deal with the cleanup of Death’s visit and then I prefer to grieve alone, in silence.

These two styles don’t always mesh, and yet because we’ve been together so long, we’ve managed to figure out a way to face such difficulties together. Generally this involves doing what one person wants, followed by the other, trading coping mechanisms until the sadness stops overwhelming all else.

Loss is agonizing, even when expected. But sharing it with someone you love — someone who truly understands your nature — does make it a little more manageable. I am grateful for him, and for us.

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