Support from family and friends has helped immeasurably, It has cushioned the blow of a sudden and devastating loss.

It has also softened the impact (which I know I will feel soon enough) that is to come.

I will be without my husband. I will be on my own. I will have to begin or learn to do all the things that Doug did for and with me. And, believe me, there were a lot of those things.

Here are just a FRACTION of the things they have done for me since this happened. This matters more because the main person who would always there to help me deal with difficult situations is gone.

Doug went away on a Tuesday. (I still cannot bring myself to say the "d" word in association with him.)

Doug's parents (Mom [Joan] and Dad Z [Larry]) live in Connecticut. They are two of the many reasons I married Doug. His parents have always been there for us - for celebrating special occasions, visiting, helping in any way including fixing or prepping our rental properties, or just to talk or show us their love. We were at the hospital together to hear the awful news. And to raise the flag in honor of the gift of life and healing he gave through tissue donation.

That day and night, they did not leave my side. They would have stayed as long as I needed. They asked me to come be with them at their house or were willing to stay with me at mine. They understood when I needed to be alone. They said many times, "Whatever you want." I thought I would never hear those words again now that Doug is gone.

Doug's brother Glen and his wife Therese and sister Julie were here. They came to Connecticut right away, travelling long distances. We held each other up. We visited, vented and cried together, stood together and held each other up.

His family is mourning too. Their loss is different, but no less painful. In some ways, it is worse. He was a part of their lives for decades longer than he was in mine.

My mother Kay flew up from North Carolina the day after. She stayed with me for 3 weeks. Although she is almost 81, she has cooked, cleaned, gotten the mail, answered the phone, made beds,washed the dishes, watered the plants, filled bird feeders, done countless loads of laundry, fed me, fed the cat (who wangled extra treats out of her by whining), making ice, bringing out the stinky trash, picking up dead mice and voles that cat caught in the back room (which has gaping holes in it due to reconstruction), brought drinks and snacks to visitors, kept me company on errands, sweated side by side with Larry and Joan and neighbors in the burdensome task of turning over two rentals to new tenants in weeks 1 and 3, and listened to me blather. She has offered to help financially if needed. She has also bitten her tongue (to the point of bleeding probably) while trying to tolerate my bad behavior. This situation is bringing out some of the worst in me.

My brother John came up from North Carolina that weekend. We talked late into the sleepless nights. It is hard for him to leave his two boys. One of them is special needs. It also meant having to get someone else to take care of the house and dogs. Fortunately he has a sweet, selfless girlfriend - Brenda. John will be back in week 4 to put the back of the house on the foundation. Doug was in the midst of replacing the sill and it is up on jacks. Tina has called often from Mexico and emailed and made a video montage of Doug. She would have come to CT in a snap, but I told her I would need her more later.

Friends and neighbors surround me. They know or ask what I need.

They share the pain and the stories. They bring food and drinks and comfort and opportunities to weep and laugh and talk and share or just sit quietly.

When I was too distraught to face anyone, they fended people off. I did not have to answer the phone or talk with visitors when I wasn't ready. They fielded calls and took messages from the shocked, the sympathetic, the questioning, and the people who did not know yet. They kept notes of who called or came or brought flowers, plants, food and condolences so I can properly thank them at some point.

Friends and family understood when I couldn't bear to talk.

They offered to go anywhere with me. They also let me do some things by myself that I needed to do alone.

They offered advice when asked. They provided support on difficult decisions.

They listened to or answered my endless questions and thoughts about what happened.

Family and friends listen to my babbling reminiscing. They responded to my babbling emails sent in the middle of the long dark nights.

The offered to help with This Old House.

More than four hundred people attended the wake and memorial service. Some traveled far, some came despite ill health. Some waited for over 2.5 hours in the receiving line during calling hours. They honor Doug's life.

They sent hundreds of beautiful cards with heartfelt thoughts. Not one is the same.

Some people I have never even met have sent notes. They have shed tears for Doug and for those who lost him. They have let me cry, and cry some more. They gave me much needed hugs.

They help calm me down and consider another perspective when I start to go crazy with fears and worries.

If I had been alone in a time like this, I probably would have melted down completely. I could not function. I had no energy. I did not care about many things that did matter. Intense emotions overwhelmed me. I might have made some rash choices.

Doug's friends and family and colleagues all miss him too. He was a part of their lives. But they are selflessly helping others experiencing loss.

My sister tells me to "bask in that love, it has tremendous healing powers. I know it isn't the love from the one person you want more than anyone in the world to still be at your side, but it is wonderfully healing love nonetheless."

I am now without the most important person in my life. But thanks to family and friends, I am not alone. We all love Doug. We share the missing.

I will need time and support to come to terms with the loss and changes and demands. They have given me that gift. I am grateful beyond words.

I know I am lucky.



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