Ashton Funeral Home

I Wish I Had Known . . .

Hard-won wisdom gleaned from people who have walked from grief to healing.

Elderly LadyI wish I had written down the songs and verses my husband wanted at his funeral. I know he had mentioned them to me in conversations, but when it came time to tell the pastor my mind wasn’t functioning well and I couldn’t remember them all. I couldn’t remember a lot of things he had mentioned to do. I felt bad about that later.”

I wish I had written the thank you notes right away after my wife died. People were very kind to me, and I should have thanked them all. I did a little bit of it, but I never finished the task. And later on, I was too self-conscious about their lateness, so I didn’t send them. I still feel guilty about that. But I also realize now that the business of writing the notes was more than civility, and was maybe more important to me than to the recipients. It would have been therapeutic for me, a little practical bridge to my new reality. I’ve always regretted that because I think I missed an opportunity to enter my new life a little better.”

I wish I had set aside a little money for the extra expenses that kept coming up right after my husband died. Since I hadn’t been responsible for paying the bills, it was overwhelming to me, and having some money set aside to pay those early bills would have been nice.”

I wish we had talked about death more, in the normal course of conversation. That would have helped me honor her general wishes and preferences for her funeral. We didn’t know she was going to die, so we didn’t have time to plan her funeral. The last thing I could do for her was give her a fine funeral, and I think I did a pretty good job in my choices for her. But if we had talked more freely about death in the normal course of life, I would have had more clues to rely on. The decisions wouldn’t have been so hard and I would be more sure she would have been pleased.”

I wish I had learned how to pay bills. I never had to pay them, and my husband did try to teach me before he died. But it would always upset me whenever we would sit down to do it, so I gave up. I realize now how important that was, and I wish I had tried harder.”

I wish I had reached out to the available resources. I wish I had read more and gotten more advice on how to live with grieving. The incomprehensible quality of death overwhelmed me, and I thought that no one could possibly understand what I was going through but me. I wish I had not gotten trapped there. Only fleetingly did I think of getting help, but now I wish I had. I might have not spent so much time rudderless, or maybe with a frozen rudder, unable to steer.”

I wish I had asked my wife where she wanted to be buried. It was really hard, making such an important decision under time pressure. My funeral director was very kind and took me to many different cemeteries, but as the day wore on I was afraid we weren’t going to find the perfect place. In the end, we did, but it got pretty stressful as the day got later and later.”

I wish I had asked someone to stay overnight with me at the house the first night or two after my husband’s passing. I didn’t expect the house to feel so empty, and even though I was so tired, it was hard to sleep. I think it would have been easier if I had not been alone.”

I wish I had known more details of how my wife wanted her funeral to be. I experienced real anguish making some of the decisions, because she wasn’t a religious person and never expressed her opinion on these things. I know there was room for my own imprint, and that making the decisions was good for me, but I had to work very hard at making sure my choices were what she would have appreciated. I wish we would have talked about it.”

I wish I had picked out my husband’s burial clothes ahead of time. I had time to do it, but thought it was too hard to do. In hindsight, going into his closet was more traumatic than I thought, and it was much harder to do it afterwards. There were lots of little things like that that I wish I had done ahead of time, a little at a time.”

I wish I had gathered more biographical information before my husband passed away. There were details and dates I needed for the obituary, but was too upset to remember. Or I wish had asked someone to help me gather the information. It was just too hard to think.”

I wish I had done a better job of sifting through her belongings. I just couldn’t do it at first, which I understand, but I waited too long to begin. When I finally did I was under time pressure and couldn’t give it the care it deserved. I wish I had at least started earlier, and done a little bit every day. Eventually life forced my hand and made it a necessity. But then it became a matter of practicality, and something important was lost.”

I wish I had given the calling list to someone else, to spare me all those difficult phone calls to inform my family and friends of my husband’s passing. It was so hard to keep giving the news over and over.”

I wish I had sought help from another survivor. I didn’t do a very good job of picking up with my life, but I didn’t think anyone else could help me. Now I wish I had at least gotten advice from someone who understood. I needed help in managing my grief. I had trouble making concrete decisions about when and how to begin the business of dealing with my wife’s personal effects, how to start working again, things like that. I muddled through eventually, and asking for help would have been hard, but I wish I had thought to rely on someone else’s strength and courage in that hard first year.”