Share. Connect. Love.

Posted 2019-10-16T16:02:55Z

Ask me about my dead husband. Please!

Honestly, as a clergy person, this shouldn’t have surprised me. I know, when meeting with the family before a funeral, that the loveliest thing I can do for them is simply to ask them: “Tell me about your mom/dad/child/spouse/friend.” This is often the most healing portion of the whole funeral process, no matter which parts of it make it into my funeral sermon. Letting people talk about their loved one reinforces their connection to them. Makes the deceased person more present, more real.

But I hadn’t really thought about how universal that is. Hadn’t realized how precious and beautiful it is, after you have lost someone, for someone to talk about your loved one. To ask questions, or share memories. Talking about their death might well be painful and awful. But talking about their life, talking about why you loved them, or perhaps even how they made you crazy: that’s precious. That renews the connection. That makes them … live!

I don’t tend to offer advice about such things, but I really do think it’s useful to know that the bereaved often yearn for someone to ask about their loved one. They long to talk about them. So, ask what the person was like, if you didn’t know them. Figure out a question to ask, or a topic to raise, if you did know them (“I was watching football the other day, and I remember how much _______ loved the ___________. You guys had season tickets, right?”). Make it clear you’re inviting the reminiscence. Ask follow up questions, if they seem open to it. It might not be the right time for them to dive deep; let it go, if not. But seriously, it’s almost always a worthwhile effort.

Because for me, the truth is: I love to talk about Brian. You could not possibly talk to me about him too much. Talking about him, or hearing you talk about him, makes him more alive to me in the best way possible. For me, it’s the most precious gift you could give me.

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Comments (11)

  • Richard Borer
    Richard Borer

    Clare, What drove you crazy the most about Brian? Note: that question is very open ended (positive, negative, petty, or poignant)... I hope you are passing through your grief and loss as well as possible. -RB

    one month ago · Reply
    • Clare Hickman
      Clare Hickman

      The fact that he was smarter than me. The fact that he was still so very very WRONG about politics 😉. The fact that he didn’t separate short sleeved shirts from long sleeved shirts in his closet (I mean: seriously?). His refusal to recognize the genius of Hamilton. As for what drove me crazy in the Robert Plant way, I’ll just say there’s too much to list here.

      one month ago · Reply
  • Jean Manning
    Jean Manning

    You are always in my thoughts Clare and probably as with so many of us I don't really know what to say. As with several of my close friends who have lost loved ones over the past year or so I do wonder how you are coping, particularly during the long evenings. I hear their stories and we reflect our past, it actually does me some good too. I do remember the last time I saw Brian was at Chuck's funeral and probably the time when the full extent of his illness was realised. Out of sight does not mean out of mind, You know your St Luke's family is always there for you. Jean xx

    one month ago · Reply
  • CAROL J GUARDO
    CAROL J GUARDO

    As always words of wisdom, Clare. So what are the source of joys with him? Love and hugs, Carol

    one month ago · Reply
  • Sarah O'Hare
    Sarah O'Hare

    Clare- beautifully written. We miss him terribly and still grapple with his absence. Speaking of him has its moments of great joy and sadness. But speaking of him is important and meaningful. So many of us have a “Brian”’ in our lives. Thank you for posting this reflection.

    one month ago · Reply
  • Karen Seeling
    Karen Seeling

    My sister, Kathleen Morgan, guided me to this blog site. I lost my husband just a few days after you lost yours. You are definitely spot on about wanting to talk about and hear people talk about your love. This weekend I will spread some of his ashes and have them back to the house to laugh and share stories. I’m so looking forward to hearing the good times and the funny things my sweetie, Jim, did. It brings such comfort reading your posts and knowing I’m not alone. Thank you, Clare.

    one month ago · Reply
    • Clare Hickman
      Clare Hickman

      I remember hearing when Jim died ... I literally couldn’t manage anything more than sending “I feel you, sister!” energy. But that energy was real and strong and it continues.

      one month ago · Reply
  • Allen Merchant
    Allen Merchant

    Clare: Thank you, so much, for sharing this with us. Without your input, my expectation was the exact opposite. You have made me a better person. Thanks, again!

    one month ago · Reply
  • Vicki Hesse
    Vicki Hesse

    Clare, tell me about Brian's running? Did he get new shoes every year? Did he leave smelly running outfits strewn about it was he a tidy person? Did he wear ball caps? I'm curious!

    one month ago · Reply
    • Clare Hickman
      Clare Hickman

      Lol. I don’t know about leaving smelly running clothes around, but he did have a theory that re-wearing yesterday’s running outfit was like getting a head start on your warm up! As for shoes, yep, we both got a new pair every year or so. Both of us were Brooks Ghost fans. Neither of us was really a “let’s train for a half marathon” kind of person. He didn’t spend a lot of time talking about runner’s highs or anything. He just kind of thought running 3-5 miles every couple of days was like changing your own oil: something everyone should be able to do. Anyway, right. I ran because he ran, and he liked doing it together. An early morning run we took around the medieval walled city of Rotenberg is one of my favorite vacation memories ever! Thanks for asking. 😊

      one month ago · Reply
  • David Kress
    David Kress

    Clare, Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings! You have a wonderful way of putting your thoughts into words! It helps us who are unsure or don't know what to say? We remember being at your wedding. The smiles between you both, resonating love! Such a horrible and sad loss! Together too short a time, way too short! I like Jean, was surprised to see Brian at Chuck's funeral. He entered the cemetery chapel, struggling but he was there! We greeted him as he entered. At Chuck's luncheon, as everyone was preparing to depart. We looked over and seen You & Brian also preparing to leave. We both said we had to speak with him! We walked up to Brian, introduced ourselves again. Both wishing him the best and shaking his hand! This meant a lot to both of us! ❤ Gone, never forgotten! Glenn and David

    one month ago · Reply