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Losing a Mate... Does One Ever Recover ?

I wasn't expecting this to happen.  Not at all.  It came out of left field... way out... near the warning track.

I was reading the New York Times online, and there was a story about the New York State Senate's highest-ranking Republican... Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno.   Bruno Won’t Seek Re-Election - NYTimes.com

I am sure those of you who regularly read my blog posts know my political leanings are strongly Democratic, but this has nothing to do with politics.  Nothing at all.

Mr Bruno had just met with his Republican colleagues in the New York State Senate, and informed them that he would not be running for re-election this November.  Mr Bruno, at age 79, said that after 32 years in office, he had decided it was "time to move on" and make room for what he called "new representation."

And then it came... .  Bruno's colleagues expressed their sorrow and disappointment at his leaving.  One state senator said:  Mr Bruno had been under considerable stress in recent months.  He said that Bruno had lost his wife, Bobbie, to whom he had been married for 57 years, this past January.

For some reason... maybe it was because I myself have been noticing my own "advancing age."  Or perhaps it's because I still grieve over my own personal divorce some 26 years ago... my divorce from my childhood sweetheart whom I had loved since I was eleven years old.

But it hit me.  This dear man... whether he really is "dear" or not... this man, Joseph Bruno, had spent the last fifty-seven years of his life with his beloved wife Bobbie.  And then, five months ago, his "bride" passed away.

I just sat there... almost frozen.  Here I have grieved over a personal loss of a 26 year relationship, and this gentleman loses his wife, his help-mate, who must have been such a major part of his life for 57 years.

All of a sudden... his beloved wife is gone.  By comparison, my grief seemed like a mini-series when compared to his life-long-running epic.

How does one handle that ?  How does one recover ?  Does one ever recover ?   What must this man be going through ?

Joseph Bruno... you don't know me... but you are in my thoughts.  Take care...

Comment balloon 43 commentsKaren Anne Stone • June 23 2008 08:13PM

Comments

Karen Anne, I can't imagine how hard it would be.   My parents had been married nearly 60 years when my dad passed away and I can tell you it almost killed my mother.  That was actually the beginning of the decline in her health. 

I suppose in a perfect world we would go together as partners as we've been in life but that's not necessarily in the plan.  I would hope my faith and the memories of a lifetime of joy would sustain me.  I also hope it will be a very long time before I have to find out.

Posted by Jesse & Kathy Clifton, Retired (Jesse Clifton & Associates, REALTORS®) over 9 years ago

Karen Anne - one can only hope that we would be strong and carry on.  But in reality there is no way to know how we would react to the loss of a partner.  Divorce is hard, but you know the whereabouts of the "ex" and what the health situations are.  The sudden loss of a loved one is a real shock to the system.  I'm not sure we ever recover totally.  But the numbness can help deal with the daily grieving.

Posted by Carol Smith (Casmi Photography) over 9 years ago

Jesse:  I can easily understand how, after nearly sixty years, that when your Dad passed away that it was the beginning of the decline in your mother's health.  I would guess that a major part of it was simply either a lessening, or even almost a total lost of the will to keep on going.  Jesse, thanks for sharing.

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 9 years ago

Karen Anne, you are such a sympathetic and caring person.  Someone hopefully will get this nice blog to the gentleman.  I lost my first husband after 8 years of marriage and it was very hard.  I had kids to raise by myself.  But one thing about things that happen to you seems to be that you become more independent and learn to take care of yourself and your children.

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, CRS, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) over 9 years ago

Very well spoken, Karen.  Not to put a damper, but I was just thinking this evening about all the "famous" people who have died in the news the past couple of weeks.  It's got to be about 15 by now, including George Carlin who was announced this morning.  So much death, so much saddness.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) over 9 years ago

Carol:  I am sure that for many, saying you will be strong, and actually doing it... are two very different things.  OF course, it also almost fully depends on the person and their own personal emotional make-up.

You mention that divorce is hard, but you know the whereabouts of the "ex" and what the health situations are.  Yes... but does that make the pain easier to bear, or more difficult ?  The sudden loss of a loved one is of course a real shock to the system, but perhaps having it happen so suddenly (or not) can have a very different effect on a person.  Either way it is such a shock... such a loss.  And I think it is so very true... I am not sure if we ever recover totally.  Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 9 years ago

My mother was widowed at an early age (late 30's) and never really recovered.  She was left with six children between the ages of 4 and 12.  She probably had not time to recover for many years and by the time the kids had grown, she was pretty set in her ways.

 

Posted by Bill Austin (East Valley Living) over 9 years ago

Barbara:  It would really be great if someone who lives in New York reads this and forwards a copy of it to Mr Bruno.  It sounds like after your own loss that you were able to become more independent... and that you learned to take care of yourself and your children.  I think I can actually tell that about you from looking at you in your profile picture.  Just the way your glasses sit there... it makes you look like you have the fortitude to handle just about anything.  You also look a lot like one of my favorite former teachers from junior high.  She was too cool, too.  Barbara... thanks for sharing.

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 9 years ago

Donna:  Thank you for your kind words.  And yes... so much recent death in the news, and so much accompanying sadness.  I remember seeing George Carlin in person was back when.  What a really sharp guy.  And Tim Russert.  He and I both graduated from the same Jesuit University... John Carroll University in Cleveland.  I listened to one of the commencement speeches he gave at one of their graduations.  He was magnificent.  Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 9 years ago

Bill:  I totally understand how your mother could be widowed in her late thirties, and never recover.  I really do.  My marital bushwhacking took place when I was 38... and I know I have yet to recover.  I know I am not a weenie... but it just still hurts.

Wow, Bill.  Six children between the ages of 4 and 12.  Your mother must be a saint to have pulled that off.  I applaud her.  Bill... thanks for sharing with us.

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 9 years ago

Karen Anne,  My parents have been married 61 years now.  I know that time is coming but how do you prepare for it?  At the moment I just feel blessed to have both of them and will just enjoy every day we can. 

Posted by Marchel Peterson, Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro (Results Realty) over 9 years ago

Marchel:  Both you and your parents are truly blessed.  I think the best thing to do is to just try and keep yourself in the present, and enjoy having a "full family."  So, how many of you are there when you have your entire family together on special occasions ?  Take care...

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 9 years ago

We have a small family.  My parents, my sister and her husband and then us with our two children.  When of course our children aren't globe hopping.  Our son is touring Iraq at the moment and our daughter works as a flight attendant for an airline that moves the troops.  My globe is permantently positioned to the middle east at the moment. 

Posted by Marchel Peterson, Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro (Results Realty) over 9 years ago

Karen Anne..I have been married for almost 39 years...my husband is not in the best of health but we keep working on improvement!

I lost two of the people closest to me this year.My cousin whom I knew and loved all my life and my best friend of 37 years. It has been very hard. I believe we are all in training for coping with lifes changes from the time we lose our first pet....

Posted by Joan Mirantz, Realtor, GRI, CBR, SRES - Concord New Hampshire (Homequest Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Marchel:  Even though your family is small... it sounds like you are all close.  It must be very hard having both your two children being so far away from home... but then again, that makes family gatherings when they come home all that more special.  Huggs to you.  Take care...

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 9 years ago

Joan:  Congratulations on your 39 years together, Joan.  I am so sorry about your loss of your beloved cousin, and your best friend of 37 years.  I am sure it must be so very hard for you.  Yes... for me, losing pets along the way has also been a very difficult thing to endure.  Take care... you are in my thoughts regarding your losses.  Gentle huggs...

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 9 years ago

Karen Anne.....my mother passed away in 1985 after being married for 45 years. My father who is still alive still misses her greatly.  Personally I have experienced two divorces, one at 22 and another at 38, both were very tramautic and not taken lightly.  Whether death or divorce I believe that are both very hard on the soul and are not taken lightly.  I can only imaging what it would be like after 57 years.

Posted by Pam Winterbauer, "Providing Blue Ribbon Service" (Pam Winterbauer Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Karen Anne... I enjoy your wit, I am amused by your humor, and I rally behind your politics... but I love your caring and compassionate nature.  You are indeed a special person with strength and depth of character.  I hope we get to meet soon.

Posted by Steve Shatsky over 9 years ago

Hi Karen Anne,

A very kind post.  The length of time a relationship lasts doesn't always decree the strength of the relationship and the loss when it is over.

I find in my life I try to treat the people in my life as gifts.  Some gifts are for a short period of my life, others are there for the whole time.

Good luck to Sen. Bruno with his loss and good luck to you with yours.

All the best!

Posted by Kevin O'Shea, White Plains, NY Real Estate (Coldwell Banker) over 9 years ago

Karen, you are such a thoughtful person.  I too think that it must be incredibly difficult to lose your life mate.  However, that is also what we all hope for when we get married, to be together until death do us part. 

I'm sorry that you are still hurting from your divorce. Although we've never met in person, it makes me sad to think about you being sad over the loss.   I do understand how it is hard to let go of lost love's but our hearts are made so that we can love again - if you will give yourself permission to do so.   For now, give that big kitty of yours a pat on the head for me.  Thanks, Sondra

Posted by Sondra Meyer:, See It. Experience It. Live It. (Hayden Outdoors, LLC Colorado) over 9 years ago

I know of only two things that could help with something that hard- my religious faith in the short run, and time in the long run. Tim Russert going so suddenly has got us thinking. He was 58. I just turned 57 and my husband 59. There are no guarantees in life. We're going to try and take more time to do things together and with our kids and enjoy life NOW more. I would think that, eventually, the good memories would help.

Posted by Leslie Prest, Owner, Assoc. Broker, Prest Realty, Payson, (Leslie Prest, Prest Realty, Sales and Rentals in Payson, AZ) over 9 years ago

Karen Anne,

I am still recovering from the loss of my mother earlier this year.  My husband is having some health problems.  I don't know how I'd recover if anything ever happened to him.  I'm always sending good vibes his way, so he will be around for a long time.

Posted by Adele Irving - Easton Area Homes (Prudential Patt, White Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Karen Anne:  I have seen my mother coping with the loss of my father for over 12 years now.  Finally, it seems she is living again.  It takes a long time to recover from such a loss.  Divorce or death. Loss is a very personal thing and there is no timetable to get over it... and that just means getting back to "normal."  But losses like that shape our lives forever.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Northern VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) over 9 years ago

Spouses are adept to depart some time or another but the hardest thing anyone has to endure is the lost of your children. When he or she didn't get a chance to ride a two wheeler, or learn to go ice skating, or parallel park on main street, or go to their senior prom, walk down the aisle on their wedding day....those children that were in the hands of a drunk driver...the ones who had their lives stolen from them .....

Posted by Nancy Larson (I am a licensed referral agent in NJ) over 9 years ago

Having lost a husband and a child, and watching my mother after I lost my father.,,Yes you do recover. You never forget by any means! But you do recover. As with anything..Life is what you make it. If you sit around and mope and grieve-you will not recover, only make yourself sick, and those around you sick for you. Grieving won't bring anyone back. But if you pick yourself up, and go on with life, treating it like starting new....You do recover, and are a stronger person for it.   

Posted by Sherry Scales, Realtor, for Austin, TX and surrounding areas (Austin Texas Homes, LLC) over 9 years ago

Karen I always enjoy your posts! This one hits home, I found my husband gone on the sofa 11 years ago this month and he just turned 50. The first 5 years, especially at the holidays, I was always in a depression, now even though I do not like being alone, it is OK! For the most part I am happy the way I am and if it is meant to be someone will come along. I am not looking. I am 58 and have to accept life as it is and go on. We just learn to deal with it!

Thank you for your kind post and have a great evening

Posted by Jean Powers, CRS,e-PRO,HAFA,SFR Broker, Northern California (Kane & Associates call 510.908.9002) over 9 years ago

Karen Anne, grief from death, divorce, or other loss is so personal. Interesting how his life in a parallel sort of way triggered memories of your loss. I wish you well. Thank you for your sharing.

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) over 9 years ago

Karen Anne...

That really hit you hard!  Too many of us read things and don't give a second thought to that person...it's not us, so we more on not bothering to stop for one second.  You are a wonderful woman with a heart of gold.  Wish we had more of you :).  I am featuring this in hopes even more will read it and remember to stop and think what others go through in this life we all share together.  Liz

Posted by Liz Carter, Broker/Owner of Liz Carter & Team Realty, Katy TX (Houston) (Liz Carter & Team Realty-Your Real Estate Resource For Life!) over 9 years ago

Loss of a loved one is deep no matter how or when it occurs.  In my own life I have, at times, in the pit of despair questioned the old saying "Better to have loved and loss than never to have loved at all".  Pain is the price you pay for a full heart.  When the pain fades, it was, indeed, worth it.

Posted by Sara K. Braden (Bloomfield Homes) over 9 years ago

Karen - I lost my 2 babies long ago, when I asked my mother in despair ' how do I get over this? ', she replied, 'you won't, you just have to get used to it.'  The pain remains, but when you are young, you get on with your life.  Someone who has spent so much time with a loved one maybe just can't 'get used it it'.

 

 

 

 

wow - the graphic is 'ginger' and that is what my mom called me!

Posted by Virginia Hepp - Mesquite NV REALTOR, Mesquite NV Homes and Neighborhoods - Search MLS (ERA - Mesquite NV Homes For Sale) over 9 years ago

Bless your heart.  You are a gem and we're lucky to have you in our 'community'.  Death and loss of any kind is very hard.  Everyone's right; we don't know how we'll handle it until it happens.  One foot in front of the other is often harder than it sounds.

Posted by Leigh York, Experienced. Educated. Professional. (CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company) over 9 years ago

Hi Karen ... I lost my husband 14 years ago.  I did recover and have since remarried.  However, it was a terrible experience that I could not have survived without family and friends.  He was a young man.  I got through it by believing that the only way he continued to live was through me.  So, my life had to be good.  I still think of him, and I still feel the pain but enjoy my many good memories.  I am always thankful that I had him for 11 years.  He will always be a part of me.

Posted by Marie Meyer, Orange County New York Realtor (Keller Williams Realty) over 9 years ago

Karen,

thank you for sharing your insights on this death of this public officiall..  Wow.  I can only say that it is very difficult for anyone that loses a mate, especially when they have been together for over 50 years like my late father-in-law and mother-in-law.  My father-in-law died first.  Two and a half years later my mother-in-law died.  Before passing, my mother-in-law told all of us that she never even imagined how much she would miss my father-in-law like she did.  They were married 54 years!  Amazing! 

Wow, what an amazing man you wrote about and I do not blame him for stepping down. He needs time to heal, recover and take break!  Some people do recover, although it is not the same.  Some get stronger and sometimes even meet someone else in their twilight years and begin anew, although it is rare, but it does happen. 

I wish you the very best today! 

Posted by Irene Woodworth, Color-Redesign-Staging, Trainer & Motivational Speaker - Idaho (Color and Redesign Academy & Redesign Boise) over 9 years ago

Karen Anne truly a sad situation; my wife and her dad were so close and when his health declined, I got an assignment to Italy, away from her home.  The trials and sacrifices myself and our mititary had to endure.  I understood and she spent the majority of her time with him and away from me, I understood and our relationship perservered.  Unfortunately cancer took a great man and left a void in my wife's heart.  She was his princess and loved her beyond reproach, I have a changed person I call my wife.  It's hard, but I have and will always be there for her.  It's been over 5 years and she's just now put up a picture of him.  I will never forget the day I went there, the day he died, and saw him in the hospital, I was heartbroken!  I married his daughter and the same time gained a man I will always treasure.

Posted by Frank Bailey Sr. (Keller Williams Realty) over 9 years ago

Hi Karen Anne...Perhaps there is a different grief when it is a divorce rather than a death.  With a divorce there is a feeling of rejection.  Someone you love has stopped loving you and that is why they leave you yet you have not stopped loving them.

As long as that other person lives it remains proof of that rejection and that is why the pain can last so long.  There might be a great belief that things might change back to where they had been.  With death there is that finality.

It is even more important that divorced people (those that have not wanted the divorce) work very hard to fill their lives with other people to love whether it is friends, spouses, or other family members, it doesn't really matter.  What matters is that the heart is filled with love again for and from others.

For anyone that has lost someone they loved because of death please realize that I am not making light of that loss, simply stating the possible difference.

Kathleen

 

Posted by Kate Elim, Realtor 540-226-1964, Selling Homes & Land a (Dockside Realty) over 9 years ago

When my father was killed by a drunk driver in 79 my mother went hysterical. To this day she is not over it even though she remarried. None of us really "got over it". If my husband is late I panic. If my son is late I panic. If I get low on gas I panic. I get nervous passing bars late at night. I get nervous if my car breaks down. You never really get over tragedy. You just learn to deal with it like losing a leg.

Posted by Cheri Smith, Realtor Prudential Gary Greene (Prudential Gary Greene, Cypress TX) over 9 years ago

Karen Anne - This kind of story cuts across political lines.  I can't even fathom the pain that he is enduring right now.  I am including your post in the Family Ties recap today.

Posted by Jason Crouch, Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653) (Austin Texas Homes, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jason:  Thank you so much for the recognition in including this post in your Family Ties recap today.  When I wrote it, it just flowed out of my mind and my heart... non-stop.  And, in re-reading it just now... I don't think I would chage a word of it.

And... it has brought out some incredibly heart-wrenching comments and sharings by many of my readers.  I am so pleased at the dialogue in the above comments.  It amazes me, though, that a post like this would not get a gold star feature from Active Rain... so thank you for sharing this as part of your weekly recap.  Take care... hope all is well with you and your family.

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 9 years ago

Karen Anne, your thoughts here are very touching.  I've been married for nearly 7 years and we've been together for almost 12.  It frightens me and I couldn't even imagine waking up every morning without my wonderful wife by my side. 

Posted by Brian Block, Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President) over 9 years ago

Karen Anne:  I've been vacationing with my family and missed this when you posted it... and I'm sorry that I missed it, but I am glad Jason included it in this week's recap for Family Ties. 

I was widowed 11 years ago... my kids were 8, 11, and 14, so I went into survival mode.  My thoughts were on making sure my kids were okay. I didn't allow myself to grieve for many years... still when it hit me, I had to go through the grieving process.  This past January, I was able to lead a program at my church called GriefShare, and it is a tremendous non-denominational faith-based program with professional counselors, ministers, and real people who who have been through the death of a loved one or friend.

Grief over death and grief over divorce are both very real and very necessary to our recovery and well being.  They are similar but not the same.  Both are equally real and important.  The difference being that death is final, and there is often a lot of regret especially when it was a sudden death. There can be a lot of regret in divorce as well.  There is a lot of pain in both situations, and neither one is easier than the other. I don't think you will mind if I post two links that I think will help anyone who reads this.

1) For those dealing with grief from the death of a friend, loved one, or family member:

www.GriefShare.org

 

2) For those dealing with divorce situations (even children effected by divorce):

www.DivorceCare.org

 

I was divorced when I was 25.  Remarried 3 years later and was married for 15 years when my husband died suddenly with a heart attack.  He was 46, I was 42, and that was 11 years ago.  This past February, my 80 year old mom died after 2 years of serious illness.  She and my dad had been married 57 years.  He is now 81, and doing pretty well.  He is a strong person, and has always been that way.  But the most important thing is that he has found faith in God in the past couple of years.  My parents were never church going people, but at the age of 78, they found faith and joined our church. 

I can tell you from personal experience that having faith in my life has made all the difference for me.  It would have been better if I had faced my grief sooner, but God always took care of me.  When I did come to terms with grief, I found that my Christian experience was the source of strength and healing.

As others have commented, you are such a warm, caring person.  Many people on AR love you and appreciates your concern for this man who was recently widowed.  It is good for us to share, encourage, and pray for each other when we know someone is hurting!  You are a blessing!

Posted by Jan Evett, Broker Associate, 20 years+ in real estate (The Premier Property Group LLC) over 9 years ago

Karen Anne, In september i will be maried 25 years and can't imagine how I would feel if my wife passes first. I am only greatful that i know the Lord and know He will help me through if the time comes.

Posted by Hugh Krone, Realtor, Sussex County NJ (Weichert Referral Associates) over 9 years ago

Karen Anne, a very close relative of mine lost her husband unexpectedly at a young age, leaving behind two small children. While the sadness never diminishes, somehow people find the strength to live with the tragedy as best that they can, but there is a sparkle that simply doesn't return when they laugh.

Posted by Laurie Mindnich over 9 years ago

No matter the reason, a loss is a loss.  What frequently happens is our friends, in desperation to comfort us, say "Time will heal."  There is no more cruel statement although it is never meant to be cruel, but paradoxically it's meant to be comforting.

The truth is TIME DOESN'T HEAL.  What time does is help you to become somewhat use to living with the loss.  That's it!  Nothing more.

So I found once I figured this out, I was able to get past wondering when time was going to heal, and instead know that was never going to happen and I didn't want it to anyway.  I was very comfortable with the memories, some good and some bad, and I wanted to keep them.

Posted by BILL CHERRY, Broker & Wealth Coach (Bill Cherry, Realtor) over 9 years ago

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