If I learned one thing from the experience, it's this, talk to the one you love and listen. Not only am I comforted by the fact that we did everything we were able to, to sustain his life, but I know what my path is now that he's gone.
We knew from the beginning his chances of survival were slim and we began a conversation of how to handle the devastating news and what my husbands wishes were. It was always his decision and he fought tooth and nail very bravely. As he began to deteriorate, our conversations turned to what he wanted for final arrangements and what would happen to me once he was gone. Very painful, yes, but necessary. We cried and held each other as we tried to imagine what my life would be like without him. Through these conversations we gave me the greatest gift. He gave me the rest of my life.
During his illness we met others in various stages of the disease he was afflicted with, and their spouses. Others we met were there as volunteers after their loved one passed. One person in particular sticks in my mind, she brought home-made cookies once a week and spoke to everyone for a moment as she passed them out. Her husband had passed away and this is how she dealt with the loss by giving to others. Bless her, she put smiles on faces that otherwise were sad. In unguarded moments you could still see the pain this woman was harboring. I don't know her story, but her pain was obvious to me. My husband noticed too how she drifted in, spread her joy and then drifted out. We both noticed a great sadness about her.
During one of our heart to heart talks, he brought up the woman with the cookies and said he didn't want me to be like her. He knew his passing would be profoundly painful to me, however, he wanted me to enjoy my life. We talked at length about this. I resisted having the conversation, but he insisted. Now I see the intelligence of it.
It's been a little over a month since his passing, and although I miss him very much, I am able to smile. He gave me the ability to live without him. He made me realize that whatever time I have left in this world, it's not to be wasted mourning something you can't change. All the crying in the world won't bring him back. I think about him every day, but it doesn't stop me from enjoying a joke, seeing a movie with friends, or living life in general. I feel his loving presence all around me. Whatever life has in store for me, I will be ready for it. I still have plans and goals to obtain.
I just can't imagine what my life would be like without having had those conversations. I feel I would be very lost and sad. It's still not the easiest thing in the world, but knowing I have his "permission" to live has made my life so much more comfortable.
So my advise to you is to open yourself to your loved one and make sure they know how you feel, and when they speak to you, listen. When you decide to marry or just be an official couple, you should have conversations about what you expect from each other, if you will have children and how to raise them, final arrangements for each other, and how the one left behind should go on with their life.