By Carrie Vittitoe
Growing older doesn’t look like it used to. Over the course of a lifetime, people not only have second acts, but third, fourth, and fifth ones. Retirement, a move into a retirement community, and the death of a spouse are three of the major life changes and challenges that older adults may experience. Meeting these changes isn’t simple, but the wisdom that age provides hopefully makes the process easier.
Life sometimes throws unpleasant changes our way as we age, and we have to just muddle through as best we can. Debbie Kniss has been muddling through grief since October 2016. Her stepson, Chad, died suddenly on October 19; her husband, Larry, who had been in declining health for a number of years, passed away just eleven days later.
Larry had experienced complete cardiac arrest five years prior to his death, and two years after that, he went into kidney failure. Long-term dialysis was wearing him down. “I didn’t want to lose him, but I knew how tired he was,” she says. She says Larry had been thinking about stopping dialysis for about a year prior to his death, but losing Chad so suddenly seemed to take the wind out of his sails. He stopped dialysis and came home with the help of Hosparus.
In the months after Chad’s and Larry’s deaths, Debbie went through a grief class at Southeast Christian Church, and she has found some happiness keeping her great-granddaughter, Zoey, three days a week. Christmas was more difficult this past year than in 2016, which Debbie says was likely because she was no longer in shock.
“I’m just getting to the stage where I’m figuring out that I have to go on,” she says. She appreciates how complicated and long grief is in a way she never understood before. She says she has apologized to many of her widow friends for not being there for them in the lonely months after everyone else has gone back to their regular lives.