Life after Death


Life after Death


One of the great tragedies of everyday life is the death  of a long time spouse. Many couples spend nearly all their adult life together. Then in old age one dies, say aged 70-75. The other may live for another twenty years.

Vivien and I have become great   fans of Kent “Plainsong” Haruf. His last book before he died aged 71 two years ago,  “Our Souls at Night”, dives headlong into this subject. The courage, hesitancy and difficulties of any new relationship are well rehearsed. Without sex it is the need for  companionship and intimacy which drives the two oldies into  not quite each others arms.

Once again Haruf with his clear eyed, no nonsense, Mid West view shows us the  joys of decent folk living decent lives. But of course even in Mid West cornfields serpents wait their chance.

Adult children hate the idea of their parents having sex especially with someone else. They may also feel their inheritance is threatened. This is as true in  fiction as real life. Old friends are conservative they do not like change. So for a couple of oldies to take the plunge especially in  a small town requires a bravery. It also requires a realisation that there is life after death.

Vivien’s father and my step father lived ten plus years after the death of their wives. Thinking of them in this light, Mike was too conservative and  Hans really too old to contemplate a new intimacy. It maybe that for a variety of historical reasons they didn’t do intimacy. Though what might have happened if an old friend had knocked and suggested coming round one night to hold hands and talk. Its a shame but for them there was acceptance that life at best was reduced after death. I hope Vivien or I are braver. Haruf left a wife I wonder if she is two year’s later holding someone’s hand

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4 Responses to Life after Death

  1. My father died 9 months after my mother, to whom he as devoted. Until then he pretended not to be ill. His doctor told me that was common.

  2. Barbara says:

    “Women grieve, men replace”. During the ten years that have followed the death of my husband I have not met any man with whom I have wanted to share my life. Not one has measured up to him, and as I’m lucky that he left me financially independent I certainly don’t ‘need’ a man to feel secure. Indeed, as I look at the men in the lives of my married women friends, I see the many benefits of my solitary state!

  3. itwonthurt says:

    Friendship, intimacy, a shared life all have problems and require effort. Especially in the twilight years.The moral (of the book) is that even/especially in older age there is a moral and social benefit which trumps loneliness. Surely no one can prefer the solitary state however comfortable.

  4. Wim Denslagen says:

    Sometimes it is a relief to recall what I think Cicero once wrote: as long as you are alive, death is not there and when death comes, you are not there to meet him, or her (I think Death is a nurse)

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