Do you ever worry about your partner dying?

So, as you may know, I’m a worrier, but here’s the worry always in the back of my mind…

A couple years ago, I read an amazing memoir, Epilogue by Anne Roiphe. Her husband died suddenly after 39 years of marriage, and she wrote about her daily life after his death. What broke my heart was how she missed the little things–like the way her husband cut onions–and she’d wake up surprised that he wasn’t lying next to her.

Although she was a successful writer with lots of friends in Manhattan, her days grew long and lonely. She resisted calling her daughters every evening since, as she said, “they had their own lives.” She got restless at home, but when she was out of the apartment, she just wanted to hurry back. As an effort to move on, she tried online dating. Her stories were sweet and hilarious. (One guy felt her up in the middle of a restaurant, eeks!)

Honest, funny and touching, Epilogue was a true love story. Here are a few beautiful paragraphs Anne Rophie wrote about her husband that will make your heart swell. I’d highly recommend the book, if you want an amazing read.

However, reading Epilogue had a strange and unexpected side effect: It made me miss Alex, even when he was right there. I would get so drawn into the book–and felt so connected with the author, as if I were living her days with her–that I would momentarily feel as if I, too, had lost my husband. Then I would hear Alex making hot chocolate in the kitchen, or he’d walk into the bedroom to read next to me, and I would almost tear up that I actually had him here me, in the flesh, to hug tightly and smell his scent and lie next to and talk to. It made me feel so lucky.

Love is such an amazing, powerful thing, but you have so much to lose. To be honest, sometimes it scares me. Who knows what the future will bring? If you’ll be left alone? Alex, who is thirteen years older, is such a huge part of my daily life, I can’t imagine living without him. (And who knows, I might not have to.) It’s hard to think about. Happily, day to day, it reminds me not to take my relationship for granted, not to hurry through a goodnight kiss or goofy joke or random hug in the kitchen; those little moments are what life and marriage are all about.

I sort of feel nuts writing this post, and I almost didn’t. Am I neurotic to think about this? Or is it normal and natural to think about sometimes? I mean, it is part of everyday life.

Do you ever worry about your romantic partner dying? Has anyone close to you ever died? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

(Vintage photo from Superbomba)

  1. I had a boyfriend die from lymphoma after we were living together for about 2 years. I was young, only 25 (I’m 30 now), but still had my future planned together with him. It was pretty crazy to have my life change so drastically, so quickly (he was diagnosed and then gone within 3 weeks!) It’s obviously changed me in so many ways, but what’s been really hard is balancing my new relationship – making sure I’m still respectful of my boyfriend that had passed away, and also respectful to the boyfriend I’m with now. I’ve stopped using terms like “love of my life” or “soul mate” or things like that. There’s a lot of guilt that goes along with moving on and rebuilding a life, a happy life at that. I do feel torn a lot though, like sometimes I am almost happy to feel little pangs of sadness for what I lost – it means I loved enough to feel that loss, and I think in a way that is sort of nice. In a way? It’s a confusing thing.

    Anyways, I liked this post a lot. It’s something I think about all too often, although there really is not much point to it, since you can never be prepared for something so devastating anyways. Although sometimes I think worrying about this does help with appreciating what we have, like you mentioned.

  2. thank you so much for posting this. It sounds absolutely terrible to say, but whenever my husband is running late, and the roads are wet and slippery I find myself imaginging the worst. I see myself giving his eulogy, or having to move in with my parents because I am overwhelmed with grief. It is so nice to hear that I am not the only one who’s irrational fears of losing the one I love the most. Thank you for this reassurance.

  3. Taylor says...

    Both my maternal grandfather and my father died when my mother and I were 11. My mom was also the same age as my grandma when her husband died. Consequentially, I can’t deny that I’m a little anxious/terrified of the idea of loosing my spouse/father of my children (especially my little girl, if I have one). I suppose all one can do is love the people you have now, because you obviously have no idea when it all could change.

  4. So glad I found this post. neurotic or not, It’s one of my biggest fears, Im ashamed to say I worry about it all the time. My husband is almost 17 yrs older and it’s never been an issue until I think about him leaving this earth before me. We have it so good, I’m constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. Something I fight all the time. I don’t know that I could handle reading her book, just the thought of what she’s been through guts me. Waking up and remembering he’s gone all over again has to be horrific. I am so thankful you posted this, thank you.

  5. Uh oh, just got a lump in the throat. This has been something I’ve only recently started thinking about as we have just moved city and don’t yet have any friends here. Before we moved I felt perfectly secure and without anxiety, and perhaps that was because I was in the knowledge that I was surrounded by people who loved me. Now, for the time being, it’s just me and him! But like you say, it’s made me really treasure the little things that are part of daily life together, and I’ve been trying not to get annoyed by the things he does that make me tick, because I know if he’s no longer there I’ll miss them along with everything else! Such a great post, thank you. Hx

  6. I waited to respond to this because it just still seems too real to process. I’m 30. My husband is 29. We just had a baby. He found out he had cancer when she was 3 months old. She’s 6 months old now. It’s not terminal, or at least it’s not a cancer that is usually terminal. But, needless to say, I’ve now thought a lot about losing him. The first week after the diagnosis was horrible. People told me I couldn’t let my mind go to thinking about death, but that’s impossible advice to follow. I had to let my mind go there, to grieve what may be someday (whether that’s in two years or 60 years). I think being forced to think about your husband’s mortality at such a young age makes me a better wife. It makes me appreciate what we have even more, and it has forced me to learn to care for him in ways that many people won’t learn until they are old and gray.

  7. Anonymous says...

    i think about these things from time to time, more about my parents and best friend than anyone else, as i’m (sort of) single. but the issue has come up a lot more frequently lately, as i am in a very bizarre super long-distance something with a guy in australia (i live in the US). the story is long and complicated, and i have no idea what will happen, but the situation has taken an even more complicated turn with his diagnosis of a serious/rare cancer. he’s only 28 and was in great health (or so he thought.) his surgery went great–he’s now going through chemo and everything seems like it’s on track and he’s going to come out of it just fine. but–and here’s the really morbid part–i worry about pursuing the relationship more now than i did. i worry that we’ll make our crazy situation work, i’ll fall head over heels in love, we’ll start our life together, and not too far down the road, he’ll have a recurrence, and i’ll be left alone and devastated. (how terrible is that, right?) so i’m afraid to even give the relationship a chance, but at the same time it seems ridiculous (and cruel) to discriminate against a potentially great love interest, just because he has cancer! i don’t know. anyhow, it’s something i’m struggling with, and i think by the number of replies here, it’s obvious you’re not alone in your concerns. thanks for your post, and your always lovely blog.

  8. This is a great post! Yes, I’ve thought about several times. It’s weird since my boyfriend and I are only 23, but I love him so much that I can’t believe how lucky I am. And I guess that’s why people get scared. When you realize how hard it is to find something and how much it means to you, you don’t want to lose it.

  9. I think about this every single day. 4 months after we married my husband was diagnosed with cancer. we have been on this new journey now for 3 years straight. there isn’t a single day that goes by that I don’t have the fear of loneliness, loss and desperation. But the flip side of the fear is utter respect, joy, love, appreciation and bliss. I love every single thing (well most of the time) and cherish just watching him sleep. Like Pixar said: ‘The past is history, the future is a mystery, but today is a gift.
    that’s why they call it the, ‘present’.

  10. Wow!!! This is my number one fear – I am so glad I am not the only one, I thought I was so crazy.

    But I do agree that it makes me appreciate him every single day (not that I always remember to express it)

    I lived away from him for three years while I was in school- we would see eachother every few months. It was so much tougher than I expected. I knew i would miss him but I thought I would be too busy to think about it. But no matter how busy I was, after two weeks of not being with him, I would start to FEEL so awful, and it took me awhile to realize that was me really missing him

  11. All! The! Time! It’s so nice to read that others feel the same way I do. I think of it daily for my dog. Glad to know I’m not alone :)

  12. I feel the same as you ! Thanks for sharing your feelings…

  13. Anonymous says...

    This is one of my constant worries. My husband works nights, but is usually in the bed next to me when I wake up. There are times he must work late, but he doesn’t call in the middle of the night to let me know. So when I wake up and he isn’t there, I literally go into a cold sweat and worry about him – has he been in an accident? Is he okay? It’s awful – I can’t settle until I hear from him. I can’t imagine him not in my life – it’s somewhat reassuring that I’m not the only one who worries about this stuff. Thank you for allowing me to share with you all.

  14. Anonymous says...

    I really enjoyed reading this post! My husband and I just celebrated our second anniversary, and one of my biggest fears is losing him. We spend a lot of time together (we work together) and can’t imagine life without him. I try not to think about it because the thought of not having him with me makes me cry. I’m glad I’m not the only one that worries about this!

  15. Anonymous says...

    I’m perusing blogs while I wait for my husband to return from picking up Chinese takeout. It’s taking him awhile, and its raining outside, so I’ve been worrying while trying not to worry. This fear is with me in a quiet way so often.

    I kid you not, I just heard his car pull up!! ( :

  16. Steph says...

    I lost my dad when I was a teenager, so I think that’s helped me to come to terms with death. I’ve had to do so with my partner, because he has already had one operation for a serious genetic heart defect and will need another one in another twenty years. He’s just happy to be alive, and I cherish every moment with him. I’d rather have ten or twenty years with him than with someone else. That’s how it is. Life is brief for all of us, really – I can’t allow myself to waste it in worry.

  17. You are courageous for writing about this. I always used to think this about Fiona Apple songs when I was in college and this post reminded me of it: “Keep my thoughts to yourself.” ;)

  18. this post is beautiful in its sweetness and vulnerability, joanna. and as someone with a husband 16 years her senior, i can really relate to your feelings. thank you for sharing your soul with us and reminding us to show gratitude for every moment. <3

  19. One more thought:

    I’m getting more into meditation these days, both for school (somehow, my law school finds meditation to be worthy of academic credit!) and for personal reasons. The more I do it, the more I learn that we never truly have any person. All we have are moments, and each one is fleeting. I think that’s why I sometimes feel a mixture of joy and sadness when spending time with my boyfriend – while I love the time with him, I also know that nothing lasts. I also know that we’re not defined by our emotions, our bodies, or even our thoughts. We’re something that’s harder to quantify and define, something that sometimes doesn’t emerge until two people interact. And when you lose someone, you feel that “thing which is greater than the sum of its parts” is gone.

    I don’t mean at all to sound like a downer! if anything, this realization has helped me really, really love every moment I have with my loved ones, whether in joy, humor, sadness, or any other shade of human experience.

  20. these are my daily thoughts. i fell in love with my husband two weeks to the day before i left to serve an lds mission that lasted eighteen months. we didn’t see each other, talk on the phone, nothing online, nothing. that was all against the rules. just letters. it was like i was away at war in the forties. we reconnected after a few hours of me coming back home, and got married several months later. daily i think about how lucky i am to have him. i don’t know if i could read that book. i love that you shared this though. you are such an amazing write joanna!

  21. Anonymous says...

    Sadly, this is what keeps me from getting too close to my husband: The thought of losing him. It’s a terrible reason to keep distance, but it makes me feel safe. I’m working on it.

  22. Definitely not neurotic! My boyfriend and I have been together for 5+ years, and 4 of those years have been long distance. Thankfully, we are now together, finally in the same city and living together, too. I occasionally get flashes of fear when I imagine him leaving for work and getting in an accident. In those moments, I, too, feel like I miss him though he’s physically right there in front of me. Maybe missing someone and loving them are just two sides of the same coin: awareness+appreciation+heart.

  23. Anonymous says...

    I always read your blog, but this is the first time I’m going to comment on one of your wonderful posts. For the last two years and a half, I’ve been in the happiest relationship I could ever have imagined. We’ve shared good moments, bad moments, moments of fear, of doubt, of tenderness. For the last year and a half, we’ve also shared a house, which now feels like a lifetime home.

    Being in a relationship with someone who is significantly older than me (21 years!), I have to admit this does cross my mind from time to time. And it really does scare me. Sometimes I find myself wishing I was older so that this wouldn’t be so present in my mind all the time. I guess the age difference really makes you think about time, aging and losing the person you love.

  24. losing my husband is my greatest fear. i can’t imagine how i would live without him, and hope i don’t have to.

    i think this fear is normal!

  25. THANK YOU for writing this. If anything else, you’ve made me feel less crazy – I think the same things, and wonder if I’m unnaturally morbid or a maniacal worrier. I’m glad there are others out there who have the same fear and reaction to hearing others speak (or write a novel) about it. Really, thank you.

  26. I recently read The Year of Magical Thinking and was forced to face this same fear. Losing my husband would be losing my best friend, my family, the love of my life. I already obsessed about it before reading the book, quite often, actually. But when you read such an intimate account of it happening in such a raw and painful way you see it is even worse than you could imagine. I fear losing those I love and have since I was a little, dark, twisted child, but now it feels so much more terrifying. Growing up you have your whole family, and while you still might, the significance and weight of your relationship with ONE person is so great you can’t fathom living without it.
    So, yes, yes I do too. I am only comforted knowing I am not the only one.

  27. Anonymous says...

    My parents are splitting up after 34 years together and stuff like this makes me sad about it again, for them. Not that they wouldn’t be sad if the other died, but I don’t think it’s not the same outright fear. I think you can just look at it as a reinforcement of your bond, so that’s a good thing…

  28. Anne says...

    I’m a bit of a worrier too. And I do think about how I will feel/what it will be like if my husband dies before me. But I wouldn’t say my worries about this are not all-consuming (not that you suggested they are for you, or that your post sounds like they are). But I did find that I became a bit more anxious after having my first child. In retrospect, I think I suffered a bit of post-partum anxiety. I wasn’t worried as much about her dying, more about what would happen and what I’d miss if I died. It was heart-wrenching to think about. I think a lot of it came from being newly responsible for someone’s well-being. And I found a very mild anxiety return after a few months after the birth of my second child. But it wasn’t as powerful the second time around.

    Have you worked out of the home before? I only ask because I think my tendency to really get lost in thought, ruminating, and yes, worrying, has increased since I started working from home. I have less conversations with others during the day than I did when I worked in an office. It’s easy to get lost in thought and allow worries to take over when no one is there to interrupt me!

  29. My biggest fear is losing a child. My second is losing my husband and the reality of that really sank in when my dad passed away two years ago. Watching my mom navigate thru life without my dad has been eye opening…and they didn’t even have the best relationship! In one of the Malcolm Gladwell books he writes about how companies and life partners function the same; everyone takes over the tasks he/she does best and slowly our brains shut down in the areas or tasks we don’t do. He said in a marriage or relationship when u lose a partner you also have to take over their duties which is part do the pain we suffer. It’s literally painful for our brain to reengage to do those tasks. I see that with my mom. and supposedly we women out live our male partners by an average of 15 yrs. its one of our biggest problems in saving for our futures. We work less yet live longer on average. And yet none of those facts touches upon the emotional aspect! I can’t watch movies where a wife loses a husband. I just can’t. Sorry for sounding cheesy but he completes me and life without him would be…incomplete.

  30. I’m probably the opposite of a worrier. I lost my husband 3.5 years ago to leukemia. I was 26 and our children were 6 and 4. Needless to say, I don’t really remember life being “normal,” but I think this is just the life I have. I have been thinking for years about putting my thoughts into a book (after finding so many to read about the person going through cancer and surviving, but less about the one who lives off to the side). I keep telling myself that one of these days I’ll have time to organize my thoughts, even if the book ends up being only therapy for myself.

    Your book recommendation has been bumped up to the next one on my list. Thanks for the post.

  31. Anonymous says...

    You think that’s awful, and it is, wait until you get older and realize when your children are aged, and maybe in a nursing home, you won’t be there to help them.

  32. you’re not alone at all. it’s so heartbreaking to think about. it’d be so heartbreaking to experience. i know it’s being hopeless romantic of me, but i’m hoping and praying for dear life that we’ll both go together, in our sleep, Notebook style.

  33. I just lost my father three months ago and the grief and pain is so deep you can’t even put it into words. My mom and dad were married for 42 years and were inseparable. After his pancreatic cancer returned, my mom said, “What will I do without my best friend?” The other night my husband and I were kissing and out of nowhere I had an overwhelming aching for my mother that she would never be able to lay in bed,talk and be kissed by my Dad again. It’s funny how the grief hits you at the oddest times.

  34. I’ve definitely thought about my husband dying and it scares the crap out of me! But, come to think of it, I’ve always thought a lot about the people closest to me dying. When I was little, I often wouldn’t go places without my parents because I thought that they would get into an accident if I didn’t go with them. Yowza – can you say separation anxiety! I’m so happy that you did write this post. Thank you for being so honest!

  35. I don’t think it’s abnormal at all to think about that and worry about it. It just shows how much you love your husband which of course is a good thing!
    I never really worried about things like that and then my dad died two and a half years ago when I was 25. It’s an incredibly hard missing someone you love so much, but I do have hope that I will see him again.
    I don’t know if you read every single one of these comments, but I have read so many that make me sad because a lot of people don’t have that hope.
    I don’t know what any of you readers believe about God, but He offers hope to anyone that will turn to Him in faith. He offers eternal life to all who believe in His Son, Jesus Christ, in His life, death and resurrection.
    A lot of people view Him as a harsh taskmaster keeping people from enjoying themselves. But He is a loving, forgiving God. The Creator! He created you!
    Anyway, I long for everyone to know Him and His amazing love, and to have His hope.


  36. I think about this all the time, with everyone who’s really close to me…my parents, my brother, my boyfriend of 3 years. I’m a huge worrier, and I can work myself into a panic if they just don’t pick up their phones for a few hours. I just can’t imagine living in a world without them.

    If you’ve ever read Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, one of the main characters struggles with similar fears when her boyfriend proposes to her — in essence, she’s scared to accept because she knows he may not always be with her. It seems irrational, but I think it’s natural.

    My grandparents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this year, and this summer, my grandpa died. They had the most beautiful, lasting love I’ve ever seen, and although my grandma is so strong, I can’t imagine how she’s coping without him. She says she misses just having him there to talk to…even though they had 60 years together, it’s that kind of thing that scares me about marrying someone that I may eventually have to lose.

  37. I JUST finished reading The Year of Magical Thinking, the year after Joan Didion unexpectedly lost her husband, and I had actually been too scared to read it for a long time, thinking it would be too intense and upsetting and real.
    It definitely hits a nerve on one of your greatest fears, especially when right after it happened she is thinking the exact same things you would think (I think!)
    She said right when she found out he had died, she had wanted to talk to him about it. He was the first person she’d call or share something with and need their opinion on what to do. If anything ever happened to Mac I know my first instinct would be a need to talk to him, to share what’s going on with him. And everything that pops into your head during the day, the decisions you have to make, from then on out, you still have that instinct to ask them what you should do.
    Like the Death Cab song though about the realization that one of you will have to live through the other one dying, “love is watching someone you love die”. great, great post joanna!!

  38. Ever since my son was born I started worrying about losing my husband. At first whenever he would leave I would get so paniked. It has subsided some but I find there are times my anxiety gets bad. Life is just so precious. These feelings keep me in check to enjoy every moment.

  39. Anonymous says...

    it’s totally normal, and with other smaller things too. are you ever sunbathing on the beach or in a fast boat and you’re already mourning the event ending?

    i do that ALL the time and it dampens the memory for me, because i was feels so excited but also so mournful, talk about ambivilence!

    i also do the same thing with my boyfriend and my loved ones, too.

  40. I know everyone else has already said it, but I worry about this same thing, too. And somehow whenever I can’t get hold of my husband on his cell (once he was a chaperone on a youth ski trip and they went to an area with no service and I was nearly hyperventilating that he hadn’t called because of course my mind went to the worst possible scenario).
    I did lose my son in 2010 and he was sick for his entire short life. What I remember now, and what I like to think about now, are all the times with him that had nothing to do with me worrying about him dying. I guess what I’m saying is that if the worst did happen, what you’ll want to remember are all the good times, and you won’t give a second thought to the worrying you did. On the flip side, maybe one good thing about worrying is that it makes you appreciate your loved one more, and makes you more thankful, as you said, for all the little things that make a marriage.

  41. Someone may have mentioned this in the comments before me, but if you want to have your heart broken a second time (while witnessing the strength of someone who is able to write about losing her spouse in a candid, poetic way), read Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking. If you can take it again, read the story of her dealing with her daughter’s death in her new memoir Blue Nights.

    My grandparents (father’s parents) both died this last year. There was not much sadder than watching my granddad try to live without his “sweetums” of more than 60 years. He couldn’t. His death followed hers six months later. They had a long and challenging yet wonderful life together just the same.

    Thank you for writing about this. It puts things into perspective for me today.

  42. Delphine says...

    Jo, you’re making me cry at work! But it’s so nice to hear about people so in love. Really touching post.

  43. tb says...

    My husband was engaged a few years before we met, and his fiancee passed away. He’s been through the horror of losing the love of his life. As scared as I get that I could lose him, it gives me hope to witness that he’s been able to carry on and even fall in love again, while still remembering and respecting the woman who meant everything to him.

  44. Oh my God, I think about thi all the time, and I just don’t know why (I haven’t read Epilogue!). I imagine it would be so terribly hard to live without my partner! And sometimes I also think what it would be like for him to move on if something happens to me. I’m 27 and he’s 34, but you never know when life would end. So glad you wrote this Joanna, you’re not alone! Besos.

  45. Anonymous says...

    This thought often crosses my mind, I too am a worrier. I am also a newlywed and recently lost my grandfather ( and watched my grandmother grieve the loss of her husband of 60+ years) and I am also a ICU nurse so I am often witnessing older couples deal with the loss of their partner. It is interesting how some people seem to be content with the passing because of the life they shared and love they had and some people just will never be ready. When my grandfather was dying it really made me mad at marriage and I thought ” What a CRAP way to end such a beautiful thing!! You live all those years married and happy creating a life and then someone dies and leaves the other person sad and crying!!!! Why even get married if that is how it is going to end??” I don’t know what I would do if I lost my husband but we do have to cherish every moment because each is a gift.

  46. The thought crosses my mind almost daily. I’m a worrier too and I wish I wasn’t but you’re right… It makes me not take my relationship for granted. My father died almost two years ago after spending 32 years of marriage with my mother. I wish she would feel as if she could call every night but I know she has the same mentality as the author – that her children have their own lives. I think about it much more after losing my father. It’s one of the scariest thoughts in the world to me. All we can do is try to enjoy every second that is given to us.

  47. First of all, thank you for writing this Joanna! I can relate to it so well, you’re most definitely not alone in feeling this way. My father died when I was 10 adn my grandparents that I was close with both died within a year of each other in their 60s (I really thought they’d be around forever). I have a fear of losing people close to me because of it and I worry about losing my husband each and every day. 3 weeks ago we spent 6 hours in the ER after I watched my husband go through a pretty awful stomach virus that left him dangerously dehydrated. We were on the highway when it happened, bringing home our new years day puppy. His muscles seized and pain shot through his entire body, his lips swelled and he was unable to speak clearly. I called 911 and it took an HOUR for them to show up! They took him to the hospital and he was pumped full of 3 bags of fluids. It was awful and not the first time I’ve had to call 911 on him (he fainted in the movie theater 3 years ago and I thought he had a seizure because he fainted while trying to take a drink). I think about what I have with him every single day and thank God that he’s here with me. But that thought haunts me all the time.

  48. K. says...

    great post. i know how you feel, especially now that i am newly engaged and planning to be with my guy for the rest of my life. there are times that i sit and think how things would be without him and it makes me so utterly sad, even though i know he is right there with me. love is such a powerful thing, and yes, scary at times. those of us who get to experience it are so lucky!

  49. one of my biggest fears. a few years ago i lost three family members in 10 months. so part of me is able to cope with the “sudden” part of it; but thinking of losing my chosen family member like that is devastating. sometimes it wakes me up at night and i reach for him to make sure he is still with me.

  50. I’m right there with ya. But I just try to remind myself that what comes will come and I just gotta enjoy every minute we have together! :)

    <3 jordan

  51. I have SO worried about this! You’re not alone! Years ago, I read Joan Didion’s book The Year of Magical Thinking, which very closely resembles the story of the book you read. She lost her husband unexpectedly and had to adjust to life without him – heartbreaking. Then, I lost my father suddenly, and saw my mother have to adjust to life without him after 30 years of marriage. We can’t stop bad things from happening, and while I’m a worrier too (my mom has always called me worry wart walker) I’ve tried to tell myself to use these feelings of worrry to fuel how I treat my loved ones every day because it simply means I don’t take them for granted.


  52. I worry about it ALL THE TIME and it’s exhausting. I especially worry about it after we have a fight and then I think of how horribly sad I’d be without him, which prompts me to apologize, so I guess there’s a positive somewhere in there. :) When I bring it up to him, he says we’ll die together when we’re old, like in The Notebook. So sweet.

  53. I worry about this constantly. And not just my boyfriend, my mom and the rest of my family as well. I can’t watch or think about the movie P.S. I Love You without sobbing. It’s my greatest fear. But one that I have no control over. I try not to worry and just trust in the plan my God has made that’s bigger than my own.

  54. Anonymous says...

    I’m single and want nothing more than someone to share my life with, so I’d be kind of happy if that was my worry…my worry is that I never find that person and die alone.

  55. Joanna I’m so glad you wrote this post. I feel the same exact way. My husband is 15 years older than me, so that definitely doesn’t help. The thought of losing such a great love is so scary. Since having Shine, there’s even more love at stake, and the thought of losing my two loves is paralyzing, but I try to live in the moment, as you seem to do as well, and cherish those moments that can be just as easy to brush off. Thanks for being so open. You are not nuts!!

  56. Sammy says...

    I love this post, and I, myself, constantly worry myself over my partner and my mother dying. I’m not a worrier at heart, but I’ve fretted over loved ones dying ever since I was a child. I’ve never experienced a parent dying, and I feel quite unequipped. I constantly think, “How am I going to go on?, “How am I going to go to work, I’ll probably have to quit my job and become a hermit/wino for the rest of my life.”

    My boyfriend of 3.5 years is 18 years older than me and the love of my life. I’m 27, he’s 45, and we plan on having children over the next few years. I consistently worry about him passing earlier than me (due to the age gap), and leaving our babies and me behind.

    Of course, none of us can predict when out time will run out, and he or I could be gone tomorrow. Experiencing the joy of the present moment is truly the only way to overcome these thoughts, and I believe thinking of death too much can manifest and create bad things to happen (in a karmic way).

    Thanks so much for this post, for it’s raw honesty. Love your blog, and I’d love to read a post on May-December relationships and your experience.

  57. I’m a huge worrier as well and my husband (10 years older) dying is one of the biggest worries I have. And now that we have a baby, I worry almost always about him as well! I guess we just have to appreciate everyday we have with our loved ones and take advantage of all of those beautiful moments. One of my new year’s resolutions was to try and stop worrying SO MUCH! Thank you for your honesty :)

  58. Jo, thank you for writing this. I, too, have the same fear and it breaks my heart to think about something ever happening to my wonderful husband. I don’t know what I’d do. I always thought I was crazy for thinking about these things but now I see that this is a common fear. I also think it shows us how lucky we are and in some sense is a way of appreciating what we have.

    I read the first sentence of Epilogue a few years ago in a bookstore when she explains how she fumbled with the keys while opening the door because her husband always locked and unlocked the door. I think tears welled up in my eyes from that sentence and I’ve thought about the line ever since.

    Thanks again, Jo, for your honesty in this post. It’s posts like this one that make me love your blog.

  59. Beautifully written, brought me to tears. Sometimes I wonder if I’m afraid to meet someone special because of my fear that my special someone will die on me…

  60. TashB says...

    It’s unbelievable just to see how many responses you’ve had!!

    I often worry about my loved ones dying. I lost my mother in my teens and both my grandparents whom I was very close to.

    I think it makes you appreciate and love people more ‘fiercely’ if that makes sense. I am incredibly close to my dad and make a conscious effort to see him, give him great birthdays and create as many special memories, with and for him, as I am able to.

    I am also a Medic; seeing people die in hospital and watching their loved ones regret not doing things with them only heightens my awareness that anything can happen at any moment. So maybe it makes me protective and aware of every moment spent with my loved ones, but I won’t have to regret…I don’t believe in regretting things as every little thing in the past shapes your future.

    Brilliant post Joanna; I truly love your blog!

  61. i too sometimes think of this and it makes me very sad. i survived without my boyfriend before i met him of course but i have thrived knowing him. it’s so not a feminist thing to know you are so dependent on someone isn’t it. but for me it’s been so incredible to get on with someone so well and know love and support like i never did before. we’re not married but whenever i hear the song ‘to lose my life’ by white lies on the radio i think it would be a good first song to dance to, if also for most people shocking and a little morbid ; ) the line which resonates the most is ‘let’s grow old together and die at the same time’. i can’t help wanting that. despite not fearing death in ways i fear living my life without my beloved. i’d be lost and i know it deep inside. so much for feminism.

  62. Thanks for writing this post.It’s nice to find out that I’m not crazy, just because I worry about this sort of things:)

  63. erica b. says...

    ugh. i used to think about this somewhat frequently, more in the beginning of our relationship. i’ve been married for 1.5 years, with the same person for almost 6. the first couple years, when i’d see a movie or read a book about someone that lost their husband/mate, i was very affected. “missing them while they were still there,” like you said! so weird.

  64. em says...

    Has anyone ever seen the movie Entre Nos? While the husband in the movie doesn’t die, rather he leaves, the film documents the hardships of a single Colombian mother who recently immigrates to New York. It is a true story.

    I cannot imagine losing your partner regardless of the reason. I cannot image raising children alone, I don’t know how my mother did it.

    Thank you for the post.

  65. Well this is an apt post. My husband had open heart surgery 3 days ago, at age 31. I’ve stared it in the face and honestly, all I could think of was ‘I don’t know what I’ll do if he doesn’t make it’. I just kept thinking that my whole life could change forever if things didn’t go well.

    Everything went fine with the surgery but this whole experience has had me thinking so much more about mortality and of course, what is really important.

  66. I’ve thought about it too. And secretly wish I go before he does – because I cannot bare the thought of being without him. We pray, and hope, though, that we’ll grow old together – having lived a full life together before either dies.

    My husband is also 13 years my senior ;)

    Love from South Africa.

  67. No, it’s not a weird thought. I’ve thought about it too, but more so after our daughter was born. Perhaps the thought of it just makes us appreciate them more.

  68. Sandra DK says...

    UHG! My man (well, he is my boyfriend – but I like to call him my man, ’cause he is) is next door this very minute having an important business meeting.. and now I almost can’t control myself from not running into the room hugging and kissing him in front of everybody! I know EXACTLY how you feel… but actually I read something relevant this morning; Worrying is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do, but it doesn’t take you anywhere!
    When the meeting is over I’m gonna grab his arm and take him onto the streets of Paris for a day filled with love and kisses! (CAN’T WAIT!!)

  69. This comment has been removed by the author.

  70. Dear Joanna,

    I am 27 years old and my father suddenly died last Summer from a brain hemorrhage when he and my mother were abroad. Not only is it extremely hard for me to try to handle the situation but my mother has lost the love of her life. I see that it makes me even more afraid to lose my boyfriend as well. We are 6 years together already and have had wonderful years, but since my father has died I am more afraid of losing him. Though it’s quite strange to have such feelings on this age (my boyfriend is only 30 years old and people in their twenties tend to think they’re invincible, isn’t that so?) it makes me tear up about thinking to lose him. Because I now have lost my father at such a young age, I feel it made me more mature in 1 day and made me afraid of the future as well sometimes.
    I’ve seen from up close and personal how much you can miss somebody. My mother can’t sleep at night, misses my father when a car just like his drives down the street, with taking away the Christmas decorations and the empty space in bed… There are so many things. And I miss him as well, just yesterday evening I went to a construction market (I don’t know the English word for this) to get some construction materials. Normally I went together with my father and I missed him when walking around. It made me tear up (again). Sometimes I think about how terrible this must be for my mother as well.

    We are trying to pick up our lives again and to go on, but it’s very hard if you miss somebody you’ve loved so much.


  71. Anonymous says...

    I love those beautiful quoted passages. This is such an inspirational post, Joanna. Thank-you.

  72. Judy says...

    My soon-to-be fiance (;) ha) is 11 years older than me and I often worry about what I would do without him. My plan so far is to have LOTS AND LOTS of children and make them stay with me forever. Oh? Is that crazy?

  73. I am a mega, mega, MEGA worrier, and honestly…this kind of thought crosses my mind about once a day. Now that I have found someone that I love and want to be with forever, it’s terrifying, because I have so much to lose. He’s sitting next to me right now on his computer, playing stupid Gmail video games, all caught up in his own world…and I glance at him and my heart just SWELLS with love. I hate mushy, corny crap, but it’s true. And it’s scary. So you’re not alone in your thoughts. This was a good post. And very relevant to me right now.

  74. i do once in awhile when i catch myself thinking too much my boyfriend is 27 yrs older than me however.

  75. ** I think you can never truly love someone, unless this thought has crossed your mind. **

    The second I knew I loved my husband (which was my boyfriend of 5 years at this time) was the day I got sad thinking ….

    “what if he died, I don’t know what I would do without him”

    I think about it often, especially when really wonderful days come to an end :(

  76. One of my best friends died while we were finishing our senior year of high school. Meningitis, completely unexpected. But that experience just leaves you with an absolute appreciation of the people you love, and I have such a fierce protectiveness towards my friends. As a mere 20 year old college student, I don’t have that much to lose romantically yet, but I am already afraid just from knowing how much they will mean.

  77. This was such a beautiful post. Thank you.

  78. The possibility of my amazing husband dying is by far my biggest fear. I don’t fear my own death. I could handle that :) But I cannot amazing my life without him. Whenever we kiss goodbye and go to our seperate workplaces, I always secretly pray that this kiss won’t be the last, that we will meet again in a few hours. I don’t know if this fear is “normal”, or if it is somehow connected to the fact that we hear of so much vilonece through the media. I just know that if he died, I would slowly die too. That would probably be a blessing :))) (What a post!!!!!!!)

  79. Justine says...

    This is a great post Joanna, and I loved reading through the comments as well.

    I lost my father when I was 13, and what made it all the more heartbreaking was that it came as such a shock. I had no way of mentally preparing myself for such a possibility. It never even occurred to the 13-year old me that I could lose a parent. It was tragic.

    Even though this was less than ten years ago, what keeps me going is knowing that my parents had such a lovely relationship, and that I was so fortunate to have grown up in such a loving household. Having had these pleasant memories far surpasses living each day in the shoes of someone whose parents are still alive, but fight or do not care for their children.

    My take away from all this is that you can never prepare yourself for these types of things. They can be unpredictable or foreseen, but no matter what it will be painful. What will get you through is the gratefulness that you ever met such a wonderful person who you shared memorable moments with. You and your family are so lovely, I hope you continue making fabulous memories together, so regardless of whoever first passes, you all can look back at the times you had together and be thankful that you had them at all.

  80. Thank you for your beautifully written post :) I am newly engaged to an amazing man and lately I’ve had these thoughts as well. As morbid as they may seem, like you said, they serve as a reminder to enjoy the lives we have together while they are ours. Love your blog!

  81. I’m more worried that I’ll die without ever having met my someone. Sigh…

  82. I lost my father in 2006 when I was 24, then my brother and sister in 2009; your post REALLY hit home for me. I think about this all the time, I panic about everything. I’m constantly trying to be in control, constantly trying to have a plan for whatever might arise. I worry about fire, getting broken into, something happening to my husband or my dog when I’m not around. As much as I do worry, it does make me appreciate all of the things I’m fortunate enough to have in my life. Like you, my husband is a bit older than me (15 years) so that certainly plays into my worries… I love reading about your life with Alex, and you two getting married and starting a family; my husband is 44 and we’re hoping to start a family this year. Thank you for sharing this topic today. You are definitely not alone!

  83. Reading all those comments and your post I can say that I am not the only one and yes, love is the same feeling everywhere. I cannot even imagine a life without my boyfriend and my mother and brother for that matter. I don’t live close to them, but I cannot bear the thought of not getting a call from mother everyday, even the thought brings tears. It’s my biggest fear.
    I have watched movies (PS. I love you!) and cried inconsolably, feeling for the protagonist and not able to imagine and wondering “Oh my God! how can she go through that, it’s impossible to live”. My boyfriend was so sweet at that time, but mostly he doesn’t know what to say :)

  84. Kiera says...

    I think about this all the time -its not ridiculous at all! Like other posters, I worry about it more with my mom than with my Significant other, though.

    My parents, too, are 13 years apart, and my Dad doesn’t have the greatest genes. When my mom and I talk about the future, she almost always says, “I know i have to have great relationships with everyone, not just your Dad, because some day I might be here with out him, and I might be alone for a long time. But that is the risk I took when I decided to Marry him.”

    It is amazing to me that my mom (who was only two years older than I am now) had the where-with-all to really consider the risk of marrying a man so much older than her. But even so, I still think it scares her to lose him.

  85. A close friend of ours just died yesterday. It wasn’t totally unexpected as he was ill, but still always unsettling when someone that young passes. He was only a couple years older than me; his wife is my age, and they have a brand new infant son who was born a few months ago. I can’t even begin to imagine what she is feeling, and the thought of something similar happening to me definitely makes me want to reach out and hold my husband close.

  86. Anonymous says...

    I too am a worrier and my husband-to-be is also thirteen years older than me, I have the same thought all the time! Reading this made me feel so much better – in fact, I totally just bawled in front of him out of fear and relief and all he did was hold my hand and make me feel better. Thank you for writing this! xo

  87. Anonymous says...

    I do think about this quite often. About 3 months after our first daughter was born my husband was diagnosed with cancer (he was 38 and I was 32). Luckily it was caught relatively early, however, through many many tests we discovered that he is genetically predisposed to many different types of cancers. (And genetics being what they are, our 2 daughters have a 50% chance of inheriting this syndrome from their father). It is pretty much always on my mind, but at the end of the day constant worry is no way to live. It is often hard to see the forest for the trees but I do try to cherish the good times because we never know what is around the corner.

  88. Have you read “The Best Day the Worst Day: Life with Jane Kenyon” by Donald Hall? It is beautiful.

    My dad died almost 9 years ago now. We all miss him terribly but my mum feels it the most. She told me once that she can’t remember what life is like without my dad, she had spent more years with him than without, she didn’t know how to fill the void – that broke my heart.

    Oddly enough, the experience has allowed me to be less worried about death. Death is imminent; at some point, either my husband or I am going to die – I can’t control it, I can’t change it. All I can do is to live in the present and soak up the brilliance and magic of life as it is happening. And the little things – his smile, his laugh, the sound of his voice, the warmth of his body – I’ll treasure the little things (hell, I’ll memorize them) because those are the things I know I’ll miss the most.

  89. i needed this today.
    thanks, joanna.


  90. Anonymous says...

    I am a worrier too, so I was relieved to see your post and realize that I am not the only one that have this fear. I love my husband very much and we have a 15 month old son. It’s strange to fear death when we’re still so young, but like you said, we fear because we have much to lose. Carpe diem my friend! Life is short, though we cannot live in fear we must cherish our time with our loved ones. Thanks for the post. I hope that we don’t have to deal with the lost of a loved one anytime soon.

  91. Gemma says...

    Such a relief to see this post! My darling husband is 12 years older, and I can’t imagine living without him. I read Joan Didion’s “A Year of Magical Thinking” (about losing her husband suddenly) and it was amazing…but I also found myself sobbing at parts. That’s the thing about love, isn’t it? You risk more by loving someone so deeply, but you gain so much more too.

    To long, happy and healthy lives with those we love. Cheers!

  92. Katy says...

    If I want to cry on cue, all I have to do is think about being without my husband. He’s an adventuring junkie, and everyday is out doing something that could easily cause his death. However, last year at 29, he was diagnosed with melanoma (WEAR SUNSCREEN!!!) and he told me that he would rather die climbing mountains and back county skiing, than in a hospital bed, and chose to see a cancer scare as a one of Carpe Diem. Despite, a recent clean bill of health, both the melanoma and the dogged need to push the Mountain Man limit causes my fretting bone to ache. His adventurous spirit, is what I both cherish and worry about.

  93. This thought has definitely wandered into my mind. It always makes me appreciate everyone around me more. But I try to block that out. That book does sound really good. Feeling sad vicariously is a good release of those feelings without having to go through the experience.

  94. This post really struck a cord with me. Often I’m so overwhelmed with love for my husband, I let fear creep in for a time we won’t have together. I don’t know how to explain it to him sometimes, so I just squeeze him tight and say “don’t ever let anything bad happen to you, ok?” and he always responds “don’t ever let anything bad happen to you!”

  95. I lost my husband quite unexpectedly at a young age. We had been married less than three years. No one ever thinks that they will become a widow in their twenties.

    (What a horrible word, that “widow”)

    About two years after my husband’s death, I met another incredible man. We married on the Brooklyn Bridge six months later, and now have a precious little boy.

    One thing I learned is that life does indeed go on. I never thought that I could fall so heavily in love twice in one lifetime, but I did. I feel blessed beyond belief.

    That being said, I think about my first husband everyday. I still miss him. I worry sometimes about losing my husband or son. It’s hard to keep that monster at bay. But you must. What a terrible thing to go through life worried about things that are out of your control. I absolutely refuse to let that define me or control me.

    Life is too sweet. I want to soak it up and live and love with passion from here on out.

    Sorry for the long message. Your post inspired me to share.

  96. Hi Joanna, Just wanted to say I think this is totally normal. When you have a lot of love there’s always the fear of losing it, and you’re absolutely right in not taking anything for granted.

    The other day I was convinced Chris has died while he was out surfing… he was over 2 hours late and he’s NEVER late. I had the cops on the phone and coast guard out looking for him. For one whole hour in my head I was a single mum… it was horrific.

    It turned out he lost track of time…. and was VERY sorry for it!


  97. Anonymous says...

    Yup. A huge worry of mine. We live in a country where the road rules are not great and I have more than once seen fragile, final, dead bodies lying on the road. My husband often rides with our toddler on these roads. He knows I worry but I have to trust his judgement as a father and a road user and we do have to get milk and bread sometimes!

    My fear is compounded by the awareness that my husband and I have had a very charmed existence. We have been fortunate not to have been touched by tragedy and shitty life events. We have experienced death of grandparents, but graceful, timely deaths. I feel like that as more time passes where we are ‘lucky’, then the odds stack up that it will soon be our ‘turn’ to experience some true awfulness.

    As others have said, we just have to appreciate the time we do have with our dearest. If we knew when we or others were going to die, life would be in many ways worth much less.

  98. Joanna, I think about this all the time. Sometimes I’ll read something or a random thought will come to my mind and I get sick with fear and worry that something will happen to him. I don’t know what I would do. I know I would have to find the strength to go day by day for my daughter but I can’t coneptualize the event or what comes after it for us left behind. I feel crazy for even having the thought enter my mind. I don’t want to torture myself and like you, I just try to revel and truly enjoy the little moments that make up our life.

  99. I don’t think you’re crazy for writing about it, I do so to! But now, more than worrying about loosing my husband, I worry that I pass away and that Matthew (my 21 mo) doesn’t have his mommy anymore, the person who would love him the VERY most in the world. So, since giving birth, that is what has been on the back (and front) of my mind all the time. I just can’t bear the thought of him not having me, of not enjoying the most pure love of all.

  100. Caz says...

    As everyone else has said – I don’t think you’re crazy for thinking about it, it’s natural, just don’t let it paralyze you.
    My mother died when I was 18 months old. I can’t imagine how my father must have felt at the time – 33yrs old, widowed with 4 kids under the age of 9 to look after, a mortgage to pay and a single income. Only now as an adult do I appreciate how much stress he must have been under most of the time – now I understand why he was grumpy sometimes!
    But he did a fantastic job in raising us, and it comforts me to know that if (heaven forbid) I were ever to find myself in a similar situation one day, as much as it would be devastating and painful and awful, that people are resilient, that tragedy happens to everyone eventually, and that you WILL cope simply because you have to.

  101. Thank-you for posting this Joanna… I think it has normalised what alot of people think about as can be seen by all the comments! My dad passed away when I was 12. I am an only child and I am super close with my mum. I used to constantly worry about her dying… It is still a thought which comes into my mind sometimes but she has taught me what good is it to live life in fear. I love this quote by Michael J. Fox “If you fixate on the worst-case scenario and it actually happens, you’ve lived it twice.”

  102. Anonymous says...

    This is a touching post and so heartfelt. Thank you for sharing your worries, Joanna. I love your blog.

  103. This came at such a great time — I went to a screening of “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” last night and haven been able to shake the (admittedly irrational) fear of losing my fiance… You’re right, though, it does serve as the perfect reminder of just how blessed we are every day!

  104. what a touching post. It just struck me today when i lost the third family member in a year, he was young 21 and didnt get to experience love. I often think that i worry a lot but he did say( 2 weeks ago at my grandmothers wake) that hes glad to have me as a cousin he loves me and my friend whos always there is a great catch, my cousin was sick that weekend and his illiness caught up wit him. I think that love is something that you have to learn everyday and it can be taken in so many ways so ill live on to this words and all the words that i am given because you can be here today and gone tomorrow , but nothing can fill that sadness but time and realization, something as humans we havent got a grip on yet. so ima go call my friend my cousin spoke of was sitting on the other side of the room and didnt hear, but got to meet my cousin that last time. so i will call my friend and tell him that I do love him, and it wouldnt be the same without him. Thanks for this lovely post.

  105. Hi Joanna, I’ve been following your blog for a few years now and I love every one of your posts! I sometimes have the same thoughts — (though I’m not married), and it brings about so many questions: I wonder if married people stay married in heaven, if you’ll know/recognize your past loves (in heaven) and if seeing them might make you a little sad….silly questions like that! And, some friends and I were talking just a few days ago about how it can be lonely being single — but that it can also be lonely when you’re married. They say that marriage is a wonderful thing (of course!), but it is just like a glimpse/taste of understanding God’s love for people. (Interesting! Made me think.) Anyways, I loved this post and how honest it was….as well as all your other posts! Thanks so much for sharing :)

  106. Of course it’s completely normal to worry about such things! I lost my mom a few years ago, and among myriad other impacts, that’s had the effect of making me extremely tenderhearted and fretful over the thought of losing someone else I love, and my boyfriend in particular. I could go on at length about the idea that loss and sorrow are inevitably a part of lasting love, but mostly I like to remind myself of something I read years and years ago, in something ridiculous like an ad for rich-person-jewelry insurance, that’s nonetheless so very applicable to the genuine matters of life: “Fear of losing needs to step aside and make room for joy of having.” I love this phrase; it’s my little pep talk to myself when I’m feeling worried about rhetoricals!

  107. Anonymous says...

    I can’t believe you posted this today! I randomly thought about this same thing today and what it would be like for me if this happened and how horrible I would feel. Just a totally crazy, out of the blue, thought I had standing in the kitchen. Weird…

  108. Wow. What a response. You are NOT nuts. I think it is awesome that you are not taking life for granted. I also think being a mom makes you vulnerable. I think when my husband and I started having children, it really sunk in, like, what would it be like to be a single mom?

    My father died when I was 12 and my mom raised my brother, sister, and me on her own from then on. I think losing someone makes you never take life for granted. Thank you for reminding me to be grateful!

  109. Anonymous says...

    I worry about this all the time. My husband is an awful driver and has a history to prove it, so I tend to worry incessantly when he drives anywhere. I so badly want to move to a city with a strong public transportation system (no driving required? sign us up!). In my mind, the loss of a spouse could easily be one of the worst things that could happen to someone – have you seen P.S. I Love You? I would rate it as one of the saddest movies of all time. Anyways, I’m glad to know I’m not the only worry wart out there.

  110. I have to admit I too feel this way, and way too often. Not just with my boyfriend, but with all the people close to me. I’m a chronic worrier in general, so that doesn’t help. It’s because of this fear that I never let myself leave the house angry, or go to sleep with unresolved issues…at least I try!

  111. i worry about this constantly. i told me fiancé that he can die one minute after i do and not a second before.

  112. I worry about the same thing. I make a point to resolve conflict with Danny immediately because I never want our last moments together to be a fight. I tell him I love him a dozen times a day and shower him with kisses every morning.

    And we’ve started a journal where we write love notes to each other every day. We use to write them on scraps lying around but then I thought about how nice it will be to look back on these notes 10, 20, 50 years from now. I think it also keeps us in the love mode and strengthens our relationship.

  113. this is an absolutely beautiful post.
    thank you for being so honest.

  114. I’m single and yet it does scare me…
    My dad died years ago and it breaks my heart that my mom has to live without him.

    There’s a wonderful little book called “Lettre à D.” by french journalist André Gorz (here in english).
    He wrote this long letter to his wife in 2006 after 58 years of marriage to tell her how much he loved her, and he ends the letter by saying he knows neither of them would ever want to survive the other.
    His wife was diagnosed with a serious illness a little later, and they both comitted suicide in 2007 and died in bed together.
    Pretty romantic, eh ?
    The book is beautiful.

  115. Yes, unfortunately, this is something I worry about too. I love my husband – we’ve been married for a year and a half, but we’ve been together as a couple for 10 years. I can’t imagine my life without him. Sometimes we fight about it — I’ll start to worry that he’s not being healthy enough or taking enough care of himself… but he reminds me that we can’t script our lives or control how long we have together, so I’m working hard on taking each day as it comes, and then knowing that if something happens, we love each other and we are each strong enough to handle life on our own, even if we hope we never have to!

  116. I really struggle with this fear. My husband rescued me from a very bad place I was in, and we got married at a really young age (I was nineteen!). Since I have never lived on my own this causes me to fear that I can’t stand on my own two feet and that he is the only one who really “gets” me.

    I adore my husband so much. He is wonderful and has lovely freckles (just like me!). I think it is important to not take our loves for granted but also important to not live in fear (something I am working on balancing).

    xx, C

  117. Both of my parents died when I was a teenager, my dad first. My mom was so lost without him it broke my heart. As an only child, having lost my parents, the thought of losing my (8 years older) husband has definitely crossed my mind and I honestly don’t know what I would do if I lost him.

  118. Epilogue sounds a lot like The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. I had a very hard time relating to Didion’s book but I can relate to this post because I’m sometimes gripped by the panicking anxiety that comes with thinking about my parents dying. I’m 25 and live with my parents (mostly out of necessity, not just because I want to chill with them), who are both in their sixties, and thinking about life without them sends me into a tailspin. I’m an only child and my family basically consists of my parents and one uncle on each side. I don’t have a large support system right now (my extended family lives far away, I’m single, and don’t have a great lot of friends in town), and if they’re gone, I don’t know how I would handle life–especially since we live on a farm with four horses. The idea of ensuing daily life with their animals and at their house…it’s just a devastating idea all around.

  119. I’m sure you can tell by the response that this definitely is something so many people think about.

    I’m in a similar place as you where my boyfriend is 14 years older than me. Though we are only a year and a half into our relationship (and not even living together yet!), I still get these pangs of what it will be like when I’m 80, and he’s 94. Or worse, when I’m ready to have kids and he’s edging into middle age. And then I see him beside me and even though I don’t think any one person (besides yourself) should be your “everything,” imaging a life without him seems somehow empty.

    I grew up with parents who were considerably older than those of my classmates’, and had similar worries with them (which also makes the fact that I found someone to love that was so much older than me quite interesting). What happens now is I try to stop myself, and just remember that nothing in this world is guaranteed. I could lose him just as easily today as I could 60 years from now. What matters most is that we’re together and we’re in love.

  120. You are most definitely not nuts…and if you are..then I am. :) I too, think about these things often. Sometimes it can really make me sad–but also SO grateful for everyday that God gives me with my husband. My mom lost my dad when I was 17….I think of her often and the battles and tough nights she must have faced. She is a happy and strong woman who has found love again. This post is beautifully written and I appreciate your honesty.

  121. My mother died when I was 17 and my dad passed away 2 months ago. She was 54, he was 65. I’m 31 and have a 15mo old son. I think about me not being around for him at 17 and it makes me cry (like right now!). It’s all our unfortunate reality – that we will die & we can’t know when or how. I try not to think about it (too much) and instead try (try!) to stay focused on the present. Living, truly living, in the moment. I hope Alex is around for all your years and the same for you & he for little Toby.

  122. Anonymous says...

    Stop worrying. It’s a waste of such precious time.

    Nothing, not even years of worry will prepare anyone for the effects of losing anyone close to them.

    Worrying about these things means that you can end up living the scenario twice- once in your imagination and then again if it actually happens.

    Life is for living, enjoying and loving. Focus on that rather than worrying. I guarantee that at the end of what we all hope to have- a long and happy life- we won’t wish that we spent more time worrying…..

  123. elisa says...

    Such a sweet and honest post. This what I love about your blog! I fear losing my spouse, too. It’s actually my reaccuring nightmare. Even though he’s 6 years younger than me. I know it’s slightly irrational, but I just can’t imagine life without him. I guess that’s what love and marriage is all about. Scary and amazing stuff.

  124. This is a fear of mine as well. I don’t know what I would do if I lost my hubby :(

  125. I worry about this all the time! I thought I was crazy for worrying. My husband is totally my rock and without him I feel like I wouldn’t be me. I have had quite a few people tell me that worrying about it is silly because he’s not a soldier, or a fireman, or a cop. I know that he doesn’t have a dangerous job, but being away from him for any amount of time makes me worry because I like knowing he is nearby.

  126. I think there’s something very natural and real to think about, because you just never know. I believe those thoughts reflect the great, enormous and complex love you feel for your husband, so I wouldn’t take it in a bad way at all. I think is very possitive because you can really appreciate – in a different way – all those things that make you happy and balanced. My point is: live as happy as you can and love as much as your heart and mind can give, so you never regret not doing or showing to the people that you love just that, because that is what really will make you satisfied at the end and through everything in between.

  127. This sounds like an amazing book.. Freestyle Skier Sarah Burke died today at 29 of a brain injury she sustained while training. All I keep thinking is what about her husband?? How do you, at 29, face being a widow/widower. We always think we have the rest of our lives to be with the people we love but all too often that is not the case. Treasure the small moments.

  128. jeannie (colby's friend) says...

    hey joanna, i think about this too. and the feeling sometimes can be overwhelming. the thought that comforts me, believe it or not, is that death is a part of life and life, even while feeling sadness, can still go on and be wonderful.
    didion’s year of magical thinking basically tore down any walls protecting my repressed fears. i was an emotional wreck after reading it. but i still highly recommend it!

  129. Anonymous says...

    For some reason I am always overwhelmed by worry and fear of my family and loved ones dying when I travel. I have become an absolute teary eyed mess on the Beiber bus out of NYC more than I can count. But, I know if it reminds me to hug a little bit tighter or stay on the phone just a little bit longer than it’s nothing I should ever be ashamed of. The ending of “Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing” always touches me the same way.

  130. Anonymous says...

    I can’t really speak on this subject, but a wonderful photographer named tracy turpen just passed away, leaving her 3 year old son and fiance. It hurt my heart.

  131. Anonymous says...

    Yes. My husband has an illness that has required surgeries, and has had seizures and headaches that have required calls to 911. So I’ve thought he might actually die, and it’s very scary. But he and I have come to a place where we feel very close to the real things in our life and we really do take time to appreciate what we have even though we’ve made a lot of sacrifices because of his illness. The last time he had a scary procedure in the er, I was totally calm. It wasn’t until the next night that I had a delayed anxiety reaction,flood over me. I really have had to embrace the role of being strong and calm.

  132. wooooosh.

    i am soooooo grateful you went ahead and posted this.
    however i am not a little heap of subtly dripping mascara. this post was so moving. I’m engaged and my fiance and i live on opposite sides of this city. (far Queens and south Brooklyn) its amazing how far that can seem. We are both constantly trying to do everything to make our schedules align, and when it does and we have a day together doing nothing but but being near, it is sheer magic.
    I bask in the sounds of his bike coming down the hall and the particular way he sets a table. I can’t wait to see what more i notice in 30 years.

  133. It’s not neurotic at all, I have these thoughts ocassionally and it scares the hell out of me. My boyfriend is a truck mechanic and sometimes it scares me that he’s lying under trucks or lifting heavy things. The thought of losing him terrifies me, so I do pretty much what you said – savour every moment and don’t take them for granted.

  134. You’re not alone. This is something I think about frequently. My husband is the love of my life and my best friend and the thought of losing him makes me so scared. Though it puts life into perspective. There’s no point in bickering over little things. We need to enjoy every day we have with each other and love one another deeply.

    That link was absolutely lovely. Her words were so touching and beautiful and she was a lucky woman to have known that kind of love and happiness.

  135. Anonymous says...

    I’m not married, but my greatest fear in life is losing my twin sister. i read a work of fiction (the thirteenth tale) years ago where one twin was left behind and now the thought gives me nightmares. Every six months or so I will wake up terrified my sister isn’t here and need to call her just to hear her voice and confirm she’s there. Rationally I know she’s fine, but I just need to reassure myself. I have no idea if it ever crosses other twins’ minds. it doesn’t worry my sister…

  136. After reading this post, I can’t help but think of the Sarah Burke, the pioneering freestyler on the Superpipe who died yesterday leaving behind her husband Rory Bushfield. Sarah was just 29 and they were both freestyle skiers. How will he cope? Extremely sad. Our hearts should go out to her familiy and friends.

  137. I too worry about this and wonder if I’m normal. Sometimes I worry about this more than I should. I’m in my 20s, but my guy is 14 years older. He’s still quite young and he’s fit and healthy but it scares me. I love him to bits and am terrified of losing him.

    I definitely worry too much, but I’ve always been this way sadly. I try to control my thoughts a bit better but doesn’t always work.

  138. I think that everyone at some point has had this thought about someone in their lives. It is scary to think about but like you said so well…we must be thankful for what we have TODAY and love, kiss, hug, share, and trust in all those that we hold most dear to us. Never take for granted the chance that we have each day to show our love for someone.
    Char xo

  139. My husband died about a year ago after a long illness, leaving me and our (at that time) 3 and a half year old son. I think it is true that it is the little things you miss; I still at least once a week catch myself thinking of something to tell him, or standing in the grocery store having to remember not to put whatever in the cart because he’s not here to eat it.

    In a lot of ways, having a small child means that the days go on much as before — he has to be taken care of, there are no days off. At the same time, as the days go on, it seems I feel the loss more acutely, not less: I wish my husband were here to see his son grow 6 inches in 10 months; to see him work out his first lego set; to explain how the pastels work. Hard to know what the take away from any of this is. Keeping yourself present to each day is a good one, being prepared, and, at some level, knowing that, no matter how awful or how hard, you would of course go on — forward — because that would be what needed to be done. XOXO

  140. I am fully aware that it is out of our control, but I HOPE to grow very old with my sweet hubby! However, when that time does come, I have told him that living without him will be far too boring, so I gotta go first!

  141. Anonymous says...

    Hearing that so many others worry about this too makes me feel SO much better. It is a definite fear of mine to have my significant other or loved ones leave this world. It is nice to hear how others are affected by the same thoughts and Joanna, you were SO right that it makes you truly appreciate the time you do have. So glad you wrote this post!!

  142. Emma-Lee says...

    A friend of mine was recently engaged to find out only weeks later that her fiance had a brain tumour… they had a small intimate wedding and are still trying to treat him. They have been fairly private but I think that his chances may not be good. It’s such upsetting news and since hearing it I think about it all of the time and am constantly worried about my loved ones health (and my own). I worry about my love dying all of the time and get caught up in fantasies (if you can call them that) about awful things happening to him and end up in tears. I guess that it’s important not to live in fear, always worried about what MIGHT happen and to keep a good regular check on your health. It’s pointless to focus on worrying when you can be relaxing and having a fabulous time! ( I just need to tell this to myself more often).