The doctor said he couldn’t survive more than a year and a half. I always thought he had six months left, six months left, six months left. I was always stressed throughout this life. Whenever I needed help, she was there to help us. I always ask her what I could do for this problem or that problem and she’s always gentle and kind to us. It has really helped us come out of that stress. When you are all alone and there’s no one around you, my family was back home, and my husband was all the time on the bed, she treated us more than a blood relation that could console you. And she did that for us.
Click play to hear a full interview with Ashfaq’s wife below:
I met him when I first started in 1991. My Mom had just been diagnosed with cancer and so for the six months that she lived, he actually helped me prepare for her death. Like here is a man, who he himself was living with a terminal illness, and at the time when life expectancy for people with HIV was not great. It was before all the drug treatments. He saw something in me that was worth tending to. You know, he knew that I coming in young, fresh, and full of energy. You know, as an activist. My friend, Ted, was tested HIV positive and I was wanting to be involved. And I think he saw what a big heart I had and I think he saw if I wasn’t companioned well on the journey I was on—with my Mom and Ted—I was not going to be able to sustain doing this work. And I think he saw something in me that I didn’t even see in myself.
Click play to hear a full interview with Betty Ann below:
We took them to a psychiatrist because at first, I thought maybe I am crazy. Like, what is this that I am searching for that I don’t have and that I believed to be different? The psychiatrist said, “Well, let me meet the children and then meet your husband.” So the kids came to the office with my husband at the time and she said to them. “Now, describe your mother to me. And now describe your father.” My second child said to the psychiatrist, “You see that book on the shelf? That’s my father. You see the paper scatter across your desk? That’s my mother.” And I thought, what a brilliant analogy! And so at the end of this conversation, the psychiatrist said, “So I hear you said you don’t really understand why your parents are together and that they are really so different that they would be happier on their own parenting you.” And that’s how it ended.
Click play to hear a full interview with Anita below:
You’ve got to take care of yourself before you can take care of someone else. I didn’t take that and use it very well. I wasn’t good at taking care of myself. I didn’t care for myself. It was more about him. You have to take care of yourself before you take care of someone else, you have to nourish yourself. You know you just have to be there for them. They go through all those stages and I think you do a little bit too. The anger and then the hurt, and you know this is going to happen, and then you don’t realize until they are gone. I think you get prepared for it too, so when he passed, I was very prepared so I didn’t even cry at the time when he was cremated. But it creeps up on you as time goes by. The loneliness and then somehow you just get through it.
Click play to hear a full interview with Coral below:
The husband at first was a little bit hesitant to share what he was feeling because he felt his grief wasn’t… He kept downplaying his grief, “My grief isn’t as important as my wife’s. She had to carry our son for 21 weeks and be induced and hold our dead son in her arms. I can’t even compare my grief to hers.” And it’s so important in this organization that we let men know that their grief is just as valuable and just as important and the journey of healing is important.
Click play to hear a full interview with Paula below:
I broke my ankle in 2004 and it was really the first time in a very long time that I was on the receiving end of absolute kindness. Because I am good at being kind and taking care of others, but this time other people were stepping forward and taking care of me. The blessing of receiving such tender kindness from a retired nurse who would get up in the morning and drive over to my house, get me dressed, give me breakfast, and get me organized for the rest of the day because she knew my husband was overwhelmed and he couldn’t do it. I had no way to get up to go to the bathroom and the only person I could call was my landlady and she came and took me to the toilet. So it was an absolute lesson in surrender and learning how to receive.
Click play to hear a full interview with Chrystalla below: