Written by Julie Malette
Monique was 64 when her husband of 44 years Gaëtan passed away from an extremely aggressive cancer. She and Gaëtan were in the process of selling their home and moving into an apartment when he was diagnosed and then passed away.
Monique was a retired school administrative assistant and Gaëtan was a retired teacher. They were selling the house in order to have more money to travel and enjoy life. They had lifelong friendships with other couples they either met in high school or met early in their careers.
When Gaëtan passed away, Monique felt not only lonely from the loss of her husband but also hurt by the absence and lack of support from some family members and more importantly from the lack of support from some of their friends. She understood that they were also grieving and that it must be awkward for them as couples to visit or invite her for visits but the loneliness and hurt was unbearable.
Monique’s daughter received a one-page profile example from a Person-Centred Practices colleague who had lost her husband. She shared this example of profile developed to help family and friends understand what is important to the person in the grieving process and how to best support them. That night, Monique went home and developed her own one-page profile and the next day her daughter typed it up for her and added a picture.
Writing the profile helped Monique sort out the different feelings she was experiencing and better understand what was important to her during this difficult time and what support she truly needed and wanted while she was grieving the loss of her husband. Monique said that putting pen to paper was what helped her see through the fog of grief and understand herself and the situation better.
Monique chose to share the profile with her sisters (not her brothers) as well as a few close friends. She was surprised at some of the reactions. Many thanked her for sharing the profile because it helped them understand how to better support her. A few others didn’t seem quite sure what to do with the information. One friend in particular didn’t say anything after reading it and Monique was saddened by it and the disappointment made her contemplate letting go of the relationship. A short while after this experience, this friend started visiting Monique and invited her for a meal. Sharing the one-page profile with this friend actually saved the relationship.
Many people are hesitant about sharing stories and talking about the person who is deceased. Monique needed and desperately wanted to talk about Gaëtan. Writing a one-page profile helped her talk to family and friends about this need, even if she didn’t always share the profile with them. The profile helped her find her voice.