Tragedy – Death – Shock

We were married in July of 1999, he died unexpectedly in December of 1999.  I was working for a failing non-profit organization and he, my husband, was viewing the building my employer had for sale.  Then a couple of weeks later I was asked to run an evening substance abuse group at a church,  when I arrived “my husband” was already teaching the group.

I almost went home when I seen the group had a teacher however, when I looked across the room we locked eyes,  I can still feel the moment, it was then I knew he was going to be my husband.  This may sound crazy,  but at the time it made complete sense… I sat through the entire substance abuse group,  after the class my husband and I sat and talked for over an hour, then 5 weeks later we were married.

At our wedding the pastor joked with my husband that I was going to give him a heart attack, unfortunately my husband died of a heart attack.  It is very difficult to talk about the in-between with my marriage, the 5 months of marriage were so unbelievably hard on both of us. He was finishing up his pastoral degree, I  just took on a new administrator role and was HIS boss, I had 3 children.  The truth is,  it was too soon, too fast and we both rushed into it.  It ended when he did not want me to allow my teenage daughter to move back home from her father’s,  I  did not want to choose between my child and my husband, he relapsed on cocaine one night, I made him leave.

It was Monday, December 27, 1999, I was working for a CPA firm.  I got home around 4:30 pm and seen the light blinking on my answering machine, I pushed the button, “this is Bob Benner,  Lynn Benner died today at 2:30 the hospital needs to know about his organs I am his dad call me”…………………………….I don’t know what I did, if I called his father or not, how long I sat there on the floor listening to this message again and again.  I called my best friend, she came and found me in the dark on the floor with the answering machine.

I met my husbands parents for the first time at his funeral meeting. I seen my dead husband’s body for the first time at his showing.  I curled my hair before I went to the funeral home to see him that day, as if he could see my hair, he liked my hair curled.  I walked in the door, up 3 steps and I could see the casket, my husband was in a casket, in a funeral home….my husband was dead.  There were flowers and plants everywhere, the smell was almost too overwhelming.  I would stop and look at each flower/plant and who sent it before taking another step toward the casket.  I couldn’t do it, I am having him cremated after this, how can I do that.  He isn’t dead! This is a dream!

Somehow I made it to my husbands casket that day, he looked peaceful.  My knees buckled and my best friend was there by my side to hold me up.  Best friends!!  I had to touch him,  but it wasn’t him anymore and it made me even sadder.  My husband felt like a rock!  His chest felt like a cement sidewalk! I use to lay my head on his chest when I needed to feel safe… He was gone.  I don’t remember much of the funeral, it was a large funeral, many people spoke about a man I did not know.  Many people spoke about a man, my husband whom they had loved for a lifetime.  I had only loved for 5 months and then, we failed…

There was no way I was going to leave the funeral home until everyone left.  I did not care about the dinner happening at another location, or people fighting over flowers, plants… I was not leaving!!  I stood by his casket and was not moving… I knew it was the last time I was ever going to see his face again, how could everyone else just leave.  When I leave they are going to take my husband’s body and burn him… I was hanging onto his casket in fear.  My best friend was loading the left over torn up flowers/plants into my car and I was hanging onto the side of my dead husband’s casket.

I have no memory of how I got away from my husband’s casket that day, or how I got to the dinner.  The next memory I have is driving home in my car, all alone, and the smell of flowers.  I carried the flowers/plants into my home and watched them die…no water, I hated them, the smell, everything they represented… I still hate the smell of flowers today.

This is the first time I have been able to get this out of my head… I have CPTSD.





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