“If…”

Out of the blue, DH asked me the other night, "If I died, would you get remarried?"

I sat thoughtfully for a moment, wondering why he was asking me this.

Me: "I don't know. It would be the last thing on my mind for a long time."

DH: "Well, could you picture yourself getting married again? If I died?"

Again, I thought about this (not something I often sit around considering).

Me: "I really don't know. What brought this to your mind?"

Turns out DH had been listening to Jeff Foxworthy on the radio and he was doing a "bit" about this conversation with his wife. Good old DH – asking serious questions as a result of listening to comedy bits on the radio.

This conversation reminded me of the not-so-fun, but definitely necessary, conversation DH and I had before he deployed to Iraq in 2005.

It was a few months before his deployment. Late one night, while lying in bed, we started talking about "What If." It was hard to imagine or even THINK about him not returning. I fought back tears throughout the conversation and prayed that none of what we were talking about would ever happen.

I told my husband my "plan" would be to move closer to my family because they live near an Army post.

He had a few wishes of his own:

1. He would keep his wedding band at home for me to give to our son when he marries.

2. IF I ever got remarried, he wanted our children to keep his last name.

3. He wanted me to keep his rank, patches, etc. for our children. Not just to pass along to them, but just in case either one of them ever joined the Army.

4. He wanted me to be happy and move on with my life.

That was it. Of all the things he could've said, those were the most important things to him.

After having that conversation, I reflected on it now and then while he was deployed. I was determined to make sure his wishes were granted, if he didn't come home.

Fortunately, DH came home.

Did you and your spouse/significant other have a conversation like this? Or are you approaching your first deployment and actively avoiding this conversation (I would've procrastinated forever… but I am SO glad that we finally had "the conversation." Share your stories.

About the Author

Joan D'Arc

Joan D'Arc has been an Army spouse since 1997. She started her marriage as a geographical bachelorette and experienced her husband's first deployment before their first wedding anniversary. Since then, she has had two beautiful children who amaze her (and frustrate her) every day. Joan fought her way through graduate school and is now a Licensed Social Worker. Joan enjoys volunteering with Soldiers' Angels and giving back to the military community in any way possible. Joan feels very blessed to be an Army spouse and wouldn't trade this life for anything!

  • tankerswife

    I’ve tried to bring it up several times, starting when we knew he was going to deploy on 2003. He’s never wanted to talk about it. I don’t even know where he’d want to be buried. It’s very frustrating, to say the least. I think I know some of the answers, but it would be nice to know I had guessed correctly.

  • I had a morbid curiosity but really didn’t want to bring it up. I finally worked up the courage a few weeks ago, and I’m glad I did now that he’s deployed. I know there would still be things I would not have a clue about if the unthinkable happened. And while I wasn’t surprised by most of the answers (‘don’t spend the rest of your life mourning me’ etc) I wasn’t expecting some of the responses – like he wants me to pull the plug if he becomes a vegetable. I’m not even sure I could do that, to be honest. And that’s been pretty tough – what do you do when you don’t want your partner’s last wish?
    It also makes me realise, though, how lucky we are in some ways. This is a conversation the military almost forces you to have. It’s a conversation most other people would never dream of having, but that everyone needs to have. It might be an uncomfortable discussion, but it’s not as bad as not knowing what your loved one would want if you had to make the decisions for them.
    Ha, I sound all adult when I say that, when really I want to sleep away the next 12 months and pretend this deployment isn’t happening!

  • We have done it before each of the deployments. One was the night before he left, and the other two we had time to work our own way through the talk. Then I have my wonderful Hubby put it in writing, seal it in an envelope, so if I forgot or was to out of it I had something to reference. After each deployment the letter gets shredded and we go from there til the next time.

  • The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 10/08/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.
    http://www.thunderrun.us/2009/10/from-front-10082

  • Apryl

    First deployment in 2005-2006 we made sure to get wills, etc taken care of as we’ve seen quite a few military familes just shredded to pieces after a death in the family. It’s not something either of us wanted the other to suffer through..including one family who’s husband got sent home to bury his wife and 2 kids after a horrific car crash.
    I also TOLD DH that he would need to write a letter to our son who at the time of deployment was about 15mos old. He did..it’s been in the safe for 4 years now. Unopened..it’s not mine to read so it’ll wait until DH decided that DS needs it. He deploys to MOB at the end of Oct and I already brought up the letters issue again as we now have another son and this is also a few years later and DS’s initial letter needs to be updated. I won’t have him discard the first letter but I’d like him to write a new one for him. Then like the first they’ll both be in the safe until DH decides that the boys need them..in case anything happens.
    Unfortunatly these are the things that need to be discussed before any sort of traveling..even here in the states. Take a deep breath and cross that bridge…remember hindsight isn’t 20/20.

  • I couldn’t read this without feeling the tears spring up in my eyes.
    We have had the conservation every time. It never gets easier.

  • Jess

    The last time my husband deployed I tried asking him all these questions. I really wanted to know where he would want to be buried and he wouldn’t even give me an answer.
    Maybe next time I will just have him write everything down and seal it like some of you suggested. That way he wouldn’t have to tell me.
    I got tears when I read this blog too….

  • GI Joe and I have had this conversation. And while it is never easy, it is also necessary. His job puts him in danger all the time (as we all know), so it is important to know.
    I also turned the tables on him and asked what he would do if I died first. If we had kids would he stay in SF, or the ARMY alltogether???
    GI Joe would try to stay in the ARMY, but wasn’t sure about SF. We both decided that re-marriage wouldn’t even be on our radar for a long time.
    The hardest part for me was picturing myself at the burial (he wants to buried in Arlington) and receiving the flag. I don’t think I could handle it.
    Luckily, so far he hasn’t even had too many major injuries, so I am praying hourly that he remains safe for the next 60 years! I pray that our kids get to send us to a nursing home when we are 100!

  • Yes, having this discussion is definitely necessary to every military family. The one thing I found interesting was when DF said that he wanted to be cremated. I almost went ballistic! Not because of religious reasons, but I just couldn’t believe he didn’t want to be buried. He said that he didn’t want his family to spend all that money. Well, it still cost almost $6000 for a cremation!
    Besides this, we have discussed the whole, “Would you remarry”. He said that he doesn’t think he would ever want to remarry again…I said that I probably would. I want children and would want a stable home for them…granite, millions of families do VERY well w/o both parents (I’m the product of that) but still. So…let’s just hope neither one of us has to endure the “what if”.
    Be blessed everyone!

  • YES! We had that exact conversation not too long ago. It went about like yours did. It’s hard to think that I would ever get married again. I told him I’d just die right along with him.

  • This is something that, after having seen several friends of ours go through the pain of losing their husband/wife (not just military families), we’ve discussed many times. Both of us are pretty clear on what preferences we each have.
    I would want MacGyver to remarry. I would want him to be happy and for my children to be loved and cared for by both their father and his wife (if he were to remarry).
    He couldn’t give me specifics on what he wanted – in terms of burial – so we settled on cremation and then scattering most of his ashes over the Rocky Mountains out of the back of a Chinook (We talked about setting some of his ashes aside for our children and possibly for his family. But that seems a little odd to me.). Not sure if that’s legal or feasible but that was the discussion.
    I have (what some would call) a very morbid outlook. I call it pragmatic. Who knows?