I find it interesting that, other than my immediate family and very close friends, not many people assume I'm also grieving over my ex-husband's death. I'm not particularly dwelling on this in a "it's all about me" moment; I just find it sociologically interesting. In fact, I wasn't at all sure how I should react. When I first got the news -- driving home last Wednesday afternoon when Phoebe called me -- I was of course shocked -- but my first grief was for her, knowing how close she's gotten to her dad after all these years. Remembering all too well the extreme depression I sunk into when my own father died 18 years ago as though it were yesterday. But after it sunk in, I realized, oh my god! I really am going to miss having him in the world! Even after all the nastiness of the divorce and what led up to it, I am left with the more recent memory of his rebirth as a PTSD survivor. I am so lucky to have a husband who understands that I should be grieving instead of trying to spare his feelings of possible jealousy or misunderstanding. My mother and I were talking about how she felt when my own father, her ex-husband, died. She was describing how her love for him as a husband had changed, and the love just became the more general kind of love. I agreed with that, but added that I also felt a love for the way he loved our daughter, a kind of love that ran through our connection to her.
In any case, this experience will certainly make me more empathetic to anyone else who finds themselves grieving an ex. They are never "just" an ex. This person was someone who, at least once, was the most important person in the world to another. When they die, all those memories of why that was, run through whatever it was that pulled them apart.
Yes, I am mostly grieving for my daughter, who has lost her dad. But I am also grieving this man's life, so recently reborn, that is gone forever except for our memories.