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Marriage following the death of a spouse

Marriage following the death of a spouse

Posted: Thursday, April 23, 2009 8:01 pm
By: By Don Harold Lawrence

In her novel, “The Surgeon,” Tess Gerritsen describes the struggle that Thomas Moore, a widower whose wife, Mary, had collapsed with a cerebral hemorrhage and had died six months later, experiences as opportunities arise for developing a new relationship, dating, and marriage.

Moore, an officer in the Homicide Unit in the Boston Police Department, is assigned to the case in which Dr. Catherine Cordell, a vascular surgeon at Pilgrim Medical Center in Boston, is being threatened by the partner of a deranged killer, Dr. Andrew Capra, who assaulted Dr. Cordell two years earlier when he was chief of surgical residency at the Riverland Hospital in Savannah, Ga.

A month after she was attacked Cordell moved from Savannah to Boston to work in Trauma Service. She describes to Moore how traumatized she had been and her struggle to recover, reintegrate herself back into a routine of work and overcome her panic. She tells him that she longs to rejoin the world, “a world Andrew Capra stole from me” (p. 95).

Because there were several recent unsolved homicides in Boston that were similar to those in Savannah, Moore questions Cordell about the recent murders. This marks the beginning of the relationship between Moore and Cordell.

While they are discussing the subject of rape, Moore becomes deeply sympathetic toward Cordell who, by now, did not feel anxious in his presence. Because he was very comforting to her, she freely shares her memories and feelings with him. Their relationship continues to deepen, and when she is with him she feels secure and can relax.

Moore continues to struggle with grief due to the loss of his wife. He confides to Cordell, “They did not know the other Thomas Moore, the man who stood before his wife’s closet at night, inhaling the fading scent of her clothes. They saw only the mask he allowed them to see” (p. 131). His struggle with grief involved intense guilt and anger. He thinks, “It was Mary’s future that lay unclaimed” (p. 343).

As the relationship between Moore and Cordell continues to develop, he is eventually able to openly share his feelings of grief with her. At the end of the novel there is a resolution of Cordell’s trauma and a healing of Moore’s grief, and the two of them are happily married.

Further helpful resources: “Starting Over: Help for Young Widows and Widowers” by Adele Rice Nudel and “Widow: Rebuilding Your Life” by Genevieve Ginsburg.

Don Harold Lawrence is coordinator of SUNRISE, which is sponsored by Shackelford Corporation. He may be contacted by mail at 145 Abernathy Drive, Adamsville, TN 38310-3001 or by telephone or fax at (731) 632-4483. His Web address is

Published in The Messenger 4.23.09

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