Mary E. Schulz is a Social Worker and writer who loves dogs, opera and stories that take her
breath away.

We all have roles in our life. For me, I have been a wife, best friend, health care professional
and daughter. All of these roles have brought me joy and some heart ache and I am grateful for
the chance to have lived all of these experiences.

But in 2017, my husband died, followed by both my parents within a year. In one year, most of
my family was gone. I felt like I was in a row boat and suddenly had no paddles, just drifting,
with very little to help me stay on course.

After my husband died, I threw myself in to providing support and care to my two elderly and
increasingly frail parents. I had more time to visit and to help them with their day-to-day lives.
If I could never be a wife and best friend to my husband again, at least I could be the best
possible daughter.

And then, quite quickly, Mom and Dad died within months of each other.

I remember saying to a friend, “I am an orphan now. I will never be a wife or daughter again.
Who am I? How will I ever find anything to do – to be – that will even begin to fill those shoes?”

My friend wisely told me that I will always be a wife. I will always be a daughter. Nothing ever
changes that. Yes, my husband and parents will never be with me in the same way that they
were when they were alive. But the love we shared – while very different- would never die.
Love never dies. So being a daughter or a wife doesn’t die with them.

Being a daughter and a wife helped me to grow into the person I have become. Having these
wise and loving people in my life shaped my beliefs, my experiences, my personality. My
husband and parents, each in their own way, guided me through tough times and celebrated
with me in the good times. Now that they have died, I am part of their legacy and everything
we experienced together is part of me.

This perspective helps me a lot. I grieve these three wonderful people in my life. But I talk to
them each quite regularly (yes, out loud!) about how grateful I am to be their daughter. To be
his wife. Yes, I use the present tense because I still feel I am their daughter and I am his wife –
and always will be.

I find this comforting. I have lost a lot but I have not lost my relationship with my parents and
my husband. Love never dies and that helps to keep them close.