“Joel, It’s Time to Let Her Go.”

Why I fought the doctors but listened to my mom during my wife’s final moments.

Joel Eisenberg


With my wife, Lorie Girsh-Eisenberg


When my dad died in 2011, I knew my life would never be the same. That may be an egocentric statement but it is nonetheless true. As a child, I used to always worry what life would be like when my parents were no longer alive.

It was my greatest fear.

At 12, I broke down at the funeral of an uncle in his thirties who was run over by a car. Sobbing, I grabbed my dad and pleaded with him not to die too.

On his deathbed decades later, trapped in a body ravaged by an insidious liver disease, my dad whispered to me not to forget to take care of my wife as she was assuredly going to take care of me.

And, he asked me to make him this promise: “Please… I need for you and your two brothers to take care of your mom. She’s not going to have an easy time.”

Just like my dad. He never put himself first.

Dad passed away and he was proven right. Mom had a very difficult time, as expected. We all did.

Over the years, however, with the love of her remaining family, Mom built a new life for herself. She did not meet another romantic partner by choice, but she made plenty of new friends traveled extensively.

She continues to do both to this day.

As for my wife, Lorie, in truth I never needed Dad’s well-meaning reminder. I upheld my responsibilities based on his enduring example, while Lorie helped me manage my grief and get on with our life together.

And then, three months ago, my beloved wife of nearly 23 years unexpectedly suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke. She had no symptoms, no warning signs.

She was dead within a week.

My dad‘s passing was gradual due to a fatal illness. Lorie’s was abrupt.

Nothing could have prepared me.

I spent nearly six days in the hospital by her side. On her last day, in near-panic mode and bordering on denial, I expressed major disagreements to two doctors and complained about another. I was devastated and refused to give up…



Joel Eisenberg

Joel Eisenberg is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and producer. The Oscar in the profile pic isn’t his but he’s scheming. WGA and Pen America member.