Although divorced 6 years ago (a long while after she successfully fought off breast- and lung-cancer) we became very good friends again 2 years later, and I supported/assisted her this past year during her bouts with stomach-cancer, leukemia and the most recent find, a rapidly-spreading lung-cancer. She went peacefully and in no pain during her sleep in a beautiful environment with her most loved ones always at her side - we should all go that gently.
The pain of loss was surprisingly agonizing - much more than I expected and I was dazed for a few days while trying to do my job at work and also help her girls in Maui deal with their mother's death, etc. I started to write a eulogy first out of a sense of duty and then so that her family and friends would know her a little more. What I didn't expect by writing it is that the pain would be (mostly) replaced by smiles, rueful headshakes and laughter - the sense of loss is still there and will be for a long time, but it's been sweetened by memories of good times. I'll share a section here:
The day I proposed to her, we were in a mall in Houston and I'd decided to buy an expensive engagement ring.
I got rid of her by saying I wanted to look at computers, so she promptly disappeared - muahaha - and I dashed into Zales and chose a ring with an exquisite diamond. She'd set up that bank-account for me so my paycheck from Iraq could go there. What I didn't know was that the purchase was so out of the ordinary that the bank phoned HER to say someone was trying to buy something very expensive at the mall.
When she phoned me to ask what the heck I was doing, I had to make a quick excuse and said I was buying a fancy computer and to please let the purchase go through - she tore me up and down both sides but grudgingly let me buy "the computer".
I then bought a plastic rose to hang the ring on, with a card saying "I will only stop loving you when the last petal falls off this rose". Romantic, right? Not so fast - once we got back to our apartment, she was so annoyed at me for buying a $5k PC that she refused to look at the obviously fake rose (I think the cheesy rose annoyed her all the more). I was in the dog-house for hours before she discovered it - but man, did she love telling that story to her friends.