A widow with Down’s syndrome paid tribute to her husband as she scattered his ashes following 25 years of marriage.
Kris and Paul Scharoun-DeForge are thought to have had the longest marriage between two people with Down’s syndrome before the beloved husband passed away in April at the age of 56, after having battled with Alzheimer’s.
The two Americans met in 1988 and after dating for five years they became one of the first couples in the world with Down’s syndrome to get married, CBS report.
Family and friends gathered alongside 59-year-old Kris in New York’s Adirondack Mountains recently to pay tribute to Paul and scatter his ashes.
The widow recalled fond memories with her husband, describing how she proposed to him:
I whispered in his ear, ‘Would you marry me?’ And he looked up at me with this big beautiful smile and he shook his head ‘Yes!’
Despite the fairytale-like story, Kris’s sister, Susan Scharoun, said it wasn’t as simple as saying ‘I do’. She said the pair had to have marriage classes and counselling sessions, as well as dealing with a lot of pushback from society.
Yeah, there really was quite a bit of resistance. There was a feeling that it was like children getting married versus two very capable adults.
At 25 years of marriage, Paul and Kris are believed to have been the longest marriage of any couple living with Down syndrome.
Read more about Paul and Kris on Disability Scoop: https://t.co/7W5aTzjbhg pic.twitter.com/WFwswl72F8
— Family Connection SC (@Fam_Con_SC) May 14, 2019
Kris scattered some of her husband’s ashes near a lake where he loved to go fishing. The remaining ashes will, in the future, be mixed with Kris’s before being buried.
People with Down’s syndrome still deal with judgement surrounding love and marriage today but Kris shared her story with the hope it will make people realise their relationships are just as real as anyone else’s.
People like us need to have a chance. A chance to find the man of your dreams, like I did.
What I hope is that other families will entertain this, you know, other people will recognise the importance of this kind of intimate love.
Kris admitted she didn’t know if she’d find the kind of happiness Paul brought her again, as she pointed out she’s lost the man she loves, but she’s going to try her best.
When Kris Scharoun-DeForge spotted Paul DeForge she fell in love. While many doubted them, the couple with Down syndrome just celebrated 25 years of marriage. pic.twitter.com/LuJdexB4Z7
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) August 24, 2018
The 59-year-old shared the belief that it’s far better to have loved and lost than to be told you can never love at all.
Our thoughts are with Kris, as well as Paul’s friends and family, at this sad time.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.