Coping with the death of a loved one can be one of the hardest experiences a person faces.

This is especially true for the family of Lucien “Lou” Guay, of Old Orchard Beach, a decorated Marine Corps veteran who devoted his life to his wife of 69 years, Dorothy Guay, and their three children. He died early Sunday after a brief illness. He was 89.

Twelve hours after his passing, his wife was rushed to the hospital with pneumonia-like symptoms and kidney failure.

Their children have stayed by her side at Maine Medical Center in Portland, where she is fighting for her life. On Thursday, they reflected on his passing and the uncertainty of their mother’s future.

“It’s been a really hard week,” said an emotional Dwayne Guay, of Lisbon Falls, who cried many times during the phone interview. “We are making end of life decisions now. …She needs to go on dialysis. She wants to at least try it. We have no idea how it will go, but based on her condition we don’t think it’s going to go well.”

The Guays would have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in July. His son said they met in eighth grade or early in high school in Biddeford and have been together ever since.

Mr. Guay joined the Marine Corps in 1943 and served in the South Pacific during World War II. He was discharged as a corporal, but resumed his military career during the Korean War in 1952. He served 21 years and retired in 1968 as a gunnery sergeant.

Mr. Guay earned several medals including the Victory Medal, Korean Service Medal and United Nations Service Medal. His son said he was very proud of his military service, so proud, that two years ago they made informal arrangements to give him a full military burial.

“He wanted to be buried in his dress blues, but they didn’t fit. We had someone find a coat and he arranged to get Marine pallbearers, the honor guard and 21-gun salute,” his son said, breaking down in tears. “We’re so grateful. We are so overwhelmed that someone would do that for us. He’s getting what he deserved.”

At home, Mr. Guay was a dedicated husband and father who made time for his children. His son talked about the years they went camping at Camp Hinds in Raymond.

“It was amazing to be able to have that alone time with him,” his son said, referring to their camping trips. “I had my dad for the weekend. He wasn’t being pulled away to mow the lawn or clean the garage. Dad was always in a good mood, always upbeat. It was dad so you had to behave yourself, but he always knew we were kids so he played with us. He was a good influence on everyone.”

Mr. Guay worked hard to provide a good life for his family. In his early years, he was a construction laborer in Biddeford. He also worked at Deering Lumber in Biddeford for about 10 years. Most recently, he worked at Hannaford Supermarkets at its Forest Avenue location in Portland. He stopped working in 1999 after suffering a stroke.

Mr. Guay lived at the Maine Veteran’s Home on Route 1 in Scarborough for the past year. He was well-liked by the staff. His son said he will be greatly missed.

“I’ll miss him being here and getting his advice about how to do things around the house,” he said. “If he could get up and do, he would have been at my house doing things all day long.”