(Author’s Note: I am on a 2 week vacation to purge some frustration and restore my spirit. In the meantime, I dusted off and breathed a little bit of new life into some older posts.)
This post is a brief summary regarding what I learned during my grief journey. It is by no means a complete list and is intended to educate both the widowed and those not experiencing grief about my adventures. Some of which I still deal with today, 4 1/2 years later. The list is not in any particular order.
What I Experienced – Sudden death of my husband Joe, March 2008, as a result of a stroke at the base of the brain.
~~Lesson’s Learned ~~
Widowhood does not hurt – it is excruciatingly painful. No amount of drugs will ease the pain. Death ripped my heart out, put it in a mortar and used the pestle to grind it. Despite all the grinding, my heart never got smaller. However, God eased my pain over time.
Friends/Family will abandon you for one of the following reasons:
- They did not know and/or nor did they want to know how to support me.
- I have cooties. If they hung around me long enough what happened to me will happen to them.
- I am single – therefore I am a threat to their marriage.
- They were only friends with me because of Joe. Now that he is gone, there is no need to be friends with me.
Support group was a necessity. I needed to be around other people who were experiencing grief. We learned from and comforted each other. The program I choose was “Griefshare” by Church Initiative. It was so helpful I now co-facilitate the group.
I needed to cry a lot – and that is ok and wonderful as tears are healing. They help wash away the grief. Remember – “Jesus wept.” If he can, than I can.
Watch words/actions around other people – and still need to. I learned to be aware of what I say and do around others, especially couples and single men. I do not want to encourage the false notion I am gunning for another woman’s husband nor do I want to be viewed as being a stalker, groupie or coming on to single men.
Watching words/actions is hard, exhausting work. Is it any wonder I prefer staying home?
Don’t even think about rushing through grief. However much I tried, God would not let me rush through it. I had to trust him and learn take it one day at a time.
The small stuff is precious. Nobody told me the intensity of which I would miss the small stuff like the good-night kisses, the hand-holding, the hugs and other small things. The cravings get so intense and physically debilitating I need to lie down. It is those times I wrap up in an afghan I crocheted for our bed. It is my way of being close to Joe.
Move forward. Moving forward means taking Joe with me into the future as he will be in my heart forever. It does not mean leaving him behind, which is impossible but that is what the phrase “moving on” means – leaving someone or something behind. Life was moving forward and I needed to do so also, even if it was baby steps. Baby steps involves taking it one day at a time.
Joy does return. I am unable to give you a date when my joy returned, but it did. The closest I can come is the first time I felt as though I would make it through my grief journey. The date was 4/17/2008 and I was reading my daily devotion from the book “Healing After Loss: Daily Devotions for Working Through Grief” by Martha Whitmore Hickman. The devotion dealt with the flowers blooming on a warm spring day and each flower being like a conversation with my loved one. I stepped outside as I headed to work and it was a warm spring day, with flowers blooming. Just like the day described in the devotion.
I did not walk alone. God was there helping and supporting me even though sometimes it did not seem like it. He was there via “Griefshare”, He was there via other people – after all you lean on God by leaning on other people.
He was there 24/7, all I had to do was cry out to him and he would listen and provide me with comfort. After all, God is my ultimate provider and can take when I cry out in pain and anguish as He has very broad shoulders.