by Nancy Howell
Shock. Disappointment. Grief. Pain. Unable to breathe. Sad. Angry. Needy. Bewildered. Paralyzed. Hurt. In denial. Bitter. Helpless. Frozen. Miserable. Unhappy. Sorrowful. Depressed. Devastated. Upset. Unsettled. Full of angst. Heartbroken. Overwhelmed. Shattered. Distraught. Overcome. Upset. Distressed.
Dear sisters, above is but a sampling of the emotions I have experienced, up close and personal, since my unimagined journey as a widow began a mere 14 months ago. I’m betting that each of you can identify with them. Most of you can likely add in a few of your own.
Grief doesn’t follow a set schedule. Every grieving person is different. There’s no textbook outline for the path a widow should take, no set timetable. Those emotions I listed above? They aren’t pretty. They aren’t easy. And they sure don’t make you the life of the party.
But they are necessary. Processing grief means working through the pain, the shock, the sadness, the depression, and whatever else thrown your direction. Whether you choose to tackle it alone, with trusted friends and family by your side, with a counselor or pastor, through writing and blogging, or some combination thereof—you must acknowledge it.
By accepting the emotions, you can claim them. They are a part of who you now are, although with God’s help, they don’t have to define you.
In the midst of all of the bad, there is still good. God is there. He always was, and always will be. He’s just waiting for you to ask for help. And the comfort He has for you holds the potential to heal you and your family.
I asked. I prayed. I clung to the scriptures, spent time on my knees. And you know what? God didn’t abandon me. He answered my prayers. He showed me that life can still be good.
Oh, healing didn’t happen overnight, as I prayed it would. I had to walk the walk. After all this time, I’m still walking it. There are days I feel like I’ve been catapulted back to the raw emotions of my initial loss. There are moments I cry big old tears as I wonder what could have been.
However, there are also moments I feel optimistic. There are flashes of normalcy, of constructive, affirming feelings. Before losing my husband, I may have taken some of these for granted. But never again. Laughter. Happiness. Contentment. Bliss. Thankfulness. Hope. Enjoyment. Amusement. Gladness. Glee. Appreciation. Joy.
Just last week, I hear sounds almost foreign to me, some I haven’t heard in well over a year. Propped up on pillows in my bed, I enjoy the last of my coffee as I wait for my boys to finish showering. In a couple of minutes, I’ll spring into action, becoming fashion consultant, drill sergeant, chef, negotiator, and chauffeur. While silently giving thanks for the beautiful morning, I hear it—singing. Both boys are singing in the shower. They are happy. Happy enough to belt out lyrics at 7 a.m. in the morning. I cried tears of joy. The scriptures, again, are right—joy does come in the morning.
I will praise you, Lord, because you rescued me.
You did not let my enemies laugh at me.
Lord, my God, I prayed to you,
And you healed me.
You lifted me out of the grave;
You spared me from going down to the place of the dead.
Sing praises to the Lord, you who belong to him;
Praise his holy name.
His anger lasts only a moment,
But his kindness lasts for a lifetime.
Crying may last for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:1-5 (NCV)
Sisters, by embracing whatever emotions we have, we can work through our pain. And on the other side of that pain are a beauty and a peace that only God can provide.
Joy awaits you—I promise. He is a God of restoration. Your life won’t be the same, but it will be beautiful, nonetheless. Joy comes in the morning.