Thirty-eight years ago my beloved husband and father of my two daughters was killed in an accident. Only those who have suffered the loss of a loved one know what sorrow I felt.
In that first moment when I realized I was a widow at 33 with two little girls to raise, the first thing I did was cry out to God. Since a small girl I have based my life on my faith in Jesus Christ so it was only natural that my first thoughts were “God help me!”
Immediately a verse from the Bible came to my mind.
“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
In the days and weeks ahead God gave me the strength and courage I needed to make so many decisions.
Things I had never thought about:
- What funeral home do I use?
- Where do I bury him?
- Will I have enough money for the expenses?
- How will I provide for my girls on my one income?
- How far will his life insurance go?
- Since I have to keep working, who will watch my girls before/after school?
- Do I continue to live where I am or move closer to family for support?
- What do I do with all his clothes, his guns, his personal stuff?
But the biggest decision was “how do I get through a day without him?”
While everyone talked about how strong I was, only God knew how many times I fell to my knees and cried out for strength. One of my friends had recently recorded this song, “Praise the Lord,” and when I felt I could not go on, I would play this song and as I began praising the Lord, peace would come once again.
But slowly, as the months, then the years went by the burden of my grief became almost more than I could bear. While the love for my husband did not diminish, I confess I became very lonely. The idea of all the years stretching ahead of me with no one to share them with me became almost overwhelming.
I began to entertain the thought of finding a new love. Yet, I felt so terrible even thinking such a thing.
One Sunday in service the speaker sang an old song “Take My Hand Precious Lord.” The lyrics expressed exactly how I felt.
“Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand. I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.”
After the song was finished, the speaker invited anyone who was struggling with a burden to come to the altar for a joint prayer with the church. While I definitely wanted prayer, I did not want to walk to the front of the church – too embarrassing. As I sat in my seat debating what to do, a old friend of the family who was sitting in the very front of the church got up, walked back to me, held out his hand and invited me to walk to the front with him. How could I say no when my heart was crying out for relief of this burden of grief?
At the altar I quietly asked God to please take this burden of grief from me. I could not go on year after year like this. It suddenly came to me that God could give me peace, but I had to be willing to let go of my grief. Like a light bulb going off, I realized that I was holding tight to my sorrow because I felt that was all I had left of my husband. To be willing to stop grieving, to be willing to laugh and love again, I had to “let it go.”
Praying to God to help me, I felt as if a heavy load had been lifted from my shoulders.
I felt the peace of God that passes understanding fill my heart.
Did I quit missing my husband? Of course not. Even today I cannot see a young man fishing without seeing my husband with his fishing pole slung over his shoulder. I cannot see a police officer without seeing my husband in his uniform as a prison guard.
Did I quit loving my husband? Of course not. I treasure his memory and look forward to seeing him again some day in the next life.
But I was able to finally understand that constantly grieving, being filled with sorrow was not how he would have wanted me to live. He would want his memory to bring a smile and he would want me to live and laugh again.
I let my pain go – and accepted the peace Jesus offered me.
Another song I now love to hear that says it so well:
“And if there’s one thing I know, it’s that you were never left alone ‘Cause you can always count on Jesus’ name. And if there’s one thing I pray it’s that Jesus helps you find a way to make a change and listen to your heart. God will take away your pain if you choose to let it go, if there’s one thing I know.”
By this post I do not mean to sound like Pollyanna and to those who are suffering unbearable grief, I know it is not an easy thing. But I do hope you will seek the peace of God and allow Him to help you.