I am so grateful to God for the ones He has put in my life who still pray for me. On those nights when it seems so dark, I know that I have been sustained by prayers. I know that God hears others when I can’t find words. Then, in the morning, I am able to go on. I am able to pray for guidance and pray for those I love, both family and friends.
The above card was from my high school friend, Jenny. She knows loss. She can empathize because she knows. And when she says she’s praying, I know it’s not just empty words. She wrote, “I pray that God will give you the fortitude to bear his loss.” God is answering her prayer every day.
“As God’s love is lavished on you, give this love away lavishly to others. Let the love of Christ that is in you be split over into the lives of the people around you.” – from The Undistracted Widow By Carol Cornish
“…Nothing tends more to relieve that overwhelming sense of wretchedness, with which the heart of the sufferer is sometimes oppressed, than a generous pity for a fellow weeper!”
“Your long and intimate letter gave me great pleasure. There is a sympathy in the feeling of people who have been recently afflicted, which cannot be expected to be found in others; a mutual chord, which, touched, vibrates with a kindred sound. We have not suffered exactly alike. But we have suffered; and that circumstance has made us love each other better than we did before.” – The Widow Directed to the Widow’s God by John Angell James, 1841
There truly is sympathy in people who have been recently afflicted. I have found this to be so true in recent months. I have connected with other widows who are suffering as I am. I have also connected with women who have lost a sister or a child. I never thought I’d have a need for a “group”. But, I went at the urging of my son. And I am so glad I foundgriefshare. I thank God for these fellow weepers.
In my search for advice, empathy, survival tips on grieving, I’ve come across some helpful articles. One place where I found a relatable story was at modernloss.com
These words from Elaine Ross rang true with me:
We never had a sweeping declaration of love conversation.
For 18 months, I’ve been falling asleep hoping to dream the words we left unsaid; and I’ve been waking up hoping to come upon a letter he’d forgotten to give me.
I allowed him to take his last breath without saying those precious words?….
It wasn’t until I taped the last box of his clothes and carried it into the car did I realize what I had found in that closet. The business card on which I wrote my cellphone number down the night we first met, every Father’s Day card and birthday present and random art project the kids ever gifted to him, printed Excel spreadsheets with all our home vendors with phone numbers and contact names (which would have been helpful in those first days of widowhood), and pages upon pages of treatments, medical and natural. What I found was in fact what I was looking for: acknowledgment of how much he loved me and the family we created, of how often he quietly and bravely faced his own mortality, of how certain he was that I would know best how to find our way forward…
The deeper meaning, then, is not found in the things we said, because we didn’t, but in the way we approached our truth.
Some of the things I have found that let me know I would find my way forward were the books of his I have to read, the index cards of Bible verses, the baseball glove, the folder of letters, the grandpa mugs and “No, You Can’t Have a Sip” mug, the little black book of user names and passwords, the budget spreadsheets where he had slaved over the figures for months, figuring out that, yes, he could retire. Yes, we could make a go of it. We just didn’t know then that it would just be me making a go of it. But, he planned well and took care of me. God knew and He takes care of me.
Do I want Chuck back? Yes, with all my heart. Do I doubt God’s plan? No, but neither do I understand it.
“Let that true religion still support you. What it has done—it can still do. It has proved to you its reality and its power—still trust it as the anchor of your soul, sure and steadfast. If it prevented you from sinking, when the shock came first upon you, it can do the same through every future stage of your solitary journeying, and every future scene of your now unshared sorrow.” – The Widow Directed to the Widow’s God by John Angell James, 1841
Such good advice, and like much advice, not always easy to follow. In the weeks after Chuck’s death I was so busy with paperwork and decisions that I just kept going full steam. I had to. Now, as things have settled down, finances have worked out, decisions have been made, the day to day living comes at me begging to be heard. What now? How do I live out this life I have now?
I think God has laid a burden at my feet for other widows. I desire to take this empathy I now have, one I never asked for but am grateful to have, and share it with others. I am seeing such a great need for ministry to widows that is being sorely neglected in so many of our churches. But, how many others are being neglected? What about the elderly cooped up with no one to visit them? The young mother struggling to make ends meet? Do I have empathy for all these? No, but sympathy, certainly. So I have to go with what I know, with what I’ve been given. To take that “cup of cold water” in Jesus’ name.
I had a conversation today with an old neighbor friend. We lived next door to each other for nine years, but I think I talked to her more today than I did those nine years combined. God has been so gracious to me to bring people back into my life to be an encouragement. Talking to her helped me to see that perhaps I AM on the right track as far as plans for the immediate future. I feel God leading me to be a help to my family. To be there, nearby, to be a help in their time of need and in mine. That looks like moving and it looks like traveling.
I never heard this song before today, but let me tell you how I found it.
If you knew Chuck, you know he loved baseball. A few years ago we traveled to Douglas Georgia for a reunion of a group of guys who played baseball together at South Georgia Junior College, now South Georgia State College. It was great fun and I finally got to put a face to a name for so many I’d heard about over the years. This group has a Facebook page and when they learned of Chuck’s illness they posted so many encouraging words and I knew many were praying for us. Just eight days after Chuck died, another from this group of friends, Tim Snipes, also died of pancreatic cancer. I’d heard his name but didn’t recall meeting him. I immediately reached out to his wife Libby and today I got a response – she had just seen my message. So, as we are now Facebook “friends” I looked at her page and that is where I found this song.
And just today another brother in Christ, Ed Wallen, went home to be with the LORD. So much death in a short time, and now so many widows left behind. I’m beginning to realize how there are some things you just can’t know, can’t empathize with, until you have experienced it. May God forgive me of my past lack of care and make me more aware of others and their burdens.