I want to talk about my grief for a few minutes. I suppose I’ve learned some things about it over the last several months. By the way, I know the picture above doesn’t really go, but it makes me smile before dealing with such a heavy topic. I don’t know what grief will look like a year or five years down the road, but this is what it looks like now. This is part one. There’s too much for one post.
I recently finished reading A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis and I was comforted by how closely his thoughts mirror my own. He writes of the sense of utter confusion and shock that overtake you in the beginning. He writes of the fear that memories of his beloved would fade. That’s a big one for me! I can also understand the wrestle for joy, the temptation to feel guilt, the hard questions, and the desperate cries for help. It was good to see someone who was undoubtedly one of the great Christian authors struggle the same way I am. I get it when he says, “The act of living is different all through. [His] absence is like the sky, spread over everything.”
Grief doesn’t look the way I thought it did. Though I had experienced some grief before Jon’s death, they were much different circumstances. I had not experienced losing my other half. So here are my thoughts. Deep grief is messy. It’s not linear, and emotions and questions you think you’ve resolved, rear their ugly heads without any warning or explanation. It’s a weight that threatens to crush. It’s the feeling of an unending battle. Or a wilderness that stretches unbroken.
There’s a lot of loneliness that comes with the death of a spouse. A lot of loneliness. I’ve gone from having evenings of quality time with the one I love to evenings, and now days by myself. And even when I’m with people, I’m still lonely sometimes. It’s really easy and tempting to take the loneliness and run to other things besides God–exercise, shopping, ice cream, people, Duck Dynasty (ha!)… But I’m learning to run TO Christ in the loneliness, to meet Him as my true companion, and to know the comfort of His presence. I’ve filled many pages in my journal, but I admit I haven’t fully figured out this loneliness thing.
Likewise, the “Why me?” syndrome is a seductive trap. How quickly my thoughts spiral to destructive places when I start comparing my lot with others. The constant emotional roller coaster is teaching me how desperately I need God. And how I must cling to truth of the Gospel to combat my emotions. “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. Indeed I have a beautiful inheritance.” (Psalm 16:5-6). And this verse is true because of Christ. He holds my lot because He died for me. He is the pleasant place. He is my inheritance.
There’s also the temptation to put guilt for Jon’s death on myself. And that’s something that’s just a lie. God knew the number of Jon’s days before He ever created him. God is sovereignly working all things for His glory, and my good. God’s plan of redemption is so much bigger than Jon and me.
Speaking of lies, many of those pop up too.– “Ami, you know that look that passed between you and Jon, well it wasn’t real. You just imagined it.” And another popular one, “God is punishing me for loving Jon too much.” Again I look to my arsenal of truth.
- “You are precious in my eyes, and honored and I love you.” (Isaiah 43:4)
- “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
- “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15)
Another thing that’s been a big deal for me, are the conflicting thoughts of remarriage. Now I’m really letting myself be vulnerable before you. So please handle my words with care. I only bring up this facet of grief because I’m trying to paint a picture of how it looks for me. I was shocked at how quickly the idea of remarriage surfaced, which of course led to more guilt. “Do I not love Jon as deeply as I thought? How can I even have these thoughts! It’s only been months!” I didn’t anticipate dealing with this topic for a long time. But it’s actually one of the biggest conflicts of grief for me; I desire to love and be loved again. Yet I long for Jon. And I worry about the criticism of others. Yep I struggle with that. It’s called fear of man. The topic of remarriage spirals me to questions I can’t answer like, “How will I love someone else like I love Jon? How could I handle another man kissing me? What happens to all my pictures? And my wedding rings?” And so on and so on.
But thankfully, some wise people reel me back in, and remind me that God is big, and that guilt is not grace. I don’t have to answer these questions now. They remind me that if God does ever bring someone into my life, He will meet me with abundant grace, just like He does now. And he would meet that guy with grace to handle a girl who is a widow. And they remind me that enough love for two people is not a hard task for the One is in control of everything. So, I think you get the picture. Grief is a place of conflicting emotions and thoughts you don’t anticipate.
And then there’s just the plain old “missing him.” I miss everything about him. His quirks. His goofiness. His hideous green sport coat (that came out only for costumes these days) His passion for the Gospel. I miss his touch. His smile. This is a place I could park at for awhile, but I’ll keep going.
Yet among the loneliness, fear, lies, and conflict, God tells me that He is the one that truly satisfies. This is true. ”How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.” (Psalm 84:1-2) I want to stay in this place as long as He wants me to. And whatever state I find myself I want to serve with undivided devotion.
So this is some of what grief looks like for me. I’ll stop here for now. Just two more things. I was reflecting on the imagery of the wilderness yesterday, and not coincidentally, God brought Isaiah 43 to mind. “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people the people whom I’ve formed for myself that they might declare my praise.” (43:19-21). So I thought, “God are you making a way for me? Is there a river in my desert?” Then the most beautiful thought flooded my mind. God already has made a way in the wilderness. He has already done a new thing. He made a way at the cost of His own Son. And in my desert, Jesus is the Living Water.
Finally, Christ knows grief. Perhaps some of the agony of Gethsemane was that of grief? “Surely He has born my grief and carried my sorrows.” (Isaiah 53) Yeah, He really did. He really does. Talk about Hope!
Hey, so maybe your husband hasn’t died, but I bet you have suffered in some way. I bet you can relate to the wilderness feeling. And I bet you can relate to lies and temptations. It would be ridiculous of me to think that the death of a spouse is the deepest form of human suffering. Everyone suffers. But if you’re in Christ, He gives you drink in the wilderness too. And we will declare His praise! This is awesome.
11 thoughts on “So this is grief”
LOVED Lewis’ G Observed. Thoroughly appreciate the walk into your heart.
Thank you for taking time to comment. It’s really encouraging. For me writing has become one of the best ways God is helping me process my husband’s death. I never would have thought I would let others see such personal thoughts. But I suppose it’s a way for me to honor my husband. It’s funny because he always told me I should write. But I was just content to be his cheerleader. I’m thankful that God can use even grief for his glory though.
So appreciate this response, Ami. I am so glad you are writing. Just hit me…I wonder if my post Calling would speak to you in some way. No obligation to respond to it in any way if you get to it. Just wanted to bless you, dear sister. Love in Christ, Diana
Diana, thank you! I certainly will read it. Thank you for the blessing. I was just thinking today how marvelous the body of Christ is. It’s amazing that He immediately links two people who don’t know each other with the bond of “sister.” Love in Christ to you too!
I haven’t walked where you have but your writing really touched me! Thank you for being so honest-I know many will be blessed because of it! Prayers for you and may God Bless your journey. Sisters in Christ, Rebecca
Rebecca, thank you for your encouragement! One of the things that has been so incredible to me is how the bond of Christ can link people who don’t know each other together. Thank you for being and instrument of grace to me!
Ami, it is so encouraging to read that you are combating lies and temptation with the truth from God’s Word. I praise him for the tender and loving way that he leads his children. Your testimony for God is precious and I love reading your posts. One of these days I also plan to read that C.S. Lewis book. Thanks for sharing your heart here. 🙂
I too have been in your shoes. My Jim died in 1998 in our living room at the age of 31. oh we went thru the motions of going to th ER but he was gone and being a nurse I knewthis but when this sort of thing happens you no longer are a nurse your a person. I too asked God why me?? I went to support group meetings which helped alot. I thought I would neverbe the same and in some ways I’m not , it has been 15 years and I can finally talk about it without breaking down, it does not mean you love them any less it just means I accepted God’s will and have learned to love again.
Tammy, Thank you for sharing this with me! I’m always so thankful to hear from other widows. It’s good to be given “permission” to not be ok by someone who’s been there! But to also hear the beauty of God’s comfort in your comment. I like what you said “it does not mean you love them any less…” for that is sometimes my fear! Though it’s only been a short time, I can see some ways I think I’ll never be the same. Thank you for taking time to encourage! I love the connection of the body of Christ even among people who’ve never met!
Hi Ami, I just ran across your blog after reading your posts in a Widow’s Might without realizing you were the same Ami:) I lost my husband 155 days ago so you can imagine I understand this post so very much… your thoughts scarily mirror mine. Thank you for being vulnerable and willing to share your heart with us.. It seems more difficult with each passing day instead of easier. The temptation to go out and get rip-roaringly drunk is only put-off because I have 4 kids to raise. I am glad that I have a meeting with my pastor next week so I can share my burdens with him and let the church be my accountability and my arrow pointing back to Christ. I am so very sorry for the loss of your husband Ami. What a wonderful reunion we have to look forward to. (Egad.. the tears again.. when will they stop??)
Oh dear sister. My heart aches and hurts with you. I’m so sorry for the loss of your husband as well. Death is a crappy thing. I so understand all the things you wrote in your comment. When I wrote that post, it had been about 5 months for me as well. And you’re totally right, it did get much harder before it ever got easier for me. There have been many spots of deep grief since then. It was God’s grace that kept me from a lot also. I still have tears sometimes, but I can assure you that the waves do start to subside. They do get fewer and farther between- It just takes time. I have also found that Jesus is so near in our grief. He carries with incredible grace. Keep running to Him. Let God’s word speak deeply to your soul. And yes, getting accountability from your church is a wonderful thing. There have been many times when I couldn’t get truth into my own heart. Find the people who will tell you truth when you can’t do it yourself. Also, a couple books that have truly strengthened me are The Path of Loneliness by Elisabeth Elliot and The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie. If you ever need someone to talk to, I’d be happy to listen! Praying for you tonight! And yes praise God for the wonderful reunion that awaits! What a sweet day that will be. I’m still walking this path for sure,and God continues to show me more of Himself. Thank you for commenting on this post because it made me go back and revisit these words I haven’t read in awhile… it was encouraging to look back and see just how far Christ has carried me since then! I know He will do the same for you!