I remember a few months after Ben died meeting another lady who had recently lost her spouse. I was so thankful to have someone who understood my pain and could relate to this uncertain new world I was entering. When she invited me to a young widows support group I jumped at the opportunity. I knew early on that surrounding myself with people who not only understood my pain, but who had been there, would make all the difference in how I navigated loss.
I remember sitting in tears and listening to this group of ladies sharing about losing their spouses, how long they had been married, and how long it had been since their loss. These ladies had been attending this group for weeks, months, years, and some even decades.
I remember leaving so confused about how they could still be grieving such a loss so heavily after so much time had passed. I remember telling my friend, I loved Ben so much, but I don’t want this to be what defines me for the rest of time. Twenty years from now, I don’t want to still be introducing myself to people by my pain and loss… I will ALWAYS be Ben’s widow, but I don’t want that to be the only thing that is left of me.
As time has gone on, I have realized that you don’t magically wake up one day and have the grief disappear. Ben will always be there, and while the pain from losing him will lessen, it will never go away. But I have also realized something critical to surviving loss, and that is that I have to grieve with hope.
Have you ever faced something and felt helpless to overcome it? A death, a divorce, infertility, a lost job or an uncontrollable relationship?
I have met so many people who grieve without hope. They believe their loss will define them until the end of time, and are determined that it is impossible to ever be happy again. Charles Spurgeon said, “without Christ there is no hope.”
As difficult as it was to lose Ben (and I would NEVER have chosen it), I have prayed and believed since the day he died that God had a plan that would help to redeem some of that loss. I believed that He would help us to come out braver, stronger, and while not without scar, with purpose. There have been moments here and there where I lose sight of that, but when I reflect back on the past few years, I have never doubted that God has a plan even when I didn’t understand it.
I actually learned that from Ben. After years of infertility and a devastating miscarriage; he taught me that life is not without pain, but we can’t let that pain define us. God always sees us through and if we allow it, He will rewrite our stories in ways that we can’t even imagine.
I will always be a widow; just like I will always be a mom, a daughter, a teacher, and a lover of Christ. And I will always need the support of other widows who understand what it is like to walk this road. But when people introduce me twenty years from now, I want them to also remember me as someone who made the most of every day that she was given, not living in the land of “what ifs” and days gone by, but instead basking in the goodness of all that the Lord has given her in the present.
If you find yourself without hope; I pray that you will find a reason to dream again. That God would allow you to hope for a better tomorrow… that you would be able to wake up and face the day with hope for all that He can be doing in and through you in this new season…
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 43:5
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.” Psalm 130:5
“But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” Micah 7:7”
*** Please understand that I don’t want Ben forgotten, and my past will always help to define me. Every bit of what I have been through in life is what makes me who I am today… but first and foremost, I am a child of God, who longs for my relationship with him to be the first thing people see when they meet me.