December 23rd, two days before Christmas, I sat in a quiet hospital room (surrounded by concerned friends) and watched my husband of seven-years take his last breath. I sat there, mostly numb, as the reality of what was happening slowly washed over me.
“What am I supposed to do now?” I asked, to no one in particular.
I was 31 years old. And now I was a widow. My husband – my first love – was everything to me. He was the man I had waited for. And God had given him to me. And now, cancer had taken him away.
What am I supposed to do now?
The next few days and weeks went by in a blur. Funeral preparations. Sympathy cards, phone calls, and visits from well-wishers. This, I would soon discover, was my initiation into the world no one wants to enter: widowhood.
My husband’s death soon propelled me into a state of grief – something I had never experienced before. Grief became my constant companion for the next few years.
But the thing to be noted about grief, as a Christian, is that you never have to grieve alone, for God is near to those who have a broken heart.
God was with me during this difficult time. And although He did not take the pain away, as I hoped, He certainly made it more bearable. God never promised to rescue us from every negative situation. But He did promise to always be with us. God will never leave us alone.
The un-natural part of death.
Death, although a natural part of life, just doesn’t seem natural to me. How do say goodbye to the one you love? How do you let him go? After methodically building a life together, and, as the Bible tells us, becoming one (“the two shall become one”), how do you then unravel the threads that held you together and become whole again as a party of one?
The answer, I’ve discovered, is to free yourself of the pressure to grieve for your spouse the rest of your life. To not doggedly hold onto the past. To give yourself permission to move on. And to let go of the part of you that has died. You must free yourself so that you can live again. Your spouse would want you to be happy. He wouldn’t want you to get stuck in grief.
God is always there to help us. Trust Him to provide comfort and strength.
In biblical times, people grieved for their loved ones with lavish funerals that often lasted for days. Their plaintive wails for the deceased could be heard for miles as they mercilessly beat upon their chests. They covered their heads with ashes and tore their clothing. Everyone knew they were in great distress.
The Bible tells us that, as believers, we do not grieve as others grieve – as ones who have no hope beyond this present world. We believe in the resurrection of the dead, and, therefore, that we will see our deceased loved ones again. This life is only temporary. Death only has a temporary hold on us as long as we are in our earthly bodies. Once we have been glorified, death no longer has control over us. For we shall live forever.
Journey of grace and love.
It’s been almost 15 years since that December 23rd day. And although the journey has been long and hard, it has been a journey of survival and strength. God’s love healed my broken heart. His grace carried me through. When I didn’t have the strength to stand, He lifted me up. And I’m standing here today, happy and free.
God sends His love to heal us. Love is God’s secret weapon – well, it really isn’t a secret at all. The Bible tells us that God is love, and that He pours His love out on the world. His love does what no other power can do. It makes us whole. And it gives us life.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave
His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish,
but have eternal life.”
To the widow.
God wants to heal your broken heart. He wants to take the broken pieces of your life and put it back together again. God wants you whole and well.
God has great love for the widow (and the orphan) – those who have no covering. He wants to cover you with His wings, to be your protector and your defense.
You don’t have to walk this road alone. Grab hold of His outstretched hand, and like a loving father walks hand-in-hand beside his wobbly daughter, allow God to guide you until you are strengthened and able to walk on your own.
(Note: This is a 3-part article. This article is Part 1 of 3)
Jeanita Jinnah is a Christian writer and the author of the book for widows: Step Out of the Shadows (For Widows Only!!!)™. Available in paperback and ebook – anywhere books are sold.
Jeanita was widowed at the age of 31 when she lost her husband to cancer. She offers encouragement to widows everywhere through her writings, and in sharing her story of love, loss, and spiritual healing.
This article first appeared on naylawriters.com; onourwwy2heaven.com; and linkedin.com.