Isaiah 40:31 -“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”.
Here I go again. Our anniversary was coming up and this year would only be acknowledged by me. I remember dreading the “firsts” after my husband died. In the initial year as a significant date would approach, I felt the ache in my heart, the uneasiness of my stomach, and a thousand thoughts flying around in my head. I would have to take deep breaths and clear my mind because I was so caught up in the fast, approaching day. After living through all the memorable days in the first year, it dawned on me; I made it and had survived.
I reflected back on why was there so much panic and fear in approaching and living through these events? I believe it is a process and something everyone has to experience in their grief journey. In my situation, it was not so much the date as it was the anticipation of the day which was my focus.
How many days had he been gone? How I was celebrating another holiday without him by my side? When will I wake up from this nightmare?
I soon learned it was important for me to experience the anxieties as each significant date drew near. The stressful time allowed me to press into God because I understood I could not burden this pain all on my own. From the moment the panic set it, to the depressing mood which consumed me, and finally, when the day closed with a sense of relief, God was there.
Shortly after my husband’s passing, I asked many of my friends and family who had lost someone close, how long would I feel this way? I wanted someone to give me the magic answer, to make me feel better and in my mind, have a goal I could set my sights on. Everyone’s answer varied, but a good average was somewhere between two and three years.
I looked at my youngest who was five months old when his father died and realized he would turn three when I should not feel like I did in this moment. Looking back I can see how God needed this time to groom and grow me, as one of His children. The process continues through my life as I have been molded and shaped again and again with each one of my losses since 2001. All of my “firsts” were stepping stones to equip me with patience, empathy, tolerance, and spiritual strength in supporting others in their grief journey. The first two to three years as a widow was a foggy memory and there are details I don’t remember, and it’s okay. What I do recall is the love, patience, and support of my family and friends during an extremely difficult time in my life. I thank God for putting all of the right people in my path those first few years to support myself and my children as we experienced our “firsts”. I look back and know I survived the “firsts” because of His grace and mercy. Today I share my testimony so others who have suffered a loss can experience hope and find strength in God’s love.