Standing in that parking lot behind the school, hearing her scream, I froze. Did she find him? Was he okay? Was he injured? Bleeding? Surely my husband isn’t……
The morning my husband was found lifeless in the woods shattered my world. After missing for over 40 hours, the search had come to an end. Aaron’s accidental fall from that towering tree stopped his heart and nearly broke mine.
Widowed at 35, why that’s impossible. We have 4 children and a good suburban life. Shock, numbness, pain, sorrow. I was unprepared for tragedy. Aren’t we all?
Those first few hours, days, and weeks are a fog now. My goal was simply to survive the tangible void left after my husband left earth for heaven. Keep the kids alive. Fill out the paperwork. Remind yourself to eat. Bathe the boys.
I was in a place of such hardship and pain that simply walking to the mailbox required effort. Are you there? Are you weary, empty, burdened? Forget thriving, you’re just trying to keep your head above water? Is the ache in your heart flooding each thought every day?
At the crossroads of Despair and Hope, turn towards Hope. Not self-created hope. Not fake smiles. Hope comes from The Source of love and life. The reason I was able to take one step after the other is a Guy named Jesus. As my Maker, He knows exactly what you and I need. He’s GOT THIS. Surrender, “Okay, God, You’re in charge. It’s Your planet, Your rules.” Grief is not easy. Pain is unyielding. But the Lord wants to love you lavishly and carry you through your trials. He is capable. All you have to do is ask.
What are some practical ways to cope without falling off the deep end? It’s not at the bottom of a whiskey bottle or at the shopping mall.
Here are the 6 P’s to dealing with unyielding pain:
- Paper. Draw or journal your thoughts to clear your head. Pour it all out onto paper, not focusing on if it makes sense or comes across as rational.
• Pray. Tell God your fears, your worries, your frustrations. Verbally vomit what’s tumbling inside, knowing He can handle it and help you move forward.
• Pout. But only for a limited time. Trudging through the valley is brutal and it’s okay to acknowledge that it sucks and not fair.
• Praise. Focus on what is GOOD in your life and thank the Lord. As you face the storm, cling to the truths of current blessings that still exist.
• Play. Take time for yourself to do what distracts you from hardship. Give yourself freedom to escape in a way that brings relief. Unhappiness and joy can coexist.
• Participate. Don’t alienate yourself from others…you’ll end up crazy. Depression pulls us inward, but friends and family can cushion the blows of life.
When I pondered an unpredictable future or when I looked at our boys’ faces that veil deep pain, I focused on what was constant and predictable. My Savior is always with me and for me, He is unchanging, He has a plan to give me a hope and a future. And that is the truth for YOU as well!
I gained the “widow” title in 2012, 4 years ago. Some days it seems like 400 years ago, other days it’s more like 4 minutes ago. Despite my wishes otherwise, time has marched forward. And those 6 P’s are still a part of my life. I make more efforts to plan outdoor excursions like Aaron had. I talk to the Lord and my children about pain that may subside but never ends. I refuse to rock in a corner, clutching a whiskey bottle.
And I’ve remarried, which makes me smile through tears. God works so mysteriously; Jason actually searched for Aaron who was missing. I am so burdened, I am so blessed.
No one foresees death, pain, or grief on their calendar. We dismiss it out of fear and dread. And yet, we all must face it at some point. To be anchored in advance by relationship with Jesus is the only way to withstand the storm of loss. May we all cling to Him while fully enjoying our now.