Monday, September 6, 2021

Complications of Loss and Understanding in Grief

Grief is a complicated thing.  Everything may be going well in your life, maybe even joyfully, and then a reminder of a time of loss occurs and knocks you right back down.  This has been the pattern for me over the past 17 years, ever since my wife, Teresa, suddenly passed away from an undiagnosed heart issue during an outing with our 5-month old daughter.

I just finished reading a wonderful tribute written by an old friend on the 30th anniversary of the death of her husband in a tragic car accident.  It was filled with specific details of the emotional roller coaster she experienced after finding out he had died, all the way through her healing process.  She also shared how she was impacted by her walk with Christ, and the path her faith has led her during the time since this traumatic event.  It was a reminder of how fragile life is, and reminded me so much of Teresa's homegoing.  I wish I was where she is.

Last night, I received a message from another old friend, someone I got to know well during our time working together in youth ministry.  She is now a pastor, and it was clear early on that her walk with Christ would have a similar result to my other friend's experience.  Her message, though, hit me like a ton of bricks, and I am heartbroken upon hearing the news of the death of her daughter.

Her daughter wrote to me just after Teresa's death, sharing with me her experiences since the death of her husband, which occurred less than a year before Teresa's, and left her a young widowed mother.  The advice she shared has helped me more than anyone and anything since Teresa died, and she became in some ways my spiritual guide in my healing process.  Most importantly, she taught me that healing doesn't come by "getting over" the traumatic event.  Healing comes upon accepting the event as a part of your life story, and makes you the person you are.  I am forever thankful to her for sharing this with me.

However, while there are still a lot of unknowns at this time, her passing is a tragedy beyond all understanding.  I may find out more in the future, but given the information I have at this time only makes me sadder and grief-stricken.  I'm being intentionally vague because it is not my place to share.  I just know that, given the connection I had with her, my own path forward will very likely be impacted by her death.

I find it ironic that I would hear over two days from or about two women who experienced the sudden loss of their spouses at a time when they were raising young children, which is my experience, too.  Each has had an impact on me in very different ways.  I hope that I can learn only positive things from their stories.

My prayers go out to both of my friends and their families, and that they can find comfort and understanding through our Lord and Savior.