Ben’s death felt a lot like that image in the movie Inside Out where Riley’s world completely crumbled to pieces when she moved. Everything that was familiar and comfortable was destroyed when Ben died as well.
I remember people saying that I would find a new normal. “What the heck did that mean?” I thought. I didn’t want to find a new normal! I wanted the old life that died with Ben.
But slowly year after year, piece after piece, step after step, journal entry after journal entry, and many spiritual direction and counseling sessions later I’ve made it to the other side of grief.
August 13, 2018 marks 4 years without my late husband. These are the top three I’ve been reflecting on lately:
- Be around life-giving things and life-giving people. One of the best things I could have ever done for myself is surround myself with things that give my heart joy and to be with people who encourage, support, and value my heart and my feelings. Healing from loss, especially traumatic loss like mine, takes up a lot of energy (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually). Life giving things have been things like: being in nature, taking dance classes, and doing artsy things. Life giving people have been people who cry with me, who let me process my pain, who help babysit Ezekiel when I really need it, and people who were patient in giving me space and time to heal. I found the more I was around things and people that gave me joy the easier it was to heal and to eventually find joy in the present.
- The Lord is my comfort as I miss Ben. I’m learning that all the ways Ben was my best friend, companion, how he talked with me about my day, how he would help me make day-to-day decisions, how he would be my cheerleader when I was having a rough day, are all roles that the Lord can be for me now. While nothing can replace a husband I’ve learned that finding and seeking those things in the Lord rather than jumping into a new relationship to fill the void is what is most needed in my grieving process.
- I am right where the Lord wants me to be. People have told me I’m probably doing something wrong or not going to the right places when meeting other singles and dating in general. But I’ve been listening the Lord all along and He has guided me through the dating process and helped me filter through hundreds of people. And then I finally realized that how can I be doing something wrong if it has been the Lord who is guiding me all along? I look at how the Lord guided me to my new job and to my new place and have experienced what it feels like to truly be in places that fit me and my desires and it has given me hope that the Lord leads and aligns things perfectly if we just wait and listen to where He is calling us to go.
I realize now that grief will forever be a part of my life but it can be one of not just sorrow but one of beauty, grace, hope, love, peace, and a deeper value of the fragility of life and the ones still in it. Life is unpredictable and the people who stay in it as well. The key is to embrace what is right in front of you in the present. I may not have my late husband in my life anymore but I have an amazing son to raise, supportive parents and siblings, caring and understanding friends, a wonderful job, and new place to be renting.
There is a balance that I’m constantly juggling these days. Grieve the past. Embrace the present. And look forward to the future. The chapter of my late husband ended but the rest of my life is yet to be written.