“Who do you like better?”
This is the awkward, yet somewhat serious and comical question my eight-year-old son by marriage asked a couple of months ago as we were leaving the cemetery. The five of us – my husband Keith and I and our three boys – visited my late husband Michael’s graveside, for the first time all together, on Father’s Day.
While there, we prayed, and I cried. As we got into the car he was curious – “You were fine on the way here. Why did you get so upset?”
We talk about Michael in our home often and he seems to get that my son Ty lost his father, but I am not sure he understands the role Michael played in my life as my husband. So I tried to explain, “You know how your dad and I are married, and he is my husband? Well, Ty’s dad, Michael, was also my husband. And just like I love your dad very much, I love Michael too, and I miss him. God has blessed me with two amazing men and marriages!”
Just as I was getting those words out, his question quickly came, “Who do you like better?” Keith and I looked at each other and tried not to chuckle but to him, and so many others who have not experienced the horrific loss of a spouse, it can be nearly impossible to understand how our hearts can expand. It was difficult for me to understand, too, until it happened to me. The Lord allowed my husband Michael to make his way to heaven sooner than I ever planned and finding love again was never in my plans either, but it was in the Lord’s.
Since that June day, this question has stuck with me. I believe widowhood is a journey God calls us on and I know we are not all called to remarry, but for those of us who are, let me try to explain.
“I don’t like either of them better,” I said, “They are two different people. Just as God loves all of us as His children and how your dad loves you and your brother the same, no more, no less – that is how I feel about your dad and Michael.”
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)
You see, God made us for love, and when our husbands move from this life to heaven, that love never changes or goes away. Our hearts are made bigger, there’s an expansion, just as they would when a family has another child. Their love for their first child is not replaced or diminished when they have the second. The same goes for a remarried widow. Our late husbands and the love we have for them can never be replaced. And because we know that loving and losing is a reality – it takes great strength and courage to allow ourselves to fall in love again. That is where we have to lean on the Lord and follow where He is leading.
Learning to love again can be full of fear and “what ifs” and if God does lead you there, the duality of grief and the love for our late husbands will always stand. But that doesn’t mean our hearts aren’t large enough to love another.
God made us to love, and life can still be beautiful.
Lord, We want to stay close to you, so we know where you are leading. Open our hearts to what you have planned for us. Give us strength and courage for this new life, wherever you call us. Amen.
Jennifer was widowed by suicide in January 2015. She is recently remarried and lives with her husband Keith in north central Texas. She is now the mom and step mom of three sons. When she’s not running after three energetic boys, Jennifer loves running outdoors, enjoying nature. As her grief journey continues, she is sharing her story to help others know that it is only in the Lord that hopeful healing and walking forward are possible.
Want to read another article by Jennifer? I am not Equipped
Want to read another article about love after loss? When Joy and Sorrow Mingle