John 11:35 (ESV)
Park benches make me sad—not burst-into-tears sad, but let me explain.
My husband and I enjoyed travel, visiting parks, and historic places where we stopped to enjoy the view on a strategically placed bench. I cherish those times. However, when I see a park bench now, and think of using it, it is all wrong. My husband should be next to me. Sitting alone, without his company and conversation—it is just wrong. I acknowledge park benches are an unusual trigger, but it reminds me afresh of what we had. I miss him.
We all have unique grief triggers and it’s no wonder.
Our husbands were part of our daily lives and remain part of our hearts. Our memories captured so many details about them; were it all to appear on a screen we’d undoubtedly be amazed. The vast reservoir of knowing and loving our husbands explains why we have triggers. Many things can strike a grief chord suddenly. A song he liked can evoke tears. A food item at the grocery store can require a dash for the door to avoid sobbing in the aisle. I’m sure you have examples too. These experiences are normal.
A grief trigger occurs when a powerful reminder arises of what made my husband so special. Love and grief overflow from there.
I wonder how many of us apologize if we burst into tears? It’s uncomfortable when I dissolve in sudden tears. I’m sure none of us want others to feel awkward either, but we have a good reason to cry and no apology is needed. Caring people often feel helpless when my tears erupt, but instead of apologizing, surely there is something better I could say?
One dear friend apologized for saying something that brought tears. I responded, “The tears are always there and ready to come out. Please don’t worry.” I could also have thanked her for being a safe person with whom I could cry. There are no magic words. The gift of being a loving presence is huge.
It isn’t easy to walk beside a widow in the first adjustment period of amputation from her husband. Not everyone can handle it. However, they may be praying, just not know what to say, or be afraid of saying the wrong thing. No one wants to cause more pain to one of us.
I am grateful it is knowing and loving my husband behind my grief triggers. I am grateful that even if no one else understands the association which triggered my grief reaction, God who was there understands. It is an opportunity to talk to Him about it and send my love heavenward.
Christ wept with Mary and Martha over Lazarus’ death but later called Lazarus forth from the grave. Christ demonstrated Romans 12:15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (ESV) We are here for one another for this reason, and we honor God and one another through it.
Lord, thank You for our memories and love for our husbands, even as evidenced by our grief triggers. We know as we cherish them in our hearts, You cherish each of us and bridge the divide we feel. We love You, Lord! In Jesus Name. Amen.
Janene lives in the Dallas area, surrounded by her children, their sweethearts, two grandchildren, and a host of wonderful friends. Janene married her beloved Frank in 1972 and enjoyed 40 precious years with him. Four months after celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, Frank lost his rigorous battle against bladder cancer. Frank left a void so vast, it was like a black hole which threatened to swallow Janene whole. However, God’s faithfulness has been exceptional. As a retired minister at a local church, she spends her time painting, mentoring, serving in Stephen Ministry leadership, and seeks to trust Christ in this new season of life.