even in memories.
This topic is sensitive, especially for a newly grieving widow. It may sting a little to jump right in, but in my experience it can be beneficial to us all, and may bring freedom to some.
Here is the thing –
My husband was not perfect and neither was yours.
By the same token, I was not a perfect wife and neither were you.
Now that we have that out of in the open – we can fight the temptation to replace truth with lies while processing our loss. Believing lies can cause us to swing either direction of two extremes, positively or negatively. We must find the balance of truth.
When grief first paralyzes us, it is not uncommon to only remember good qualities about our beloved. We ponder what he meant to us and what we loved to do together, telling of the good things he did or how devoted he was to his family. Thoughts of how we fell in love with him and the period when we would have jumped through hoops just to belong to him take center stage. Memory says….
My husband could do no wrong.
There is nothing wrong with dwelling on mostly positive memories as we grieve. Affirming words and actions are good — as long as they are true! However, no one is perfect except Jesus Christ. We all sin and we all have flaws. Anytime two humans live together there will be times of conflict. Two people become one, but there are still two brains and two wills involved.
The truth is marriage is hard work between two imperfect people.
Of course, we knew this to be true before death separated us; willingly we still acknowledge our own limitations. Let this be our reminder that even in death it is okay to admit that our husbands were not perfect either.
Honestly, the first time a widow has a negative thought about her husband can be a shock. It may trigger a bout of guilt or anger that is a new experience since his death. It may be helpful to note that anger is a normal part of the grief journey. It is NOT disrespectful to his memory.
In fact, it can be healing to remember your husband EXACTLY as he was, flaws and all. He can be himself in your memory. Both laughter and tears will come as you remember the man he was.
Emotion rides in unannounced over widows – at our circumstances, happy couples, relationships lost, financial woes, anger at God. Suddenly, we may have more anger at our spouse than any other emotion.
Feelings of anger are okay! Dwelling in that anger is unhealthy. Do not allow negative thoughts to determine your whole outlook on life. God is still in control and He is still good!
“…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. ” Philippians 4:8-9 (ESV)
One more thing. Maybe your perfect family was not as great on the inside as people perceived from the outside. Secrets, lies, or abuse may have been part of your world, hidden from view of anyone not in your home. Consequently, you may have negative memories inside but feel you have to portray only positive feelings to all, even family, to protect your husband’s memory or keep from disappointing others. If this is the case, seek counseling. Do not lock negative memories inside to promote a lie. Speaking truth to a trusted counselor can set you free. You do not have to disparage your husband’s memory to the whole world, but your healing is a priority.
Father, help us embrace truthful memories of our husbands. It is not easy to want to remember the hard times but it gives us a more beautiful picture of how You take two sinners and make them unified as one in marriage. We acknowledge that in the good, the bad, and even in our loss, You never leave us. Amen.
Terri Oxner Sharp is a wife, mother, grandmother, homeschool teacher, and a writer for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. Her first husband passed away suddenly in 2012. She gives God all the glory for how He has grown her spiritually on her widow journey, in preparation for her new journey into a blended family. Terri and her second husband live in Arkansas with the final child still living at home from their combined family of seven children, two son-in-loves, and two grandsons. She loves to be with people who love to laugh, enjoys spending time with their grandchildren, who know her as “GiGi”, and feels called to minister to other women who find themselves bewildered to be on a widow’s path as well.
If you are interested in having Terri or any of our writing team speak, please contact us via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.