Grief is a Fickle Friend

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

It happened again, on a Tuesday, about a week ago. I was driving to work, dressed and ready, makeup on, prepared to conquer the day. Being a freelance writer, I usually only go into the office on Tuesdays. I was stopped at a red light, and my late husband Michael’s favorite song played on the radio – Whom Shall I Fear by Chris Tomlin.

The first several months after his death, I would break down every time I heard the song. Now, usually, I can listen to it with a thankful heart. But that day, that Tuesday, it hit me – the extreme wave of grief – catching me off guard.

I sat at the light, tears pouring down, trying to pull myself together. I was just five minutes away from the office. “Of all days,” I thought, “I do not want to be late, and I can’t go in there in tears. It’s been more than two-and-a-half years. I can’t be this upset; no one will understand.”

But the truth is, we can be. Grief is a fickle friend and doesn’t just go away when we hit the one-year mark, or two-year or 10-year marks. We never “get over it.” Grief shows up whenever she feels like it – at work, with a client, the grocery store,  your child’s sporting event and so on. And, whether it’s been five weeks or five years since the loss of your beloved, it still happens, and that is our reality.

Though this journey is long and treacherous, with unexpected twists and turns, with the Lord’s’ strength and comfort, it gets better, and joy can still be found. The grief and sadness we have from the loss of our husbands will never go away, but that all-consuming sorrow will, if we let Jesus in.



“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.” Psalm 30:11-12 (NKJV)

Today, though I miss Michael every day, that all-consuming, paralyzing grief comes on days and moments that are fewer and farther between. And when they do come, I know that the Lord will be there, arms wide open, to comfort, and give peace and strength. He is the reason I’ve come this far, and though circumstances can be difficult to understand, I KNOW He will uphold me and never let me down.

The Lord never promised a life without pain, but He did promise to be by our side every step of the way.

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2 (NLV)

Lord, Remind us to rely on your strength, not our own. It is the only way we can step forward in this life ‘after’. Guide us through the valleys, and help us be at peace when joy comes our way. Thank you for your faithfulness through it all. 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.

Another article by Jennifer: When the Days Pile Up

An article with a similar theme: Unexpected Moments

 

Blocking Out the Sun/Son

Take a second right now and go look out your window. Is the sun shining?

If the sun is shining, grab a quarter from between your sofa cushions and hold it up to your eye.

Where did the sun go? The enormous blazing fire-ball was blocked by a tiny coin!

 

Sometimes in my life I look at my problems like quarters. These are the problems that seem so much larger since becoming a widow. Maybe widowhood magnifies certain things in my life. They block my view of God’s Son–I can’t praise Him or pray or spend any time in reading Scripture because my problems seem so large. I sit in worship service, distracted by the issues affecting my emotions. Life loses any enjoyment because my brain is wrapped up in my problems. 

Those unmet financial obligations …

A grown child running away from God…

Inabililty to sleep soundly…

Loneliness, even while surrounded by people…

Unending sadness and grief …

Overwhelming care for ailing parents …

 

Each of these can be like a quarter we hold up to block the sun.

Reality is, though, that the quarter doesn’t really block the sun from shining.

It is just a matter of perspective.

Perspective…

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us

an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison

2 Corinthians 4:17 ESV

I do not like the eternal perspective of “light momentary affliction” sometimes. Especially when I am in the middle of one of those “afflictions”. My perspective is that it is completely clouding out my view of Christ. It blocks my praise. It prevents me from laying my burdens at His throne. Do you ever feel this way?

So now that we have established that we can block the Son with our afflictions, what can we do to remove the blocks? I know it isn’t as easy as taking the quarter away from our eyes, so let’s dig into some Scripture verses and see what He says.

Psalm 42.  This Psalm is like a page out of the psalmist’s journal. The author asks questions I am very familiar with. Click on the link if you have a few minutes to read the entire Psalm, Here are some of the questions he asked:

  • Why am I downcast? 
  • Why have You forgotten me?  
  • Why is my soul disturbed within me?

The Psalmist is holding up a quarter in front of his eye and saying, “I can’t see You, God! You must not be there!” But as he dialogues with himself, he lands on this phrase and repeats it several times in this chapter and the next:

Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him. (Psalm 42:5 niv) 

Is that the same place I land when I remove the blinders? In the middle of my grief or my afflictions, can I stand there and solidly declare, “My hope is in God. I WILL praise Him!”

As we put these two different passages together, one from the Old and one from the New Testament, we can see how the struggles we have here on earth can definitely block our view of eternity. We need to remove the blinders and say with the Psalmist, “My hope is in You.”

Would you repeat that with me right now – maybe even out loud –

MY HOPE IS IN YOU.

Lord God,  my problems so easily block my view of You. Help me to declare my hope in You and take the blinders from my eyes. I want to see my afflictions from an eternal perspective today. Amen

 

Practical suggestions:

  1. Get a 3×5 index card, tape a quarter on it, write “my afflictions can block the Son” –carry it in your purse or tape it to your bathroom mirror
  2. Choose a verse from Psalm 42 to memorize – write it on a post-it note, stick it on your steering wheel or other place your see often
  3. Get on a Bible website (Biblegateway or YouVersion or others) and look up the word HOPE. Jot down in your journal some of the verses and review them often. 
  4. Don’t feel any shame in seeing a Biblical counselor who can help you talk through your “afflictions”.
  5. Start keeping a journal – write down prayers, thoughts, concerns, requests, verses, and anything else you want.

 

 


 

 

Elizabeth kay Dyer, Elizabeth Sleeper Dyer, Dyer, Sleeper

Elizabeth Dyer lives in Oklahoma with her six children named after Bible characters, a large dog named after a grandfather, and a noisy cat named after a German race car driver!  Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and is learning she only THOUGHT she knew what trusting God was–widowhood has taken that “faith walk” to a whole new level for her. Psalm 94:19 has become a special verse for her family – “Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our team at A Widow’s Might would love to send a speaker to your next event. Email us at admin@anewseason.net to get information about our speakers.

Do you want to read more articles by Elizabeth? Read them here. 

Here is an article by Lori about HOPE.

Liz Anne wrote a great article about Psalm 42 here.

 

 

The Valley of the Shadow

 

 

The valley of the shadow…

What is it?

I used to believe it referred to fear of facing terminal illness, or fearing death itself. And it still might mean that to some. But I now realize it can also mean walking through the shadow of death as one left behind.

How to describe walking through this valley?

Feeling dazed and confused. Navigating a deep, dark, winding pathway with no guardrails in sight.

Fear!

Understandably, my husband’s unexpected death shook me to my core. In that moment nothing felt safe or secure. Our family as we knew it was gone forever, yet I was supposed to carry on as head of our home; to lead our children without him.

For the first time in life, I feared the future.

Initially, fear coursed through my veins. Listening to the frightened child within that wanted to curl up and shut out the world would have been easy. But faith in God and the example of other believers would not let me dwell in that world of fear.

My grandmother, twice widowed, gave me hope to find happiness after loss. And I remembered the faithful example of my great-aunt, widowed through tragedy; she was the one who helped me and countless others memorize Psalm 23 at her private kindergarten.

David gave us words to live by in that Psalm, where he reminded himself to rest in God no matter what his circumstance.

 

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 (ESV)

 

David did not get a free pass to go around the valley. He had to walk through it. So did my grandmother and my great-aunt. Now it was my turn. Believers called to walk through the valley will have access to God’s rod and staff to receive comfort. Clinging to that allowed me to rise above the fear that threatened to overtake my mind.

Over five years have passed since I began my personal journey through the valley. Many life events have taken place.

I have successfully homeschooled and graduated four of our five children, bought and sold homes, and made financial decisions alone. I have married again to a wonderful man and blended our families.

God has helped me overcome fear of the unknown and of failure.

Yet fear still tries to raise its ugly head in unexpected ways sometimes.

I attribute that to the valley of the shadow of death, and as a result I am not sure it will ever go completely away. Mostly, it arises now when I hear of someone else facing trauma or loss. Because I know the pain and the fear they are facing, I feel panic begin. It is a sympathetic response on my part. I don’t want anyone to suffer that pain and fear.

Honestly, sometimes it also still shows up when I feel out of control in my own life. I quickly take myself back to Scripture that comforted me before, not just one verse, but the whole chapter of Psalm 23.

And as promised, He restores my soul.

 

Father, the valley of the shadow of death is not an easy place to be. Naturally, we want to remain on the mountaintop instead, although we know that is not possible. We know You are with us on our journey and Your rod and staff do comfort us. Please help us to cling to Your word for the restoration of our weary souls, and allow us to dwell in Your house forever. 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: admin@anewseason.net.

Articles with a similar theme:  I Cry Out

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What Shall We Do?

Teacher, what shall we do?”- Luke 3:12 (ESV)

What a great question! Countless times I have asked this very same question.

While my husband was alive, he and I made up a happy we. I know I have changed since my beloved died, and I wistfully recall the pre-widow me. Although fundamentally me, I am not the same. Some changes are probably permanent and others temporary, but during the waves of grief I now realize God was teaching me and answering that question.

Here are some examples.

  • I treasure those I love more than ever.
  • I see how fragile life is and how it can change in a heartbeat.
  • I appreciate the eternal destination we have in Christ more than ever!.
  • While I’m likely to isolate when my pain is high, I’ve learned to balance staying connected with others.
  • I have felt the cradling of prayers and want others to experience this.
  • I relate to God’s desire to have a relationship with us, because relational separation is painful and eternal separation I cannot conceive.
  • I have seen great kindnesses and support from my Christian community and felt God’s love through them.
  • Widow’s brain has required I extend grace to myself,  which I extend also to those lost to know what to say or not say.
  • I am less light-hearted but more tender-hearted.
  • I protect my emotional reserves before it vaporizes.
  • I have also known joy and learned new skills, and slayed giants as a widow. God has made new things possible I could not have imagined.
  • Most assuredly, I know God as my Rock. More than ever.

Perhaps some of these points have struck a chord with you. What would be on your list?

The impact of the death of a spouse cannot help but to change us. Even so, with God on our side, He adds new facets to our understanding as He gently guides us. Most of the points I list were taught without even registering at the time.  Yet, God knew the question, “What do I do God?” has been a constant refrain in my heart, even when my mind was in a widow’s fog. My tears were prayers and so are yours.

We have an amazingly good God, who is more perfectly diligent in attention for our best than we know how to be.

Please join me in prayer to Him now:

Precious God of the Universe, Our Creator, Our Savior, Our Lord, thank You that we are eternally Your’s through Christ. Thank you for every facet you add to us as you so lovingly guide and instruct us, especially at times of great sorrow and pain. Thank You forever, dear Jesus! Amen.

 


 

Janene @ Myrtle Beach

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.

One Promise From Scripture

One promise from Scripture, found in Isaiah 54:4-8.

 

 

Three widows, encouraged by the promise of the One.

 

Only six months after my husband’s death I learned that a former classmate’s daughter lost her husband of three months. She asked if I would meet with her daughter to counsel her; so I agreed. Because I had been in her situation, I was anxious to comfort rather than cause her more distress. God’s words would comfort better than my words.

First, as I drove to meet them that Saturday afternoon I prayed the Lord would give me just the right words to say and the right time to say them.

Second, I prayed she would both receive and retain whatever He chose to have me say.

Because we lived an hour apart, we met outside of Starbucks in a town between our homes. Sadly, I recognized the dazed look in her young eyes; I saw the same hollowness when I looked in the mirror the day my husband died.

Although fragile, the new widow recounted the story of her husband’s death. Rather than ask questions, I listened. She asked how she was supposed to go on with life?

Once again I prayed for help. Suddenly, the words I had been waiting for became clear to me.

“Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth He is called.” Isaiah 54:4-5 (ESV)

Tenderly I reminded her that though she lost her earthly husband, there could be no greater Husband and Provider than the One who gave her life. Confidently I promised her He would be faithful and never leave her. Finally, I hugged her and also promised to continue to pray for her.

The young widow was encouraged by this promise from God.

 

After church the following day I drove to a beautiful mountaintop wedding. The bride was the daughter of a dear friend whose husband died the year before mine.

Because it was the first wedding I attended where the father was deceased and therefore not present to give the bride away, I visualized that same future for my two unmarried daughters. I was understandably emotional. While I allowed myself a moment to experience pre-grieving of events that were not even on our calendar, I also recognized the need to focus on the present event. I needed to pray for my friend as she watched her daughter walk alone to meet her groom.

Before the wedding began, my former classmate called. Excitedly she gave confirmation to the Scripture I shared with her daughter the day before. She shared that when they arrived at church that morning their pastor announced that he would be preaching from Isaiah 54.

Her daughter leaned over and whispered to her, “Your friend was telling the truth. God will be my Husband and my Provider.

Hearing words of confirmation encouraged my heart.

 

The wedding was beautiful, yet so hard to watch as the bride walked toward her husband without her father. During the reception I shared with her mother the events of the day before and the confirmation phone call.

Consequently, the mother of the bride was comforted and encouraged to hear that Scripture as well.

 

 

God’s Word does not return void.

I could not help but praise God for His timing and His care to put that particular passage on my heart as I talked with the young widow. As a result, one promise from Scripture had now blessed three of us.

Even saying the word “widow” was hard for me in the first days after it became my reality.

But the more I studied God’s Word the more I realized that to Him, a widow holds a special place of tenderness and concern. Therefore, I learned to lean into His care! Now I embrace the word for what it embodies about God’s character.

Widows are a priority with God!

Due to your circumstances, perhaps you are struggling to believe that you matter to Him.

Never doubt that He will be your Husband and Provider. In the same way, remember He keeps His promises!

 

Father, widowhood can be scary and lonely. There are decisions to be made and work to be done and sometimes it seems that no one cares. Thank You for reminding us through Your Holy Word that You are our Husband and Provider. And no one could care for us more than You do. Help us remember that and to cling to your promise. 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: admin@anewseason.net.

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Repurposed

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,

plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

I love fresh cut flowers. I love the fragrance they emit and the burst of color they add to a room. Home grown or store bought, I can always find a special arrangement to display in my favorite vase.

Last week, my favorite vase was damaged. I saw the vase wobble as my dog bumped the table it was on. Wobble. Wobble. Crash. It hit the floor before I could reach out and grab the prized possession. I was devastated. It was a self crafted gift from my daughter. Irreplaceable. It had held many bouquets of beautiful floral arrangements. Now cracked in several places, I knew it would no longer hold fresh flowers again.

I collected the pieces and made my way to the trash can. Saddened by the thought of discarding the favored vase, I began to put the pieces back together and became excited to see the vase take shape and quickly grabbed the super glue. I was able to put it back together. And if I turned it just right, you could not even see the glued edges. A big bow camouflaged the cracked neck and it was almost as good as new. And while I knew it would never be able to hold fresh flowers and water, I saw it’s new worth in holding a silk arrangement of flowers. My favorite vase had a new purpose!

Isn’t that how our journey is on this road of widowhood? I know for me, it has caused me to question every aspect of what is around the next corner. After thirty years of being “Jeff and Bonnie”, I don’t know how to be “just Bonnie” any more.

I have struggled with finding what God’s purpose is for me now? Alone, I feel inadequate and scared. I have questioned if my life still has purpose. And if so, what is that purpose. This is certainly not what “I” had planned for my life. I had invested and built a life shared with my husband and we joyfully sought areas we could serve God together. Not alone. I certainly did not plan for alone. Fear, incompetence and unqualified flooded my thoughts and caused me to ask if there was still a purpose for my life?

Satan wants us to believe not. No way.

BUT, God says, ABSOLUTELY.

Although, I can no longer serve with my husband, I can still serve. Just as my broken vase had found a new purpose, I, too can find a new purpose. Prayer and meditating on God’s words can give us the direction we need as we seek where God can use us. It is no surprise to God that I am on this path and this journey of widowhood alone, can open many doors to glorify God, in testimony to His faithfulness in our walk.

I encourage you to take time to grieve. It is a necessary step in your personal growth. This time frame is different for each of us. Just remember to allow God to permeate your soul with His love. Bask in His word and as you feel comfortable, surround yourself with other Christians. As you move toward a place of healing, He will reveal ways for you to serve. And these areas are not always big and bold. I have often discovered that I have encouraged or comforted someone just by my quiet actions and confidence in Christ.

I was eighteen months out when I discovered this ministry. I remember sitting in my bedroom in the wee areas of a winter morning, weeping as I read the writings of Christian women who were walking this same path. I had felt so alone and did not know how to express the inadequacies I was feeling. Not only did their personal stories speak to me, but, they encouraged me to seek areas where I could serve. What a blessing to hear stories from so many of the readers of how and where they are serving God.

It is through serving others that the emphasis of “I” disappears. Yes. I did not plan for alone. But, I will continue to lean on God and seek ways I can serve, encourage and help others. I am praying for each of you as you move forward. I pray God heals, comforts and leads you to the abundant life He still has in place for each of us.

Father, please allow our hearts to come to a place of healing. May each lady reading this discover a new purpose in her walk to serve You. I pray they can see the beauty in the brokenness. Amen


Bonnie is a mother of two awesome daughters who bless her life every day. When she’s not enjoying long walks along the Florida coastline, she is flying through the skies as a flight attendant. Life took a radical change in the spring of 2009 when her husband was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. The walk through that journey was the hardest she had ever walked. How did she make it through? And how is she surviving? The answer is simple. Jesus. His love. His mercy. His grace. He carried her when she was at her lowest.  And Bonnie carried Him in her heart even when she did not understand. He has been faithful in His promises – “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.” (Psalm 68:5) Bonnie has been called by God to share her story through writing and speaking.

To book a speaker email us at admin@anewseason.net

For more articles by Bonnie, click here

Read more about finding God’s purpose for you by Teri and Sheryl.

Always of Good Courage – Day 1,826


Always of good courage

1,826 days since my husband took his final breath.

 

Please indulge me as I take time to ponder. How would he see us on this five year anniversary?

There are certain things I know without a doubt. You may recognize some of them in your own circumstance.

He would be:

SURPRISED how much has changed in the world since he was alive, even small things like changes to our city roadways.

I had one of those irrational moments that makes sense only to those who experience grief. One day as I viewed massive changes to the interstate close to our home I began to panic. I worried he wouldn’t recognize how to get home. I then remembered he would never need that information again.

 

PROUD of the accomplishments of our children.

His coworkers mentioned repeatedly during visitation how often he talked about his family. They spoke of how he hurried to get back home to us when he traveled. One sorrow that never fades is that he cannot be physically present for milestones with our children now. However, they can be assured he would be bursting with pride and giving big hugs if he could be there.

 

THRILLED to know his grandson and future grandchildren!

He looked forward to spoiling grands. Though none of them will ever meet him here on earth they will still know who he was and what he loved. Papa G is present in photos and videos. He is mentioned often with love and laughter — he will not be forgotten.

 

PLEASED that I have been always of good courage from the day of his death to the present, have walked by faith, drawn strength from God’s word, and encouraged other widows to do the same.

He loved to serve. He supported anything I pursued, and it made him happy when we helped others. During our last prayer together, he asked God,  “Please shine Your light through my family and through me”. God has done that abundantly and the prayer continues to be answered.

 

HAPPY to know God provided a wonderful man to be my new husband.

Before his first military deployment we argued. He had the nerve to suggest that he would want me to marry again if he died. I adamantly stated it was NOT going to happen! He gently took my face, looked me in the eyes, and said, “You have too much love to give to be alone for the rest of your life. I would want you to remarry.”

I don’t think either of us believed it would become a reality; even twenty years later I did not. I had no intention of obeying his wishes when I found myself alone. But God’s timing is perfect and after almost three years as a widow, He opened my heart to the possibility of new love, then brought an incredible man into my life in a way that was clearly from Him. My first husband got his wish.

 

CONTENT to be exactly where he is right now.

 

Without a doubt,

nothing would entice him to return to this life.

 

He has been in the presence of the Lord every day for the past 1,826 days.

Why would he want to be anywhere else?

 

The Apostle Paul says,

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (ESV)

 

Lord, while we remain here please help us to walk by faith and not by sight. We want to be always of good courage as we rely on Your direction in our daily lives, through Your word and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Please make us to continue to shine as a reflection of Your love. 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: admin@anewseason.net.

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God Writes My Story

“So how did your husband die?”

This question can be a real conversation stopper for some widows.

I have been learning this lesson for the past five years. The final moments of one chapter of my story and the beginning of the next have changed my perspective dramatically. Only God really knows our whole story, and sometimes it is complicated.

“I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.'” Isaiah 46:9b-10a (ESV)

My husband’s death certificate states cause of death as suicide, although the circumstances surrounding his death were so different than what people expected to hear. I answered honestly when people asked what happened, so it hurt when false assumptions were shared about how and why he died. It did not change the truth, but it hurt because some did not seek the truth before they spoke to others.

They did not know that:

  • due to insomnia he was on a prescription sleep medication that began to alter his personality for thirteen days before he died. Our family witnessed his strange behavior but we all, including him, linked it to his lack of sleep.
  • he called me for help that April morning, panicked and confused in his hotel room when he realized he had wounded himself in his drug-induced haze.
  • we had eleven precious minutes on the phone to say “I love you”: I promised to get help to him as quickly as I could and he, struggling to breathe,  whispered repeatedly how much he loved me
  • as I begged him to hold on, I could hear the paramedics yelling as they broke in the hotel room door. They closed his phone as he said the last “I love you” I would ever hear from him, then they worked unsuccessfully to save his life. At that moment, God wrote the final word in my husband’s story.

As I received the news of his death rather than expected news about his hospital transport, God began the new “Widow” chapter of my life by giving me “the peace that surpasses all understanding”. Although there were times when I had to push back against fear of the unknown, there was never a time when I doubted that God was still writing my own story. He taught me to rejoice in suffering, and He taught me to trust Him with the future.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV)

There are still things people do not know about my husband’s story. None of these things change who he was, the life he lived, or how he impacted my life for good. He was a sinner saved by grace just as I am, and I will see him again one day.

This experience changed me and showed me my own limited view of life –now I try not to assume anything about a person’s story; each one is unique. Only God knows how any life plays out from beginning to end. He always knows what is for our good and for His glory, even if we cannot see it at the time. In our family we have heard some of the good that has come from my husband’s death. Many people have said their faith was strengthened and at least one person chose not to end her own life because of our testimony; my husband’s death was not in vain. 

Hebrews 12:2 tells us to look to Jesus because He is the author and finisher of our faith. I know He can be trusted to write the end of my story as well.

Father, please help us to give grace to others who don’t seem to understand the daily struggles we experience, and help us not to make assumptions because we do not know what others are going through. Please give us daily peace and faith to trust that You alone are the Author and Finisher of our faith and to trust You to write our whole story. In Jesus’ name we pray. 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: admin@anewseason.net.

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