The trauma my body and mind went through that day is indescribable. I still have aftershocks from that day and the moments leading up to my husband Michael’s death. These aftershocks trigger my mind, making me believe something awful is happening or about to happen. In fact, seeing an ambulance or fire truck parked outside of a home brings extreme stress that, within seconds, can build to anxiety.
The aftermath of death brings so many emotions – anxiety, fear, anger, sorrow, guilt, shock, loneliness – and these feelings can continue thoughout our grief journey. It makes sense that our emotions are so high. The Holmes and Rah Stress Scale rates the loss of a spouse as the number one most stressful life event, not only because you lose your husband, but also because of the numerous secondary losses.
Sadly, you don’t have to tell us. As widows, we know this firsthand. We lost our husband, our best friend, lover, father of our children, confidant, financial advisor, prayer warrior, spiritual leader, our supporter, trash taker outer and partner in this life.
Whether it’s anxiety over the day you lost your husband, the stress of change or having to do everything on your own – raising your children without their father, figuring out finances – or the loss of relationships that were once close, what do we do when these feelings become so overwhelming that they almost paralyze us?
I attended a Suicide Survivors group and also went to counseling for several months following my husband’s death. I truly believe the Lord places people, like counselors, in our lives to help us sort through feelings and emotions. The time I spent in a group and with my counselor also helped me find a way to cope with the anxiety and trauma and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) caused from it. I use these coping skills regularly, but there are times when they don’t seem to fulfill my heart or bring peace and comfort. That’s when I turn to the only ONE who can.
I find that when I try to do things on my own, I can’t seem to fully get past that moment and those feelings. But when I give those feelings to the Lord, I know He can do more than I ever thought possible.
The Lord says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)
When I find myself in a place consumed by darkness and overwhelming circumstances, I pray and look to this verse. I have and continue to find comfort and peace here. Though I know what waits for me after this life, I have always trusted the Lord would bring goodness here on earth, too.
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)
From day one, after my husband passed, I saw this goodness in our son and in the people who surrounded me. God had placed these people in my life, not necessarily for the time I met them, but for that time of need when my world fell apart. And, presently, I am recently remarried and have seen so much goodness that the Lord has provided through my husband Keith.
As we continue to walk this journey of grief, and trauma and anxiety attempt to creep their way back in, let’s remember to pray and give it all to the ONE who knows our heart and our circumstances. Because He is the only one who can heal what is broken.
Lord, Each of us have our own story, but we all have been impacted by the trauma from our husbands’ deaths. Comfort us and remind us of Your eternal perspective. And though, we know eternal life with You awaits, we are confident you have goodness in store for us on earth. I pray you open our hearts and minds to listen to know where You are leading so we can experience Your goodness. 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.
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