Have you had your cup of hope today? Meeting a friend for tea or coffee warms the heart and makes life’s burdens easier to bear. In the same way, reading comforting words and hearing about the experiences of others can help us heal after loss. Excerpts coming up in this series are from a longer eBook I wrote several years ago. I wrote these “cups” in this format because I can’t really sit with you in your kitchen as you tell me about your loved one and how you’re feeling today, but I don’t want you to remain stuck in grief or to just try to keep your life afloat. Surviving can be much more than that. I’m asking you to trust that healing is possible, the same way I had to as God took me through the “valley of the shadow of death,” on my way from the miracle of the old life to the miraculous vision of the new. In Cups of Hope, you will read about traveling through grief and receive compassionate understanding about what you are going through.
“How do you survive after losing someone you love?”
“Where is God before, during, and after?”
These and more questions I try to answer every day through my writing and my volunteer work. When God led me through the aftermath of my precious husband’s suicide, I had no idea I would end up writing about grief and healing for other people. I wasn’t really thinking about God much at all. I had entered the valley of the shadow of death … and I felt very much alone.
Ron loved me, our family, other people, even strangers. He laughed a lot. His sense of humor could make everything all right. He invented and built things. He respected others. He knew a lot about a great many topics. He was gentle and kind. He worked hard. He enjoyed simple things. He wanted us to have a good life and be protected. He was human. And he trusted God.
But everything was suddenly different for me. I wondered, how could I go on?
God had been real for me since childhood. I watched my earthly father comfort the bereaved. I followed him down rows of mourners. He shook each hand; I did the same. Though he was a minister for over fifty years, he never made me feel I had to follow in the family business – God’s family business. Along the way, many things happened to show me that God was real.
God loves. He loves me, my family, all people. His sense of humor can make everything all right. He invents things. He respects others. He is gentle and kind. He enjoys simple things. He wants us to have a good life and be protected. He sent his fully divine and fully human Son, Jesus Christ, into a broken world to die for us, for me … for you.
The world is still broken. But I’ve met many of God’s other children and seen his image in the human heart, in the hearts of believers and nonbelievers. I’ve spent a lifetime breathing in the fullness of His earth and returning there for healing. I’ve questioned. I’ve feared. I’ve lost my faith and found it again, so I know both are possible.
How could God not be a part of everything in my life … even great loss? My husband knew Him on a personal basis, too. God created both of us. He led us to each other. He midwifed the birth of our family. I believed on that last day that the God who brought us together would not really let one of us be taken from the other. Looking back now, I feel that God closed my eyes to some of the realities. Had He not, I would have died, too.
I met Ron when I was twenty-one and, for the next thirty-three years, he was my world, the father of my children and my soulmate, and when he left, my universe was altered on a molecular level. I existed but little more. And I found such darkness. There I would dwell for quite a while though you might not have known – unless you looked closely – because I went back to my job as a newspaper reporter only eight days afterward.
I wandered, crying as I drove to and from work and assignments, drying my eyes to go into the office and to do interviews and take pictures. I recorded the lives of others even as my own was ending. I am a person well suited to being alone, but this was something very different. I felt as if the planet had shifted, and I had been shifted, too.
I learned traveling through the Garden of Grief is a long journey but one that has many blessings. Now, I write about the bits of light and hope that eventually brought me back into life … and the gifts my husband gave me through his life. I write about the healing I experienced and the miraculous way it happened and continues to grow.
Strength. Wisdom. Compassion. Appreciation and respect for all. Those are some of the gifts that turned my life’s greatest tragedy into something powerful and good.
God did this. And he did it at a time when I thought he had forgotten me.