Monday, November 5, 2012

Myra's Story, part 2

Today we continue the re-post of our interview from last Wednesday with Myra. Her husband died of a massive heart attack in 1994, leaving her with their 5 and 10 year old daughters on Christmas morning. If you didn't get to read it yet, scroll down to Wednesday, Oct. 31 post. You won't want to miss the great advice Myra has about dealing with Christmas and early grief.

Ferree: Hi Myra, we're back! I'm sure everyone has been looking forward to this second half of our interview. You're going on 18 years as a widow, and there's so much we can learn from you. Would you please talk a little bit about how knowing Christ has helped bring you through this?

Myra: I can't imagine how a non-Christian can make it through any of life's major tragedies. I knew God was right there with me from the first moments of my husband's heart attack. I was panicked, yes, but I had my full wits about me. Once the EMTs got there I went outside to the front steps to pray. I was completely alone as it was 3:00 a.m.; and since the emergency vehicles did not use their sirens so they wouldn't wake the whole neighborhood, the night was quiet. At that point, I already knew that the situation was dire and that if the EMTs were successful in resuscitating him, he would have some brain damage. I prayed more earnestly than I had ever prayed before that if that was his fate, he would rather not live. A calm like a blanket settled on my shoulders and a voice spoke as if it was standing behind me, "It's going to be alright."
That moment carried me through the next days, weeks and still carries me now, years later. My faith has grown astronomically. I used to worry about every small part of my day and my life. Sure, I still have concerns, but I hand them over to God in prayer and I think of that small sparrow that Christ spoke of in his parable.

Ferree: I think that little sparrow has preached many a sermon from his perch in Matt. 10:31--Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. God speaks to us so tenderly. Myra, what's the best thing you learned about the Lord through this experience?

Myra: I could see that things that happened in the years leading up to that night were all part of a preparation of sorts for raising my family alone. For example, when my oldest daughter was a one-year- old, I lost my job as a product manager for a major apparel manufacturer. I loved that job; it was the job I had gone to college for. I felt so fortunate to have gotten it right out of college. But if I had remained in that job, I could have never gone to part time hours when my husband died so that I could be home with my children more. There are other things over the years that happened that taught me to be a decision-maker and self-dependent. God has a plan for each of us and sometimes it is years or perhaps only once we join Him in heaven, before we see the path that He was leading us down.
I can't say that I have been the ideal Christian even after all the wonderful things He has done for me; I have detoured off the path several times and I am sure that I will again. But He continues to bless me and forgive me. He has also put some wonderful Christian friends in my life since then, that had I not lost my husband, I would have never met.

What's the most surprising thing about widowhood you've discovered?
The most surprising thing that I have learned about widowhood is that it is not the end of my life. For the widow with God at her side, the loss of a spouse is the ending of one chapter in their "book", but it is the beginning of the next chapter. Each chapter is unique and each can be as rewarding and exciting as the one before it; it is just different.

What encouragement can you give a woman who is in the early raw pain of loss?
Take your time. In dealing with the pain, take your time. In dealing with the physical issues of your home, the closet, your job, your children, your location, take your time. Loved ones will want to help you get over it. You don't get over it. You learn to deal with it. It takes time. Don't rush to clean out the closet, sell your house, or move closer to your kids or your parents. Decisions made in a rush are seldom the right ones.
I read an article about a Holmes &Rahe Social Readjustment Rating Scale. This "test" measures stress by assigning scores to various stressful events in a normal person's life. You review the list and select each event that has occurred in your life in the past 12 months. If your total score goes above 100, you're considered in a high risk situation. If the score is too excessive you may become at risk for anxiety, nervous breakdown, depression, etc. Consider this: the loss of a spouse alone was the number one stress marker. Throw in the sale of a house, or a job change and you are WAY over the preferred stress level. Even positive changes can add to the stress level.
Another piece of advice I would give is learn to accept help. This sounds easy, but our society is bent towards doing it yourself. Also learn to ask for help. The church is the logical place to do this. Talk to your pastor or someone you trust in the church. They may not be able to help you with your problem, but they will know someone who can. Most of your friends are ready to help; they probably want to do something for you, but they just don't know what to do. And remember, some day, not tomorrow maybe, you will be in the position to help them with something else.

Is there anything else you'd like to share, Myra?
The same year that my husband passed away, The Lion King came out in theatres. There was some controversy about the intensity of the scenes where Simba's father talks about the ancestors living in the stars and then the death scene where his father dies. Many parents felt this was too intense for the younger set. I thought that the whole concept was over the head of my five-year-old.
Several weeks later, shortly after their daddy's funeral, my daughters and I were going to town one night to run errands. Sara, my youngest, looked out the window of the car and said, "Momma, do you think Daddy is up there in the stars?" Well, you know tears welled up in my eyes, but she knew. She understood. He is still with us.

Ferree: Myra, thank you so much for sharing with us. I know it's not been easy; you told me that while you've told individuals bits and pieces of your story, you've never really talked about some of these things to a lot of people all at once. Please know that everyone reading this values, respects and understands the price you've paid. May God richly recompense you and you daughters, and may His grace continue to flow through your lives. I'm sure you've helped many women in many ways through the wisdom you've shared today.

If you have questions or comments for Myra, please feel free to click the comment line or email me. If you like this interview format and would like to hear from more widows, please let me know. Thanks, and I hope today is a little brighter for you. God bless you. ferree

On Saturday--yes, this Saturday-- I'll be meeting Myra and some other WCP friends in Charlotte, NC for lunch. Please email me if you'd like to join us.


  1. Thanks to Myra for openly sharing this life changing event. I still struggle to deal with raw emotions. It is coming up to the two year mark on Saturday,the 10th.

  2. Thank you, Myra, for sharing your story and your encouraging comments!

  3. To Myra
    What you said that widowhood is not the end of your life. I completely agree with this. I lost my husband in 2010. It was hard for me to realize that my husband will onlybe a part of my story as well.
    Thank you for sharing your story!


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