Monday, September 22, 2014

Christian Widow: Is The 2nd Year Really Harder?

Autumn begins tomorrow, and with it comes the first anniversary of widowhood for many readers. It's a common rumor that "the second year is worse," and some have already alluded to dreading their second year because of this rumor. Of course if you do a google search about the second year, there's plenty of evidence to support the 2nd year slump. I wouldn't recommend anyone actually do that---Why? Because I already did, and I can tell you it's very depressing and discouraging to read it all!
 
I'm not going to tell you the second year is easier than the first; each individual's grief is unique--you can't score it on a scale of easy to hard. But I can tell you it's like apples to oranges-- the years are very different.
And I can tell you that with Christ, you do not have to dread the second year. Respect the challenges it presents, but remember you do not have to grieve as those who have no hope. You have the freedom to make the choice to draw on God's strength, to claim his promises, his providence, and his peace. You are still standing, breathing, walking, talking--and as long as there's breath in you, God will bring beauty from these ashes.
 
The first year we intently focus on getting through the year. It's the first of everything: the first birthday without him, the first anniversary, the first time making these huge decisions without him, the first time getting an oil change, plunging the toilet, mowing the lawn or caulking the bathtub. And the emotions! They are a wild ride! You find yourself crying in the grocery store, crying over the news or a commercial on tv, or crying because we've been surprised by the relief from a ray of kindness or a good laugh. Not the dainty, tissue-dabbing sniffles, but heaving, soul scorching cries that exhaust and extinguish the brain; they catch, clutch and scare us.
 
We work really hard at getting through the first year, as if that twelve month mark is a big finish line.
 
Thus the reason for the rumor. We get to that one year anniversary; we look up from the path we've pounded on so hard, we expect see a finish line. But instead the road stretches out empty and long before us ---that's hard! We thought we were at the finish line; we've exhausted and depleted our reserves, and now there's another twelve months to go!
 
  
Let me give you the heads up: pace yourself. You won't be in this race against grief forever. You need not pressure yourself to get over it, nor do you need to guilt yourself into grieving more. Knowing Christ gives you that freedom!

There are some othe reasons why the second year gets tagged with the harder label:
  • emotional support from friends around you might drop--they still love you but they don't know what to do now.
  • And you are changing. You've probably accomplished much of your actual grief work but now other realities clamor to be dealt with--loneliness, income, chores, health, and the variety of challenges that come with various seasons of life.
For now though, let's talk about heading into the second year. What do you expect? As you look at your calendar, what sort of plans are you making? Will you try anything new? Are there particular issues and challenges that will stretch your faith and make your seek the Lord?
 
If you've turned the corner on your second year, was it as you expected? Are there issues you'd tell others to watch out for?
 
We're all in this together, so draw strength and wisdom from one another and the lessons learned. And as I've already said--you won't be here forever (unless you choose too). Next year at this time some of you will be starting new careers, schooling, or relocating. Some of you will be married! Some will be new grandmothers. Others will find a new and vibrant level of relationship with God. For He does have plans for you--for each one of you! Plans for your good, to give you hope. And joy. Don't forget that, and you can look forward to these next twelve months with anticipation and wonder!
 
I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
 
You can do this.

ferree

15 comments:

  1. I'm still in my second year, a little over 21 months. I have good days/weeks, then get hit with a whammy out of the blue. I let the tears fall, the sobs break forth and call on Jesus. My heart feels so heavy at times, and it's hard knowing that that part of my life is over. 43 years was a long time together, plus 3 years of dating. We met when we were 17 & 18.

    I'm getting more into being alone now, doing my needlework, gardening, cooking/baking, working part-time and doing what I can around here to take care of things.
    I've found a local Christian widow's group and created and care for a blog for it.

    I'm 65 and greatly miss the love of my life. We were a team, worked well together. Part of me is missing, there's no one to bounce ideas off of, to work on projects with. There are projects on hold. There's no one else in the world who 'knows me', like he did. We used to laugh a lot, the laughter has diminished considerably. My feline companion, Miss Tork, makes me laugh, but she doesn't fill the void. I trust in Jesus to heal my broken heart and fill up the emptiness left by my husbands leaving.

    Knowing he is with Jesus, greatly gives me peace. It has from the moment my dear husband left this planet.

    We will be together again one day, until then I wish to grow and age gracefully in God's love and tender mercies.

    God is my strength and my song. Ex. 15:2

    God bless you all wherever you are in this journey.

    FlowerLady

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, wouldn't it be grand if it took a year for grief to run its course! Unfortunately, it takes going through grief to understand that it doesn't work that way, and it is a devastating reality. Grief to me was like receiving an unwelcome cosmic delivery of manure--your choices are to ignore it and let it stink or spread it and see what grows from it. At the beginning of year two, I was very bummed to see that there was still a lot of shoveling to be done, but year two also brought something wonderful--the first moment I experienced a fleeting moment of pure joy in my heart! It caught me so off guard because it had been so long since I felt joy and never expected it to return. It was the first blade of something ALIVE that came up through the manure. Though year two involved continued shoveling, I treasured the moments when those little blades of joy popped through. They were reminders to me that I did not shovel alone--Jesus was there right beside me and he was working on something greater than I could ever imagine. Eventually the bursts of joy came more frequently and stayed longer. So while year two was tough, for me it marked the beginning of what has become (6-1/2 years later and all glory to God) a rather lovely garden!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Amen, Anonymous! Shoveling through manure is a perfect illustration! Thanks for your hard-earned insight today!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous ~ I loved your post! And the fact that you're 6 1/2 years later and sharing life growing up through manure.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

    ReplyDelete
  5. All so true - I finally figured out that it took me a while to figure out how to "be married" - more than a year! It will take a while to figure out how to "be widowed" as well. Just keep on keepin' on as they say - and do the next thing. All things through Christ - even and especially this journey.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Your article was posted according to God's perfect timing for me! Yes, I have heard that "rumor" several times lately! Entering my second year of widowhood, I am encouraged to learn that I can draw on God's strength, count my blessings, and stretch my faith and my relationship with Him! It will be work, but it is a choice!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I made the mistake of googling is the second year harder while I was closing in on the one yr mark. There was no one that said any different. I never believed anything could be as hard as the first year though. Now I am halfway through the second year. Yes it is hard, but for me not as hard as the first year. Its a different kind of hard now. I refused to go into my 2nd year believing things would get worse. The Lord has a plan for our lives. I tell him daily I really don't understand but I trust you lord. The Lord is my husband now and whatever happens its in His hands. That has taken the pressure off of me as long as I keep remembering that. Always have hope.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, the second year was not as hard as the first, and believing that the Lord is now our husband most definitely takes the pressure off.

      Delete
  8. It's been seven years since my Beloved went home to be with the Lord. While I'm no longer in the throes of grief, there are days when the sweet memories turn into a wistful longing.

    Early on, the Lord impressed on me that He has a plan and a purpose for my life - a good one (Jeremiah 29:11). As I've moved forward, He's brought me into new areas of blessing. A quiet contentment has replaced the blinding pain that once held me in its grip.

    First year, second year and beyond - you'll never forget, but it will get better as you follow His leading.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Susan, I'm so happy to hear from you, and your words are life and health to all who wonder if they'll ever get over this time. Thanks for sharing, and I hope other will join me in visiting your blog to see your latest ventures. More books??? I look forward to finding out what you're up to! :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. September 30 was the 1st anniversary of my beloved's last night in our home. He entered the hospital October 1 and left for the full presence of the Lord on October 13, 2013.

    I admit I had so hoped that on October 14, 2014 a switch would just turn off the pain, the sadness, and most of all the dread of having to continue on in this life without him. My heart, mind and body is weary with missing the gloriously wonderful man that God Almighty blessed me with since our October 25, 1980 wedding.

    Intelligence told me the switch doesn't exist. But I hoped for a deadline. A goal. A getting off point. A stop!

    But the reality is that I am a widow and I don't want to be a widow. I don't want our children and grandchildren to not have their father and grandfather.

    356 days without him - Broken
    356 days Jesus continues to carry us all - Grateful
    356 days closer to eternity with Jesus and my beloved - Hopeful

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Being a widow is sad and lonely, but Jesus is the balm for our broken hearts and lonely spirits.

      I am sorry for your loss.

      Love, hugs and prayers ~ FlowerLady

      Delete
  11. Your comment, Dannette - Priceless
    thank you. Psalm 34:18 I'll be praying for you and your children.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I didn't google 2nd year grief until another widow told me she had heard it and I've been living it and not understanding now that I'm in my 13th month. At least now I don't feel like I'm the only one struggling after the first year. It hasn't helped that my daughter was 2 years old when we lost my husband or that I then lost his mother who lived with me 10 months after my husband and then my grandmother at 11 months. My friends only remember my husband which was first but I'm feeling so tired of fighting the good fight. Some day God is going to give me the biggest hug and maybe then I can actually grieve and let go.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Youre not alone, dear anonymous. If you're in Facebook, be sure to send me a request for Lifeboat or Going Ashore. You'll appreciate the fellowship of many others who understand this journey.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to comment. I am not always able to reply but your remarks mean a lot to me and will appear as soon as possible.

Here are some tips for commenting:
Remember to click the Publish button.
Choosing the anonymous identity is easiest if you do not have your own blog.
Using a computer rather than a cell phone seems to work better. Thanks again!