Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Milestones

Well, today is my birthday, the big 6 - 0 this time. And since my birthday always follows the day my Bruce died in 2000, it's always poignant. I teared up last night as I sent my kids a "moment of silence" text, but that's ok. It'd be far sadder if I had no feeling, or didn't commemorate the day, don't you agree?
 
But, the Lord has allowed my grief to dissipate and it rarely bothers me. Rather, I'm able to respect what my widow friends are going through, and I can honestly tell them that they will live again. And love again, and lose again. And it's all part of living well.
 
But to commemorate this milestone of a birthday, the thousands who have been helped through this blog and my book, and to respectfully remember the wonderful man who made such an impact on my life---my first husband Bruce, I'd like to mark this day with a post I ran a few years ago, and gladly say the good days far outweigh the bad now.
 
(the following is from this blog in 2014, but the original was during my first year of widowhood)
 
This old e-mail I recently found was like looking at a snapshot of my first year as a widow. I thought parts of it would interest you. Since it's personal I changed details of who wrote to me, but my reply is the real thing. Oh, and it's obviously on a "good" day. Good days didn't always happen, but eventually they outweighed the bad.

Dear Ferree,

I have a question about grieving but I don't want it to hurt you. If you don't feel up to answering or even reading this, please delete it now!

Something awful happened in our church--grief has struck again. A family lost their son in a car accident last week.

They are strong in the Lord, and this is what I question. Will their strong faith hinder them from grieving? Do you feel it is disloyal to God to grieve for the loss of your husband? I believe your husband is blessed to be in Heaven with Jesus, but you are still dealing with the loss of not having him in your daily life and helping you raise your children.

I hope you don't feel guilty for any grief you feel! (I hope I'm making sense and not causing you more pain).
In God's love,
A Pastor's Wife


Dear Pastor's Wife,

What a good question, and it's good to be able to talk honestly about it.
 
I never felt it was disloyal to God to grieve over my husband's death. The challenge continues to be to let the grief out in a healthy ways, so that it's not denied and it doesn't turn to bitterness. What helps me most is to continually give Bruce and my life back to God; to lay it on the altar, so to speak. Not easy, and not something to recommend to the grieving parents, but you could pray God would give them insight into that idea.

You should have seen me the first couple days. I almost became physically ill, didn't sleep at all, lost 5-10 lbs, cried several times daily--great, heaving sobs, not polite little sniffling.

The best advice I received was a few hours after Bruce died. A friend stopped in briefly--didn't even take his coat off, and told me to "Lean into the wind." Those four little words meant so much; they told me to face the grief, open my arms to it, and experience it fully. Thus doing, it's been the most incredible experience of my life. I've never felt such pain before, yet at moments I've never felt so alive either. I cherish every minute. Every breath is sacred.

Everyone handles grief differently, though. I feel my experience has been like this so far because almost every week I meet a stranger who tells me they've been praying for me every day. I can't get over it! I just tell them their prayers are very effective, and "Don't quit!"

What's important to me is that people remember my husband. I can't tell you how desperately I need that. His birthday was Friday and several people sent me "Thinking of you" cards. It was also good when my sis-in-law and brother phoned me almost every day for the first couple weeks. But if it had been anyone else, or more than they, it might have worn me out.

So be sensitive to this grieving family, but do try. Any expression is better than none, no matter how strong they may appear. God bless you in ministering to these dear people, and thankyoufor listening to me!

love,
Ferree

Has anyone ever asked you if grieving was somehow disloyal to God? Could you relate to any of the ways I said I felt in my letter?

May today be one of those "good" days for you,
ferree

2 comments:

  1. Ferree - First Happy Birthday to you, and hope it was only gentle & sweet memories for you yesterday.
    Interesting question, did you feel grieving for your loved one was being disloyal to the good Lord. Have to say, I never did feel that it was disloyal to God. I have always believed that we "do not grieve like those that have no hope" but even with believing that, the loss of my dear husband was sudden and unexpected and oh how I miss him. We have loved each other deeply, have been a strong team and partners. I miss that, and it leaves a bunch of holes in my life that I am trying to learn how to fill. Grief is about the missing him, the not having him with me. I believe that the Lord understands that and is in sympathy with me for that. The best way I can handle the deep grief, is pray that the Lord uses it for some good in me, to allow me to be open to what He would have me learn. So because of that, I do not feel that grief is being disloyal to the Lord.

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  2. First of all, happy birthday, Ferree. You have been a huge blessing in many people's lives including mine. Thank You, Ferree, for today's beautiful post as well. I too found/find the grieving process to be a beautiful thing. Although painful it draws us so close to the heart of God, if we allow it to do so. Heaven too become a much sweeter longing and reality. Thank you for letting your ashes become a thing of beauty and help in other people's lives and in God's kingdom.

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