I attended part of a widows retreat yesterday. Originally, I was supposed to be there Friday night through this morning. But, when it came down to it, I physically did not have the stamina to do so. By the time I got home in the late afternoon yesterday, I was nauseous and had a powerful headache. I can't tell you how frustrating it is to be limited by those symptoms.
Anyway, I enjoyed Saturday's session. We heard from a couple of widows who shared their experiences. I appreciated how they could acknowledge God's hand in their losses and their new lives. A frequent statement from those who shared was that God is in the details.
The main speaker yesterday runs a grief ministry here in Long Beach. I have seen signs for the ministry on a local church and on the car of one of my neighbors who is also involved in the ministry. Such a small world. She really focused on the stages of grief, and what to expect the first three years of the journey.
We had time to visit informally with other widows during lunch and tea. In between, we had a small group session where we answered some specific questions about our journeys and our feelings. This was the most emotional time. My emotions are triggered when I see and hear the pain others express for their loss and their children's loss. I think the most valuable part of the experience was connecting with other women who are walking a similar path, and being able to share freely the eternal perspective we have about this life and the next. It was very much a Christ-centered experience, and there's no other way for me to put this whole thing into perspective without that.
One thing I'm realizing this week is that others, who have not experienced loss, have a very short time line in which they will continue to tolerate the changes in a grieving person. I am experiencing this to a certain degree in the workplace. I guess it's to be expected, but it's disheartening. I don't feel like my failings this year as an educator are directly related to my grief, but rather to my health. Nevertheless, the compassion I would expect from those around me in light of all that has occurred in the last year and a half has been spent. My situation is old news and I should perform at higher level or be fired. At least that's the message I feel I'm getting from several directions.
I heard several women this weekend talk about how the Lord has provided for them and their children since their husbands' deaths. I'm going to be petitioning the Lord to do a work in my life to change my situation at work and lead me to a better place where I can have a fresh start.
Lastly, I think people are reading me wrong, or I am presenting myself in a way that is confusing to those that don't understand the power of the Holy Spirit. The only way I make it through each day is by trusting the Lord and clinging to His promises. That's how I can get up and leave the house. That's how I can smile and be interested in what others have to say. But it doesn't mean that I'm not dealing with a huge void in my personal life. Michael was everything to me. My life with him was such a joy. It doesn't mean that I'm not lonely. It doesn't mean that I don't cry about my loss when I'm alone and feel more free to express my emotions. It doesn't mean that I'm not mourning the loss of my precious husband and the dreams we had of a longer life together. I'm not over it. I'm just trying to move forward the best I can and reflect God's goodness in my life despite my circumstances.
So for anyone who thinks I'm fine. I'm not fine. I have been forever altered by this, and if I didn't have Jesus in my life I'd be a complete wreck.