|Michael and T - October 2009|
Earlier this month, I learned that Michael's dear friend, and the best man in our wedding, had lost his wife to a brain tumor. Michael had rented their guesthouse for thirteen years, and they were like family to him. He watched their two daughters grow up in those years, and the October before he went Home, he had played the guitar for their oldest daughter's wedding ceremony.
After Michael passed on, I sold T one of his guitars. But after that, I really didn't hear from T or his wife, J. Life goes on, and some people just don't go on with you. I never really knew them all that well, but felt a connection to them because of the love Michael had for them, and vice versa.
Yesterday, I went with my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, and Michael's oldest brother to a memorial gathering in J's honor. It was a beautiful get-together really befitting the gracious and lovely person J was. When I saw T, he gave me a big hug, and he asked me why this had to happen to both of us. I told him that I do not know why, and that life isn't fair. It really isn't. Someday I'll see why things happened the way they did, but for now it doesn't make sense why Michael isn't here. And for T and his family, it doesn't make sense, or seem fair, that J is no longer with them. It just hurts.
Since learning of J's passing, I have thought of them and their daughters every day. It breaks my heart to think of the grief T and his girls are having to endure in these first few weeks without their beloved J. That early grief is so heavy that it feels like it will crush you. When you wake up in the morning, you realize that you didn't have a bad dream overnight. No, this is your life now, and your beloved is not there with you anymore. You have to get used to that awful reality every day. It takes a while.
If I could tell T a few things to help him through the next few months, I'd tell him these things:
Find a grief group, or a counselor so that you can process your grief with others. It is good to talk it out.
Get away and visit good friends and family in other parts of the country or in another part of the world. Let them take care of you for a few days. Let them listen to you. Let them distract you.
Read about grief. The more you understand about the grief process, the better you will be able understand why you're feeling and acting the way you are.
Be careful what you expose yourself to. Read, watch, and listen to things with positive messages. You are so vulnerable in your grief. Why add to your pain with negative or painful messages? Seek out things that are life affirming and optimistic.
Resist the temptation to start dating right away. Many widowers tend to rush into a new relationship. But oftentimes, those relationships are destined to fail because there are grief issues that take time to get through.
Get involved in something. Maybe there's a project you've put on hold while you cared for your beloved. Get back to it. Do something productive as soon as you feel you are able to. My "project" was getting pregnant. It was a positive focus for me. Once I succeeded (thank you, Lord!), Michaela became my new purpose in life. My "project" was unique, but I think that some kind of goal or work is a good thing.
And, the best advice I can give anyone who is grieving is to draw near to God. He promises that when we do, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). I really doubted that promise when I first lost Michael, but I ran to the Lord anyway and He showed up. Get to church. Read your Bible. Pray. Bring your broken heart to Him, and ask Him to help you minute-by-minute and day-by-day. He will. If He did it for me, He will do it for you.