When Becky died, I knew I was not alone, even though I had just lost the love of my life. My heavenly Father said not a word because he knew I could not hear one. Instead, he was there with me -- a vast presence, silent and subtle, but nevertheless there with me. I didn't need him to say anything. I needed him to hold me, to hear my pain. I needed to tell him how utterly unbearable all of this was and that if he did not help me to shoulder the burden I would never make it.
The odd thing? More often than not, that loving presence looked a lot like my daughter's shoulder or my son's company. I held out my arms to them and they held me back.
Doug Manning once wrote, "Loneliness comes only in one size -- extra large." In a word, your world goes silent. Death is a wilderness so vast that most of us don't know how to negotiate it. You survive by remembering one thing. You are never alone. A common thread links us all together no matter who we are. It's called being human. It's called holding one another. It's called saying nothing but hearing everything.
When a spouse dies, you don't need a person to "fix you." Only God can mend a broken heart. But what you can do is reach out. Others will embrace your grief with you if you ask them to. It may help if you let them know that you would like them to call you frequently, to listen, to help with chores, to pray with you. You might tell them, "If I don't always make sense, please forgive me. Be patient with me." They'll understand. They are there for you.
Everyone needs something when a spouse dies. I needed someone to listen, to be there, to hold me, to talk to me, to go somewhere with me, to cry with me, to be the face of God in my life at that moment. They told me, in ways far deeper than words could ever express, that the ache in my heart would go away. That life would become more bearable. That there is a finished highway in my future. I might not know exactly when or where, but it is there. That hope would return. That I would be able to move on with my life.
My children have been a constant source of strength and encouragement to me. Almost every day I take a few moments to send them a text message. Occasionally I will call them just to hear their voices. My life is filled with bounty, even as I continue to miss Becky. If I have learned anything in the past 10 years, it's to rely on God's grace in the midst of all of my inadequacy. God's sovereignty is no longer an abstract doctrine to me. I have brought my pain to him as never before. I will never again be completely whole, but I know beyond any doubt that he is with me. Life fills me with joy and awe.
Brokenness drove me to God, and there I will stay until he calls me home.