I often wonder how we ever survived his years in the military. West Pacs and wartime were challenging and unbelievably stressful. It is a fact that those days were the absolute worst days of my life. Not knowing whether he lay injured on some sandy shore or on sweltering desert sands was absolutely unbearable.
My husband and I have been married far longer than we were ever single. Indeed my single life seems like a distant dream. Actually, I prefer it that way. Being a single adult for me was not the best part of my life. Being a married adult has been the best part.
Being happily married enriches one’s life beyond measure. One experiences an increase in companionship, love, income, prosperity, and posterity. When I became a wife, my adult life became wonderful. I had my companion with me to share life and all of its joys. I also had my companion with me when I would experience sadness and disappointments. Somehow having my husband share the hard times in my life made them seem less significant. My husband is a strong man physically, as well as psychologically. He is a well-trained warrior, strategist, instructor, protector, and provider. He is a man who loves his family and will fight the fiercest foes to ensure the safety of his wife, his children, and his grandchildren. He is loving and kind, but at the drop of a hat, or the hint of danger, he springs into action and neutralizes whatever threatens us. These characteristics of his personality have made my life very stable and comfortable. I have experienced wonderful years with him, and I am grateful for them.
As a funeral director, I see women daily who are in the crisis of losing their husbands. They are in the throes of disorganization and are faced with reorganizing their lives. They are experiencing loss of income, loss of companionship, loss of stability, loss of love, loss of companionship, and loss of security. These losses are not only scary; they are detrimental to one's health.
GRIEF BRIEF 56
Grief is stressful.
Stress has a negative impact on one's immune system.
When suffering the loss of a loved one, it is a good idea to notify your primary care physician if you have existing physical, psychological or emotional conditions.
(Mourning Light I, 2015)
Once a survivor begins to understand that they are experiencing extreme stress, they may devise a plan to avoid this experience. Avoidance has never been a good plan of action under any circumstances. Avoidance allows issues to grow without control. A survivor who chooses to avoid the stress of loss is actually delaying the grief experience. Delayed grief becomes quite complicated as time progresses and the survivor may find that they have created a scenario that may be impossible to right.
GRIEF BRIEF 87
Delaying your grief does not eradicate it.
Delaying your grief only serves to extend and exacerbate your experience.
Delayed grief becomes complicated grief.
Once a survivor enters into a state of complicated grief, other issues come into play.
Often a survivor suffering complicated grief develops physical ailments.
These ailments, if left unattended, can turn into disease.
The same holds true for psychological ailments.
Even with treatment, if the underlying issue of grief is not addressed, these issues will become recurring.
(Mourning Light I, Tracy Renee Lee, 2015)
At some point during the recovery process, the survivor must come to terms that he/she must rebuild their identity. A survivor is no longer living in a companionship situation. They are most likely living alone or as a single parent at this juncture.
GRIEF BRIEF 47
Recovering from grief often entails the rebuilding of oneself.
If one has been in a marriage for fifty years or so, their identity has generally morphed into that of a couple.
Being alone after such a long period of time may take quite an adjustment.
(Mourning Light I, Tracy Renee Lee, 2015)
During the process of rebuilding oneself, survivors often feel resentment at the necessity of this task. They may even experience anger toward their former spouse. Most survivors will realize that their anger is a by-product of their frustration and will eventually overcome it. The process of rebuilding brings with it wonderful opportunities for self-development, self-expression, and individual growth. Some survivors, however, become very resentful and lost in this cycle and have a very difficult time overcoming it.
GRIEF BRIEF 46
DEVELOPING NEW SKILLS
Many survivors resent having to develop new skills that were once performed by their deceased loved one.
This is a normal reaction to your loss.
The key to recovery is to either learn the skill yourself or find someone who will do it for you.
In both scenarios, your reward is growth, either personally or socially.
In both circumstances, your movement toward recovery is positive.
(Mourning Light I, Tracy Renee Lee, 2015)
As I assist widows in my daily practice of funeral service, I inwardly evaluate myself. I find that I dread the day that my husband will leave this life and make me a widow. I assume this will be the case as it is statistically sound. I try to fortify myself mentally by planning step by step strategies to engage myself in the service of my posterity. It is a fools errand though and I know it.
When my husband dies, I will be overcome with grief. It 's hard for me now when he is gone for any extended length of time. In fact, I often wonder how we ever survived his years in the military. West Pacs and wartime were challenging and unbelievably stressful. It is a fact that those days were the absolute worst days of my life. Not knowing whether he lay injured on some sandy shore or on sweltering desert sands was absolutely unbearable. The suffering I endured was crushing to my soul. I was so grateful when he returned back to me whole and just as wonderful as ever.
I will never forget those days of pain, worry, fear, stress, and loneliness. I will never forget the relief of his return. As I experience the daily pain of the widows that come into my funeral home, I cannot quell the worries that surface within my heart about my future. I know that pain, anxiety, fear, stress, and loneliness will one day be my unwelcome companions again. They will either be my companions or my husband’s should I pass first. Either way, I hate that one of us will be left behind without the other. Even now, these thoughts see tears streaming down my cheeks.
I love my husband with my very soul, and I don’t know how I ever lived, or will ever live again without him. My comfort, though, is that I know my Savior lives and that he prepared a way for me to be reunited with my husband after death in his holy kingdom of heaven. I know that families are forever, that death is a temporary separation, and that love is eternal. I have every confidence that should my husband die before I do, that he will be at the gates of heaven to greet me and welcome me back into his loving embrace as soon as I cease to draw breath.
That is what comforts me. That is how I get through my day of assisting widows and children who have lost their parents and grandparents. That is how I get through my day when a young mother and father come through my door upon the loss of their tiny infant. I see the pain of loss every moment of my work day. I feel the anguish experienced by my clients. I know, though, with every fiber of my being that one day, they will reunite with their loved ones, and happiness will once again fill their souls. If I did not know this, I would not make it as a funeral director. The pain of seeing others suffer devastating loss day after day would be too great to bear.
I am thankful for the Lord’s saving grace, his plan of salvation, and the opportunity I have to partake of it. Without it, hope would be lost. I would be lost.
I pray that when the day comes that my husband or I die, the survivor will be able to overcome the devastation that we will experience over our loss, and that we will rely upon our Lord and Savior to guide us back to each other in his abiding love and presence. I hope the same for you too.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am the owner and Managing Funeral Director at Queen City Funeral Home in Queen City Texas. I am an author, certified grief counselor, syndicated columnist, and co-founder of Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
For additional encouragement, read other articles or watch video “Grief Briefs,” please go to my website at www.MourningCoffee.com.