I've learned a lot in the year since my husband died.
Beth and her husband Larry.
Source: Beth Bradford
This Feast of Tabernacles was a bit different for me. It was my first full Feast spent without my husband Larry. He died last year on the opening night of the Feast. I spent the last half of that Feast in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, numb.
I was blessed to go to Alaska for the Feast this year with some dear friends.
It was so fantastic—the only thing missing was Larry! Alaska was somewhere Larry and I had talked about going to, but were never able to.
The First Year
Needless to say, it’s been a rough year for my family. We’ve been truly blessed to have had God beside us through this year. We all have experienced so many different emotions. The week before his death, all of my children were with us. We faced this together as a family. I saw strength from my children that I have never seen before. The time we spent together was invaluable. We were able to walk through that time together as a family. In the midst of the shock of his death, I gathered my children in a circle, joined hands and prayed, thanking God. I wanted the first step we took to be one of gratitude to God for the years we had with him.
In the year since, I’ve learned that it was alright to feel and to let myself grieve. We are physical. We hurt. Tears would come for no apparent reason. I felt the deepest emotional pain I have ever felt. That’s OK. One of my grandsons would not cry after his grandpa died. I told him that God gave us tears to help heal the pain we feel. I wanted to be strong for my family, but I also wanted to let them know it’s alright to cry and feel the pain—just not to stay in it. In Ecclesiastes:3:4 it saysthat there is a season and purpose for everything: “atime to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”
Today we talk about Larry and laugh at some of the memories and cry about others. Memories are what we have to treasure. We will not forget him, but we will rejoice in his life. This is part of letting go.
I read a book on grief that’s really helped me called “Experiencing Grief” by H. Norman Wright. In it he reminds the reader of the source of our hope. “If you are a Christian, your grief is to be different. It's to be infused with hope. The foundation for this hope is found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is the Lord over every loss and every heartache. He is the Lord of all comfort and mercy. He is the Lord of resurrection, restoration and regeneration. He is the Lord of life.”It’s that hope that keeps me going.
I have been thinking about the upcoming year. Even now, it’s still hard to get through my mind that Larry is gone. That may sound strange but we were together my whole adult life.
I can definitely see growth. God has given me strength I never thought I had. My faith has deepened. I am developing a deeper understanding of many things. I am learning to lean on God more. I am being forced to prove and work out things on my own with God's help.
H. Norman Wright also wrote “Your good-bye is just for a season…Saying good-bye is one of the significant tasks of grieving. It begins with accepting the reality of your loss, working through your pain, adjusting to life without your loved one, withdrawing your emotional energy from the person to investing it elsewhere, and finally changing the relationship with your loved one from one of presence to one of memory. And saying good-bye is part of the concluding process.” I see myself coming to this. Maybe a little more to go, but I do see progress. God has given me the strength to start letting go and moving on. I see this coming year as being forward movement and redefining myself.
I am no longer part of a couple. I had been Larry’s wife for almost 43 years. I am now his widow. I have accepted that. I am still a child of God. “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him , that we may also be glorified together” (Romans:8:16-17).
I know He has a plan for my life. I pray that God will show me that plan and continue to give me the strength to move forward. This coming year will be a whole new adventure.
The Feast was a time for me to focus on what is ahead. It helped me focus on God's Kingdom and the 1,000-year period when all will be given a chance. The hope of the first resurrection is what keeps me going. The thought of seeing Larry whole— it’s just a beautiful thought. The best is yet to come!