Widowed in June: Mourning the Loss of a Spouse
by Wanda S Maxey
A lot of women want to be a June bride, but no one wants to be a June widow. We don't always get what we want. I didn't expect to become a June widow at age fifty-eight.
I remember the last day I held my husband in my arms. I told him he could stop fighting the cancer and that he could leave whenever he was ready. My son looked up at me with tears in his eyes and told me that his dad was gone, and with that last heartbeat, I was a widow.
I couldn't control the loud sobs that racked my body like never before. My heart ached for Dusty, my husband and partner of the past thirty-two years, so I asked God to give me strength for what lay ahead. My daughter stayed with me for the first few days, but then she had to get back to her family, so I was alone.
Everything Reminded Me of My Husband
Whenever I looked at something Dusty liked, my heart ached, and I couldn’t walk into the kitchen without thinking of him. His favorite breakfast was pancakes, and I liked to surprise him with a golden-brown stack when he came in the kitchen. On days we were rushed, he'd eat Sugar Crisp or Shredded Wheat. Dusty liked cornbread crumbled up in a glass of cold milk. He'd devour banana pudding with lots of vanilla wafers, and oh, how he loved those “Moon Pies.”
One day, I opened the sliding door and heard the lonely call of a Whippoorwill. I could relate. Dusty seemed to almost communicate with the birds, or so he tried to convince me. He’d stand out on the deck imitating birdcalls and the real ones sounded like they were talking back to him. I had several pictures of Baltimore Orioles that landed on our deck because of Dusty and the oranges we set out. We even built birdfeeders together. The loneliness was excruciating.
Everyday Errands Were Difficult
I was lost without Dusty. I'd never driven through a carwash or pumped gas. Dusty either drove me, or when I went by myself, he took the car the night before and filled the tank. I didn’t know the first thing about car maintenance. There was so much I needed to learn, and everything seemed so overwhelming.
I Spent Most of My Days Crying
When Dusty was sick, people came every day. The nurses checked on him and gave him a bath. Pastors visited and prayed with him. Relatives brought food. Friends even came to play a guitar and sing for him. Maybe people felt as if their job was finished, and they didn't need to come anymore. Instead of welcoming visitors, I worried about the future and cried.
All Alone in a Thunderstorm
I was all alone in that big five-bedroom house and it was time for bed. To make matters worse, a thunderstorm was on the way. Huge raindrops beat on the windows and an angry wind howled through the trees. I dreaded facing my first thunderstorm without Dusty.
And, I knew that long, lonely winter nights would soon come. I'd have to climb into that king-sized bed without him, without any loving arms to cuddle up against. Dusty was always warm, while I was always cold, especially my feet. I'd snuggle up beside his warm body, bury my head in his chest and call him, “My little furnace.” I ached for his touch.
I started asking myself if I really needed to keep the house. But, how could I even think of selling after Dusty and I had worked so hard and sacrificed so much to build it. As the storm continued to rage, I was reminded of who was in charge and who held my future in His hands. Cherishing that comforting thought, I finally drifted off to sleep...
Things Looked Better the Next Morning
Sun streaming in the windows woke me up to a beautiful new day. Everything smelled fresh and clean. I had survived my first thunderstorm, without Dusty, and I was hungry.
Still, there were so many things I'd have to face alone for the first time… holidays, birthdays, shopping, visits to the doctor. I began dreading life without my husband. But, as I looked back over the years, I was reminded of all the times God walked me through other valleys. Why did I even worry that He wouldn't do the same thing again? Even in the middle of that first thunderstorm, God made His presence felt, and I knew He was manifesting Himself in nature. God chose to leave me here for a reason. I felt like He spoke to me and said, “Life goes on.”
Life Goes On
Dusty had received his ultimate healing; he was present with the Lord. Oh what joy that must have been. He was looking into the face of Jesus, the one he had known and loved for over thirty-one years. I knew we'd see each other again. Until that day, God had something for me to do on earth. God gently took my hand, and then, one day at a time, He walked me through another valley in my life. I went from having bad days to only bad moments, and then, just precious memories.
Dealing With the Loss of a Spouse
Here are some of the things that helped me get through, maybe some of them would be right for you.
- * Decide if putting your house up for sale would be an option. Some people told me to wait a year before making any big decisions, and maybe that's best for you, but I didn't need a five-bedroom house or all the upkeep. Family came to help and I had an auction to get rid of all the excess stuff we had accumulated over the years
- * Move in with a loved one or ask someone to stay with you for a while. My daughter Lynn and her husband Alan invited me to move in with them. They were both a Godsend to me. I never thought I'd be able to live alone, but after my property sold, I prayed for a place where I'd feel safe and be able to sleep well. God led me to that place, and I love my condo.
- * Sign up for a support group for widows & widowers. We met once a week. Whenever I felt like I was going crazy or life overwhelmed me, someone else told me they were going through the same things. I wasn't alone. We shared recipes, helpful hints on car maintenance, cleaning, and offered one another a shoulder to cry on. But, most of all we shared a newfound friendship and lots of laughs. We bonded together so well that we started meeting outside of class, for dinner and a game called Mississippi Marbles. We continue to support each other to this day, seven years later.
- * Join a church and try to encourage others. I went to church and the pastor said, “Do you need encouragement? Has your heart been broken? You're not the only one hurting out there. Have you sat there with tears running down your face, and someone came and encouraged you? Well, that qualifies you, and the best way to be encouraged is to encourage someone else.”
More Ideas for Coping With Grief
- Read good books by others who've been through the same thing. You will learn that you're not alone as you find out how others coped with their loss.
- Spend time with family and friends. Go out to dinner or watch a movie. Have fun. Laugh a lot. Find a hobby and make some new memories. One of my passions has always been photography and I found a whole world of beauty just waiting to be captured with a click.
- Find someone you can talk to. Ask God to send that special person into your life. Someone you can talk to who cares… someone who will listen while you talk about anything that's on your heart. For me, that special person was my daughter. She's always been a constant support with a listening ear and a bottomless cup of coffee.
- Do something each year to celebrate your loved-one's memory. My daughter and I were trying to come up with something in memory of my husband. “I know,” she said, “you always called him Dusty, so you could dust.”
I Found Strength Through Prayer
Pray and ask God to give you a verse, just for you. This is the verse He gave me:
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. - John 10:10 (KLV)
To me, this means that one person is not dependent on another for their source of joy. We stand alone before God. Jesus died so that we may each have an abundant life in Him. Let God hold your hand and walk with you through the valley. I have been able to go on with life, and the same God who helped me will help you.
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