(This is the first in a series of three blogs about the widowhood journey.)

Overwhelmed. It can feel like you are drowning and you don’t have what it takes to keep your head above water. Despair. It can seem like there is no hope. Shock. This is not real. This can’t be happening. Numb. Heartbreak past feeling.

    It is an awful thing to lose your beloved spouse. Sometimes it happens suddenly. For others, it may be something expected for a long time. Either way, you may think things you have never thought and feel things you have never felt. It is not uncommon bearing that heavy burden of grief that you question yourself. “Am I going to make it?” “I don’t think I can handle this.”

    There is good news! George A. Bonanno, a clinical psychologist, has written a book titled: The Other Side of Sadness: What the Science of Bereavement Tells Us About Life after Loss. In it he observes, “Humans are wired to survive…Resilience is the norm” (p. 155). We may not feel that way, though. It may not be what the circumstances would lead us to believe. It is true. Instinctively, we will fight to survive.

    The first realistic goal for a recently widowed person can be summarized in one word: Survive. Surviving is hard. It takes focused determination over a sustained period of time, yet, one day at a time. Jesus advised, “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Mt. 6:34). At times, it may seem so bad it is better to think in terms of one hour at a time. In the movie, Finding Nemo, Dory advised, “Just keep swimming!” My advice to the widowed early on? “Just keep breathing!” Not often is this wise, but it is in dealing with serious loss: expectvery little of yourself. Don’t press. Just keep breathing. Early on, survival is all that is necessary.Look at getting through each day as a victory. Accumulating victories builds confidence.

In the exhaustion, weakness, even desperation that can come with grief our greatest source of strength is the Lord. “Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:1-2). His grace not only saves, it sustains. In a painful time in the apostle Paul’s life he was reminded by the Lord, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). When deeply grieving our loss, there is nothing we need more than greater reliance on the Father of grace whose strength is made perfect in our weakness. #survivedailybygrace

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