“If You’re Going Through Hell, Keep Going” *
*There is a quote attributed to Winston Churchill, “If you’re going through hell, keep going,” knowing that it might currently feel like you are going through hell, but there is hope on the other side. The tide will turn.
When someone you love with all your heart dies unexpectedly, that is a difficult path. We all handle grief in our own way, but we cannot leave the path. We must not turn left. We must not turn right. We must not stand still. We must continue moving forward through the grief. There is no way to avoid the process. By the grace of God, we will emerge stronger, wiser, more empathetic to those around us, and become all the wiser.
The First Year
It is Saturday morning, November 5th. The early morning is misty and cloudy outside. The wooded lot yields an abundance of fallen leaves. After finishing chores, I sat down in my husband’s favorite chair to have a cup of coffee and look outside onto the deck. The light has not fully manifested yet. The early morning is always a time of reflection for me. This time, it is about the one-year mark. A day that I will never forget – November 19th. This is the one-year mark when my husband unexpectedly died. I begin to mentally brace myself for that day and the holidays ahead.
Turning a Corner
This past year has been a difficult journey. However, recently, I started to feel stronger. With that, a numbness has also set in from the year’s impact. It is not that I do not feel anything, grief is still all too real, but it is more of the incredible scars of impact. There is a powerful quote that is so true, “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” Khalil Gibran. He was a Lebanese American writer, poet, and artist.
Let Those Who Want to Help – Help
I have always been a strong and independent person (still am) and thought I could get through it alone. That is not the case, even for the strongest. I needed my family very much (my side of the family and family on my husband’s side). There are also such special friends who would always ‘check in’ with me. All those acts of kindness and ‘check-ins’ and thoughtful ways were sustaining. Word of advice – let those who want to help – help. I also needed close fellowship with my Lord. All of that together has brought me through the first-year journey.
Moving From an Inward Focus to an Outward Focus
Lately, I find myself increasingly noticing the beauty around me – the sky that is so blue and beautiful, the hawks that fly effortlessly above with wings expanded to glide across the sky, the beauty of nature and the needs of others around me.
In that first year after losing a loved one, especially a spouse, grief is so consuming and leaves little energy to give yourself back to others. I am thankful to now be looking outward and not so consumed inward. I will never be the same after this. My husband is still front and center on my heart and mind, but I can now start seeing outward.
Sharing Something Personal from 1996
I am going to share something personal with you. Back in 1996, I was traveling on a business trip for work and during a layover felt this incredible sadness as if something terrible was going to happen. The impact of it was so strong, I remember weeping privately and wondering what was about to happen in my life or to someone I loved. I had received words in my heart that were so clear and concise that I felt absolutely compelled to write them down and put a date on it. I thought something bad was going to happen at that time and it never did. Later, I put this piece of paper in the back of my Bible and forgot about it. After my husband died and while praying, I pulled out that same piece of paper. It was as if this message was written and needed for this period of my life. I will never know for certain until I see God. This is what I wrote down back in 1996.
For I am the Lord your God, your Redeemer. I am the beginning and the end. I am everywhere. I am your protector and your deliverer. I will never let you fall. I will lift you high so you will not stumble.
There is a plan for your life that must be fulfilled. Please proceed forth and don’t be afraid. The plan must and will be fulfilled. If you love Me, my child, you will go forth. Please do not turn left or right but proceed forward.
I have made My plan known to you, to prepare you. You must prepare for what is to come. You must only look to Me. Amongst the noise, listen to My still voice. My voice has always been clear to you. I have made my ways known to you because you love Me and trust Me.”
Right after getting that in my heart, I wrote the following prayer right below it.
“Father, whatever your plan for my life, prepare me, strengthen me, and show the direction in which I need to go. You will never burden me with something too great for me to bear. You are my Father, my God, and my Deliverer. Give me the courage for what is ahead.” I wrote those words October 13th, 1996. If someone is experiencing a difficulty in their life, the prayer above may help.
Good question. Lately, I find myself calling out to God saying, “Father, is this all there is now? There must be something more (meaning something more that comes from all of this).” There is a bigger plan at hand to emerge. I do not know what it is yet, but I have faith and hope that He will lead me forward if I let Him.
There is hope, whatever a person is going through. If you are currently experiencing a loss in your life, you will get strong. One learns to laugh again, and one will reposition from an inward grief to being able to see outward again.
Psalm 34:17-18, “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”