Welcome to Christian Widow's Walk

Dear Readers,

Thank you so much for visiting. If you care to follow my story from the beginning, I encourage you to click on the oldest post first and make your way to newer entries. In so doing, hopefully, you will see the hand of God in my healing journey that started in April, 2009.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bear Hugs

Critter Stands Ready

Posted Feb 23, 2010 (Ten months into widowhood)

When Buck was in York Hospital, he and all the Open Heart ICU patients were given Heart Bears. They were specially designed bears called Cough Buddies, to hold against their chests or abdomens after a heart or abdominal surgery. Holding pressure against their incisions would help alleviate pain whenever they coughed. To my knowledge, my Bofren never used his, maybe because of all his monitors and life support machines attached to him.

This odd shaped bear came home with the rest of Buck’s belongings after my sweetheart was called to his eternal home. For many months, the bear decorated a chair in my bedroom. In January, I was having a really hard day and spotted the bear from across the room. I don’t know why I did it, but I picked up the bear and held it tightly against me. I was surprised by how firm and lifelike it felt and was strangely comforted by holding the bear in my arms. As I closed my eyes, it felt as though I was hugging a person; which was just what I needed at that moment. The bear now stands ready on my bed and has become a sponge for my teary moments at home. I never would have thought that an inanimate object would be of any benefit to me. I was very wrong, but so pleasantly surprised by learning from my own experience. I’m so glad I listened to that small voice in my heart. I truly never anticipated such a satisfying feeling and I’m not ashamed to admit how comforting it is to hold onto that silly stuffed animal.

Sometimes, when I stay overnight at my daughter and son-in-law’s home, I share a bedroom with Colin, my four-year-old grandson. During a recent stay, I noticed a baby doll on the floor and asked Colin if his dolly ever slept with him. He said, “Not too much, but Toby  (his small stuffed bear) sleeps with me a lot”! I told Colin that I had a bear too! Colin’s response was, “What you’s bear’s name, Nana”? I replied,” You know Colin, my bear doesn’t have a name. I’m going to have to think about that”. So, I have tried on many a name for my bear. The name I settled on was "Critter", in honor of my Bofren’s reference to most animals as critters. Notice the small red heart on his paw. That just triggered another memory.  Buck often said: “I need to wash my paws”.

I don't want to suggest that hugging my bear can compare to hugging a person; but I can’t deny that it makes me feel better to hold it against my heart! I have no memories of a childhood attachment to any stuffed animals, but now I am inclined to think that little children have the right idea and are smarter than us grown-ups sometimes.
God knew my need before I did and this Heart Bear was ultimately intended for my use to help alleviate some of the pain from my broken, but healing heart.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine’s Day Blessing

Posted February 14, 2010 (Ten months into widowhood)

In a recent post, I shared that much to my surprise, my thirty-five year old Christmas Cactus bloomed for the first time this holiday season. What I neglected to point out was that I also have a second-generation cactus that I propagated about four or five years ago.  I had accidentally broke a lot of pieces off the “old timer” while transporting it in my car. After posting about God’s Christmas gift titled, “A Christmas Miracle”, I noticed that the “old timer’s kids” were just starting to show signs of new growth. I thought the timing was somewhat unusual. It is a Christmas Cactus after all.

I have watched with excited anticipation as the buds developed. This time there were only three blossoms, which I sensed might be symbolic; perhaps to represent the Trinity. When I woke this morning, I was delighted to see that the first of the three blossoms had opened to wish me a Happy Valentine’s Day! Again, I have decided that this is no insignificant coincidence, but rather another precious gift from God to help make it crystal clear that He knows all about me, hasn’t forgotten me, and He and my Bofren wanted to bless me on this day God knew would be difficult for me! I think the Lord and I will have another candlelight dinner to remember my sweetheart tonight!

This flower from heaven made me feel very much loved, as does your continued support and concern in following my journey! Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:11

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Blessed By Griefshare

Posted Feb 2, 2010  (Ten months into widowhood)

In September, I started attending a support group called Griefshare. It was a 13 weeks program facilitated by two precious ladies from Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Bel Air, Md.: my home church. At first, I thought that our support group was unique to my church only, but I learned that Griefshare is a program available in many locations nationwide as well as internationally.

The group’s program consisted of a weekly video seminar featuring personal stories of people who were grieving the death of a loved one and expert insights on topics important to grief recovery. The video was followed by a discussion time, to talk about what we had just seen, about our discussion questions, and whatever was on our minds and hearts; while all the while being pampered and showered with Lorraine and Jamee’s wonderful hospitality. I looked forward to and enjoyed my Monday meetings and learned so much about the grieving process. For example: what was or wasn’t normal and that I could expect my emotions to be unpredictable and sometimes surprising in their level of intensity. It also validated everything I was experiencing and I found that to be very comforting and helpful. In addition, I enjoying the new friendships of people who were also learning to cope with their losses.

One of the most beneficial things I came to understand was that there was no getting around the process. Going through the grief was the only healthy way to face my loss. Any attempt to not deal with the painful emotions as they surfaced would only delay the healing that needed to take place. This was one time that procrastination was not an option, if I wanted to get better and fully participate in my life again. Sooner or later, the emotions would come out. I decided that sooner sounded more favorable.

We talked about how to cope with the holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and other significant days. I realized that I would need to create a new normal, but observe that although there were many painful moments, my life was still so good! My reality was forever changed, but I had to make the decision to recognize all the blessings that surrounded me. Otherwise, it would be very easy to get stuck in grief and just survive, instead of appreciating all my numerous blessings and living the full and precious life that God has planned for me. I realize that this process is normal and necessary and may take a long time, but I definitely don’t want to stay where I am emotionally and I’ve decided that facing my grief head on would be the best way for me to work through my feelings.

I know I can not accomplish this in my own strength. Never have I been more dependent on my relationship with my Lord than I have been since New Year’s Day last year. Nor have I ever enjoyed such a sweet, authentic time of closeness and sensing His presence. In my heart dwells the understanding that time does not heal all wounds; Jesus does. Lorraine (our facilitator) made it very clear early on, that without the Lord, she and the Griefshare experience had nothing to offer us. My participation in Griefshare had a significant impact on helping me to cope with my grief and I would highly recommend the program to anyone who is dealing with the loss of anyone important in their lives, be it a spouse, parent, child, sibling, relative, or friend. Attending Griefshare is one of the most important things I have done for myself to keep me moving forward and I am so thankful for the time that Lorraine and Jamee invested on my group’s behalf.

I know I will not be traveling this road alone. The Lord has been so faithful to strengthen me each day, providing the grace to get through TODAY, just as He has promised He would. I am still so blessed to be surrounded by so much love from all of you. Thank you for your caring support as I travel on.