Many widows never get over the loss of their husbands. Sometimes even the healthiest woman can’t seem to shake the grief and pain of loss. These ideas for coping with grief that never never ends are inspired by a She Blossoms reader.
“Today is hard because it’s the third anniversary of my husband’s death,” says Diane on Help Starting Over in Your 60s – After Your Husband Dies. “My heart is still so overcome, my grief feels never ending. I don’t know that I will ever feel whole again. Family and friends seem to think I should be stronger with the passing of time, but the truth is just the opposite. I know other widows who have lost their husbands and they can’t reach out to God. Time has not healed our broken hearts.”
I am not writing article as a widow. The day will come when I lose my husband (unless I’m lucky enough to die before he does!). When my husband passes I suspect I’ll feel like Diane: unable to feel completely whole or normal without him. My husband is a huge part of my life, and if he passes before me I’ll no doubt be searching for tips on what to do when the grief never ends. Maybe I, too, will feel like I can’t reach out to God.
When the Grief Never Ends and You Can’t Reach Out to God
Diane adds that she feels like an outsider with friends and family, and can’t tell them how deeply she’s hurting.
“I don’t want them to think I am having a breakdown,” she says. “I try to act like I am happy and in control so they want to include me in activities and be around me. I do not want to make others sad. I have started working part-time outside the home and keeping busy, but the loneliness continues to have a grip. I’m trying so hard to find happiness and some sense of normalcy again.”
A widower shared his thoughts about this article in the comments section below. He didn’t agree with much of what I wrote, which inspired me to re-evaluate my words. In response, I wrote How Do You Grieve Loss With Hope and Faith? for my Echoing Jesus blog.
Be real with your friends and family
If you can’t be your authentic, true self with your friends and family…then who can you be “you” with? Why are you pretending to be someone you’re not? You are widow who is recovering from loss and surviving grief. The more you pretend to be happy, the heavier your grief will be. The more secretive you are about your pain, the worse you will feel.
Your grief feels like it’ll never end because you’re keeping it hidden, in the dark. You aren’t reaching out to you friends or family — and you aren’t reaching out to God. You’re holding your grief tight and close, like a dark little devil that can’t get out into the light. The more you pretend that you’re happy, the unhappier you’ll feel.
Don’t try to feel the “right” feelings
Happiness — and recovering from the grief of losing your husband — is not something you’ll attain by straining to get it. Happiness — and grief recovery — isn’t a prize you can train for, a goal you can reach for. Happiness is a byproduct of living a fulfilling, meaningful life.
Joy is even more delightful than happiness. Joy is the result of a strong personal relationship with Jesus, an overflow of God’s Holy Spirit in your soul. Again, you can’t strive to become more joyful or peaceful. You feel like your grief is never ending because you’re trying too hard to be happy. You’re not being real with yourself, with others, or with Jesus. You’re not reaching out to people or God as your true authentic self. You’re trying too hard.
Accept that you’ll never feel whole again
Different women grieve their husbands’ deaths in different ways. The grieving process is darker and longer for widows who built their lives around their marriages, who didn’t have a strong sense of their own lives and identities before their husbands died.
Diane recently started a part-time job outside her home, which can be a healthy activity when the grief feels like it’ll never end. But if it’s not a challenging, fulfilling job that makes her feel like she’s contributing something valuable to the world, it’ll never fill the hole in her heart. In fact — even if it was the most meaningful job in the world, it still wouldn’t erase or ease the grief she feels about losing her husband.
Jobs, grieving support groups, friends and family, grief counselors — nothing will fill the hole in the heart of a widow whose life was built around her husband. So what will?
Explore different ways to reach out to God
“I’m finding it difficult to reach out to God since my husband’s death,” says Diane. “I lost my connection to God, and have trouble staying focused to meditate and pray. I tend to cry in church. Then I feel embarrassed and have to leave. I don’t know how to get over this, and I feel like the grief will never end.”
This is where the decision-making process kicks in. Decide that you will explore new ways to reach out to God until you find what works for you. Sit in church and cry when you need to. Learn how God experienced grief, how Jesus suffered, and who else suffered in the long line of Christian believers. Our Biblical sisters suffered grief, often feeling like it would never end. Our Christian forerunners all felt like they couldn’t reach out to God at different times in their lives.
You are not alone, unless you isolate yourself by refusing to reach out to God, friends, and family in your grief. Read How to Rebuild Your Relationship With God for a few ideas on reaching out in your pain, and asking Him for help when the grief feels like it’ll never end.
Accept that your grief will change, but it won’t end. Decide that you’ll explore new ways to reach out to God until you find what works for you.
What do you think? Your big and little thoughts are welcome below. If you have other ideas what to do when the grief never ends and reaching out to God feels impossible, please share!