Thoughts have been swirling in my brain these past few days. This past weekend was so therapeutic, so healing and inspiring. I was invited to spend the weekend with other young widows. Widows in their 30’s and 40’s with young children, just like me. It was painful, but also a special sort of wonderful to know that it wasn’t just me. I am not alone in this crazy and challenging journey.
I met a few women with my traditional super exuberant “nice to meet you!!” and quickly followed by “actually, terrible to meet you.” Because the reality of how and why we were all meeting was so painful. There were stories of husbands who were lost in plane accidents, cancer, suicide, drowning, and a whole lot of heart issues (Jesus… Jesus.).
God was there in a way that could almost not be explained. There was so much hurt. So much pain. So much healing.
But God. But redemption. The panel of amazing widows offered insight of their journeys beyond the fresh moments and months through grief. Their stories of survival and how God has sustained them and their babies through this treacherous journey. It wasn’t so much the fact that they all have their “after” (remarried), more like they have made it through the fire. And another marriage was just another perk that God gifted to them. These women were four, six, or twenty years past when their husbands had passed and unanimously agreed that they ALWAYS will be grieving. Their husbands will always be a part of their lives, and they will always love them. He will always be the father of their children. It was so nice to see others honor and respect that, as I have been doing, and want to do for the rest of my life. It was just so good to see that I am on the right path. I am following Jesus and that has carried me through this journey. And My trajectory is one of strength and healing, as it should be. God will use me, use my story, for His glory and to help others.
A daughter of one of the mentor widows sat at the front of the room on Saturday. Through tears she exclaimed how much she loved her daddy, but her first thoughts as a child wasn’t of sadness, it was of her mom’s strength. She was only 18 months old when her daddy died, so too young to even remember him. Just so heartbreaking. But to see this gorgeous young lady, so smart and put together, talk about how God is GOOD and how He has worked it out for good, was just so encouraging. My kids will be OK. I will be ok. I am doing a good job, by God’s grace, and we have an incredible story beyond this.
We discussed how to deal with child grief with a counselor, stories of other widows who have since been remarried, finances, dating, and all of it. There are a lot of dynamics that come with being a widow beyond the fact that our husbands died. It is honestly so complicated and there is one million things that come with being a widow aside from the fact that our husbands died. It is work. It is really hard. It is a lot to manage.
Honestly, it was comforting just simply being in a room with women who know exactly what I have gone through. Or, women have gone through it and have seen success beyond it. I could sit next to these women without saying a word, and I know their story. They were me. I was them. I know their pain and I have felt the intensity of crazy emotions.
Being a widow is now a huge part of my life, but it will not negatively define my life. I won’t let this stop me from living. I will let this be a catapult to how I should be living. Let it strengthen me and give me tools and empathy that I could never had before to the same degree.
God allowed this to happen. And God will reveal to me why. I pray I see that in this lifetime. I pray that my children see success and health, not forever be in the mindset of sadness that their daddy isn’t here. He won’t be here to help them with homework or to walk them down the aisle. But he is in Heaven with Jesus and they have the most supportive cheerleaders than anyone else in this world. They will be advocates for Jesus. They will know their daddy. Because I won’t stop talking about him. And none of us ever should.
Here are some pictures from the retreat! Most I borrowed from the girls there…. I am SO bad about taking pictures!
Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible! Thank you to the mentors, Rachel, Brittany, Ginger, and Paige. Thank you to Be Still Ministries for making this whole thing possible. It was so valuable, so refreshing, and I feel so recharged and inspired. This is a group of ladies I will value forever. Thank you, Lord.