“Your Husband has been involved in a fatal collision, and He is the fatality” That sentence was said to me just 5 months after we got married and 3 weeks before Christmas. My Husband had tragically died in a car crash. My world fell apart and I became a widow. That word still feels like foreign word in my mouth. So many tears, so many first and so, so much pain.
It’s so difficult to begin to describe the level of pain of losing my Husband. I didn’t know it was possible to cry yourself dry or be so physically cold that you just can’t get warm. Instead of choosing a Christmas tree together, I had to choose my best friend’s coffin. My world became dark and full of tragedy; all my dreams were shattered with just one sentence. This is heart-breaking, gut wrenching deep, deep stuff.
This was over a year ago now, I feel like I am slowly starting to resurface, coming up for air as it were – moving from just simple survival to actually living.
After extreme trauma, brokenness and grief, you have to go through a season of just simple survival. It’s not about thriving or moving forward, it’s as simple as breathing in and out and going through the daily functions. And that is entirely acceptable. It is not a place to unpack and live, but it’s an essential part to go through – a season of just living on a life boat, and holding on through the storm.
One of the biggest blessings I have found is having people in your life who give you permission to be in this place. Who don’t try to push you through and move you forward. The most empowering thing you can do for another person is to be present and give them permission to feel the pain – it really can be that simple. To just show up and be, being present is so much more important than being perfect. The practical stuff is also so essential, cooking a meal, helping with forms – it all helps. But sitting with someone in extreme brokenness, being present with them in the dark – it is a crucial part of helping someone to survive.
When you are forced to travel down a path of grief and pain, lives are flipped upside down and everything becomes so uncertain. It means we need consistency in relationships, we need longevity. People are not projects.
The challenge of loving someone going through extreme grief and depression is not easy. It can be awkward, ugly and messy. I guess that’s why some people withdraw and disappear.
I’m thankful for both the old and new friends who have arisen in my life and become part of “my people.” Those who have sincerely cared for me, who have unselfishly enfolded me in love, pointing to the truth when the darkness and pain distorted my vision.
I’m learning that grief, trauma and being a widow SUCKS. I mean big time sucks. It’s not fair, it hurts like hell and some days no amount of crying will make you feel any better. And you know what, that’s ok. When life knocks you of your feet and you are faced with this kind of grief. You get to cry, you get to sob your heart out and you get to not be ok.
For some people this is just too much, they want to make you feel better, tell you how strong you are, how you will be happy again. But the truth is in that moment we need permission to not have to be strong and to not have to be ok.
I think it’s because we are in a culture where we are so afraid of pain, so afraid of depression and extreme emotions that we like to rush people through the pain. Anaesthetise the pain. Try to paint a smile on the sadness and there is deep need for people to try to make it all ok.
But the people who brought me so much comfort are the ones who have come and sat in the pain with me. The ones who haven’t been afraid of my grief, and sat with me exactly where I am. The ones who have stepped into my darkness and in doing so managed to shed some small amount of light. I have learned that this is Holy ground and God isn’t scared of my pain either.
So to the ones who are hurting, the ones who are grieving and to the ones who are facing trauma – you have permission to be exactly where you are at. You get to not be ok and you get to not be strong. Maybe it’s in this place that one day we might finally start to recover. That in this authentic, crazy and painful place that eventually one day we might start to be ok.
I have absolutely no idea what the future holds or what it looks like. I’m still on this journey that has some incredibly painful days. There is part of me that wants to build a wall 10ft high and not let anyone close, but one thing this last year has taught is that we need people. We are made to be in community. Without my community, without my people and ultimately without my faith in God (and the hope He brings, even in the darkest night of the soul) there is NO way I would have survived the last year.
So my hope for you all is that you find your community, find your people and that we show up for one another, show up in love and show up in light.