As the years went on, the intense suffering ebbed, but still there were times when a wave of grief would nearly knock me down. Slowly, I began to see how many other women had also lost their beloved husbands, and were grief stricken, just like me. Suffering was all around me, and my only hope was plodding along the treacherous path of grief to discover solid ground.
Yes, my cross was heavy, but so many others were bent under weightier burdens, such as terrible illnesses or the loss of children to suicide. When we’re felled by tragedy, we can pray that God will show us people who need our help.
Slowly, grief gave way to gratitude, as I realized what a blessing our marriage had been. Each memory seemed like a sparkling jewel I lovingly turned over in my hands, and what had once brought bitter tears now brought gladness.
The words of Father Richard Lopez, who celebrated my husband’s funeral Mass, came back to me: “Because Jef died in a state of grace, his death reminds us that a tragic death is not a sudden death, nor the death of a young person, since in terms of eternity, we all die young. A tragic death is one in which a person is not prepared to die.”
Shortly before his death, I asked Jef whether he thought I’d ever see my mother — who had died when I was 29 — again. He looked at me tenderly and said, “I know you will.” These words sustain me, because even though his death was sudden, he was spiritually prepared to die. And to be perfectly clear, I didn’t really lose him, since I know I’ll see him again.
Lorraine’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.