The question has been asked, “How does one remain whole after the death of a life partner whom you have loved and lived with for many years?” As I have reflected on that question and looked back on my life since my husband died, some answers have emerged.
First, I needed to come to grips with the fact that “Nip” was dead. Nip had always been a steady, predictable man. I knew exactly when he would come home from work each day. Nip had always been there for me; and especially after he retired, Nip’s presence in the house was something I could always count on. He was always there. My life involved a lot of coming and going, and whenever I returned home and climbed the stairs, I knew Nip would be there to greet me.
Nip’s death was sudden and unexpected. He had been ill for a brief time, but had recovered, and his doctor said he would be fine. Then, only a few days later, I found him dead.
I couldn’t imagine that the person who had always been there for me was now gone. During the first year after his death, I often felt like he had abandoned me, and at times I was angry and resentful. When things came up, I wanted to turn to him for the support he had always given me. But he was gone, and no matter how I felt about it, that fact would not and could not change.
Secondly, I needed to find ways to go on with my life. Of course, when I thought of the alternatives, I knew that I wanted to live. I was not ready to join Nip. I found it necessary to move out of the house where Nip and I had lived, because that house was so filled with his presence and had so many reminders of him, it was impossible for me to go on living there without him.
Now, I am a Christian woman, a believer in God—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Philippians 4:4 says “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.” When I thought about those words and applied them to my present situation, I realized I could truly rejoice because I had been blessed in my marriage to this man for thirty-six years. The years and God had been generous to me, and I could rejoice in the many good memories. The reality of Nip’s absence in the flesh was painful, but with the knowledge of God’s love for me and for Nip, the pain was and is bearable.
God blessed me by surrounding me with people who love me; both family and friends. In fact, my family and friends gathered around me so closely, that if I had started to fall, I would not have been able to hit the ground. When we are in tune with the Spirit of God, God will send us whatever we need to survive. There were times I needed to cry, and I was permitted to do so. Every day someone called to see how I was. I felt the love of God through my friends and family, and no one ever made me feel like I was intruding on their time and space. I truly had and have many reasons to rejoice in the Lord.
So, if asked how I remain whole after the death of my beloved husband, I have to say, “Only with the help and grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!” For we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. I believe that and try to live that way.
I do still cry. I miss Nip and probably always will. But God gave him to me and I know that God has taken him away. I can say with Job, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
I always knew that Nip loved me and wanted me to be happy. And I know that God loves me and wants me to be happy. Wholeness comes from being in and with God, and is not dependent on the external circumstances of our lives. I am learning to be happy and whole in whatever state I am in. Thank God!