To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
The honeysuckles are lush along the roadside as I drive north from the house to the grocery store, the woods on either side reminding me of home—my old home. It is late April and I am living here. Now, this is home.
The sorrow followed me here to this warmer, greener climate, a Midwestern city nearly 600 miles south of the one my husband and I called home together. He is the reason for the sorrow. God called him home—cardiac arrest—11 months ago. Widowhood is much more difficult than I ever imagined. Carrying the weight of my grief is overwhelming.
I remember the early days in my new city, a visit in January when I sat on the sofa staring out the window at the leafless trees beyond the brown backyard, the underbrush twisted, foreign, barren, my tears falling gently, amply, silently. My heart knew that I could sit in this place for hours, maybe days, perhaps even years. Coming to the realization that I needed help—therapy, actually—I sat weighing my declining mental health against the economic hardship of my widowhood and my faith in God’s provision. Perhaps a grief group would be better?
Within 24 hours, God provided for my needs with a local hospice that hosts a grief group. The group is free, open, and nearby. I ventured out to an unexplored neighborhood in my new city, arriving just in time, accepting the one remaining empty chair offered by strangers who greeted me as friends.
A few days later, I returned to my old home, the apartment where my husband died, to sort through our belongings and prepare to move. Five categories—keep, sell, donate, give as a gift, throw away—are simple in comparison to the unexpected and complicated sixth—not today. In the end, the material possessions left behind were categorized and labeled with pricing stickers for the annual thrift sale hosted by friends.
Time constrained my efforts. Toys and tools were left to be sorted by other hands as I engaged the not today items—treasures re-categorized with ample prayer and unrestricted tears. Cramming all the items I was keeping into my modest car, I locked the door behind me, saying good-bye to memories and empty space. Then I returned to the sofa in my new home.
Now it’s spring and the trees beyond the backyard are in full bloom. The birds fly, eat, mate, and dwell within its hedges. Honeysuckle is blossoming in places where I once saw only underbrush, the landscape no longer twisted, foreign, barren.
Recently I attended my fifth session of grief group. Friendships are beginning to take root: an evening meal at a restaurant, a day at the botanical center, and most recently arriving almost-late-for-dinner when friendship and conversation enticed me to linger nearly two hours after the official group time had ended.
The heart-ground where my husband once walked remains barren, though now it is bordered by the promise of new growth.
The honeysuckle is ripening and smelling sweet. Life is renewing itself. A time to die becomes a time to be reborn. The end is becoming a time to begin. The burden of grief will always be heavy, its weight reflecting the depth of the love. What is changing is the strength within me, my acceptance of God’s promise that I will never carry this burden alone.
Founder of Whispered Hopes ministry, Renee Wurzer describes herself as a flawed, human and fragile encourager, a woman seeking to inspire others with courage and hope in Christ. A recent widow, her joy here on earth is her legacy family, especially grandchildren. She finds hope in walking with her faith community, editing for others and writing her own blog. Learn more about Whispered Hopes here.