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Grieve with Hope

Recently a man wrote of the crisis he went through when he turned 50.  He realized his life might be half over or more, yet there was so much he still wanted to do and experience. He started to feel the preciousness of time, and the compulsion to make the most of whatever he had left.  It caused him to re-evaluate how he spent his time, on what he spent his money, and which things and people were truly important in his life.  He read books, pondered, and finally made some decisions that, in big and small ways, changed the way he lived.

When his wife was diagnosed and then died of cancer eight years later, he was awash in grief. He couldn’t imagine life without her, his emotions seemed out of control, and he wanted her back.

Gradually, as he came to accept the fact that he couldn’t have her back, that her death was now a permanent fixture of his life, he also realized that he was still alive.

He realized anew that life is transient and unpredictable, that he could have many years left or he could get a bad diagnosis next week. Even more powerfully than his 50th birthday, his wife’s death woke him up to the preciousness of time and the unknown amount he has left.

Prompted by this knowledge, he is once again in the process of re-evaluating his life, although this time without her by his side. He is thinking hard about what gives him enjoyment, what gifts he can share with others, how he can make a difference and live with meaning, who and what is truly important, where he spends money, and how he spends the minutes of his day.

Everything has changed for him, and he is doing his best to consciously, reflectively, and prayerfully change with it. He wants to carry her love with him, and find ways to give that love to others on her behalf. Knowing he may have much or only a little time left, he wants to honor his wife by living it as fully as possible.

This is easier said than done, and some days he just wants to hide in bed or die himself. Yet he remembers her, and it keeps him putting one foot in front of the other, keeps him talking to supportive people so he can process his grief, keeps him searching for new goals in his life. He grieves with hope.

No matter who or what you have lost, you are still alive. There can be joy and happiness ahead if you choose it. The pain is real and intense, but healing is possible.  Each morning, try to make one more small decision for life. Grieve, but with hope.          

© 2011, Amy Florian.  Used by permission.


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