The jarring exposure to death left me frozen. For months, I felt dazed by grief but aware that time was marching on.The earth stopped spinning and yet the sun kept rising. My husband of 26 years had died in a car accident on his way home from work. The life I loved was irrevocably gone.
I was left behind and living with the finality of death. The persistent companion was continuously staring me down by day and intensifying at night. Its cold tendrils wormed around my heart, letting me feel the ice of separation while rooting me to loss.
I was the one living, but my husband’s presence lingered all around me. The essence of him remained in the hollow dent of his pillow. His toothbrush, nightstand, and clothes suddenly were the survivors left behind.
The remnants of Steve’s life, now became artifacts to be preserved. I found myself teetering between life and death in a delicate balance, desperate to safe-guard what remained. Nothing could be touched; like fine art, no object could be disturbed. Somehow if I could hold tight to the surviving artifacts, his presence could linger and caress my broken heart.
If you have ever experienced loss, you get what I’m saying. There is something about loss that tethers you to what remains. Cherished impressions left from personal items are hard to relinquish because that would be a cold admission that your person is gone. Items become sacred and the thought of letting them go causes chain reactions of discharged pain.
Somehow it feels like letting go would be a denial of the past, a violation of the memory. It would be an offense to “get rid of their things”. In grief we grasp at the shadows of those memories that once were. There is nothing else to hold on to, but the artifacts. Our natural response is to shield ourselves from pain and minimize its effects. So we cling to what remains.
However, here are some dangers in clinging to things:
Remaining tethered to things keeps you from grieving properly. Grieving becomes static and you get stuck in it. However, having healthy outlets for your grief will lead to healing. Facing grief and leaning in with God’s help is what brings healing.
There is danger in dipping down into a deep depression when artifacts become the means of coping.
Things don’t heal, time doesn’t heal, only God heals.
How can the Word help us heal?
The Word of God will change your perspective on loss. Viewing death through the lens of scripture, rather than your feelings, will offer hope and healing. Your feelings are real and valid, but they aren’t absolute truth – so place your feelings under the cover of scripture.
Take a walk with me through my heart, and let me show you how God’s Word healed me.
My finger ran down the silky pages of God’s Word and then suddenly stopped at Psalm 119:25 as I read, “My soul clings to the dust, give me life according to your word” (ESV). It was day 2, of living without my beloved husband and I was desperate for God’s help. Like taking a breath of fresh air after being submerged in the deep ocean, God’s Word came to rescue me. The verse narrating my soul’s condition, whispered a promise that couldn’t be broken and could not die.
Pointing His finger at Psalm 119, God was inviting me to go deeper into His Word. With His promise of life over mine, I fell prostrate into Psalm 119.
For eleven months, God’s Holy Word held me in stasis, like some spiritual equilibrium. With two opposing powerful forces, grief had me on one side and God’s Word on the other. God’s living Word was breathing new life to me. The Creator of life who knew the number of hairs on my head also knew exactly how to heal me. His presence wasn’t removing the pain, but rather like aloe on a sunburn, it was dispelling its effects. God knew Psalm 119 would soothe and heal my broken heart.
Day after day, I brought nothing but anguish to Him and He brought a Word to me. Our time together became a lovely exchange of TRUTHS. This was our secret church and I became His congregation. I was His holy assembly of one, and He was eager to exchange my shattered heart for access into His. It was this divine exchange of my lament for His joy that healed me.
Written by Amy Richards. As the Executive Ministry Director at Tabernacle Baptist Church, Amy helps assist with church-wide initiatives and events. She has two daughters, both are in college. Their world was shattered in 2020, when Amy’s husband of 26 years was killed in a car accident. As God’s love ministered to her broken heart, it became clear that Amy was being reframed for a purpose. That purpose evolved when she founded ps119 Ministries at Tabernacle in Decatur, Illinois. The ministry’s mission is to help women who have suffered loss find God’s purpose and live a life with meaning-filled activity. Connect with her: @PS119Ministries