The Things I Understood After Grief

Ignorance is bliss … so they say.

You don’t know … till you know.

After being thrust into tragedy, a whole new world of knowledge opened up for me. Knowledge I, in some ways, wish I was still blissfully ignorant of. But knowledge that opened up my eyes, nonetheless.

I finally understood the shallowness of the things people say in the face of unspeakable pain. A pat on the back while your insides are gaping open.  To be fair, I’m sure I used to be one of those people. After all, you don’t know until you know. But after I lost my husband, the platitudes people offered basically nauseated me. Even the spiritual truths I knew I believed raised my hackles. Not because I didn’t believe what was being said, but because the nice, tidy boxes felt completely disconnected from the chaos I waded through. The positive, the peppy, the bright-sided comments, the faith-filled, the look-at-the-bright-side repertoire felt too far from where I was. It was too peaceful for my storm. Too black and white for my sea of grey complexities. It only increased the chasm between me and hope because with every repetition it reminded me how far away from all that “good stuff” I felt.

I finally understood why people do what they do. Pain can cause crazy coping mechanisms. I used to watch people and puzzle over the inability to deal with life’s issues. Then the wind got knocked out of me. Suddenly, it didn’t seem so puzzling. I understood why depression could sink its claws into a heart because the uphill battle against the oppression of grief and tragedy seemed too long, too arduous, too exhausting, too lonely — too impossible. And it can leave people making not-too-great of choices do deal with the pain.

I finally understood what pain really was. The human soul has a tremendous ability to be wounded. I’d been hurt, sure. Gut-wrenching hurt. But this? It hurt to breathe…hurt to live…hurt to face the day. The rest of my future didn’t bring a sense of expectation but a sense of dread. I had to face the rest of my days with this irreversible tragedy engraved in my mind and its shadow darkening my future. It was a pain that separated life into two parts. A pain that altered everything about me. I could never be the same.

I finally understood what being spiritually weak felt like. From a young age I had my act together, so to speak. I rarely would walk into church feeling a sense of spiritual desperation because I didn’t have a “messy” life needing healing. But my faith had never been thrown in the fire. Then one day I was standing in the midst of a foggy highway seeing my husband’s body in our crushed van. To say that all my “got-it-together” faith crumbled would be an understatement. I felt helpless and full of doubts. Oh, so weak. I then understood the feeling of walking into a church and feeling completely detached. Feeling dry. Feeling desperate. Not knowing any answers or how to revive my soul. I had no idea how to get past the storm inside me.

I finally understood what it was to endure people who have no clue. People’s naivety and shallowness left a literal distaste in my mouth. Their silly complaints. My husband didn’t take out the trash. Their whining for a “bad” day. I didn’t get my coffee today. Their feel-good faith that hadn’t been put to the test by tragedy. I prayed for a new car and God blessed me. It all made me realize how much I appreciated  authentic people — genuine conversation — where the nitty-gritty can coexist with faith, raw hurt can intertwine with hope and the blunt struggles can walk beside the desire for healing — without being belittled by positivity or patronized by naivety.

I finally understood how lonely life can be.  There are pains in life that — no matter how surrounded I am with friends nor how loyal my family —they cannot journey with me. It is a solo endurance. A path no one can tread for me. The events, the memories, the guilt, the longing, the questions, are all individual to me and are tied to my soul and my soul alone. Others can walk beside me and encourage, but no human can truly carry the burden of my loss, trauma or tragedy. It creates a distinct loneliness, having to trek the journey alone — the journey of healing.

I finally understood the capability of God’s healing. How vast and sure and complete it can be in the face of human impossibility. If I never hurt, I could never truly appreciate healing. I could never comprehend God’s restorative power without first being broken. After the death in my soul I could experience the awe of His resurrection. Only now can I appreciate the roots — those truths — that had planted themselves deeply in my spirit and held me steady when the tsunami raged. The fact that no experience is wasted in God’s economy blossomed hope in my soul. The fact that the scars that mark us don’t have to be the sum of who we are, nor the definition of what our life becomes, brought light to the darkness.

I finally understood God’s heart for healing, because, well, I was the one being healed.

7 thoughts on “The Things I Understood After Grief

  1. This has really touched my heart. This is my story exactly except my husband had widow maker heart attack at age 50 , 6yrs ago March 28 2015. Thank you for these words , I need to show this to my 2 sisters, this maybe reading how someone else feels they will understand how hard it has been for me!


  2. Lori Hudson Brashier January 28, 2021 — 9:03 pm

    I just read another one of ur “articles”, on a Facebook widow support group. Ur sentiments r so closely related to my exact feelings – it’s astonishing! Of course, I’ve read other widows’ articles, & they’ve been great, but urs r exceptional! It’s like u’r in my mind.
    Is it ok if I share ur articles on my timeline? Of course, ur name would b on them.


    1. Thank you , Lori. Of course you may share my blogs. You can share the link directly from the site. If you share it apart from the link, please do make sure my name stays attached. Big hugs to you. I’m so glad my words resonate with others.


  3. I just discovered your blog and you so accurately describe those feelings only another widow can know. Thank you. It is reassuring to hear, makes one feel less alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kathy Blankinship September 29, 2021 — 6:07 pm

    Your blogs get right to the heart of grief, it’s desperation, loneliness and efforts to recover a life well lived. The biggest question…how to keep moving and how to find “you”.


  5. Dear Alisha,
    You are just writing into my loneliness too !


  6. I lost my husband of 52 yrs May 22, 2019. The first year I felt numb, the second year I felt more and more detached from everyone and everything. In a few months it will be 3 yrs. How can I have existed so long without him and so alone. I’ve isolated myself pretty much and of course COVID took away any incentive to rejoin the human race Now, I am feeling anger. Anger at friends that said they would be there, but were too busy and now say they are withdrawing their friendship because I have nothing in common with them.. Anger at family members who do not bring up their dad’s name unless I do, anger at my husband for his paranoia and distrustfulness of me during his last year of life. Even though I know that a lot of his emotional outbursts were side effects of all his meds, I still feel anger. And most of all I am angry at myself for letting my entire life do a reversal of the person I once was. I was organized, neat and tidy and really cared about my home and yard. Now, it seems so pointless to me. I am trying to turn things around with the help of God, but even there my spiritual relationship with Him up and down. Thank you for sharing in words the things I have not been able to voice. Thank you for sharing your pain and thank you the most for letting us reply to you as we each go on the so unwanted path of widowhood.


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