Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

This article is based on the book, Hurricane of Love.

My two daughters were hugging my wife, Beth, and I was holding all three of them in my arms, when Beth took her last breath on October 30, 2015 at 2:40p.m. We had three years to consider the possibility that this day would come. Still, there was no way to totally prepare for it.

Even though I was relieved that Beth was finally out of her pain from battling stage 4 cancer, my heart ached from the realization that after spending 37 years with her, I would never see her again – this side of heaven.

I had no idea that this was just the beginning of my grieving process. The year of firsts was coming.

For the next five weeks:

I had trouble getting out of bed in the morning.
Taking a shower, shaving and getting dressed just seemed like too much work.
I didn’t want to leave my house.
I spent my days looking at photos and watching videos of my late wife.
I didn’t really want to see anyone other than my daughters and my grandchildren.
Before long, Thanksgiving arrived. This was the first holiday without Beth. It was the “first” in my “year of firsts,” and I didn’t realize how gut-wrenching every first holiday, anniversary, and birthday was going to be without her.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock/grinvalds

  1. Recognize these will be tough days.
  2. Recognize these will be tough days.
    My family had celebrated every holiday since 2010 with my oldest daughter’s family and her in-laws. We usually had Thanksgiving dinner at her in-law’s home. Her father-in-law, Ed, did all of the cooking. All I had to do was show up and eat. When Beth was alive, I always looked forward to having Thanksgiving dinner with them. But now that she was gone, I didn’t feel very thankful, and I didn’t feel like pretending that I was. Everyone was understanding and caring, but I just wanted to eat and go back home.

When we sat down for dinner, I realized they had a place setting and a chair at the table for Beth. It was a nice gesture, but it felt like a dagger to my heart. I kept looking at the chair, and I kept thinking she should have been there.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock/shironosov

“I begged God to give me the strength…”

“I begged God to give me the strength…”
I remember when I crawled into bed that night, I cried myself to sleep. I begged God to give me the strength to make it through Christmas. I knew it would be brutal, and I had no idea how I would survive. I had no desire and no intention to put up a tree and decorate. In fact, I didn’t want to celebrate Christmas at all, but my daughters wanted me to. “Mom would want us to celebrate Christmas,” my youngest said.

I knew that every ornament and every Christmas song would bring me to tears. I finally carried the tree and the ornaments up from the basement and began what turned out to be one of the hardest tasks I have ever done.

Related Resource: Listen to our FREE podcast, Teach Us to Pray with Christina Patterson. You can find all the episodes at Listen to our episode on desperate prayers right now:

Photo Credit: Thinkstock/amenic181

  1. Express how you feel.
  2. Express how you feel.
    My second “first” came just days before Christmas on December 22nd. It would have been our 31st wedding anniversary. My daughter very wisely suggested we all go to New York City for two days, so I wouldn’t just sit in the house and cry. I bought tickets to “The Lion King” on Broadway, figuring it would be entertaining for everyone including my two grandsons. It was good that we stayed busy as a family. While we were all thinking about Beth, the change of scenery helped.

Christmas Eve came and we all went to church together. This was always Beth’s favorite service. She loved the end of the service when the congregation lights each other’s candles and the sanctuary is slowly transformed from complete darkness to light as we sing “Silent Night.” I always loved this tradition when Beth was standing next to me, but this year it was just another event to endure without her. My eyes opened up into a river of tears.

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