I shared with you all recently how God helped me through another low point the other day when Josh left for Texas and how surprising it was to feel depressed when I had anticipated a sense of relief. For the first three weeks of our new “life” God was sustaining me with hope and encouragement and it seemed like the “high points” would carry me for several days. I don’t know if it’s Josh’s absence or if my emotions are running their natural course but the low points come more frequently.
I did a little research on the grief process because people keep telling me that I’m going to run through all of the emotions associated with grief and that it is OK to feel them. I found 7 stages:
- Shock and Denial
- Pain and Guilt
- Anger and Bargaining
- Depression, Reflection, Loneliness
- The upward turn
- Reconstruction and Working through
- Acceptance and Hope
I guess there is a more formal “5 stages of grief” but I will work with the 7 stages. From reading both, I learned a few things. First, they don’t necessarily go in order. And second, one might be surprised at how long it takes to go through any and all part of the grief process.
Please allow me to address them for you as I have been experiencing them. (Keep in mind, I am only in my 4th week.)
Shock and Denial – Obviously I was shocked when Josh confessed his infidelity to me. In fact, “shock” might be an understatement given the details of it all. Every once in a while, I get moments of denial like, getting tested for STD’s or something else utterly ridiculous. “Is this real?! Am I really this person now?” I furrow my brow and shake my head in shock and denial. Generally, those moments pass somewhat quickly. Denial that Josh will continue to live this way for the rest of his life? Well, I am in denial of that. The Josh I used to know was a very intelligent and reasonable person. That guy has to come back some day, right?
Pain and Guilt. Pain has pretty much eluded me almost the entire time. Remember when I was checking for bullet holes at his mean words? No real pain (yet) which is surprising. Prayers. There’s no other explanation. Will pain come? I guess I’d better be ready for it. As for guilt, I definitely have some. I wrote Josh a letter that was intended to talk about all the things that made me angry but it turned into an 8 page soliloquy that included pages of specific apologies for all the things I did wrong throughout our marriage. It was an enlightening exercise because, though I knew all of the little things I was neglectful over, I had never looked back to see the whole picture. Yuck. Friends, you should do this sometime. Write up a list of all the things your spouse does that are wonderful and generous (be specific) and then write down all the things you do that are selfish. You will be surprised at yourself.
Anger and Bargaining. I told you all how I can list things that make me angry and yet I can’t stir up anger feelings (yet) so who knows when or if I’ll go through that. Bargaining? Well, This is something I don’t really anticipate and I hope I never succumb to. You see, the beauty of this loss is that I have absolutely, without a doubt, no control over the situation in any way, shape or form. He left and never offered me the chance to bargain. This is my big lesson of late. All to Jesus, I surrender. There is nothing to bargain. I can only be faithful. I am so confident in this that I’m just going to cross it off the list. Bargaining
Depression, reflection, loneliness….(Sigh). Not a day goes by when I don’t feel every one of these very deeply. It’s unavoidable. The other side of the bed is empty every night and every morning. My mind wanders to a lonely future. I feel the weight of doing every single chore in my home and every single duty with the children, with no help from the man who promised to support me. I hear him say that he wants me to “move on” and find someone else but the Lord has not released me even though, biblically, I have every right to end this marriage. To be brutally honest, I don’t know how long I can live as the lone adult in my house. And the amount of time that I think God is calling me to live this way is considerable.
The upward turn – I seriously doubt I’m anywhere near this however,…(see below)
Reconstruction and Working through – after the first 7 days passed, I called my friend Lauren and said “Assemble the friends for (post-church) lunch” (something Josh and I would do on a weekly basis). This was intentional on my part. You see, all of our close-knit friends are married and I knew I had to endure the pain of being the lone person; rejected by a best friend and husband. I am sorry to admit that I think his death would have been easier in this regard. My friends are some of the most wonderful people and they all came out and I am constantly facing my new reality with them by my side. I try not to feel utterly pathetic but… nonetheless, I force myself to stay connected and not withdrawal, even though I think withdrawing would be infinitely easier. I am choosing to reconstruct on a daily basis. I have to for my kid’s sake and probably for my future.
Acceptance and Hope – acceptance? No. definitely not. Hope? Well that’s a different story all together. How wonderful it is to have my faith and my faithful friends and family. Hope springs eternal. I pray that it is never squelched. I have so much hope, I’ve even got some hope to spare and share. I know, without question that God is working in an incredible way and He will redeem this time. He will redeem this experience and He will get all of his due glory and I am proud to be a part of it.