I recently wrote a blog post titled “Do You Feel as Though Grief Is the End of Your Story?” – And I shared that, for a time, I wondered whether grief marked the end of mine. However, my story did not stop there. Thank God, grief was not the end. There’s a lot more to the story …
When I was struggling with grief and searching for a way through after my husband died suddenly, I eagerly grasped onto the stories of others who had successfully reached the other side. Until I was sure I could actually get there myself, I ‘borrowed’ hope from them. I gratefully tell my story, trusting the same will be true for you.
I have experienced many changes over the past seventeen years, both personally and professionally. My life today bears little resemblance to my life back then, yet I can definitely say that through it all, God has blessed me and my life is rich.
I’m sharing my story to reassure you that grief is not the end of your story either.
I’ve made certain decisions that some would probably label as crazy – but, at times, acts of faith or heart decisions do not necessarily seem logical to others. Looking back, I wouldn’t change any of them!
God Works in Unexpected Ways
God works in miraculous ways when we step back, let go, and quit trying to control everything ourselves. God knew my heart. He knew that I still had a lot of love to give, and he knew I wanted to share the rest of my life with someone. And when I stopped trying so hard to make that happen, things developed naturally.
My husband Jon and I met after we both spent the day volunteering at a Habitat for Humanity work day. Someone threw a party for all who had volunteered that day, and as soon as I entered the home, I overheard him talking about having attended the funeral of a dear woman who had led grief support workshops we both attended separately a couple of years apart! What are the chances of that? We started talking, and our conversation continued off and on for the rest of the evening.
Jon and I are about as different as night and day – except when it comes to major beliefs and values. There we’re perfectly in sync. As for personalities, he’s intense and dramatic while I’m usually calm and more restrained. He′s a natural storyteller and he enjoys being the ‘life of the party,’ while I’m the quieter one who is content to stay out of the spotlight and learn all about folks one-on-one. He captivated me that evening, as I listened intently and laughed while he told story after crazy story of his adventures on the road with his work. That was the beginning of our relationship – and it gradually developed over the next year and a half.
I’m so grateful for my husband and a second chance at love! And the fact that we both appreciate what it means to have lost a spouse brings a special understanding to our relationship. He also cares deeply about people who have suffered loss, whether because of death or other reasons. Jon’s love and support enabled me to change career directions and undertake a special project I could not possibly have done otherwise.
I have had the incomparable blessing of being able to follow a dream God placed in my heart and in Jon’s. Without my husband’s blessing and belief in the project, and the grace of God, I could not have done what I did. I resigned from an excellent position in a respected design firm to do something I had never done before—write and publish a book. The goal of writing one book turned into two, and the rest is history. Both books have won awards – who would ever have thought! Yet, there’s more to the story …
I didn’t write or publish these books alone. God placed the desire and the ideas in my heart, and He helped me each step of the way. I prayed each day before I sat down to write. I prayed over the search for consultants—and over each decision about the book—the editor, designer, printer, distributor, and more.
When I received my editor’s first notes, and she asked me to add detailed explanations about things that had happened ten years before, to say I was discouraged would be a massive understatement. It’s hard enough to remember things when you’re consciously aware that you must! I didn’t see how I could possibly remember details of a time when I was focused on just trying to get through each day. How could I recall what I thought and exactly what I did to get through that time? The task seemed impossible. My husband urged me to step away and set the book aside for several days. When I came back and sat down to try and do what she had asked, I prayed. And then I started jotting down little notes throughout. When I went back to fill in details, I was completely amazed at all that God brought back to my mind. Without God’s help all along, I could not have finished. Without His help, I could not have written the books I wrote.
I’ve also had the awesome privilege of connecting with countless people who have faced grief in their own lives. I’ve been able to share resources, knowledge, hope, and love with them because of my own experience. I still want to help—on an even larger scale. God is good, I’m willing, and I don’t think He’s brought me this far to abandon the dream now!
Another precious blessing in recent years is our little grandson who is a complete joy, and we love watching the silly things he says and does! What fun to have a toddler and to see him develop into a little person with a unique personality.
One of the greatest blessings (and messages) I learned over these years is that even during grief (especially during grief!) God is right beside me. He is there every step of the way. You may think I should have known that – but intellectually knowing it and knowing it deep in your heart are two different things. I’ll be honest – sometimes I had to remind myself. Grief can be exhausting. But deep down, I already knew the truth. And I’m convinced that hope is a by-product of grief, if you’ll look for it. God has something for each of us as long as we’re still here. He never abandons us. And where God is, hope is …
I know the peace that passes understanding because I’ve experienced it. I’ll never forget. At my time of greatest loss, I knew that I knew that I knew – that somehow, everything would be all right. I didn’t know how, and I didn’t know when, yet in the deepest part of my soul, I simply knew. What a gift.
I am thankful for all that God has done in my life, even through my most difficult times. I’m thankful for the opportunities; for the successes and the challenges; for the chance to take what I’ve been through and help someone else; for God’s faithfulness and love; for the joys and blessings; and for what is yet to come.
Grief Does Not Have to Be the End
I’m not in any way minimizing what anyone is facing. I know what it’s like to grieve. And I know grief is tough. Yet, I know, too, that grief is not the end.
Life does go on, and it can surely still be good after grief and loss. My life is just one example. Many others are living proof of the same. If you aren’t there yet, please do not give up hope! Grief does not have to be the end of your story either.
© 2015 Judy Brizendine
Clip Art credit: Microsoft Word/Bing
Do You Feel as Though Grief Is the End of Your Story? – Judy Brizendine
Finding Meaning in Your Loss – Marty Tousley
Choose To Make Something Good Come From Your Great Loss – Lou LaGrand
Loss of a Loved One: Finding Meaning through Metaphor – Marilyn Price-Mitchell, PhD