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Coping after the Death of a Spouse

by Mary Obey

Be Open to the Signs

Just before Elt died, I asked him to be wi th me , because it was going to be frightening to go on living without him by my side. I have never been in a situation where I was truly afraid, but having the faith and confidence that God and Elt are with me has helped me to avoid a complete panic attack.

We had a wonderful pastor, Father James Rowley, who always told us that Christ dwells within each one of us, and that we are Christ to each other.

A program on television one Sunday at the hospital when Elt was in for chemo, stated that God speaks to us through other people or instances in our lives. It could be our doctors, nurses, family, friends, or maybe a song that was special to the two of you.

We need to be open to those signs that are showing us that our loved ones are with us in Spirit! It can be very comforting, and as you become more aware of these signs, you'll more readily recognize them as gentle nudges to guide you in the direction that you should follow.

About a year before he died, Elt attended a retreat and brought the following verse home to me. It has helped me to cope with all of the situations that have occurred since his death. I feel that we can draw strength and courage from the spirit of God, and the following is one of the ways he has spoken to me.

Life's Weaving
My life is but a weaving Between my God and me; I may not choose the colors, He knows what they should be

For He can view the pattern Upon the upper side, While I can see it only On this, the under side.

Sometimes He weaveth sorrow, Which seemeth strange to me; But I will trust His judgment, And work on faithfully;

`Tis He who fills the shuttle, He knows just what is best; So I shall weave in earnest And leave with Him the rest.

At last, when life is ended, With Him I shall abide, Then I may view the pattern Upon the upper side;

Then I shall know the reason Why pain with joy entwined, Was woven in the fabric Of life that God designed.

This helped me immensely during those first days, weeks, and months after Elt's death. As you well know, some days you have to take things an hour at a time.

The Serenity Prayer has also been very helpful for me!

Serenity Prayer
God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.

When we find ourselves faced with widowhood, even small decisions can seem monumental, so I got a little help from a friend and used this prayer daily. Just repeating it over and over was helpful to me when I had decisions to make, and we know how many of those we have to make! I won't even get into the kitchen table covered with paperwork! We've all been there, done that!

Losing a spouse through death is one of the most devastating things that can happen to us in our lifetime. We have not only lost our spouse, but in most cases, our best friend, and our lives are shattered. With the help of loving and caring family and friends we can work through the grieving process and recover from our grief. Grief is a Process and Recovery is a Choice!

Mary Obey is a parishioner at St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic Church in Palatine, IL.

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