In the process of writing my book, I’ve interviewed dozens of widows about their grief and loss. Eventually, I started getting emails and phone calls from others who experienced a different type of loss. The thing about grief is that others can relate to this universal feeling of despair because nearly everyone has experienced a significant loss. Others shared with me a lament for their child, sister, mother or close friend. When it was possible, I would meet someone for coffee and would intently listen to their story. They would share their story, and then ask about my late husband.
Over time, I noticed in talking with others that I met, that many posed a similar question. It didn’t matter the age of the person I was talking with, when they experienced their loss, what type of circumstances the loss happened under, or their current marital status. The question that I am most frequently asked was this: How do you trust in God after your husband died? I don’t think anyone was looking for a sophisticated theological explanation, but more of a wondering of how it is possible to believe in something. My answer is always hesitant because there are days when I’m not sure how or why I continue to believe. Sometimes, I stumble and people catch my awkward pause. This is how I explain my faith. I believe despite great suffering and darkness that love, coming from God, is what transcends death.
I am aware that this answer is not satisfactory to most people. Some people have shared with me a story about their spouse’s suicide or child’s accidental overdose. I know that they feel abandoned by God and cheated by life. I have no answers.
I continue to believe in God despite hearing these horrible and tragic stories. I believe that compassion comes from finding love among our deepest wounds. It is this compassion, which allows all of us to console each other. I know that it is in this place where we communicate our deepest love.
Shortly after my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I talked with my husband about my disappointment in God. I was fragile and vulnerable. There always seemed to be a lump in my throat and a tear in the corner of my eye. I told my husband, “I just don’t get it. Why?” My husband, without missing a beat, answered, “You are asking the wrong question. Instead of asking, ‘why us’, you should be asking, ‘why not us’?”
Kristin Meekhof is a licensed master’s level social worker. She graduated from Kalamazoo College with a major in psychology and completed the clinical master in social work program at the University of Michigan. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post and recently authored an essay (in the Huffington Post) titled, “The Moment I Knew”, which was published June 10, 2013. She is currently writing a book, “When Your Husband Dies: 7 Challenges Widows Encounter” with James Windell. They are talking directly with widows of all ages, and are addressing topics such as death by suicide, substance abuse and tragic accidents.