That’s kind of a strange title, isn’t it? It’s been rumbling around in my brain for the past few days, so I decided to see where this goes!
At the heart of this issue is the question, “Do ‘strong’ people grieve less than ‘weak’ ones?” A few months after Dale’s death, a good widow friend called me. Honestly, I thought I would have heard from her much sooner than that. When I gently brought that up, she said to me, “I just thought you were so strong.” To which I replied, “No one is strong enough to lose the love of their life and not grieve.”
That’s the short answer, but let’s dig a little deeper into this concept.
Anyone who’s known me for any length of time may consider me a strong person. I’ve been pretty self-sufficient for much of my life, even though Dale’s strength always undergirded our marriage. I had a career that required me to be business savvy and tough. I was the sole caregiver to 4 people over the past 20 years, including my husband. All things that require a certain level of strength.
But that’s not always a good thing. Case in point – when Dale asked my dad if he could have my hand in marriage, my dad seriously cautioned Dale about that because he thought I was a bit too headstrong! Dale said he was up to the task, and he definitely was. That conversation makes me smile even today.
And yet, 21 months after losing Dale, I don’t feel that I have exhibited any strength in this journey. I’m sad on a daily basis. I still cry over so many memories. I constantly ask God to give me HIS strength. Sometimes I can’t even attend events because it’s hard to be around families and couples when I have to go alone. I could go on and on with examples.
So, I process all of this through this blog, through the blog on my ministry site, through speaking engagements, and through book and song writing. They are the outlets for my pain. God has given me this ministry to share my journey and what He’s teaching me, with all of you.
I doubt if any of my posts would paint me as strong during this season. Becoming a widow has shone a light on how much I rely on God’s strength to get me from one day to the next. None of my own strength has been sufficient.
As I write, I often find other widows or people suffering from losses who comment that it helps them to know what I struggle with because it’s their struggle, too. Or, maybe they had some of the same hurts as me, but didn’t know how to tell anyone. So they suffered alone or in silence. Maybe they were afraid they’d be considered weak.
So I write for all of us who are suffering – especially those who don’t feel equipped to share their pain. I don’t think that makes me strong. I think it makes me honest, and often vulnerable. But if it helps shed some light on these difficult days, then I’m grateful God has called me to this.
Back to the original question. So while it might seem logical that “strong” people don’t grieve as deeply, the reality is that no amount of our own strength is enough to get through a deep loss.
Worth repeating – for me, this loss just shines a light on my need for God and His strength. The only “strong” thing I do is face my grief. Thanks for listening.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9