Reflections of a Grieving Spouse

Harvest House Publishers/2009

Noted grief and trauma counselor Norman Wright experienced the depths of grief himself when his wife Joy passed away September 15, 2007.  This is the book that he never planned or ever wanted to write.

“The loss of a beloved partner who has been by your side for a short time or for almost half a century, as in my case, creates a Grand Canyon-sized hole in your life.  The present and future are changed drastically.  ‘I do’.  Two words.  But they signify the beginning of a committed relationship designed to last throughout life on earth.  They are much anticipated words, and their expression to one another is filled with joy. Two little words….but very significant. 

Now, in place of all the words of joy, there are others. ‘Good-bye’ is a constant, whether I verbalize it or not.  There is so much to say goodbye to.  It seems endless.  ‘Not here.’  ‘Never again.’  The most difficult couplet.”

Norman goes on to share that grieving is a very disorderly process that you have no control over and you can’t schedule every aspect of its expression.  We are used to living by schedules, but grief knows no schedule and will not fit into your appointment book.

“The past and future seem to collapse together.  The future is hard to fathom.  Are you wondering if there is a future?  I did.  The future has changed.  We tend to believe it’s never ending.  But grief drops a curtain over that belief.  It’s difficult to imagine the future when you’re trapped in a fog.  To envision a future you need to make some forward progress and avoid being permanently stuck in a quagmire.  The clarity and anticipation of a future has faded into uncertainty.  Your mind tells you many messages:  ‘He (or she) is with the Lord, and you’ll be all right.’  ‘You will heal in time’.  ‘You can do it.’  But your heart says something different and grief short-circuits your mind and heart’s attempt to work together.   At such a challenging time, we need to be patient with the chaos we are now enduring inside us and around us.”

Some of the chapter titles in this book include:  Am I Normal?, The Other Anniversaries, Why?, Changing “We” to “I”, Relearning Your Life, Not Quite Myself, The Choice of Recovery, When You Seem Stuck, Letting Go, Remembrance.  Each chapter is short and easy to read.  At the end of each of the chapters are a few questions to help the reader ask his or herself several questions to help that particular chapter sink in.  I found those questions to be particularly helpful during the early months of my own grief fog.  They helped me to think as best I could.

The writer gives the best 4 reasons of why we go through grief – what is the purpose of grief.

1.  Through grief you express your feelings about your loss.  And you invite others to walk through it with you.

2.  Through grief you express your protest at the loss as well as your desire to change what happened.

3.  Through grief you express the effects you have experienced from the devastating impact of the loss.

4.  Through grief you may experience God in a new way that will change your life.  Job said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”  (Job 42:5)

Norman also goes on to tell the reader what we need to know about grief.

Your grief will take longer than most people think.

Your grief will take more energy than you ever imagine.

Your grief will involved many changes and will continue to develop.

Your grief will show in all spheres of your life.

Your grief will depend on how you perceive the loss.

You will grieve for many things symbolic and tangible, not just for the death alone.

You will grieve for what you have lost already, and for what you’ve lost for the future.

Your grief will entail mourning, not only for the person you lost, but also for the hopes, dreams, and unfulfilled expectations you held for and with that person and for the unmet needs because of the death.

Your grief will involve a wide variety of feelings and reactions–more than just the general ones often depicted, such as depression and sadness.

Your loss will resurrect old issues, feelings, and  unresolved conflicts from the past.

You may have a combination of anger and depression, exhibited as irritability, frustration, annoyance, and intolerance.

Your will feel some anger and guilt–or at least some manifestation of these emotions.

You may experience grief spasms–acute upsurges of grief that occur without warning.

You will have trouble thinking about memories, handling organizational tasks, intellectually processing information, and making decisions.

You may feel like you are going crazy.

You may be obsessed with death and preoccupied with the deceased.

You may find yourself acting socially in ways that are different than before.

You may find yourself having a number of physical reactions.

Others may have unrealistic expectations about your mourning and may respond inappropriately to you.

I want to thank the author for his willingness to share his most raw emotions and allowing us to see his own vulnerability during his grief journey.  This is one of the best books on grieving that I have read and even though it is written from a male’s perspective, it is excellent for a widow to read.

2 responses

  1. Candy,
    Thank you for letting us know about all the helpful information Norm’s book holds within it’s pages. I could relate to so many aspects of grieving that you included here. This journey is so wearying and up and down emotionally. We need all the encouragement we can get and it is so helpful to hear it from someone who has been there. That’s the blessing of this community.
    Hugs, Renee’


  2. this truly was one of the books that helped my heart in the very early stages of grieving and then again about a year later. Thank you Candy for posting this. Love, Susan


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