I have been doing a lot of reflecting and processing for the last few weeks. Yesterday a book I had ordered arrived in my mailbox. It is written by widow Julie Yarbrough and is called INSIDE THE BROKEN HEART. One of her chapters is entitled “Attitude”.
“When the heart is intractable, hardened by the pain of death, our grief is well described as ignorance, futility of thinking, darkness of understanding, and separation from God. To put off our old self and be made new in the attitude of our mind is the endeavor of grief. Our old self may be a weary, emotionally tattered half-person, as familiar and comfortable as an old bathrobe. What happens to our old self when our husband or wife dies? As we assimilate grief we discover that we are becoming different people. Never again will we be the person we once were.
To be made new in the attitude of our mind is to find a new self. We choose whether we put on our new self and wear it gladly, or whether we shrug into it with reluctance. We try it on for size and make adjustments before we are satisfied with the fit. Grief enlarges us to accommodate a new self–a different self, a better self.
In her novel ADAM BEDE, George Eliot wrote these poignant words:
For Adam…had not outlived his sorrow–had not felt it slip from him as a temporary burden, and leave him the same man again. Do any of us? God forbid. It would be a poor result of all our anguish and our wrestling, if we won nothing but our old selves at the end of it–if we could return to the same blind loves, the same self-confident blame, the same light thoughts of human suffering, the same frivolous gossip over blighted human lives, the same feeble sense of that Unknown towards which we have sent forth irrepressible cries in our loneliness. Let us rather be thankful that sorrow lives in us as an indestructible force, only changing its form, as forces do, and passing from pain into sympathy–the one poor word which includes all our best insight and our best love.
The attitude that defines our new self is directed by gratitude for the one we have lost and gratitude for what we have left.”
I am guilty of shrugging with reluctance into this new self that I have been thrown into. In fact, I was thrust into it kicking and screaming. Now, being stubborn and strong-willed can be good in some areas of life, but in this area, it’s detrimental to me. In fact, it’s causing me to struggle against this place that God has put me. It’s an attitude problem that I must deal with.
Where are you in your attitude towards the loss of your husband?