Steve thought it would last forever. He and his wife were happy, supportive and in love. They had raised their kids together with a shared sense of accomplishment. He never dreamed cancer would bring it all to an abrupt halt.
As Steve wondered if anyone in the Bible had ever walked this road, he found a good friend in Naomi. At the height of Naomi’s life, trauma had redefined her. Her husband and both her sons died, leaving her to take care of her daughters-in-law, at least temporarily. Steve asked, “What did you do to deal with the trauma of suddenly being single again?” He discovered that Naomi, like Ruth in the Bible, walked the following path.
They Gave Themselves Permission To Grieve
When God created Adam and Eve, they were not designed for loss. But when sin entered the human experience, loss was introduced. The loss comes in the form of the death of loved ones, abandonment by people who should loves us, financial setbacks and a host of other potential calamities. When this happens, we get flooded with emotions that must be expressed in some way. Naomi accepted that she would be on an emotional rollercoaster where she would be sad at times, angry at times, laugh too loud at times and then feel guilty for feeling good. Rather than contain it, she gave herself permission to let it leak out. She even encouraged her friends to call her by a name that represented her grieving, “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.”
They Identified Loyal Friends
When life leaves you single again, everything is redefined. Some of the friends you had while married will stick by your side. Most will find it too difficult or inconvenient to stay involved in your life. Dwelling on the people who decide not to stay involved in your life multiplies the pain and enhances the disappointment. Building connections with those who intend to be loyal moves you closer to the relief that will allow you to flourish once again. Naomi encouraged her daughters-in-law to return to their hometown so they could begin anew. “Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.” (Ruth 1:14) Ruth and Naomi each found a way to adjust to their new lives.
They Committed To A New Opportunity
For Naomi and Ruth, a new opportunity came in the form of a physical move. In Ruth’s case, life in Moab no longer fit, but there was hope back in Bethlehem. (Ruth 1:22) Whether it’s a new job, new ministry involvement or new social activities, it’s important to embrace these prospects. Trying to keep life going as it was before a loss is nearly impossible. If you are willing to see it, being single again ushers in opportunities to find unexpected fulfillment.
Steve’s grief lasted about two years, although the intensity of the grief lessened with each month. Most of his old friends found they were too busy with their own lives to walk the path with him, but two loyal friends actually joined him at a grief support group. Through the painful process, he discovered some new friends and eventually acquired new wisdom to share with people who were also facing unexpected circumstances. He now leads a small group at his church and organizes monthly gatherings in his community for the network of friends he has made.
It is a very different life than he lived with his wife, but he has found a place of relief and rejuvenation. He now laughs with his friends often and feels he is making a tangible contribution to their lives. Steve, Naomi and Ruth all found purpose, peace and relief after a profound loss by following this path through their grief.