An answer to grief

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

On September 11, my husband passed on. Although he was on the other side of the country, his passing occurred at the same time the terrorist attacks were happening on the East Coast.

At first, the shock of everything seemed to keep me from thinking clearly. Like most people that day, I didn't want to accept what was happening. Yet the tremendous love I felt for my husband impelled me to continue praying for him. And all the prayers and strong faith in God of our family and friends were tangibly supporting me. I felt surrounded by this caring. Not usually one to lean on others, I felt natural doing so then. And there was an underlying promise: "Don't worry, everything is going to be OK." But with this came a distinct command to allow God's lovingkindness to govern everything.

It felt good to have such a strong and clear direction. And because it felt so right, it was easier to obey this intuitive guidance. It kept my thought quiet, and kept me from getting swept away in emotion, or feeling the need to demand stoic resolve of myself. The tears felt mostly natural and relieving. Within a few days, I became aware that two things were controlling my consciousness.

First, I noticed that I was staying in "the now." I would not let my thought wander into the past or think about what was going to happen next. When "If only..." and "I just wish I had ..." began, the thought would come, "This is not wise, not helpful." And when I felt pushed to try to figure out what I should do about this or that issue, I would instinctively dismiss it, unless it was something that was truly necessary to figure out right then. At times, this was challenging. Sometimes there was a subtle, taunt-like questioning of what life would be like without this loving partner. The message was always the same: "Be faithful to God, and He will see you through each step." To worry felt like denying God's love that was so obviously providing for each one of us in the family, as well as for my husband.

The other dominant influence I felt can only be described as a gentle but firm demand to "Be content. No matter what." This came up in many ways. On a very practical basis, it was telling me not to be concerned with the adjustments that would be required. Again, there was that conviction to trust God's plan. I felt guided to be deeply satisfied with any and all evidence of good in my life right then, and to expect only good from God. No matter what. This really helped to keep out self-pity. Instead, I wanted to honor my husband for all he had meant to me. The best way to do this, and to honor all those who had been killed that day, was to be as loving and appreciative as possible for all of life. I vowed not to get upset about things that really didn't matter. When I fell short, I would get unhappy with myself, but then I would reaffirm my commitment to God. Obedience to God's messages restored peace.

A Bible verse describes what has been developing hour by hour during these past few weeks: "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you" (James 4:8). I learned long ago that this promise from God in no way makes His love and care for us conditional. Rather, I believe God is saying, "If each of you as My children open your hearts to Me, then you will be able to accept all the good and comfort and understanding that is available to you right now." Even in the most trying of times and following the most inexplicable events, turning to God brings us nearer to an understanding of His goodness.

From the beginning, I felt certain that my husband was going forward. Each of us in the family acknowledged often that his love of God, and God's love for him, was sustaining him. I believe in Jesus' promise that life is eternal, so I continue to pray for my husband, and I feel he is doing the same for each of us in the family. I came across this statement by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science: "Man is im-mortal, and there is not a moment when he ceases to exist" ("Miscellaneous Writings," pg. 34). I believe that all the loved ones thought to be lost on Sept. 11 are continuing in their individual expressions of life. They are safe, and they are being cared for, as we are.

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