I liked the “old normal”. I was quite pleased with it and I wasn’t looking to change my status because I was very satisfied with the “old”. The “old normal” was being married to a woman I adored. We loved each other, enjoyed one another, and enjoyed our life together.
The “old normal” ended November 23, 2015 when Terrie died peacefully in her sleep.
The last four weeks have been a storm of emotions, but I know who is in my boat.
23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” Matthew 8:23-27 ESV
I have cried, growled, and been awakened by tears, my tears. There are moments I can’t understand why Terrie is not in the house and the next moment, I know why, she is in Heaven. I have begun the grieving process.
In “Choosing A “Thankful” Highway Of Grief” I discussed the way that I have chosen to grieve. When the “E-Bombs” come, I want to give thanks, instead of feeling sorry or negative for myself. There have been millions who have gone through this valley and made it before me and many will follow behind me. I’m just like everyone else, except for some, who have decided to give thanks in everything, even in grief. That’s what I am trying to do.
I feel some restraint in writing this, in that, I am not saying this is the way for every individual. I am saying it is what the Lord has laid on my heart. Not wrong, just different.
Some of the things that I have learned in the last four weeks are: God does not abandon you. I knew that in my head and heart, but I’ve seen it through the love that has been shown to me through His people. Just incredible! I have experienced what the New Testament writers encouraged the churches to do to show love (Philippians 2:4 “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.)
Secondly, I realized there should have been joint planning of funerals while we were able. You will be asked a multiple of questions (what was her favorite Bible verse, what were her favorite songs, do you want cremation or do you want traditional, do you have life insurance, how many copies of death certificates will you need, etc., etc., etc.) It’s better to have it written down. It will take the stress off of the survivor.
Thirdly, I would warn you not to get too attached to the attention of your family and friends. The great outpouring will only last about two weeks. People cannot maintain that level of attention for longer periods of time. The majority have to get back to their “normal”. A smaller number of family members or friends will try to help you farther down the road as they are able.
Fourthly, you will quickly see some of your own short comings. I can do many domestic duties, but planning a meal, hours in advance, is not one of them. I find I don’t want to commit to a crock pot started in the morning for my supper. The same is true of thawing something frozen ahead of time. It’s hard for me. I can follow a recipe if I had one. I was told there is a recipe book called, “Solo Suppers! Recipes for One”. But that points out the real problem. I’m not used to eating alone. I can take care of breakfast and lunch, but supper time is different.
Supper time was when Terrie and I would talk. She would tell me about her day and I would tell her of mine. She would make the meal that she thought I would like because she loved me and wanted to please me. And when I finished and said “that was good. I enjoyed that.” She would give me that wonderful smile and she would lay her head against my stomach as I stood by her, hugging her. I miss my time with her. Eating was just secondary. Eating is not that to me now. Now it is just a necessity. I have forced myself to go into restaurants to eat. There is no pleasure. I have memories of us eating in those places and enjoying my time with her in the past. I know what she would have ordered or wouldn’t have ordered. But that time of companionship is over.
Fifthly, I have learned that I don’t know how to live alone. With the exception of about six months, when I was nineteen, I have always lived with someone else. The intertwining of daily living has become unraveled. If it needs to be done in the house, I know I have to do it. There is no back-up, no second opinion.
All of these things have helped form the “new normal”. The reality has set in; my life is to go on without her. The five things listed above are not things that I cannot learn or adjust to. To reach that goal, I must discipline myself to see the good and not the negative.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says to “give thanks IN all things”, not “FOR all things”. I may not like the circumstances and I may even think they stink, but it goes on to say, “for this is the will of God, in Christ Jesus, for you.”
How am I going to argue with God’s will? I can’t, but I can adapt and conform to what He has planned for me. Terrie’s death was not to punish me. It was to help me increase my effectiveness in future ministry opportunities.
How long will the “new normal” last? I don’t know. Does the adjective “new” fall off and it just becomes “normal”? Logical progression would indicate that. But I do know this…
“This is the day that the Lord has made; We [I] will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 NKJV