Six boxes. Our family just moved to a new house this past weekend and all that’s left at our previous house is six dusty, tattered boxes of my late husband’s treasures. I donated at least a dozen boxes of books and a random smattering of home décor from my other life. I feel like I have made steady progress over these last few months. Yet I’m still paralyzed by these final boxes.
My fingers linger over his favorite sweatshirts, t-shirts, and his high school letterman jacket. I keep wondering if these are precious or pointless. Will my daughters need a hug from their daddy in the future? Will they wrap themselves in his jacket on prom night and feel him close? These are the decisions that leave me heavy and decision-fatigued. My mind swirls with a thousand questions and angles to look at each piece.
Another box is full of letters and cards given to me at his funeral. These are handwritten stories that form the tapestry of his legacy. A student who still remembers the way he made her laugh in math class. An athlete who made a choice to become a coach because of the way my husband poured into him when he was a troubled teen. A colleague who met my husband a few mornings a week to pray for students and their families.
September 9 is my husband’s four-year heaveniversary, and I can hardly believe the work God has done in my family and heart these past four years. We have learned to move forward. There were days when I never believed I could live without him. The grief was so heavy I felt like I was walking around carrying a backpack of heavy boulders. I couldn’t imagine a new life for my three daughters and me.
Then God came in gently and said,
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)
Indeed, He has. God provided a new husband and daddy for us. Shawn just happens to be one of my late husband’s best friends. He journeys with us daily through the grief and the unexpected joy. In this season, God also opened the door for my three girls to attend the Christian school where their daddy was a student and teacher for years. His character was formed in those classrooms and halls. He invested in countless people there, and now teachers will invest in my sweet daughters in much the same way.
Moving is hard at the base level. It’s exhausting to pack up your life when life is still moving forward. Whether you are single, married, have children or grandchildren, it takes time and emotional energy to categorize things and put them in boxes. Sometimes we are forced to move because of a traumatic event – the death of a spouse, the loss of a job, a divorce, some other kind of sudden need. Then grief becomes tangled in the process of moving as well.
Press in. Give yourself permission to grieve. It’s ok to stand in the garage and let your tears mingle with the dust and memories. Our human tendency is to turn away from the pain, but there’s a cleansing that can happen in that space. Embrace it. Carving out time to sit with the boxes and the memories for a moment could be your path to healing.
Moving and transition stirs up something deep inside our souls. Sometimes grief, insecurity, and even doubt creep in. We agonize about the details and wonder what the future holds. These are the times we need to lean into Jesus. We need to remind ourselves that He goes before us. He lights the path with His glory if we have courage to move with Him.
I know it’s time to release, to step forward again, not to move on and forget my husband, but to live out his legacy with love. I know it’s time to step into the abundance of this new season God has for me.
One of my favorite parts of our new house are the balconies. This morning I swung open the door to the balcony outside my bedroom and a cool breeze kissed my shoulders. I saw the outline of the Sierra Nevada mountains in the distance and the pastel colors of the sunrise swelling above them. God reminded me that a new day is dawning, and I’m moving forward.
Thank you for this testimony of restoration.
Karen ROEDEL says
Thank you for your testimony Dorina! I can empathize with you. I just moved away from the home my late husband and I lived in for 12 yrs. He for 9 with our 2 youngest of five. I am thankful God had you share this today. I very much needed it. My late husband was also a teacher. I have been blessed with a new relationship with a fellow widower. We are thankful for our new relationship and trying to plan a future together God willing. God bless you and yours! Sincerely, Karen Roedel
That’s so exciting! Praying for you as the grief and joy are always dancing together as we move forward!
I appreciate you reading!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
God is faithful to restore what the locusts have eaten. He does bring joy in the morning though weeping endures for the night. He is the ultimate Healer, Redeemer, Comforter, Restorer, Savior. Thank you for a beautiful testimony as to what God can do. He IS faithful….not always in our time, but in His. Sometimes the joys can’t be as sweet unless they are light against a backdrop of darkness. Rejoicing with you as you start your new life.
This is so true. I have definitely learned to savor the sweet and light moments because we have been in the darkness of grief. Gratitude has helped me survive this journey.
Blessings to you!
Mom to four says
Thank you for sharing your story. It was very emotional but written out so beautifully.
Thank you for your encouraging words!
Michele Morin says
Thank you for demonstrating that it is possible both to grieve and to rejoice in one moment. The Lord can turn our mourning into dancing (as Scripture says), and I think that sometimes the two overlap and we find tears on our cheeks as we lean into the steps of a new choreography.
I continue to be challenged and encouraged by your story, Dorina.
What a beautiful way to say it: “We find tears on our cheeks as we lean into the steps of a new choreography.” This certsinly the narrative I’m living now. Thank you for resonating!
Beth Williams says
Your story gives hope to many women. We are all going through trials down here at some point. We are
overcomers through the shed blood of Christ. We just need to be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s calling & move with God in His timing. God can make beauty out of ashes. Our trials can be used for His glory. Telling others of His goodness during & afterward. It is ok to grieve & cry. Let your emotions out. Tell God how you feel. He understands better than anyone.
Yes, Beth! I’m so glad we serve a God of comfort. He is the author of all our beauty-from-ashes stories!
Marcella Snyder says
Moving forward is my mantra today–just this week. I lost my husband of 33 years 10 months ago. I am grieving but my life with Cliff is no more. Imust accept that and move forward. Thanks for your thoughts. I am not healed but I am moving forward.
I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope we can connect more personally through my blog. I e written a lot to encourage widows on their journey of moving forward. God be with you, friend! Look for His glory!
May God’s daily sunrises (His mercies are NEW every morning ; Great is His Faithfulness ) caress your grief and lift you into His arms to embrace you as you chase the open expanse future in Trust.
What a beautiful message that really resonates with me ; I just moved to a new condo in Toronto and meddling in and amongst me is a swirl of “memories wanting to cling”. As I write this, I am weeping quietly so as not to disturb my teenage daughter slumbering in the adjacent room. I look out at the Majestic Beauty sunrise and expanse sky but I also linger with the “not knowing “ part. I managed (in God’s Grace, strength and Power) to order our new home lovingly. It was konsmall task but God endowed me with daily strength and committed perseverance- and sweet surprises to rejoice in along the way!
I am “so grateful” but there are boxes (in my car) that I refuse(d) to bring into my home : photographs/special things from our children’s childhood.
My grief is death by divorce.
Divorce is a permanent death that lingers.
I don’t want a divorce but it “seems” like the possibility is “possible”.
So grief beckons me. Clarity is a hard thing to get. Anyways, I think God used your story and also, reminded me of His kind promise: SEE, I am doing a new thing, NOW it springs forth. Shall you not perceive it. I make a Way in the wilderness and streams in the dry land.”
God really is all of this and MORE when we Trust in Him – even if the Way involves some torturous grief that clings to our broken hearts like velcro.
What a gift you have been given- to have a supportive new husband – a loving male presence in your daughters’ lives. And what a beautiful gift for them to have loving education. God is so Good. Full of surprises and twists and tangled of Divine Grace that heals and helps. We need to keep tasting his buffet of healing and helping. We need to praise Him and look for all the hidden and evident ways He is blessing us, even if it looks different than we ever imagined.
An idea I had for you regarding your residual treasures items of your deceased husband is to maybe have your beautiful girls be part of the “choosing” to have a special memory item(s) of their Dad’s. You may be surprised at what they choose. Maybe with the “ final leftover” things that matter, you could lovingly take photos and keep a video memory of the items. You could even put it to music and song. You can then pack them in a time capsule and have a ceremony (tree planting?) with your daughters and husbands (and select others?) and bury them with notes or letters of love from your daughters , family, friends.
I somehow wanted to offer these loving options for you to consider since hey came to mind as I was reading your story. I have photographs of my wedding and beautiful days and family pictures and things I just “won’t part with” because it is not like my marriage didn’t happen – it did – and our children are the loving blessings from our union. So I don’t want to destroy them or get rid of them in disastrous grief. I want to do the “proper” thing that will bring healing. And I want to follow Christ’s directive with “loving”. It is difficult.
Anyways, blessings abundant Dorina. And now, when I look toward the horizon of HOPE that my daily sky expanse view offers me, I will say a silent morning prayer for you and your daughters and family. That God will richly bless you in all the circumstances.
Thank you for your article that triggered tears – but now I will give them to the Lord and ask Him to give me His Generous Peace and clarity and courage. Loving thoughts and thanks. Janine in Toronto
Beautifully written words Janine. I thank God for you that He is giving you the grace to move forward with your new life. Praying that He will be with you in the days and months and years ahead and when you look back at this time you will find that He was with you through the darkest moments.
I’m so grateful for your vulnerable sharing here. I see hope and redemption in you even as you grieve. May God light the path to His glory as you love with Him through this hard season as well. I will be praying for you too.
Thank you for this devotion. My husband passed away suddenly and very unexpected a week before our 42nd anniversary and three weeks before our favorite time of year, Christmas. It has been a year and a half and I still cannot seem to move forward. I have faith but still wonder why I wasn’t given a chance to say goodbye. Why? He had children from a previous marriage but we didn’t have children together so the emptiness is deafening. I have wonderful friends so that has helped but going home to that empty house is brutal and the pain still lingers.
Thanks for this devotion, it gives me hope that in a couple years, I may be a bit normal again. God bless you
Oh Lori, I’m so sorry you have to walk this journey. I wrestled a lot with God over the “whys,” but I believe even that is part of the journey forward. I hope we can connect more personally through my blog. I’ve written a lot on this topic. There is always hope!
Thank you, I don’t even know how to blog…. let me know how to reach it if you would. Thank you
Linda S. says
I was so sorry to hear of your loss and but very happy to see that you have a new beginning with a new husband and father for your girls. It grieves me at times to wonder if (or when) that would happen to me. Maybe the rapture will happen first? 🙂
I, too, am going through a transition but different than yours. My husband and I just moved back to the States (in July) from being in Canada for almost 9 years. We moved to a different part of the country (SC) than from where I (and he) lived most of my life. This transition has been very difficult for me – very unexpected, with many tears. Unlike the time we left MA to go to PEI/Canada. No tears at all then, but much excitement for what lay ahead for us. With the move back to the US, we’ve lost finances and have no home yet to call our own, but are living with my sister-in-law until we’re able to purchase our own place. We’re attending a huge church compared to what we’ve been used to. There’s been a lot of stress. Thank the Lord, just this week HE provided a full-time job for my husband starting in October and he will be working for a Christian. And my husband is 70! It’s been a big change for us in this time of our life.
It’s an everyday challenge and an everyday reliance on the LORD. For peace in this difficult transition and for patience to see how the HE will provide for our needs. I’ve never been a patient waiter! 🙂 argh!
Thanks again for sharing and being candid with your readers! I appreciate very much the daily posts. It’s very encouraging for me to hear how other women are dealing and relying on the LORD in their own circumstances. HUGS! 🙂
Praying for you as you settle into this new home, as you grieve, and as God builds new community for you there. Thank you for sharing your story with me.
Thank you, Dorina, for allowing God to speak through you to many.
I’m so grateful for your words of encouragement!
Will you pray for my friend Rebecca. Her husband Charlie passed away on July 16 of this year. She is in a state of upheaval and I know God will help her. Trying to encourage her. Charlie was 55.
Thank you for sharing about your friend. I’ll definitely be praying for Rebecca. Please feel free to share my blog or Bible studies with her. I’ve written a lot on this to especially serve grieving widows.
Mary Mccauley says
Praying tonight for a dear woman and her 2 daughters as they move forward in the first year of the grief journey. Thanks for sharing your story of hope.
I hope you will pass on my story to encourage them. I will be praying for their journey too since each journey is unique.
Ada Joe says
Thanks for sharing your story Dorina. I am sorry about your loss. Thank God for the grace and strength to Lean into God in your period of grief and the grace to move forward and divine provisions for you and your daughters. I pray the mercy of God and his grace will continue to be sufficient for you and your daugters. Your story is a reminder to me that God will indeed do a new thing and it’s okay to grieve.
God bless you and your daughters ❤️
Yes, Ada! He gives us permission to grieve while He writes our story of redemption and glory! Thanks for reading!
Thank you for these words of encouragement. It brings to mind the words of Paul in Corinthians:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIVUK https://bible.com/bible/113/2co.1.3-4.NIVUK).
September for me, for nearly 2 decades has been a month filled with mixed emotions. I lost my mum in Septemper 2000, and September last year I lost my younger sister. This year however, God has given me and indeed my entire family a reason to be joyful in September. My dad just turned 70 on the 3rd and the same day, God blessed my brother with a baby boy. God is still in the business of doing good and bringing beauty out of ashes. Through my seasons of grief, He has made me grow into a better person and helped me to share with others in their grief.
I thank God that He has given you a new beginning and I pray that He will continue to make Himself real to you with every new beginning in the days and months and years ahead. And I pray for all those going through a season of grief at the moment, that the Lord will ….”provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour.” (Isaiah 61:3 NIVUK https://bible.com/bible/113/isa.61.3.NIVUK).
Dorina Lazo Gilmore says
Thank you, Susannah! I love that 2 Corinthians passage. It helps me remember that our pain can be used with great purpose by a God who comforts and redeems. Thank you for your encouragement and story too!
Becky Lowmaster says
Thanks for sharing your story Dorina! Glad you made it through the move after the loss of your husband. So thankful God provided His mercy and strength in your days you needed it most. Our son and his wife had their lease terminated and had 2 months to find somewhere else to live. It was a shock to them and us too. With 3 children and high rents in the area all we could do is pray. Helped them out with money for food. His wife told me she was journaling it so she could look back on what God provided them with. They found a nice 2 bedroom apt closer to work within a couple weeks. Still waiting on his raise. So thankful its all squared away and now enjoying their different home without their 8 chickens they enjoyed having and a lawn. Thankful for answered prayers, people who helped them move and God’s provisions in their lives. I’m sure older granddaughter will remember some of it at age 10. His mercies are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness….Lord unto me!
Dorina Lazo Gilmore says
Wow, quick moves are hard! I’m grateful for the way you and your kids can trace God’s provision in it all. I love looking back and remembering God’s faithfulness in the challenges. Thank you for sharing!
Brooke Frick says
I love you! What a wonderful work God has done and is doing in you my friend!! 🙂
Dorina Lazo Gilmore says
Thank you for your encouragement, always. It means so much to me, friend!
Brooke Frick says