When couples marry, they look forward to building a loving family and growing old with their spouses. Unfortunately, in reality, it does not happen all the time. Divorce ends the partnership. So does death. The heartaches and turmoil that one goes through in a divorce cannot be described with mere words. Similarly, losing a spouse through death throws the other partner off his or her life course and creates a huge vacuum that takes a long time to fill. Whether it is a loss of a spouse through divorce or death, the experience is painful. It begins a tumultuous journey that is made easier with understanding companions who have also been on this journey of grief. Here are two stories of two single-again persons, and how they learn to build new dreams when old ones are broken
On Beginning Again after the Death of a Marriage
When my marriage ended in a divorce 14 years ago, I was devastated. Festive seasons and gatherings with friends were especially difficult initially as my misery seemed to be magnified in the presence of my happily married friends.
Grief is a painful process. At times, I tried to bury it but it would come back and hit me unexpectedly. Sometimes, it felt as if the pain would never go away. I moved on with my life as best as I could but inside me, I felt as lifeless as a dead branch. As a single mother, the pain was doubled, for I carry a special heartache for my child who has to grow up without a father.
Many times, God was at the receiving end of my grief. I bargained with God to bring my ex-husband back to the family, and when that didn’t happen, I started doubting God’s love for me. I thought God was punishing me for something that I had done in the past, and became despondent and felt unworthy of God. I also felt guilty for failing to keep the marriage that God had blessed.
By God’s grace, I chanced upon the Beginning Experience (BE) ministry. After my first BE Weekend, I came away experiencing God’s forgiveness and love. Through that first Weekend and many subsequent ones as a team member, my identity as God’s precious child was restored.
There is no greater gift than to receive affirmation of God’s merciful love during the devastating aftermath of a divorce. I no longer feel ashamed of being a Catholic single mother for I am assured of God’s unconditional love for me and my child.
Through the BE community, I have come to know of many single-again persons who persevere to keep their faith in God in spite of the immense pain that they and their children have gone through.
Today, I have come to accept my divorce. There are still struggles that I have to face as a single mother but I am now more aware of my own strengths that will not be taken away from me just because I am divorced. I trust and know that God is also helping my child through her grief journey just like how He has helped me in mine.
On Beginning Again after the Death of a Spouse
When my wife died after battling with cancer, it took me several years of ups and downs to finally accept the will of God and face the fact that she was gone. Looking back at my grief journey, I now realised that I had been in denial of my wife’s death for a long time.
I was working like a robot — existing aimlessly without a sense of purpose. I was angry with God for taking my wife away. I pleaded with Him to take me as well so that I could be with her in heaven.
I also sank into depression and made serious mistakes at work which resulted in contracts being lost. I was spiritually, emotionally and mentally drained, breathing and yet not alive.
One day, when I was experiencing tremendous pain thinking that I was at death’s door, God woke me up with a question: “Joe, as your loving Father, how do you think I am feeling seeing you in pain and wasting your life away?”
By God’s grace, my late wife also reached out to me with the same question: “Joe, as your beloved wife in heaven, how do you think I am feeling right now seeing you like this?”
I finally realised the folly of wanting to die when God wanted me to live. I confessed my sin of committing spiritual suicide and asked God for forgiveness. I was truly sorry and asked for God’s grace and guidance for healing, and dismissing the thought of dying.
God led me to the Beginning Experience, a ministry for single-again persons. At the BE Weekend, I learnt to overcome my feelings of guilt for asking my wife to go through the chemotherapy which caused her tremendous pain and suffering but which did not cure her.
I learnt to forgive myself and allowed God to forgive and heal me. With God’s healing, I am able to reach out to others who are also mourning the loss of a spouse.
This article is contributed by Beginning Experience Singapore.