DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: My husband struggled with cancer for almost five years, and when he died a few months ago, I thought I was prepared for it. But I guess I wasn’t, because it’s really been painful. I know he’s in heaven, but why am I having such a hard time? Is something wrong with me? — M.K.
DEAR M.K.: No, there’s nothing wrong with you; God gave you to each other, and your grief is a sign of the love you and your husband had for each other. Perhaps (as the Bible says) we don’t “grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope,” but we still grieve (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
When a loved one dies, it’s comforting to know they’re no longer suffering and now are safely in heaven with Christ. But this doesn’t take away our sadness or loneliness, and a Christian will grieve a loved one’s death just like anyone else. In fact, we may grieve even more, since we know God brought us together and we enjoyed a deep spiritual relationship.
I’ve often said that the loss of a loved one is like major surgery (especially since my beloved wife’s death several years ago). The parallel isn’t exact, of course, but just as it takes months or even years to recover from surgery, so it takes months or even years to recover from the loss of someone we loved.
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Take time every day to thank God for the years you had together, and for the hope you have of heaven because of Christ’s death and resurrection. Then ask him to help you, little by little, to resume your contacts with others, especially in your church. You may be surprised to find others are going through hard times also. You need their friendship and encouragement — and they need yours.
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