Widowhood – an unexpected and unwanted sideroad our life is forced to take when our husband moves to heaven. Unexpected? Yes, even though I was his fulltime caregiver for years and the doctors kept telling us his disease was aggressively soaking up all his physical ability to live a healthy life he desired, I couldn’t give up hope for a miracle. When I watched him take his last breath, I wasn’t any more ready to say goodbye than other widows who suffered a tragedy that took their husband without warning. The end result is the same… they are no longer here to hug, hold, talk to, or enjoy life with.

It’s been over three years and tears continue to spill out of my eyes without warning… and in my heart like a faucet without the washers and seals needed to stop leaks. The tears are triggered by emotions, memories and circumstances that surpass simply missing his presence. I miss him very much, but the pain I feel is so much more complicated.

The movie, The Shack, is a very powerful and moving experience that can bring so much healing to those of us living with the loss of someone we love so much. I was deeply moved by the movie and decided to read the book. Oh my goodness… I can’t begin to describe the magnitude and depth author William Paul Young captured and expressed to bring the reader on a journey exploring some of life’s most complicated and controversial questions and struggles.

“Jesus?” he whispered as his voice choked “I feel so lost.”
A hand reached out and squeezed his, and didn’t let go. “
I know Mack. But it’s not true. I am with you and I’m not lost. I’m sorry it feels that way, but hear me clearly. You are not lost.”
― William Paul Young, quote from The Shack

Feeling lost… that is a good way to put it. Without my husband I feel very lost. Nothing is the way it was. Relationships, family, and everything that defined my identity and purpose changed when he went home.

I have a tendency to withdraw in my sadness and detach from others because of the hurt and disappointment of not feeling understood. I cry out to God, but sometimes the weight of the aching in my heart keeps me feeling more separated from Him than close.

Grievers and believers who traveled this road before us encourage us we can meet hope in the midst of our hurting. Hope is a shield to protect our fragile heart. Hope is the light that illuminates the path before us… revealing the stumbling blocks and cracks and crevices so we can negotiate them safely. Hope can help us aim for joy… no matter what circumstances are.

Move your heart closer and closer to God,
and He will come even closer to you. James 4:8


God is our hope. He is big enough and strong enough to tackle every problem with the right solution. I’m not referring to religion. There are many religions in the world, but Jesus did not bring a religion. I’m talking about a personal relationship with God. Jesus came to establish the Kingdom of God in our hearts – not create a man-made system.

“Religion? Religion is way too much work. I don’t want slaves, I want friends. Friends to share life with!”
― William Paul Young, quote from The Shack

Sometimes turning to God in our pain is expressed in vulnerable scribbles in our journal. Other times, it looks like naming our disappointment or voicing the hard questions that spill from sadness. Occasionally it is carried in tears falling fast without words as we trust the Holy Spirit to say what we can’t articulate.

And in a similar way, the Holy Spirit takes hold of us in our human frailty to empower us in our weakness. For example, at times we don’t even know how to pray, or know the best things to ask for. But the Holy Spirit rises up within us to super-intercede on our behalf, pleading to God with emotional sighs too deep for words.


God, the searcher of the heart, knows fully our longings, yet He also understands the desires of the Spirit, because the Holy Spirit passionately pleads before God for us, His holy ones, in perfect harmony with God’s plan and our destiny. Romans 8: 26-27


“Don’t ever discount the wonder of your tears. They can be healing waters and a stream of joy. Sometimes they are the best words the heart can speak.”
― William Paul Young, quote from The Shack

Special health benefits come from emotional tears. Biochemist and “tear expert” Dr. William Frey at the Ramsey Medical Center in Minneapolis discovered reflex tears are 98% water. In  comparison, emotional tears contain stress hormones and other toxins stress causes and we shed these from the body through crying. A good cry also stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural pain killer and “feel-good” hormones. Typically, after crying, our breathing and heart rate decrease, and we enter into a calmer biological and emotional state.

The Shack takes the reader on an emotional and soul searching journey. It will compel you forward to find answers to some of life’s most troubling questions. It will challenge your opinions and present ideas that stir your heart and your mind to grapple with established norms and status quo.

Although I saw this movie many years ago and read the book several times, it continues to impact me as new circumstances in my life unfold. I first saw it with my dear husband. We discussed so many of the details at length as we absorbed some of its wisdom. Then we read the book together and delved even deeper in the many nuances and felt God speak His heart in ways we didn’t hear before.

It rose in my thoughts again now as winters long dark days are attempting to trample my hope yet again. As God reminded me He keeps every tear in His bottle, I remembered this scene from the book when Holy Spirit (given the name Sarayu in the book) did the most unexpected act of love with Mack’s (the main character of the story) tears.

Mack is Missy’s father. The story is woven from the tragedy of young Missy’s untimely death. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit meet Mack in the woods and gently teach him how much they love him.

I will share this excerpt from the story to give you a small taste of its powerful prose. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are having their own special celebration of life for Missy with Mack.

Sarayu stepped forward. “I,” she said with a flourish and bow, “am honored to sing Missy’s song, which she wrote just for this occasion.”


And she began to sing, with a voice like an autumn wind: a sound of turning leaves and forests slowly slumbering, the tones of oncoming night and a promise of new days dawning. It was the haunting tune that he had heard her and Papa humming before, and Mack now listened to his daughter’s words:


Breathe in me… deep
That I might breathe… and live
And hold me close that I might sleep
Soft held by all you give
Come kiss me, wind, and take my breath
Till you and I are one
And we will dance among the tombs
Until all death is gone
And no one knows that we exist
Wrapped in each other’s arms
Except the One who blew the breath
That hides me safe from harm
Come kiss me, wind, and take my breath
Till you and I are one
And we will dance among the tombs
Until all death is gone


When she finished, there was silence; and then God, all three, simultaneously said, “Amen.” Mack echoed the amen, picked up one of the shovels, and, with help from Jesus, began filling in the hole, covering the box in which Missy’s body rested.


When the task was complete, Sarayu reached within her clothing and withdrew her small, fragile bottle. From it she poured out a few drops of the precious collection into her hand and began to carefully scatter Mack’s tears onto the rich black soil under which Missy’s body slept. The droplets fell like diamonds and rubies, and wherever they landed flowers instantly burst upward and bloomed in the brilliant sun. Sarayu then paused for a moment, looking intently at one pearl resting in her hand, a special tear, and then dropped it into the center of the plot. Immediately a small tree broke through the earth and began unbending itself from the spot, young and luxurious and stunning, growing and maturing until it burst into blossom and bloom. Sarayu then, in her whispery breeze-blown way, turned and smiled at Mack, who had been watching transfixed. “It is a tree of life, Mack, growing in the garden of your heart.”


Papa came up next to him and put his arm over his shoulder. “Missy is incredible—you know that. Truly, she loves you.”


“I miss her terribly… it still hurts so much.”


Young, William P.. The Shack (pp. 255-257). Windblown Media. Kindle Edition.


As our lives move ever forward, we too continue to live with the hurt that comes with missing someone we dearly love. Time eventually tempers some of the pain. Prayerfully we learn to accept it and find our new purpose going forward. We are forever changed.

We can choose to say pain doesn’t get the last word. Rather than carving a canyon between God’s heart and ours, we can allow our ache to pave a path right into His presence. His open arms are waiting patiently for us to run to. He lovingly takes us with all our baggage. He just wants to be our comforter and healer.

“This garden is your soul. This mess is you! Together, you and I, we have been working with a purpose in your heart. And it is wild and beautiful and perfectly in process. To you it seems like a mess, but I see a perfect pattern emerging and growing and alive – a living fractal.”
― William Paul Young, quote from The Shack

Holy Spirit take my tears and pour them in the garden of my heart. Jesus, thank you for hearing my cries and being present in my pain. Please forgive me for the times I distance myself from You when life hurts. Help me trust You with my tears and draw near to You in my sorrow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Teri’s dance with grief actually began over five years before she watched her beloved husband of almost 37 years take his last breath and enter Heaven’s door on October 6, 2019. A terminal degenerative neurological disease steadily and increasingly attacked nearly every major system of his body and transformed him from a vibrant, brilliant, strong and caring man to a bedfast invalid at the end. She was devoted to caring for him and doing her best to make the most of every minute they had left, to love him and pray for a miracle.

She thought she knew what her future held, but she had no idea. Losing him was the first time she experienced a close and personal loss. He was the love of her life. The onslaught of the pandemic with its reign of fear-mongering, forced isolation and separation entering the scene and disrupting or destroying whatever sense of “normal” that remained, just added insult to injury.

Her faith in God is the sustaining force keeping her fighting spirit to find and share hope in a bright future. Her heart’s desire is to walk beside her fellow widows toward a path of promise and healing. She wants to offer encouragement and hope so others can find the strength to take that next breath or next step. She recently started her own blog, https://widowwhispers.blogspot.com/, to share with other widows not only the struggles and hardships of widowhood, but the triumphs. Her hope is found in leaning on the Lord Jesus to enjoy a God inspired future anchored in expectation He will bring us to a fulfilling and meaningful life.