I Once Was Lost, But Now Am Found – Overcoming Grief Through Service

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One of my favorite hymns is Amazing Grace. I find myself humming the music when I am stressed. The sweet and poignant message brings incredible hope. Most often, we associate the idea of being “lost” with having wandered away from childhood teachings, “spiritually lost;” or losing an object, “I lost my keys;” or lost because of a physical location, “I can’t find this address, I am lost.”

However, it wasn’t until after I lost my spouse that I realized that “lost” can have a whole new meaning. I discovered that it was very possibly to be “emotionally lost” and “identity lost.”.Even though I had my faith, I still felt completely lost in my new life and identity as a widow.

For so many years I was a caregiver. Taking care of my husband was my life. I ate, drank, slept, and  breathed caring for my sweetheart. My world revolved around his doctor’s appointments, chemotherapy sessions, MRI appointments, medicine dosages, and physical/speech/occupational therapy. My days were spent doing whatever I could to make his life better. It was and still am feeling odd that I am no longer the daily caregiver for my husband. I felt like I had lost my identity. I didn’t know what to do anymore.

My raw emotions and pain was only compounded when someone once remarked, “You must be so relieved that you don’t have to take care of your husband anymore.” That comment literally broke my heart. It physically caused pain as I felt it crumbling.

Caring for my husband was hard. It was not always pleasant or easy, and my poor body suffered from years of lack of sleep, stress, worry, and truly physical back-breaking work as I would repeatedly lift his frail but long 6′ 8″ body from bed into his wheelchair and then from wheelchair to car or couch. 

The person who made that causal remark did not consider or realize how much I loved my husband and how much I truly loved serving and caring for him. For me true love was found through this process. It was fulfilling the commitment and covenant I made when we married. It was simply who I was.  No, I was not relieved at all! I was hurting, desperate to be able to care for him, and aching to be needed by him again. I felt utterly and completely lost.

I was lost and knew I needed to find my way back to who I once was, so I followed the counsel in Matthew 10:39 and got lost in service, so completely lost, that I finally had an idea of how to find myself again.

 “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”

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I had found my purpose before in service so I was desperate to find it again.  I looked for new ways to serve:  writing quick notes to the mailman, letters to neighbors who were down, smiling at random strangers, secretly delivering groceries to a family struggling financially, scrubbing toilets for someone who couldn’t physically do it himself, talking with a stranger at the park who needed a listening ear, taking a box of granola bars to handout to the homeless I saw standing on the corner, babysitting for parents so they could go on a date night, sewing teddy bears for children who had lost a beloved aunt, putting on a one person impromptu broadway musical in the car with my windows down when traffic was at a standstill and other drivers were getting frustrated and angry, just so I could give them something to smile about or sing along with while they waited. Like I said – ANYTHING I could do to take my focus off of myself and my heartache.

I noticed the days I focused on myself,  MY grief, MY loss, My Pain, I would  begin to spiral into a pit of despair and darkness that was difficult to overcome. I quickly found that if I immediately stopped focusing on me, and my loss, and started focusing on others, serving others, making them happier and making their life brighter, I was filled with hope and found myself again, found purpose in my life. No, my life no longer revolved around providing constant 24/7 care and service for another, as it once had, but in some small way, by serving others I had a glimpse of my old identity.

I am not advocating ignoring or running from grief.  Avoidance only causes even more pain and emotional damage. It is an important part of the grieving process to feel the pain, to cry, and to acknowledge your loss; however, we have to be careful to not let the grief overtake our life. We must be careful not to become lost or stay lost in our grief. Instead, if we acknowledge our grief, acknowledge our loss and pain, and allow it to act as a catalyst for good, we can use the empathy it creates in us to help us “get lost in service”.

The experience of loosing a loved one, makes it much easier to empathize with others who are going through the experience of a loss.We have the potential for a heightened sense of awareness of others who may be in need of service. So if you are feeling lost, please, lose yourself in service. I promise, as you do that, you will find yourself again.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
 
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
 
The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.
 
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
 
Questions to Ponder:
  1. How can using your grief to turn outwards help you heal and find purpose in your loss?
  2. What are some small and simply ways you could start serving?

Check out this post in the Serving Badge

 

My name is Wendi, and I was widowed shortly after my 29th birthday. I married the love of my life in Aug of 2007. 4 short months after our marriage, my sweetheart Jordon was diagnosed with a massive tumor. Through 5 1/2 grueling years of non-stop weekly chemo treatments, we learned to find joy in the journey, taking the unexpected twists as they came, and cherishing every moment.

Though my story is not what I expected or planned, I am learning to still find joy in my journey by serving others and spreading Sunshine whenever possible, after all, the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. True love stories have no ending. 

Mott Family – Est 2007: There Is Sunshine In My Soul Today

spouse died of cancer 3/2013

   

 

 

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