How Can Goodbyes to Help Me Grow


I put my second son on a plane today, and I will not see him for two years… Two years seems like an eternity.

He is going on a foreign mission for my church, and he can email once a week and call on Christmas and Mother’s day- that is it.  I did this a year ago with my oldest son… Both of my sons… my men, who I have relied on and leaned on, gone for a whole year.

This is a very hard thing for a widow to do…So much loss and so many ‘goodbyes.’
My heart yearns for  ‘welcome backs,’ but as my son pointed out, “I have to leave so I can come back.”And it’s good… it’s what I want.  He is doing good things with his life, growing up and reaching out to help other people. I keep reminding myself…

How can I be sad about that?

Yet sadness is still there.  
Sadness is part of loss.  
It is the cost of love.

Last weekend was hard.  I felt like we were waiting for the impending doom to hit.  I had to repeatedly remind myself that he was coming home. I remember feeling like that with my oldest as well. I was really trying hard to put on a happy face, but I think EVERYONE felt the sadness, not just me. Sunday came.  He was speaking in church, family was coming to see him off, and I desperately wanted to dispel the cloud of sadness so that we could enjoy the last few days.  So I prayed, really, I pleaded…

“Please take this from me, just until he leaves.  Not for me, but for him.  I don’t want him to remember his mom being sad.  I need to be happy for him.  I will even take all the sadness back after he leaves, if I can just have two days.” 

I went to church, and when he began to speak, I was filled with such an amazing feeling.   Happy, and full and running over… It caused me to cry, and I’m sure people thought I was sad about him leaving, but it was just the opposite. I was being carried. The sadness was just gone… just like that.  So abruptly… I have only ever experienced enabling help so powerfully like that one other time in my life.

 The afterglow of the experience carried me through Monday and Tuesday and our good-byes this morning.  It wasn’t just me either.  I noticed my son and my other children all acted and felt different.  Last night, I talked to my daughter about this, and she said that she had noticed feeling really happy since Sunday as well. She told me she had been sad and having a hard time before as well. In that happy state, I even found myself thinking, 

“Why was I having such a hard time with this?  It is so easy now.” I knew I could not be carried like this forever. This was a gift… a vacation from grief. 

This morning we saw my son off at 8am and then drove home.  Surprisingly, I made it through without a tear.  We quickly cleaned up the house for a showing at 10:00…  then it hit me… The lump in my throat started and this sick feeling deep in the pit of my stomach returned.  I even felt a bit panicked!  Vacation over… At first I wanted to call people, but I knew that I would only complain and get worked up.  I decided instead to listen to some of my favorite talks from my church’s last General Conference.  I listened to a two hour session and then went back and listened to my favorite ones a few more times.  
They talked of gratitude… and of being grateful in the middle of trials. They talked of the need for burdens and how Jesus can help bear those. These were words of solace to me. They calmed my panic and helped me to recenter. It was not the huge enabling power I had experienced the two days prior, but it was enough for me to function again.
Why doesn’t God always make it easy for me?

Because He could… I know He could…. I felt that sadness totally and completely gone… But He doesn’t because if I was always carried then…

  •  I would not think it special and I would not know that He was helping me.  I would think that it was all just me. To really understand joy you have to know sadness.
  • I would not have empathy and understanding for others who were suffering without that aided help.
  • I would not feel the need to daily, sometimes hourly think of God, turn to Him and ask for Help.  The pain helps me remember my need for Him.
  • I would never learn to do this by myself.  God wants me to be independent… to act and choose to do good and be good even when it is hard.
Yes, this is sooooo hard…
But everything that is hard gives
 me opportunities for growth.
 Growth that I need,
 growth that I want.  
Even now that I am not being carried, I am not left all alone.
He is there walking beside me…
giving encouragement as I need it
offering burst of strength to keep me going
stretching my faith
teaching me lessons
helping me to grow.
Questions to Ponder:
  1. When have you been enabled by grace?  How do those past experiences give you hope?

Check out this post in the Grace Badge

I was 38 years old and the mother of 3 teenaged sons and a 10 year-old daughter when I became a widow. My fairy tale world was shattered. I lost my best friend and the love of my life. In that moment I knew I could choose, choose to sink into the darkness of despair, or I could choose to turn to the Lord for understanding and direction. I chose the light and it has made all of the difference. I share my story, what I have learned this life is all about and how I have refound purpose and direction in the hopes of helping others who are struggling. I am determined that when I meet my husband again that we will say, this was worth it. We will look at the learning and the good this tragedy accomplished, and we will say, this was not for naught.

Not For Naught: A Young Widow’s Journey

spouse and father-in-law died in a plane crash 11/2012.