November 1st, 2014 will never be the same for my husband and I. Just the day before, we were celebrating my 29th birthday in Knoxville, TN, at a missions conference. It was the first day of the conference and we were looking forward to the remainder. That next day, Saturday, I awoke to Stephen’s phone ringing. It was Stephen’s brother, Daniel, calling to inform us that their dad had passed away during the night.
As soon as Stephen relayed the news to me, I immediately felt as though I was in a dream, a very bad dream. I couldn’t begin to think how Stephen and his brother felt, or even how their mother was feeling; now a widow. I immediately packed our things, got the kids dressed and tried to explain to Peyton, as best as I could, what was happening and why we were leaving. The two hour drive to Dalton felt like 20! It was spent with us both on the phone, with Stephen’s mom, our Pastor and my family.
Over the next several days, with the planning of the funeral, dealing with the initial shock of it all, and thinking of our next steps; we were all very busy, and didn’t have much time, personally, to grieve. Knowing that Stephen, his mother and brother, were making all of the arrangements, I felt as though there was something I could be doing, to help, even if were in a small way.
The Small Details
I didn’t realize, then, how important the small details were! From unloading the dish washer, to writing “Thank You” notes, watching the kids and my sister in law organizing all of the files and writing down everything- it took a huge burden off my husband and the rest of the family! The small things DO matter!
During a tragedy, it’s safe to say that no two people are going to agree on every detail. But, keeping in mind that throughout the grieving process; it’s not about what we can get, what we deserve and who is right or wrong. It is about making sure that we stay unified as a family. We grieve together, laugh together, cry together, eat together, and as a family, we stay together! The majority of the time, what that requires, is for us to guard our thoughts. We should choose to think on things that are true, are lovely, and are of a good report, instead of focusing on who is right or wrong.
“ Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Ministering to Your Husband
Being married to a preacher, they take responsibility of bearing the burdens of others and often forget that they have the right to grieve on their own. Sometimes he may not know how to grieve.
- Be his shoulder to cry on
- Cry with him
- Listen intently
- Try not to give advice at the wrong time
“Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”
Be sensitive to the fact that timing is everything! There is a time to speak, a time to be silent, and a time to distract. There is also a time when you will need to sit him down, look him in the eyes, and tell him it is okay to cry. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us that there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
“…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…a time to get, and a time to lose…a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;”
As with each scenario, there are certainly going to be different variations of the best way to minister. But, we need to keep in the fore-front of our mind, that our first ministry, and priority, is to our husbands. This will help us to know what steps to take and how to be there for them in times of tragedy.