Divorced: The Last Goodbye

Barbara Lighthizer

"Mom, the news about Dad isn't good," said Jerry.

Sharon braced herself against the kitchen cabinets and closed her eyes. She was dreading this phone call, but whatever the news, she wanted to maintain a positive attitude for her children. "What did the doctor say, dear?"

familyonbeach"It's an inoperable brain tumor." Jerry's voice trembled as he continued, "They want to do a biopsy in a few days."

Stunned, Sharon hesitated before replying, "Oh, how tragic! I'll keep praying for your dad, and for you. Remember, dear, the Lord is in control." She was amazed how empty the words sounded, even though she knew every word was true. Somehow, she felt she needed to say something new, something more profound. Yet, what could be more profound than to know the power of prayer and that the Lord is in control.

The following days were filled with tears, memories, and a deep aching grief as she tried to comprehend how Barry's death was going to affect the lives of their three children . . . and her own life.

What's Wrong?

"What is wrong with me, Lord," whispered Sharon as she tried to do her household chores. "Barry and I have been divorced for years. Our children are grown and have lives of their own, so why do I feel such a loss?"

She felt as if she had been sucked up in a tornado as her thoughts tumbled from the past to the present and crashed into the unknown future. Her prayer time was filled with crying and begging the Lord to spare Barry's life. "None of us know, Lord, if he's a Christian."

A few days after the initial phone call, Sharon learned that Barry had only a few weeks to live. At this point, Jerry asked his dad if he was ready to meet the Lord, and his father said, "I've taken care of that."

When Jerry told his mom, she was elated. Their prayers had been answered, but Sharon continued to grieve . . . alone. To whom could she talk? Who would understand that even though they were divorced, she felt she was losing her husband? Sharon poured her heart out to the Lord and tried to wade through the rush of feelings that were erupting. She decided to share with two dear Christian friends. They uplifted her in prayer and kept in contact with her several times a week.

After the funeral, Sharon knew this chapter of her youth and marriage was closed. She walked away from the church feeling like a widow. During the next few days she was able to sort through what she had learned.

What Sharon Learned

Barry's involvement in their children's lives had given her more of a feeling of security than she had realized. He continued to maintain the patriarchal position in the family. The grief she felt for their three children over the loss of their dad was softened because Barry was now with Jesus. She needed to rely more on the Lord and to ask Him for guidance for her children and herself as the family structure changed.

She had grieved alone except for the Lord, Jerry, and her two friends. She determined to become more sensitive to those who were experiencing the loss of a spouse, especially divorced people.

With Barry's death, a part of her past was gone. She committed to make the most of the time she had left and to accomplish what God had placed on her heart.

Divorce does not always sever the bond of marriage. The death of a former spouse may give you a new understanding of the marriage vow: "What God has joined together, let man not separate" (Matthew 19:6, NIV). The tie can be stronger than you think. The last goodbye could change your perspective of relationships.

By: Barbara Lighthizer

 

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