I lost my husband, Glenn, almost two years ago to a disease called amyloidosis. I used to talk about it - I would tell Glenn that he was not an ordinary man and would not have had an ordinary disease. But it wasn't funny - the prognosis was grim - the disease would continue to spread and there was no cure. At first, I couldn't believe this was happening to me. It was the kind of thing that happened to other people. Glenn was in the prime of his life with so much to live for. I experienced denial and anger and guilt. I felt scared and sick and helpless. Eventually I was led to acceptance.
My faith gave me the strength and courage to face each day and to accept God's will. Daily Mass and Communion, as long as it was possible, and prayer - especially the rosary, and the consolation of the scapular were so important. I can't begin to imagine going through anything like this without the Church. It would have been impossible for me.
Even though I lived with the pain that I was going to lose Glenn, I came to see the goodness of God through it all. God could have taken him in any number of ways. Instead, He sent him a cross that slowed him down and gave him time to get closer to his family than ever before. God took from him the things he enjoyed doing most in this world to help him prepare for the next world.
Glenn was sick for a year and then death came quickly. I wasn't ready for the finality of it - I would never hear his voice again, see his smile, or feel his strong arms around me.
At the time of the funeral I was accepting, but some days after I began to think how unfair it was that God had taken him from me. I became very angry and then felt guilty because of my anger. But thank God, He sent me a friend who said it was normal and okay to be angry and for my emotions to bounce back and forth.
The best advice I received was to "be myself" - to feel the way I needed to feel, to say what I needed, to do what I needed, to hear what I needed, and to be where I needed to be. This sounds very selfish, but it's only in allowing the pain to happen that healing can take place. Normal activity is good, but I had to allow myself the time to experience loneliness and pain.
My first Christmas without Glenn came shortly after his death. My whole family went through the motions of having a normal holiday. By late afternoon though, I was really feeling bad and realized I had not spent the day the way I needed. I didn't talk about it to anyone, but thank God the next morning a friend came over to visit and I was able to have a good cry and unburden myself - all I had wanted to do Christmas day was to sit and cry and miss my husband and let it hurt, and I hadn't done it. I promised myself that would never happen again - that I would never be busy when I needed to be quiet.
God has been good to me in many ways. He speaks to me through friends, through the priest, at Mass,in confession, and I can't say enough about how the Catholic cable network EWTN helped me through those first months.
I believe that our loved ones are still close to us and many times, through the grace of God and the Blessed Mother, we receive signs assuring us of this. I have prayed for this and my prayers have been answered. I encourage you to pray for signs to be able to experience these wonderful holy moments when we are allowed to feel the presence and the love of God in a most special way.