By Larry Peterson
“We have come to know and believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in Him.”
The above quote from 1 John 4:16 led me to write what follows. It is a profound and beautiful quote and we should all try to remember it.
I have gone from being a husband to being a widower; twice. My first wife, Loretta, died of cancer in 2003. My second wife, Marty, died from Alzheimer’s disease in March of 2017. What is interesting is how we, the widowed, perceive our widowhood. I have discovered that some who have been widowed, both men and women, still consider themselves married. Some, like me, do not. Why is that?
Grief and loneliness are not fleeting, emotional upheavals. Contrary to what some of the experts might say, you never “get over it.” When a man and a woman have shared their lives with each other, given of themselves to each other, cared for each other and loved each other—in good times and in bad—it is a beautiful thing. It is how God planned it.
The married couple, especially those acknowledging God as their unifying, foundational support, become a new family. The man complements the woman; The woman complements the man; together they become one.
When the death of one of the spouses occurs, the one left behind oftentimes may feel completely deserted. There is a part of them missing. Feeling lost and alone no one, even your own children, cannot take away that feeling of being forsaken. Instead of “getting over it” the widowed person begins a process.
Each and every one of us is unique and have our own way of dealing with the loss. We take our grief and loneliness and slowly begin placing it somewhere inside ourselves. The common denominator for the widowed is this: it takes time, lots of time.
Enter the quote at the beginning of this essay. As a man who is rooted in his Catholic faith, those words within the quote of, “God is Love,” explains (at least for me) what the death separation means. I know that both of my wives were women of faith and that they received the last rites.
I was married twice. Both times in the church. Therefore, when Loretta passed away, I became unmarried. ( I never thought of being “unmarried” nor of getting married “again.” It just happened). My meeting Marty was unplanned and unexpected. But then I began to see the hand of God in all of this. Stay with me now.
Loretta is always a part of me. She lives on in my mind, heart, and soul. I was with her when she received the Anointing of the Sick. Marty will always be a part of me and lives on within me also. I was with her when she received the Anointing of the Sick. I loved them both but in different ways. It was amazing to discover this. God had taken Loretta who became embraced by eternal Love. Fourteen years later, God took Marty, who is now, also embraced by eternal Love.
From the bible quote, it all becomes crystal clear how this works. And it is beautiful. If God is Love and my spouses are with HIM (and I know that they are because all the power of the Church was bestowed on both of them at their hours of death), all they now know is LOVE.
Un-canonized saints, I can talk (pray) to them, and I know all they can do is Love me and want the best for me. There can be no anger or envy or avarice or jealousy or anything like that in the Love world. I may remain a widowed man or I may not. I have no idea. Whatever way the Spirit moves me I leave it all to Him. I know I am in Good Hands.
There is the old cliché of, “it is better to have loved and lost—“ I have wondered about that because the lost part can really hurt. But, since I do know that God is Love, I would do it again.