Until Death Do Us Part

To him whom much is given much is required.
Luke 12:48

Until death do us part are sacred words. We have had either the personal experience of speaking these words or listening to them spoken at wedding ceremonies. Where these words take people is unknown. That is part of the mystery of love. From the moment of speaking vows to the time of the end of a relationship due to death, is a unique and unpredictable experience. Some people spend many years together; decades of loving, changing, forgiving, growing, and growing older. Some people experience a shorter span of time; a limit that comes due to disease, accidents, divorce, and death due to military service. When love is born and vows are taken, it is uncertain as to how many years a couple will spend together. Whenever that physical union comes to an end, the grief it brings is an experience for which no one can prepare.

The ending of a marital relationship due to death is one of the most challenging kinds of losses. When two people come together and unite their lives, the physical sever that death brings finds a widow or widower facing a maze of emotions. Years of building a life together and growing as a couple, becomes a way of being. When that ends, life changes dramatically. Especially difficult can be the loneliness this loss brings.

For some loneliness can be acute. It can make one feel isolated, discouraged, and utterly disinterested in life. The future can seem bleak and even pointless. This is part of the depth of loving someone. However, this hollow feeling and gray view of the future is temporary. It gets better. When until death do us part becomes a reality, those who love continue to live out I love you.

Eleanor Roosevelt believed that caring for someone else is the best way to cope with one’s own problems. Concentration on someone else’s needs helps us bear our own. When a spouse must create a new life, there are various activities that can be helpful to fill in the day and develop a new lifestyle. Working in a job, doing volunteer work for the church or community, and praying for oneself and for others, are constructive ways to live. Time with family members and friends helps to round out life, and offers opportunities to share feelings and reminisce. Attending support groups, going out with acquaintances for coffee or lunch can be useful exchanges. Sometimes it can be advantageous to spend time with people who are not as close to the person who died. Their perspective is objective. They can provide helpful support and friendship.

God grants the gift of love and marriage to certain people. Those given this privilege also bear its responsibilities. Part of love is to endure the absence of a loved one and trust God through a season of grief. The path of grief is part of the path of love. Albeit an unwanted part, Jesus promises to never leave one alone. While grief is painful, it does pass. It takes a long time, and an odd route to heal but healing does come. Life is different after the death of a spouse but life continues to hold goodness and purpose. God reveals the blessings still to be. Hearts can continue to hold gratitude for all that was.

Lord God, You plan for certain people to come together in love and marriage to share life together. Because You know all that happens in our lives, You know losses in love will happen. Father, You sent Jesus to help in these times. Lord, grant those who grieve the loss of a spouse Your comfort and encouragement. Send ministering angels and wholesome company to their side to walk through days of sorrow. Restore hope for life and give meaning to the days. Help grievers live through their goodbyes and walk into lighter times ahead. This is asked in Your Name, Lord Jesus, and for Your sake, Amen.