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Both/And Not Either/Or

I recently attended a Never Alone Widows conference and it was very good for my heart. It was also very difficult. Thinking about it now, almost a week later, I’m still contemplating the both/and aspects of grief. 

We were fed, physically and spiritually. We met others who lost their husbands in tougher ways than we did. Some had recently lost their husband, some had lost a second husband, and some had been years away from their husband passing away. We said or heard things that only other widows understand. We were able to be ourselves and in our most vulnerable moments, feel seen, loved, and not judged. 

The both/and aspect of grief was most prevalent for me while this room full of 400+ widows was in our time of worship. We were singing our hearts out but also weeping. Hands were raised but others couldn’t stand up from being overwhelmed with emotion. 

The lyrics that hit me most were from a song titled Rest And Rise:

I wake up covered in sweet hosannas

It’s the chorus of every angel

The one they’ve sung a thousand times

Now I’m joining in with mine

My praise is yours

Forever I will testify

Of what you’ve done

And how you’ve been there all my life

When I rest and when I rise

I will sing the love of Christ

I will testify

I know I’m living in the land of promise

Everyday it overflows with goodness

You keep on showing that the best part is

You’re not going anywhere

The dichotomy of singing this song in a room full of widows was so evident to me. It is both/and not either/or. I am still processing all that that means even. 

But, I do know that:

Pete is in Heaven and not suffering anymore and I miss him horribly. 

Pete and I had our difficulties in marriages but I also was in a really good space with him when he passed away and that makes losing him harder. 

I can sing lyrics like, “I’m living in the land of promise” and “You’re not going anywhere” and also be overwhelmed with sadness and anxiety. 

I can sing “I have seen the goodness of God” and sob from the overwhelm I have missing him. 

The first day, before the conference started, I walked the beach and got in the ocean. The whole time I was crying thinking about what Heaven is like for Pete and also how hard things are without him here. 

I was also flooded with memories I have with Pete and the girls around the beach and west coast. I am so grateful for those memories, that I have another blog in the works about, but I also feel ripped off, because we didn’t have more time together. 

My encouragement to you, with whatever you’re facing, is not to see things as either/or but both/and. In any season, you will have people telling you what think are absolutes, ie. “I’m so glad you’re out of that bad relationship” or “Things will be so much better because you made that decision.” While those things may be true, it can also be … and “That was the hardest thing I ever did!” or “My heart is still aching about it.”

When you think or hear absolutes (either/or statements) like that, you can take the truth of it and find the both/and in it. Sit in the grief that both sides exist. That, yes, there are blessings and positives but also there are things that still really suck. Give yourself grace when both/and statements are true. Acknowledge the pain but also give weight to the positive.

Also, if you’ve been putting off something because it’s difficult, do it!  In addition to being difficult, it may be helpful to your healing process or even just have some unforeseen blessing to it. You may experience something you wouldn’t have otherwise, if you didn’t.  Whatever we experience in life, doesn’t have to be either/or but it can be both/and.  





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