My Grief Was Heard
Cady Lewis Patterson is one of my favorite people in the universe! She is passionate about the Word of God and about serving Christ. She can make you giggle with uncontrolled glee in about 30 seconds flat. Cady is a celebrator of life and people and an ordinary day. I have been on unsuccessful diets with her, have guided her through planning a wedding, have spent way too much money at Target together and have consumed countless cups of coffee with her. She is my kind of girl!
Cady’s story is at once both heart-wrenching and hope-stirring. She sent her 24 year old husband to heaven after only 9 months of marriage. We were standing in faith and believing for the Lord to heal his cancer-ridden body and although our prayers weren’t answered in the way that we envisioned, they were answered. Make no mistake about it - our prayers for Jordan were answered, indeed.
I am excited about Cady’s new book, entitled, “Her Grief Was Heard”. This book will strengthen so many people who are caught in the depths of grief and pain. I pray that this excerpt from her book will encourage you today.
“You don’t want to leave his side today. This is the last day you will see him alive.”
A tear slipped down the palliative care nurse’s cheek. I turned and looked at my husband lying in his hospital bed. He was struggling to breathe. He was suffering, and there was nothing I could do to help. I had been holding his hand for about 3 hours now. I clutched his hand even tighter. I wasn’t going to let him go. I couldn’t. I felt like the world was caving in on me. I can’t lose him, Lord. I don’t know how I will live. Please save him!
Jordan Lewis was a man among men. He was gracious, humble, thoughtful, and compassionate towards everyone. He never met a person who didn’t love him instantly, and honestly, I don’t think there was a single person in the world he couldn’t see the good in. We had been married for 8 ½ months, and it had been quite the journey. Jordan was diagnosed with cancer 3 weeks before we got married. As soon as our honeymoon was over, we hit the ground running, trying every type of cancer treatment available nationwide. But it was no use. The cancer continued to grow aggressively—leaving my groom paralyzed, unable to see, talk, or hear. He could whisper, and with those labored breaths he would whisper praises to the Lord.
I knew at that moment I needed the strength of the Lord to carry me. I knew that what I was seeing was traumatizing, and if Jordan were to die my heart could become hard from my brokenness. At that realization, I fell on my knees in the hospital room and asked the Lord to spare my heart from bitterness. Please Lord, let my heart never be hard like Pharaoh’s heart.
My husband died in my arms that night. I kissed him as he breathed his last breath. As he slipped out of my hands and into the arms of Jesus, I felt like part of me was being severed from me. C.S. Lewis refers to the death of a spouse as an “amputation.” I couldn’t agree with this comparison more. Now I had to figure out how to live this new life without a part of me, and I felt too weak to even stand.
Here’s the thing about grief: you can’t go through it alone. You need someone to carry you when you are weak, someone to comfort you when you are sobbing yourself to sleep, and someone to listen to your outbursts of rage when you feel like your world is caving in. You need someone to stir your heart in faith every morning when you wake up, and someone to remind you that there is hope beyond the dark feelings that haunt you throughout the day. Only Jesus can carry you through grief.
I was 24 years old when I watched my husband suffocate to death. I was 24 years old when I finally began to understand the reckless pursuit of Jesus Christ. He had been pursuing my heart from the beginning, but I had no idea the kind of tangible pursuit I was about to experience through my brokenness.
Through my journey of grief, I have questioned God, wrestled with God, cried to God, argued with God, and sobbed to God. When Jordan died, I destroyed the hospital room. I threw things. I screamed. I tried to resuscitate him. And then I lied helplessly on his cold chest and sobbed, knowing I would never hear his heartbeat again.
But there was someone else in that hospital room.
He was the hand on my back when Jordan breathed his last breath. He was the voice singing over me when I was screaming my brokenness to him. He was the first to hold my heart, when Jordan’s hand dropped from mine and became cold. He was the arms around me, holding me in shaking fits of rage. And he was the gentle whisper of comfort, when my heart had fallen silent from unspeakable pain.
Jesus Christ was there for me, walking me through the valley of the shadow of death. He never abandoned me, he never winced at the questions I hurled at him, and he never released the embrace of his arms around me when I was kicking, screaming, and sobbing.
Grief is ugly. There is no way around it. If you put off grief, it will only get bigger, badder, and uglier. But guess what? Jesus isn’t afraid of the ugly. He pinned it to the cross and marked it with his blood. He clothed our beaten and battered bodies with his robe of righteousness. Wrestling through grief while clinging onto Jesus can be one of the most God-glorifying, soul-edifying, hope-instilling journeys you experience.
If you are reading this and you are in the middle of your journey of grief, I want to encourage you that this grieving will not last forever. Your pain is not wasted, and your sorrow is not unseen. The best thing you can do in the foreboding sea of grief is to relinquish all striving to push back against the waves and lean into the One who will carry you through the rising tides. If you had trouble getting up this morning, rely on Jesus to carry you through the day. If you have horrific flashbacks every time you close your eyes, cry out to Jesus to heal your memories.
It has been 5 years since Jordan died. Do I still wrestle with grief? Some days. But it’s not to the point where I feel like I can’t breathe anymore. Most of the time I am joyful, giggly, and happy. If I told that to my 24-year-old self, I would have huffed in disbelief. If I could say anything to the 24-year-old widow who was lying beside her dead husband’s body, I would tell her that even though she cannot imagine it, she will be happy again. She will wake up with joy in her heart again. She will laugh again. She will sleep in peace again. I would tell her that this journey of grief will take her places she would never picture and it would be grueling and dark and painful, but she will receive the greatest treasure in the midst of her greatest heartache: Jesus Christ, the one who will carry her through this journey of grief into joy.
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. —Psalm 121:1-2 ESV
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. —Psalm 34:17-18 ESV
Cady Lewis Patterson’s new book “Her Grief Was Heard” is now available at bridgelogos.com.