The What Ifs

February 27, 2024

My husband has been gone for several years, yet at times, grief washes over me like the ocean’s waves – especially when I see a couple strolling in the park or entering the theater hand-in-hand. These scenes are certain reminders that my cherished memories remain, but the past is gone. I often find myself wondering how different my life would be today if brain cancer hadn’t cast such a dark shadow and robbed me of my husband.

I have known God’s love and caring most of my life, but in the days that followed my husband’s death, I felt abandoned. Where are you, God?

I found it so easy to slip into speculating or harboring resentment over the unfulfilled plans Roy and I made for our lives. I started getting caught in the “What if…?”s and the “Why?”s. But I have learned that time spent wondering, “What went wrong?” or my efforts to blame the Army, Agent Orange, or doctors for what happened only hindered my journey through grief.

Yes, there were times after Roy’s death I found myself diving into a carton of ice cream or a bag of chips or binging on Netflix in an effort to relieve my sorrow. And every new day would again find me in the same old, tearful muddle. Believe me, those are not healthy activities for those who grieve!

Eventually, I was reminded that it was God who restores broken hearts and crushed spirits (The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18), not binge-eating or binge-watching. I was reminded that He will provide unexplainable joy even in the new world of widowhood (See the promises of Psalm 62).

I finally learned that it is okay to have those moments, feelings, and thoughts, but wallowing in them built a roadblock to my growth and my passage through grief.

In the face of grief, I clung to Psalm 62:8 (NLT): “O,… trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.” Rather than dwelling on the ‘What ifs? and Whys’, let’s focus on the God of our hope and our redeemer for answers.

My husband was a fine soldier. Eventually, I realized I had to follow his example: Head up! Shoulders back! MARCH ON! I have to trust in God, just as soldiers trust their commanders to lead us where we need to go.

Remember that God hears our every cry and captures every tear, as Psalm 56:8 reminds us. Be gentle with yourself and look to our Lord for comfort and care. Let’s follow Hannah’s posture after pouring her heart out to her God – our God in I Samuel 1:18, “Her face was no longer downcast.”

Are you ready to rediscover the hope and joy that can only be found in Christ? The JOY JOURNAL will guide you through the practices that helped me through my grief. Click here to download your free copy.

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  1. Jackie, such pertinent feelings put into perspective for those of us who share the experience of the loss of person we were and are connected to as one.

    • Dave, I am pleased to hear my words touched you. May you find comfort in your grief journey through Christ. I have no idea where I would be without HIM.



  2. Your story is my story but no agent orange…..I am stronger by walking along beside others who are grieving also. Thanks for sharing

    • Barb, it is a journey no one wants to travel, but I am so grateful for your friendship. Yes, our stories are similar in many ways. We have both found strength through the Lord and are called to walk beside others on their grief journey.



  3. Beautiful and emotional piece, Jackie. My prayers are with you. I’m thankful you are letting God use you to encourage and help others.

    • Candyce, thank you for your thoughtful comments. Yes, I can’t imagine how I would grieve the death of those I have loved if I didn’t know the Lord. I am humbled to believe God uses my words to encourage and help others.