“God you know how much I wish I could just hear you say the words and answer all the questions everybody’s asking.” Steven Curtis Chapman, Sound of Your Voice
Confusion accompanies loss. Matt Boswell and Matt Papa have a song inspired by Psalm 42, Lord From Sorrows Deep I Call. They sing, “Storms within my troubled soul, questions without answers, on my faith these billows roll…” They understand this confusion. New realities pour in upon you. It will take time to unravel them.
A friend and mentor, Tom Elliff, called me one day and helped me to put my brutal reality into words. He said, “When Jeannie died, I came to realize I’m no longer anyone’s main person, and I do not have a main person.” There are brutal and jolting realities and details that are one-hundred-and-eighty degrees from the day before Kim died.
However, facing loss and engaging in grief work—especially in the confusion—helps begin to make some sense of these new realities. Answers will come for questions you and everyone else are asking.
“Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:2
Unfortunately, however, there are some brutal details that cannot wait. They must be understood, faced, and addressed quickly. Immediately. I had to force myself to face some brutal details before the confusion even began to clear.
Thinking about a funeral is brutal. I’ve said before how confusing it is to stand in a room full of caskets. You can’t really think at all. And then there are some of the legal and logistical details. There’s a sense that a financial avalanche is pouring in upon you, as well. A death certificate is required. Changing a checking account is so final. Canceling credit and debit cards is so decisive. However, these brutal details must be addressed; they cannot wait. Financial changes must be handled immediately. Have you ever doubted that evil exists? How brutal is it that scoundrels lie in wait to steal identities in and around death? Brutal, indeed.
And then there was our decision to ask for an autopsy. At least in our experience, we needed an autopsy to help us in several ways. We wanted to know what happened for the sake of my children and their future health histories. We just had no idea what could have taken the life of my wife. Of course, we also wanted to understand. In our case, Kim’s death was sudden, unexpected, and downright confusing. But, what a brutal decision. There’s no denying how very difficult it is to make such a decision. And it’s a decision that cannot wait. I’ll never forget that afternoon when I knew that the autopsy service had begun the autopsy. Brutal. And crushing.
Nine weeks later, I was alone at home when the autopsy report came in the mail. No man should ever have to read the autopsy of his wife. With great difficulty, I had to follow up with several doctors to try to understand what had happened. I needed help interpreting the report. My children needed to know. Kim’s parents needed to know. I needed to know. After numerous conversations with doctors, and even the doctor who performed the autopsy, I’ve come to a place of peace. Acceptance. I cannot change what happened. However, I had faced another brutal detail.
No matter the circumstances following the death of a loved one, there are brutal details to address. These brutal decisions are not respecters of persons. Expect them. Death has a leveling effect, and it delivers brutal realities and details to face, and some must be faced immediately.
“I could strengthen you with my mouth, and the solace of my lips would assuage your pain.” Job 16:5
“My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!” Psalm 119:28