Expect to Deal with Brutal Details

Expect to Deal with Brutal Details

“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


  1. Anonymous

    Thank you.. I read and reread the comment..”You are no one’s main person” That is absolutely correct. That is such a difficult place to think about. Thank you for helping me to remember that I am someone’s main person….I am very important to our Father!!

  2. Anonymous

    D.Ray. Thanks for sharing your struggles and how things are progressing for you. I’ve been there too. life is hard, but I thank the Lord He got me through it. Give yourself time. Depend on your friends and family. God bless.

    • D. Ray

      Although it’s great to be supported and prayed for, I feel like I need to remind everyone that I do not share these experiences of facing loss and lessons of hope for sympathy…But, I’ll take it prayer and sympathy anytime! However, these entries I share are repurposed entries from my journaling to help others face loss and have hope. I’m investing the journey I’ve traveled. When I release something in this blog, it is at least a year behind me. When I release an entry, I’m in a much more objective place to share a lesson. It’s also good because I know my journaled entry has been tested by a year or so, and I’m still intent on sharing the lesson. Not sure how many people will see this comment but I wanted to share it. So, keep the prayers coming, keep the sympathy flowing, but also know where I am on this unwanted journey.

  3. Anonymous

    Excellent word, DRay! Just walked through some of these brutal realities when my mother died a year ago. Her death wasn’t unexpected but was sudden. Many urgent matters.

    Thanks for sharing your journey. You are encouraging many!

  4. Anonymous

    D. Ray, Bob’s brother died recently with covid. He had pastored one church for 39 years. He was healthy, energetic and a very committed pastor. We live across the street from each other. He was in our home every day, sometimes twice. He and Bob were extremely close. While we were on the mission field he took care of our house, rented it out, did everything he thought of to help us. What a loss and grief that can’t be explained. He was 15 years old when got married. Our peace only comes in knowing he is at rest in the arms of Jesus.

    • D. Ray

      I am so sorry about the loss of Bob’s brother. And that church is mourning, too. And when you see someone every day or twice a day you’ve lost an important relationship. I wish I knew which “Bob” this is, but the comment came in as “Anonymous.”

  5. Karen

    D.Ray thank you sharing all of the hard circumstances that we may not think of unless we have walked this path too. Since Covid has come I have had friends to loose husbands. I have pointed them to your blog in hopes that they will find comfort and help. One of the ladies has told me how much she appreciates reading your blog.

    • D. Ray

      Karen, I am so glad my journey can help these who have lost loved ones due to COVID. I share my journey not to “reprocess” my loss, but as an investment for others facing loss, too.

  6. Anonymous

    It is brutal… I think particularly as a wife that for the most part, was NOT a major part of bringing in additional income. I had a few little part-time jobs; however, by no means, were those same jobs going to support me after my husband’s sudden death.

    Truly, ultimately, trust was the ONLY saving grace! I didn’t even stop to grieve those first months, I was so consumed with panic and fear about how to survive on my own… I worked small jobs from morning till evening, running between jobs sometimes 30 miles across Houston!

    Finally, my strength, physically and emotionally was spent and God could finally speak to me, Stand still and I will fight for you…” Ex14:14

    Thank you D Ray for faithfully, truthfully relaying the process we have gone through as we grieved the loss of a spouse… so so many aspects people need to understand, both the one grieving and those that will one day.

    Kathi B

    • D. Ray

      This has been enlightening to me, Kathi, to read from women of an added layer of brutal details when their only means of income is interrupted. Brutal!

  7. Annette

    D. Ray, you seem to reach in and touch our very souls. Thank you for the ability to pen our hearts for others and for us as we all heal in our grief.


    • D. Ray

      Thank you, Annette. I am seeking to steward the gift of the lessons along this journey. We just don’t talk enough about it.

  8. Annette

    So agree with the fact we do not talk enough.

  9. Anonymous

    Thanks again D. Ray. I have shared your writings with others who have recently lost their spouses and your writing has helped them tremendously.

    Regina Duncan

    • D. Ray

      Thank you, Regina. I am grateful if I can serve others in their journeys.

  10. Barbara

    It’s been almost six months now and you are still speaking to me. My grief group is using A Grace Disguised. I’m so thankful that we have you two men who put our exact thoughts, feelings, and experiences into words. I told someone recently that no one lights up when I walk into the room anymore. That’s what I thought of when you wrote that you’re no longer anyone’s main person. Exactly.

    • D. Ray

      Thank you, Barbara, for commenting. I am glad you all are using A Grace Disguised. It was so helpful. I wrote the author, Jerry Sittser, a year after Kim’s death and started my email, “You may not know it, but we’ve been friends for almost a year now…” His story and lessons of grace have helped me. Later, you should read his “sequel,” A Grace Revealed. I am so glad my story can help you in yours.

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