Facing Daunting Doorways

Facing Daunting Doorways

“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8

One of the first lessons I learned concerned the vital importance of facing loss head on. There is a temptation to sidestep the pain. Some mourners decide to remove reminders of the person they lost. It seems to them that there might be an easier way. Take a detour and avoid immediate pain.

However, from my experiences on the day of Kim’s death—seeing her before the funeral home took her, then sleeping in my own bed, and taking a shower the next morning where she died—I had learned the importance of facing painful realities squarely. Head on. Facing loss.

“Everyone has grief, but mourning is a choice.” H. Norman Wright, Experiencing Grief

Within the first couple of weeks, I had some imagery to go with my conviction. I felt as though there were doorways erected all around me. Some were big doors, and some were small doors. Some stood there, and some appeared in front of me at inopportune times. The doors were representative of something difficult and painful.

A few examples might help. One door was choosing a casket. Another was planning the funeral. Then there were Kim’s pictures all around my house that reminded me of my loss. Daily reminders. Moment-by-moment reminders. One day, I saw one of her baby pictures next to a picture of her holding one of our grandchildren. It crushed me. Each experience a doorway that must be confronted. I could turn away or I could press in and open the door.

I had been warned of another step and it was, indeed, a difficult doorway. It was a massive doorway.

I’ll never forget the day I knew I needed to change the sheets on my bed. It seems innocent enough, but I had been warned that this step is not so simple. The issue at the core is that Kim was on those very sheets. That was our bed where we spent so much of our lives.

On the appointed day I climbed my stairs to do the deed. I began to cry. I pulled the comforter and blankets back. I began to wail as I physically engaged in the act of pulling the sheets off the mattress and pillowcases from the pillows. It became a physically laborious chore. Finally, they were all in a pile on my bedroom floor, and I picked them up. Still wailing, I methodically stumbled down the stairs and into the laundry room. I placed the sheets in the washing machine, added soap, closed the lid, and started the cycle. Each step was exhausting.

Then there was instant release. And this is where the imagery of doorways first came into focus. It was as if a huge door had been raised in front of me. I literally had a choice. I could avoid, delay, or face washing my sheets. Again, it was as if a heavy daunting door stood before me.

I chose to push it open and face the task. As I thought through the experience and compared it to other decisions I had made in the early weeks, I began to picture decisions as doorways. I thought about my choices to face these difficult moments or to sidestep them. Doorways rise up before every person who grieves. Those doors of mourning must be faced, opened, and entered.

“He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.” Isaiah 40:29


  1. Anonymous

    Wow! All your journey described has been powerful to me. This one very much so. Thank you, D. Ray. Thanks for all of this. God keep you!

    • D. Ray

      I’m glad my story can help you in your journey.

  2. Anonymous

    Our son and his wife had a stillborn daughter several weeks before Kim’s death and have also had several miscarriages since then. Reading your blogs has helped me with these losses and also has helped me grieve having to watch my child in the loss of his child. I have encouraged him and his wife to read them as well. Currently they are in the process of adopting a brother or sister for their 3 year old daughter. Thank you for your openness and honesty.

    Beth Powitz

    • D. Ray

      Beth, I am so sorry. Your situation shows the varied levels and dimensions of grief. People who watch others mourn also mourn in different ways. You’re mourning the loss of a grandchild and the loss faced by your children. I hope I can be of help to them and would be willing to help in any way.

  3. Anonymous

    I have been encouraged by the verse from Isaiah, thank you so much. I lost my hubby on the 17th of November 2019 and am beginning to feel another wave of emotions…grieving is journey.

    • D. Ray

      There are indeed twists and turns on the journey. There’s back and forth and sideways, too. My recommendation is to press into the pain and emotion.

  4. Anonymous

    Thanks, D..Ray. Both are strong believers, are involved in a loving, supportive, church, and in counseling. I’ll let them know of your offer.

    Beth P.

  5. Anonymous

    Yours were sheets, mine was a shirt…

    My husband had worn a dress shirt I loved to church the day before… the next day, on a Monday, he was gone with a sudden heart attack. I went to bed that night with the shirt, still strong with his cologne, under my pillow. For weeks, I slept with that shirt under my pillow …Inhaling his scent.. When it began to fade, I frantically, tightly rolled the shirt, fighting to keep the scent encapsulated…. of course, at a point , the scent was gone…

    The “walking through the door” was letting go of the shirt after many weeks. So many additional doors, these past 6 years, but there was/is Jesus on the other side of the threshold…

    open arms.

    Thank you for your honesty in this grieving process.


    • D. Ray

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Kathi. There are many, many doorways that must be faced and opened. And the gospel has the answer. Face loss—a picture of the world’s brokenness—and see redemption and reconciliation overwhelm the loss. Painful still; but met with God’s kindness.

  6. Anonymous

    I love the quote from H. Norman Wright: “Everyone has grief, but mourning is a choice.” Your vivid word pictures of the doors and your choice to deal with each one (or not) are a great help as we move through the mourning process of our grief. Thank you. Ann

    • D. Ray

      Praying now for you, Ann, as you mourn. I write because other writers helped me, as H. Norman Wright did in this case. Quotes like this one are behind the title to my blog—Facing Loss. The discipline to face the loss and not sidestep it is very important.

  7. Anonymous

    This is powerful. Thanks for sharing! Praying for you daily!!!

  8. Annette

    As day begins and as it closes, still processing. Prayers for the brokenhearted and the crushed in spirit as we navigate this journey. Your story is such a solace.

    • D. Ray

      I am grateful to hear your comments, Annette.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *