I learned shock and numbness overwhelm a person when suddenly thrust into grief. In retrospect, I realize now, the shock and numbness that surges in upon you are gifts of grace from God. The full weight of all the confusion, pain, loss, grief, and the entire avalanche of emotions are all held at bay, and only small glimpses are allowed through the fortress raised up to protect you from the onslaught.
The ensuing hours are a blur of emotion, confusion, people, planning, and disbelief. In retrospect, I thank God for shock and numbness. It lasted for days, but slowly allowed reality to seep in and crash upon me.
As I sat on my couch that day, Leigh Ann told me she’d found Kim half in and half out of our shower. She insisted on protecting me from seeing Kim at that time. After all, paramedics and the police were seemingly carrying out an investigation. So, I sat and waited. I sat stunned in shock, numbness, and disbelief.
“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:14
Later, however, the funeral home representatives came to prepare Kim’s body to take her to the funeral home. It was at that point my pastor, Cliff Jordan, put his hand on my shoulder and said, “If you need to see her before she leaves your home, you need to do it.” I shook my head in affirmation. I was in complete shock, but I knew he was right.
The funeral home representatives eventually asked if I wanted to see Kim. I said that I did. In the midst of shock and numbness, I was overcome by fear, but Cliff’s counsel equipped me to take a first courageous step, a difficult decision. I had to see her, I needed to see her. Seeing her would be a stake in the ground.
My dad and my sister, Darla, were at my house by that time. They held me up as I went into my dining room where they had placed Kim’s lifeless body. I fell on her and wept. They kept me on my feet as I kissed Kim’s forehead and her cheeks. I began to pray, and then somehow, surprisingly, I began to thank God for thirty-five and-a-half years. I thanked God for the children he gave to us. And I said goodbye. It was obvious that my beautiful wife was gone. She was not there. Her spirit was not in her body’s shell. It was a stake in the ground in my new unwanted journey. I was facing loss.
In retrospect, Cliff Jordan gave me a gift as my pastor and leader that day. He helped me to face a new and difficult reality. He helped me to begin facing loss, and he set me on a journey of facing this difficult season with courage. In fact, just hours later I blurted out to someone, “I have to sleep in my bed tonight.” And then later, “I have to take a shower in my bathroom”—where Kim had been found. Two more pivotal decisions were added to the first one.
That fateful day, medicated by shock and numbness, I made three pivotal decisions that would prove to help me walk this long and painful journey. Call it trajectory. I looked upon my wife’s lifeless body, I got into my bed that night, and I took a shower in my bathroom the next morning. With the gentle guidance of my pastor, I made three very difficult decisions in the first eighteen hours. In the cloud of shock and numbness, those three difficult decisions put me on a path to trust God even in the midst of fear.
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.” Psalm 56:3-4