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

10 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Hard to read, but faith-building words. thank you again. Jan

  2. Anonymous

    D. Ray, thanks for sharing your journey. I am already being blessed and look forward to more. Your openness is powerful and God is using you and your writing to touch my life.

  3. Anonymous

    That was a tough one to read, and to remember: the first goodbye to Kim, the first reality of being without her. Thanks for the raw picture and the reminder that God was still there.

  4. Anonymous

    D Ray thank you for sharing that initial numbness is alright and could be a gift after a tragedy. In my senior year of high school I was in a bus wreck where two of my friends were killed. I worked for two hours after the wreck hauling broken teenagers through the window I kicked out and up a hill to passing motorists. I thought something was wrong with me as I was numb afterwards and didn’t cry or grieve until 8 months later. I like what you said that numbness can be a gate from God to only allow in the decisions you need to make at that time as otherwise it would be too much.

  5. Anonymous

    D. Ray, thanks for sharing your journey through grief! We love you and are praying for you!!!

  6. Anonymous

    Unfortunately, I clearly remember the day my husband left this earth to be united with our Lord and Savior. Hospice tried to prepare me, but the truth is you have no idea how you will respond. It was a very difficult day. I remember feeling the warmth leave his body as I hugged him moments after his last breath. I agree with your statement that the numbness was a gift at that moment. I also remember returning from the funeral home later that day. I dreaded walking back into our living room where he died. To my surprise, a dear friend had stayed back and rearranged my furniture. The hospital bed, the Hoyer lift, the wheelchair and the oxygen machine were gone. I was thankful for not having to see the empty bed but it also appeared to be an emotional shove towards moving on to my new normal. I am so grateful for my friends, family, neighbors, small group from church and my pastor who all supported me in the days to follow.

  7. Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing that sad day with us. I remember feeling the warmth leave my husband’s body as I hugged him after his last breath. Even though hospice had been with us everyday for the past week saying it would be soon, I was no more prepared when he let go. My pastor reminded me that “absent from the body, he is present with the Lord”. Freddie had put up an incredibly strong fight over the previous two years and fully believed he would be healed. I wish I could tell him how much his strength in faith was a witness to me and so many others. Who would have thought you can be a witness even in death.

  8. Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing your journey with others. God’s blessings to you on this road. Keep persevering in the faith and grieving with hope.

  9. Annette

    Thank you. It is so raw but it is truth.

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