Disbelief during loss is sinister. How many times should someone have to face their loss? It turns out you face it repeatedly every day. Multiple times a day. It’s almost like waking up having to live an event over and over. And worse, you have deceptive surges of disbelief sneak in when you’re not expecting.

“I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning. For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh.” Psalm 38:6-7

Even if you’re facing loss head on, your mind is still trying to integrate a new massive change into years of memories. Your mind often reverts to the past memory and ignores the present reality. It’s like reformatting a disk, except more difficult.

The disbelief is like a plague that just won’t go away. I found myself sitting alone at times and would occasionally look at the other end of the couch and just shake my head. Other times, I’d be with someone and just blurt out, “I just cannot believe it.”

I found myself at times giving theological or mental assent to the facts. I knew the truth. But in those early moments, days, and even months it did not change the feelings. It still doesn’t change the feelings. Further, I couldn’t stop the disbelief or the shaking of my head. I’d lock eyes with someone, and we would both shake our heads.

“Image-bearers of God are not impervious.” David Powlison

Loss never strikes this close to home, right? It’s just unimaginable. I remember walking into the funeral home on the Sunday of the visitation. I entered the room alone and had time to weep. Finally, I stood and went to bring my three children into the room with me. We stood crying before the casket holding Kim’s body. We wailed. We held each other and just let our tears flow. We held each other.

I remember a sense of focus coming over me. A sense of resolution. I kept saying out loud, “This is a stake in the ground.” I added, “Everything has changed.” I repeated it over and over: “This is a stake in the ground.” However, I’m not sure it was helping me get beyond disbelief. But I knew I had to help my family and myself. So, I kept saying it. “This is a stake in the ground.”

Stake or no stake, it’s difficult to believe I’ve lost her.

Disbelief. Recurring. Like a plague. Yet, through it all, I was forcing my gaze upon Christ. While experiencing loss, Christ’s presence is a balm even for the plague of recurring disbelief.

“I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart. O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.” Psalm 38:8-9

19 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    D. Ray, I pray for comfort and healing as you go through this painful journey. Andrea Pannell

    • D. Ray

      Thanks, Andrea. He has comforted me in so many ways. He has been good. Painful journeys can also be rich!

  2. Anonymous

    A voice of experience. This one was so real, more so than some others. Thanks D.Ray.

    • D. Ray

      One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to be real or you can’t heal. Face loss but do so in faith!

  3. Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing so openly from deep inside your heart. Thanks too for keeping your posts short – those of us who are grieving have short attention spans! :) Did your disbelief ever extend to doubting God’s presence or purpose in it all?

    • D. Ray

      I have not doubted God’s presence. I am not saying it’s always happy or feel good. Sometimes you want to cry out, “How long, O Lord?” Saying I never doubted his presence does not mean it’s all clean. It’s messy. You really do have to ‘face loss.’ In retrospect, it’s a faith issue. It’s not a sight issue. I definitely doubted my sight. During disbelief, shock, and numbness, I was cognizant that I could not trust what I saw, felt, or experienced. You really do have press into the gospel and stand by faith.

      And as for the length of my posts…Kim was an editor and I hear her in my ear if I write too much.

  4. Anonymous

    D. Ray. Your words crushed my heart and I had to weep again. I thank Father He does hear — in His timing. Zeb and I pray that every member of the family will experience His healing. Father will use every word and expressed feeling for His glory and to help others. It is a spiritual marker, a stake in the ground God is holding you in His strong hands. Love you and continue to pray.

    • D. Ray

      Thank you, Evelyn. I committed to sharing the good, bad, and ugly. If you’re not honest and real, you cannot heal. Loss must be acknowledge and faced. And you will always find God is faithful…As Psalm 89:33 says, he will not be false to his own faithfulness!

  5. Anonymous

    The pain of disbelief is real and still shows up after 2+ yrs, but with God’s Grace and presence the sweet memories get more vivid with time
    Donna B

    • D. Ray

      Amen! I agree Donna B. Thank you. Those memories are getting sweeter and vivid.

  6. Anonymous

    D.Ray I have appreciated this since you began , not knowing how very much my family and I would need this in the sudden death of my nephew(47). Thank you. His mother and and family are now plugged in to your words. I pray they will help and heal.

    • D. Ray

      I am so gratified to hear my words are now helping you and your family. I began this journey because the writing of other people helped me. I have prayed my comfort received would be contagious. I am so sorry for the loss of your nephew. I pray you will all be able to face your loss and heal. Next week’s entry is called, Don’t Sugarcoat Loss.

  7. Anonymous

    Hi D.Ray. this post has touched me in a different way to the others. I find the disbelief comes each time I want to call Kim or message her and to realise that I can no longer do that. How much more you and the family must feel that, in so many ways and every day. I am so grateful for the many memories of her and cherish the fact that she counted me as a friend. I am grateful too that our Lord has brought you comfort and growth on this road you now walk. May you be blessed as you share as i know that that will help so many others too, your kids especially. Kim would be so proud of you. You and the family are much in my thoughts. Dale

    • D. Ray

      Thank you, Dale. And yes, she considered you a dear friend.

  8. Charlene Eshleman

    D. Ray, thank you for your transparency and vulnerability as you share your journey of grief. This message really struck a chord is I am only a few months behind you in my own loss. Last night I scanned my husband’s Facebook page and the good memories of trips, anniversaries, and birthdays celebrated mingled with the posts of health crises and very hard days of his illness. A fresh wave of grief overwhelmed me as I fell asleep. This morning, I awoke to the unmistakable sound of David falling downstairs. As I jumped out of bed to go check on him, I suddenly remembered. It was a rough way to start my day, but within a few minutes I was sitting on the deck and focused on God‘s word. I really don’t know how I would move forward without the peace of knowing that my beloved is with the Lord and God‘s mercies are new every morning.

    • D. Ray

      Thanks, Charlene. There’s a strange process of ups and downs of belief and disbelief that goes on to introduce a new reality into our minds.

  9. Mike Murphy

    Your Thoughts have been exceptional, touching, troubling, but reassuring, beautiful. Please continue to share, they help a lot. I’m 9 months now since the passing of my Lady of 50 years. Why is she not with me? Why am I still here? But I know this did not catch God by surprise, and He is faithful, a very present help in trouble. Ps 46. I still Believe!

    Mike Murphy

    • D. Ray

      Amen, Mike. And I have continued to journal and repurpose into entries. I have weekly entries as of today into April 2022. Loss has caused me to be prolific! Next week…Don’t Sugarcoat Loss!

  10. Annette

    Whether Jesus calms the storm or calms us in the storm, His love and His grace are enough. I am grateful. You are a blessing.
    Annette

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