I’m privileged to share this guest blog from sister, Julia Gingerich Wasson, who lives in Oregon. I am frequently moved to tears when reading her monthly email reflections to my parents and siblings. They are brim full of raw emotion, transparent breakthroughs and setbacks, along with incremental steps of movement toward renewal in the journey of deep grief and loss. As a pastor for nearly 38 years, I’ve walked with hundreds of folks through the pain of losing a spouse, a parent or a child. My sister’s story is one I thought you need to hear, so here’s a peek. Maybe I can convince her to start her own blog! Let me know what you think.

When my husband unexpectedly passed away at 7:15 a.m. in our master bedroom with me by his side, one year ago March 2015, I went into “work mode”. Having worked for a public school for 15 years, I’ve been trained in First Aid/CPR. Every 3 years I have to practice CPR on a dummy or “live dummy” (co-worker). Every year I have to watch a demonstration video of the CPR technique.


Loren and Julia Wasson

So, that morning when my husband dropped and quit breathing I instinctively knew to call 911 and to immediately start CPR since it’s a good 10 minute drive to my house. I didn’t allow myself the privilege of watching the clock because I knew every minute, even second, counted. Life and death counted.

When the Fire Chief/EMT later exited the bedroom pronouncing him deceased, my “life saving mode” was still in gear. I shook my head, saying, “Yes, I know he’s gone. I watched him breathe his last breath and I felt my hands crushing into his chest…an unresponsive chest.”

When I could go kneel beside his body and then pull back the white blanket to see his face again, the first words that exploded out of my mouth and heart were, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!   This JUST isn’t right!  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…this just isn’t right!”

Those 5 words were the first words that left my lips the moment my world stopped. That morning Loren’s and my world stopped spinning, TOGETHER, that is. That is the morning when my FEELINGS stopped feeling. That is the morning when God even protected me from the actual pain I was feeling, that is the degree of physical pain I was experiencing.

ONE YEAR LATER I have come to appreciate the protection of SHOCK. Naturally I cried. I wept. I screamed at God. I could barely eat. I could barely sleep. I was so weak I could barely stand in the shower on the morning of his memorial service.

When someone would come up to hug me, I would find myself falling forward into their arms. THEY were hugging me. Not me hugging them. I couldn’t feel God’s love towards me any longer. I couldn’t feel any sort of Loving-kindness or Mercy from our Lord, the God I have worshipped. But I COULD feel the embrace of a human being. That embrace was God’s arms extended to me. That alone was what I needed. I no longer had my husband’s arms of love and protection.

“Beauty and the Beast” was captured in Oregon the day after Loren’s memorial service. It’s a picture of a healthy journey through grief. For this and other photos by Dennis, go to Gingerich PhotoArt.

Here I am, ONE YEAR LATER…and I am seeing there is a price to pay for embracing feelings again. To welcome my soul back to life, out of the barrenness that I have lived in this past year, means I am waking up inside. I am feeling much happiness and more normalcy. But, it’s just now that I’m feeling such heart rendering, gut wrenching, knife in my stomach, feeling like I’m going to pass out because I can’t catch my breath…PAIN of the loss.  For every bit of happiness I’m feeling, I’m equally feeling physical pain when a rush of grief hits me.

But I am confident I’m on the way to renewal. I’m not moving “on” (I very much dislike that phrase). But, I most definitely am moving forward. So for today, God, I pray that you help me learn to walk this unrequested walk of widowhood. Gently guide me towards balanced healthiness in all areas of my life. God, you know my physical body. You know what I can handle and what I cannot handle. So if it means gradually waking me up inside I embrace your tender wisdom because You are my Maker and You will complete the healing that You have started. — Julia Gingerich Wasson

QUESTION: I’d love to know how my sister’s guest blog has impacted you in the comment section below. Or, if  you think anyone else you know who could relate, please share it on your social media with the links above or below. Thanks for welcoming Julia as a guest blogger!

24 responses to God, Why Can’t I “FEEL” The Way I Used To?

  1. paulcameron2076 cameron on April 11, 2016 at 2:43 PM Reply

    so after posting the other day. i studied up..i realizing telling your story. you have opened yourself..but in a post there are always gonna be replies..the best response. is to listen to your message quietly,give you a hug,pray with you in your grief,hold your hand in grief share class if you choose to go..and if i was your husband.the best thing i could say is.”i’m sorry i had to go first..i will be waiting for you at the pearly gate when your time here is done.

  2. chuck wheelock on April 9, 2016 at 9:47 PM Reply

    It’s a powerful story of a stark and sudden reality that we pray that we never have to experience. I am thankful that I cannot relate through personal experience but what helps me Julia is learning about your feelings over the past year and what comforted you and what did not. The clichés that we use as we try to offer compassion to others during their grief process often unintentionally hinders rather than helps. Thank you for allowing me to peek into your grief in order to be a better comforter to others. May God continue to surround you with His peace.

    • Julia Wasson on April 11, 2016 at 11:11 AM Reply

      Chuck, I agree that well meaning comments are offered which can hurt. For me, being told “I’m sorry for your loss ” and/or “I’m praying for you” has meant the most.

  3. Terry L Frith on April 9, 2016 at 6:48 PM Reply

    Thanks for sharing this with us, Dennis and to Julia for writing out her feelings. I have had clients lose their spouses and I now I can’t feel the pain they are feeling, but wish I knew what to say. I know some things that are said, are not meant the way they come out and somethings are hurtful to them. I appreciate her words as they have helped me.

    • Julia Wasson on April 11, 2016 at 11:16 AM Reply

      Terry, I’ve had friends who have lost their spouses in death and I had no idea how great the loss was until I joined that club. I also think the deep pain is all about the depth of the relationship – meaning, the death of an aunt could equally effect you if you had a close knit relationship. God bless.

  4. Loretta Miller Converse on April 9, 2016 at 5:08 PM Reply

    Thanks for the post, Julia. I too, am living a new life, alone for the first time in 41 years. My husband went to be with Jesus right at midnight on New Years eve, (although they worked on him for an hour, I like to believe that Howard started the New Year in heaven) It wasn’t a total shock, as this was his 3rd heart attack, but it is still surprising to find yourself with a new title, that being a “Widow”. I have so much peace knowing that Howard is finally face to face with the very ONE that he seemed to desperately be sharing for the past two years, with anyone who would listen, (and even those who didn’t necessarily want to hear, LOL). I actually feel that the Lord has given me a Joy, that I would never imagined could be possible. My grief seems to come in waves, and I’m sure many more rough days/months/years are still in store, but I certainly feel the Lord’s comfort and surrounding me every day. Blessings to you!!!!

    • Julia Wasson on April 11, 2016 at 11:21 AM Reply

      Loretta, I’ve heard of your sudden loss too from your sister and her husband Larry!!. Knowing my husband is with Jesus and his parents, best friend and brother in law Max, brings me so much comfort, even joy. It’s those of us here on earth that face the loneliness and adjustments. God certainly is with us and is faithful. For me, it’s connecting my heart and head. What I know isn’t always what I feel but in time I know the Lord will bring it together.

  5. Micky Franklin on April 9, 2016 at 3:25 PM Reply

    Wow, somehow I think we’ve all had our world stop one way or another with the death of a loved one. But when it’s your spouse, it’s different. I had a friend tell me a few years back, (he’d just lost his wife, it was about a week or 2 after she died) He said: “pray, ask God, that He would call your wife home first” and I asked, why? He said, “I would never want her to go through, what I’m going through”

    • Julia Wasson on April 11, 2016 at 11:25 AM Reply

      Yes, it’s true that in a healthy marriage the two become one. The physical separation in death is incredibly painful. Unimaginable.

  6. paulcameron2076 on April 9, 2016 at 3:04 PM Reply

    When the mother of my first natural child died. I knew it would happen. I didn’t dwell on it. She was 1 month from her 27th birthday. I had known for 5 years she had HIV. Her daughter has just turned 20. We are both AIDS free and healthy. After living with someone for a long time. You know one of you will go home before the other. It’s not something we like to think or talk about. But it should be. My first tear was some months later when Natsha said” I miss mommy.”

    • Julia Wasson on April 11, 2016 at 11:27 AM Reply

      Yes, one will go before the other. We always hope it will be WA A A A Y further down the road. God bless.

  7. Jean C on April 9, 2016 at 12:12 PM Reply

    Thanks, Dennis, for publicly sharing a small peek into Julia’s journey. This has been a long year for Julia, her family, and our family, but I am so proud of my sister for being proactive in letting God bring wholeness to her and that she is willing to share this bumpy path with others. <3

  8. Duane Gingerich on April 9, 2016 at 10:10 AM Reply

    Powerfully written. One of the best I have read and and they are many. She should be writing in some form more, might even consider a short book for those in grief.

    • Julia Wasson on April 11, 2016 at 11:29 AM Reply

      Loren teased me for years how I would write books when giving him a card. It was like the cards I purchased didn’t adequately express how I completely felt. Thx Uncle Duane for your love and support.

  9. Vickie Williams on April 9, 2016 at 10:06 AM Reply

    I experienced these same feelings with the death of my mother…….she was my best friend and the source of all inspiration and motivation throughout my life. And when she lost my father after 50 years, she experienced these same emotions. I remembered some of the things she said to me after her loss…….Never place a period where God has placed a coma…….the strength to move forward comes in accepting the loss and opening your heart to the plan God still has for you…he turns your hopes, not your hurts into your future.

    • Julia Wasson on April 11, 2016 at 11:33 AM Reply

      I believe that God will continue His work in my life..the challenge for me right now is trying to sort out, “what IS my hope and dream?” Being married 37 years our dreams were shared together.

  10. Loretta on April 9, 2016 at 9:30 AM Reply

    I cried – this is powerful. I appreciate being allowed to read this.

    • George & Mary Schaller on April 14, 2016 at 9:27 PM Reply

      me too, Loretta. Julia has put into words the things many of us (long marriages) fear … so wise is she. Thank you, Julia. Thank you, Pastor Gingerich. God bless.

  11. Beverly Hendricks on April 9, 2016 at 8:37 AM Reply

    So wonderfully expressed! I too, am discovering the journey after losing my husband in a 25 year battle of young onset of Parkinson’s. With children 2,4 &6 my life went into survival mode, joining him in his work and putting mine on hold. Now, is the discovery of all that is gone, his loving protection, my cheerleader, my friend! It’s discovering what God means when he says he’ll be a husband to the widows and how to live in it. It’s discovering before a loving God ( who’s love and ways are so far beyond me I have to just walk in faith) and caring church, who I am now, where God wants to take and use me.

    • Julia Wasson on April 11, 2016 at 11:35 AM Reply

      I also love Psalms 68:5. He is a father to the fatherless and a defender of the widow. I hurt with you, friend. I also hope in the Lord with you. I’ll be praying for you. ~ Julia

  12. Barb Clavio on April 9, 2016 at 7:34 AM Reply

    The hugs are so important. I’ve said many times that my church family was what got me through some of the toughest patches after my husband died. It’s not always the words we need to hear, it’s just someone being there
    Who cares.

    • Julia Wasson on April 11, 2016 at 11:37 AM Reply

      I agree! Also, actions speak louder than words sometimes. Tangible ways of helping the widow is a blessing. God bless.

  13. Shannon DiMurro on April 9, 2016 at 6:52 AM Reply

    Very raw, I am crying. It is beautifully written I like that it wasn’t sugar coated . I wish the best for her and I think I wil hug my husband really tight when I see him today.

    • Julia Wasson on April 11, 2016 at 11:39 AM Reply

      Hug your husband and don’t let a day go by without telling him you cherish him. I’m so thankful I had learned to do that before he passed. No regrets. No regrets. God bless.

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