It Really Stinks, but I am Okay

Most days I am okay. What does that mean? It means I am waking up, walking with God, and enjoying many things in life. I have things I look forward to. I smile and laugh. It is during these times when my thoughts suddenly become knotted in a contortion of confusion twisted with guilt. Why should I get to wake up? Why can I enjoy the sunshine, hear the birds sing, laugh, talk with my children and grandchildren, or even take a walk? I get to live. He doesn’t. Or does he? My mind jumps, attempting to visit a dimension simply impossible to understand because I am entrapped by my mortality.

Next, reasoning attempts to overtake my thoughts. Wyndham would want me to enjoy life, I am sure of this. I would desire the utmost happiness for him were our situations reversed. If, in fact, he is awake, more alive than ever (which is my belief), he would laugh (lovingly) at my guilt for enjoying life…oh, if you only knew, babe. It is beyond your wildest dreams. Suddenly, my mind begins to ponder what heaven might be like.

I do not know what a new heaven and earth will be, but I surmise something like the Garden of Eden and better, before sin. In Paradise, we can finally eat from the tree of life because we will no longer live in a broken world, but a new world as God intended. God will no longer need to protect us from living forever in this broken world. God will walk with us as He did with Adam and Eve in the Garden, calling us by name, intimately and lovingly.

Jewelry has never been my thing, so honestly, streets of gold, foundations of precious stones, and gates of pearl don’t thrill me. However, the vision of paths of golden light reflecting hues of every color infiltrating the horizon captivates me. Crystal blue waters sound divine, and emerald mountains and forests create in me a longing. But mostly, I am captured by the thought of endless fellowship with those I love and those whom I will come to love once I know them. And God, who is love, will be there, united not only with Jesus and the Spirit—but with me. That’s what I long for.

Heaven, I believe, is about relationships. I think we will somehow “tend” to the new garden, walking and talking with God and each other with no pretense, insecurity, or guile. I think animals will live there, but without the food chain so that the lion will play with the lamb. I cannot imagine, even if we are not married as we know it, that Wyndham will just be another brother to me, since we had forty-five years of deep love. But then, what will time mean since we will be timeless? This is all so far beyond my grasp, because God is beyond human thought.

Is Wyndham merely asleep until a further time, in some hibernation form? Is he already in Paradise? I think the Scriptures teach the latter, but whatever is the case, God is quite capable of taking care of him. What happens there? Where did Jesus go and what did He do during the three days before He was resurrected? What does it all mean? Is Wyndham fishing with Jesus, or Peter? Can he see me?  Is he welcoming a few friends who have passed on even since his death a few short weeks ago? God, I asked if you would be willing to arrange for Wyndham to show Emily around Paradise. Did that happen? I wish I knew even some of these answers, but I don’t. I must simply trust while on this side of eternity. Trusting is hard sometimes. Lots of times. Daily. Because I want him here. He liked it here, too.

I am glad that Jesus said to Thomas in front of the other disciples,
“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (Jn 20:29)

You, nor I, have ever seen Him physically and at times He can feel far away. But He is not. I have never touched Him, but I have been touched by Him. I have never seen Him, but I have seen where He has been. I have seen changed lives, including mine. I have seen sunsets, I have seen storms, snowfalls, babies born, and all sorts of wonders of creation. I have seen Him do the impossible and the unlikely. I have observed the laws of nature fall in line with predictable precision. I witness jaw-dropping creativity in humans, created in His image. I have seen the consequences of sin, the freedom of forgiveness, and have experienced and observed love, which is so profound it can only be a God-given quality. I walk with Him and talk with Him. And He does tell me I am His own. We do walk through the fields together, as good friends should and do. I clasp His hand and our voices fill with laughter—my God and I. I cherish the images these song lyrics evoke, convinced that eternal life is all about relationships, beginning first with God. In this relationship, as the Scriptures promise, He pours His love into my heart and fills me with joy, peace, patience, and other fruits of the Spirit through His Spirit in me (Rom 5:5; Gal 5:22-23).

I have never more appreciated Jesus. He understands humanity. He did not want to die. In Gethsemane, He sweat drops like blood over the prospect of death. Death was the last enemy to overcome, and overcome He did. Where now is its sting? Only when I am resurrected from the dead will I fully know resurrection’s power. Hope keeps me knowing that Wyndham is good. I will be better than okay because I will be with God as he is with God. Thank you, Jesus, for conquering death.

But for now, still living as a perishable mortal, my grief from the death of my beloved and best friend does sting. It stings like no tomorrow. It stings worse than a thousand hornets biting while I’m passing a kidney stone. It’s completely horrible. His disease was more horrible. Grief can suck the life right out of me; yet, I have no choice but to go through it. I don’t want to go through it, but I must. So must everyone at some point in life; no, at numerous points in life. Nonetheless, I hate it right now.

I can only attribute this pain to our fallen world and death as a result; however, death is also a portion of God’s grace to carry us beyond this broken, hate-filled, sin-filled, fear-filled, broken world. Only Jesus could/can fix this by defeating death and allowing us to be imperishable as we pass through death (1 Cor 15:50-52).

Since I am still mortal, I keenly feel the merciless kicks in the gut, just when I think I’m doing well. I’ll have a series of really good days and then one day I drive into the driveway. Out of nowhere, the stark reality hits that Wyndham will not be waiting for me inside of the house and he will never be there again. That feels unfair, so I cry out to God for answers as to why he didn’t heal him. He could, but He didn’t. Why did such a great man have to get what seems one of the cruelest diseases known to man? I have to be okay with this because I am not God. I can’t change the facts. I am only in the middle of the threads being woven. I can’t see the tapestry, so it feels like a hot mess with no rhyme or reason. Yet, in my innermost heart, I know that God is walking with me through the suffering, and is weaving the hot mess into a thing of beauty that will work for good…and one day, on the other side, make perfect sense.

I have asked God, “Didn’t you hear us when we were praying? When the elders anointed him with oil and prayed over him? Wouldn’t this be a perfect opportunity to showcase your power and glory?”

God has time and again shown me that His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. Prayer is the crucible to change me, helping me to see not the scope of my problems, but the greatness of my God.

I borrow words from a recent eulogy given by a preacher named Jonathan Evans for his mother, He described his wrestling with God when God seemed silent to the many prayers offered on her behalf. (I changed the wording to employ masculine pronouns.)

I came to understand that God knows I don’t understand the nature of His victory. The victory has already been won. He tells me He has answered my prayer. There were only two possible answers to my prayers. Either:

He was going to be healed, or he was going to be healed.

He was going to live, or he was going to live.

He was going to be with family, or he was going to be with family.

He was going to be well taken care of, or he was going to be well taken care of.

Yes and yes.

He the Sovereign God. We don’t think the same. He doesn’t need us to tell Him how to get His glory.


Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Of your love. Make sense of the nonsensical. Ease my pain. As I pray these words, I realize that I am making this about my pain, but this is not about me. Or is it? Is that okay, God?  Wyndham is the one who suffered. But oh, God, you know what it is like to watch the one you love suffer and die. Is it worse than actually being the one? Maybe so. I don’t know. It all stinks. Thank you for going before and with me, enduring both sides of the stink; then walking through the stink with me. I will be okay. I am okay. But throughout the okay, it still really stinks.


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  1. kathryndillon

    Ohh Jeanie, thank you for sharing your heart, your love for God and Wyndham and your thoughts on heaven. Walking through grief has to be one of the most challenging things in life. You are brave as you continue use to lean into your faith and rest in God’s word one moment at a time.

  2. Katherine Pugh

    Jeanie, your wide-open heart has such a powerful message. As always, I am learning from you. To not only grieve, but to be concerned with how Wyndham is, trusting God to take care of him, is another aspect of grief. (Forgive the sentence structure please.) I love you and I hear you. My prayer is that your writing is cathartic for you, that God will continue to bring you comfort, when you pull in the driveway and fall apart. ❤❤❤

  3. Mandy

    This is beautiful. Thank you for helping us through our emotions as you walk through yours. I love your family so much and think and pray for you guys regularly.

  4. Lyn Fulcher

    Dear Jeannie,
    You’ve captured the struggle of grief ~ your thoughts are exactly what many of us who’ve lost our spouse, especially to a long painful disease, have experienced & continue to experience. There’s a couple of songs by “MercyMe” that have helped me through the stinky days. One is “Even If” & the other is “Ghost.” I hope they will meet a need for you as well.
    I continue to remember you, and so many others of us who are still here, in my prayers.
    May God continue to be your comfort & strength,
    Lyn Fulcher

  5. mitziesmama

    I love you, Jeanie! 💕

  6. Terri Nida

    When I read this I know you are right where you are meant to be: okay and not okay. When my dad passed last year, I spent the prior few years watching him decline into dementia. He stopped being able to eat and weighed less than 100 lbs. on his six-foot frame. He eventually stopped being able to talk but we could see on his face he was in pain. I felt like I did most of my grieving before he died. It was heart wrenching. You probably had to watch Wyndham decline many more years, and he was your best friend, your confidant, and your first love. I will pray for you to feel what you need to feel and not to rush any of it. I also used to envision myself walking along with God holding his hand. Now he walks with me in my wheelchair. What a glorious thought. I can’t wait until he walks with us in person. I am ready. Love you.

  7. Bonnye

    I love your words given to you by God Himself, I am sure. All of our family is celebrating with Wyndham together. Yes, relationships are what we have through Jesus. Grief is messy, changing daily. You are always in my prayers. I can’t wait to see you this spring.

    Love you dearly,

  8. Michelle Kearn

    Thank you Jeanie. You don’t know me and I don’t personally know you but you are my sister. Reading these beautiful words of yours has brought me to tears. My how I feel your love for your husband, I am deeply sorry for your loss. You and your family are in my prayers. Thank you for your transparency, your beauty, your wisdom, your courage and your love. Thank you for loving God the way you do.
    I love you

    • jeanieshaw

      Thank you for your kind words, Michelle. Love, Jeanie

  9. John Zayas

    Hi Jeanie,
    Thank you for sharing your deep heartfelt thoughts. My wife Sara lost her battle with ovarian cancer almost two years ago. The last day we spent together was Valentine’s Day of 2018. While reading your post, I found myself recalling rather vividly, the days, weeks, and months that followed her death. Yes, it does stink! Yet remarkably you, through songs of worship, through the rising incense of praise, behold the fragrance of Christ…”and his grace will lead you home”. Your courage is inspiring. With sincerest gratitude.

    • jeanieshaw

      Thank you for your kind note. I am so sorry for your loss and feel with you as you approach this second anniversary of Sara’s passing. May the grace of God continue to lead us closer to Him, even as we continue to grieve.

  10. Susanne

    Jeannie, keep writing. For yourself and all of us. Your words and thoughts are powerful. They penetrate to our souls and spirits, helping us discover that the questions are okay. The fight is okay.
    I have lost many people in my life. Parents, siblings, friends. As our ministry ages, we will all lose. We will all pass.
    I pray your journey and pain has great fruit.

    • jeanieshaw

      Thank you so much, Suzanne, for your kind words. We do all experience so much loss. Thank you for your prayers and I too, pray the journey reaps godly fruit.

  11. Debbie Holt

    What a gift you have to take raw, human, real emotions and put into words that we all can relate to. Thank you for sharing your heart and life with us on this “stinky” journey thru death.
    I lost my mom a month ago and have struggled to answer people when they ask, “How am I doing?” I’m just going to refer them to your post!
    Love and appreciate you beyond words.

    • jeanieshaw

      Thank you Debbie.
      I am sorry for your loss. There is no one like “mom.” Thanks for your kind words of encouragement. Love, Jeanie

  12. Christine Carter (@themomcafe)

    Dear Jeannie,
    You have been on my heart and in my prayers so much since your beloved Wyndham passed. I am so sorry you have had to endure so much pain and suffering and loss.

    Your grieving, yet faithful heart is so beautiful, as are all your poetic and truthful words. Thank you for letting us in on your journey and allowing us to be witnesses to both your incredible love for Wyndham and God’s unfailing love for us all.

    • jeanieshaw

      Thank you so much for your heartfelt words of encouragement. You are an excellent encourager. Thank you. Love, Jeanie

  13. Lyn Fulcher


    If you are stirred by music, the group “MercyMe” has a few songs that have helped me so much to get through those stinky days ~ “Even If,” “Ghost,”and “Hurt and Healer” are 3 of them. I relate to everything you wrote ~ you are not alone; of course you have God, Jesus, and the Spirit, and you also have a huge family that understands what you are experiencing and pray for you to continue to have your cup refilled! I hope this helps. With love, Lyn Fulcher


    • jeanieshaw

      Thank you, Lyn. as I am sure you relate to all this. I love the song “Even If” and will listen to the other two. Thank you so much for reaching out. With love, Jeanie

  14. Debbie Mackie

    Oh Jeanie! My heart just wishes it could reach out and hug yours! Thank you for sharing what you are going through day by day. The ups and downs as it should be. Our prayers continue for you always and we look forward to those walks in the field with our Father. Love you!

    • jeanieshaw

      Thank you, Debbie. Love you.

  15. Lesa Mayes-Stringer

    OH how you made me cry. There is so much strength in weaknesses, so much compassion that is triggered when you read real and raw words. No one can completely understand the constant suffering you endured and are still enduring. My husband has been ill with one of the rarest forms of brain cancer for more than four years now. The grief that he myself and our children have endured is inexplicable. I have, with tinges of guilt and self abasing thoughts, asked myself the same question. Is it worse for those who are closest, who are pleading with all their energy, heart and soul for an answer, refusing to accept anything but total healing…? I get that. It is hard and it is misery. Only each person knows their own pain. Thank you for sharing. I sometimes block my emotions for fear of melting away. You helped me to cry today.

    • jeanieshaw

      You, Chris and your girls are on my heart and in my prayers. I know you go through so much grieving in your situation and it is just so very hard. I love and appreciate your and Chris’s deep faith and love for God. Thank you for reaching out. With much love. Jeanie

  16. Janet Bannister

    I lost my husband 2 years ago to a 5 year battle with cancer and all the things you mentioned are my reality to.and yes it does stink that our husbands were taken from us I to was married 43 years .like you I am turning to God and my church family to help me thru every day.some are ok other times I am a wreck.I miss him so much .but we must go on with our lives now without him.I to am trusting Gods plan for me and my journey in life without my beloved Bruce.but I do agree with you it stinks.

    • jeanieshaw

      Thank you for reaching out, Janet. I am so sorry for your loss of your dear husband, Bruce. Yes, we now must live with Option B, but I do trust that God is alive and active (and loving) with Option B. All the best to you. With love, Jeanie


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About Jeanie Shaw

After retiring from forty-five years in full-time ministry, Jeanie Shaw went back to school to earn her master’s and doctorate in spiritual formation and discipleship. She also serves as a certified Christian life coach who loves helping people discover the joy, peace, and purpose that come from finding and following God’s plan for their lives. She has taught classes and workshops all over the world and has written numerous books. She has four grown children, eight grandchildren, and a golden retriever who thinks he is human. When she is not reading, writing, coaching, teaching, or enjoying her family she might be found walking along rivers, learning new lessons about life.

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