Many who have lost their spouses are familiar with Nora McInerny’s Ted Talk on moving forward vs. moving on. Her theme is that we do not move on from grief but move forward with it. (If you have not seen it, it is a must. It can be found on YouTube). This theme framed how I moved forward in this unwelcome season of life, overcoming the pain of loss after sharing life with Jasmine for more than thirty-six years.

One of the things I anticipated was people would move on . . . and they have. That does not mean they did not care. Friends and extended family members have felt the loss. They cared for and grieved with my immediate family and me. But there is a point when people move on with living their lives. They must move on, and I am learning to navigate this new life stage and discover what it will be like moving forward.

Immediately following Jasmine’s passing, my time and energy focused on planning her memorial service and taking care of the necessary legal, medical, and financial matters. Two months later, I served as a chaplain with Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse. The opportunity to serve propelled me forward, and now, every day presents new challenges and opportunities to move forward.

Jasmine and I lived our lives surrendered to God’s will, whatever the path He chose for us. It does not mean life was easy. Sometimes, the process was brutal. Honestly, I hated what I was going through and what Jasmine was going through when she was ill. I could have turned my back on God in anger, but that would not have changed the outcome. The real change occurred in my soul when I entrusted Jasmine’s condition and destiny to Him.

Accepting her death as His will is not a cop-out. It is trusting in a God Who is wiser, more powerful, more loving, more trustworthy, and more compassionate than I could ever be. As a result, God has strengthened my resolve to make life count for more than my self-centered interests. I want to live in a manner that honors God and impacts lives. That would have made her proud. God has enabled me to rise above the pain of loss and begin to live again.

As a senior citizen and now a widower, I have entered a new stage of living. I understand how men and women who are widowed can feel like their life has come to an end. In a sense, it has indeed ended because the life shared with the spouse who has passed will be no more. But life continues, and one must navigate the future to discover new pathways. That can be challenging. In fact, moving forward in uncharted waters can be difficult to navigate. Regardless of our age or stage in life, we should never stop learning. If we stop learning, we stop growing, and our quality of life will decline.

Life is different now. Sometimes I feel the void of no longer having Jasmine’s companionship. We will no longer share the simple things we took for granted, such as shopping together, watching an Asian drama series, or having a lively discussion on a theological topic. But I have chosen to move forward, and even at 66, God continues to teach me new life lessons.

(Adapted from a chapter in the book by Morris Isara, What Now, God?, available on Amazon)