A Way Through

“You will embark,” he said, “on a fair sea, and at times there will be fair weather, but not always. You will meet storms and overcome them.  You will take it in turns to steer your boat through fair weather and foul.  Never lose courage.  Safe harbor awaits you both in the end.” —Daphne Du Maurier

We have met storms and they didn’t overcome us.  The promise of a safe harbor kept us going  but one of us has reached the safe harbor and one of us is left to navigate the rest of the way alone.  

On August 29, 2022, I wrote:Looking for my Rainbow. It was the day after Bob was taken by ambulance to the hospital for the last time.

I said my final goodbye to my beloved husband on September 2, 2022 as he exited earth for his eternal home.  He reached his safe harbor.  For the last few months I have been slowly learning how to live as ‘me’ instead of ‘we’.

The loss of Bob is accompanied by other losses.  Grief has a ripple effect.  These are often referred to as secondary losses.  The tasks Bob did and decisions he made that he no longer does is a loss.  Being Bob’s caregiver, as hard as it was at times, is a loss and I miss it.  I grieve his sense of humor, coffee together, deep conversations, driving to and walking in favorite little towns along our lakeshore. Now just driving through our city alone is hard. Memories of our life together here surface and waves of grief come again and again. Today is his birthday and I grieve not being able to make a special dinner and his favorite cake or dessert.  I missed greeting him this morning with a kiss and a gift or card. These losses and more take me by surprise but I know it’s all part of healing.  Each one must be felt and not buried if I want to move forward. 

Mind over matter doesn’t work in the middle of grief.  Nor does trying to harness the power of positive thinking.  It cannot be willed away.  As uncomfortable as it is, grief must be felt.  I am experiencing the truth of that… we cannot not grieve when going through loss.  

There’s a sweetness in the grief at times and that surprises me too.  Tears bring relief and healing. It always helps to just let them flow. I’ve read in several grief recovery books that if grief is bottled up it won’t go away. It will just build up like the steam in a tea kettle until the pressure has to be released and will come out at inappropriate times and in unhealthy ways. We can’t avoid it, push it away, try to mask it or run away from the intense feelings. So I’m taking it slow, easy and letting the process unfold.  

I don’t know what I’d do if I was alone in the process.  Sons, daughter-in-law, grandchildren can’t take away the void I feel but being with family and sharing memories of Bob’s love and presence in our lives becomes a buffer.  It helps all of us.  My two sisters have been saving my life.  Although they haven’t experienced what I’m going through, they keep in close contact with me and check in on me often. Family has been a soft place to land.       

Women who have lost husbands reached out to me and long time relationships with some of them have deepened and new relationships with others are developing. It’s encouraging to be in the company of women who understand each other’s pain. These women are a gift. We are a gift to one another.    

The sweetness of grieving is also felt in my relationship with God.  Honesty in prayer has opened up a deeper, richer relationship with Him.  

He is close to the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

I dislike the word widow.  It’s hard for me to utter the word but with this new status comes something good that I would never want to miss or avoid. My God holds me closer than ever now.  It’s his promise to me.  He states it over and over again in the Bible and I just learned recently that there are 103 scripture references to widows, revealing the importance I hold in the heart of God. Widows are included with prisoners, orphans — the voiceless — the oppressed–the powerless — and He promises to uphold us and speak for us. 

Through all the pain, sorrow and heartache, I have been invited into the arms of my Savior and my God.  He is listening, defending and touching my heart and His promises to me hold true.

I wrote the following poem many years ago for a grieving friend: 


In the arms of Jesus

is where your loved one rests

and you can be assured

that’s where he’s truly blessed.

No more pain or suffering

now free from all sorrow

in the midst of singing angels

there is a bright tomorrow.

For all of Heaven’s days are bathed

in the brilliance of God’s light

there’s no more fear of darkness

for in Heaven there’s no night.

Remember, in your deepest sorrow,

you grieve not without hope

and the one who holds your loved one close

is the one who’ll help you cope.

My beloved, Bob, has reached the safe harbor and I am being helped, loved and cared for by the One who welcomed him to safety.  Bob reached that distant shore first.  Now with confidence in God’s guidance and the memory of Bob alive in my heart, I will move toward that harbor where both of them will someday welcome me home.

Nancy Janiga


The featured photo was taken on the shores of Lake Michigan

45 thoughts on “A Way Through

  1. So wonderfully written, my dear friend. I know today is one of those extra hard days that you just have to go through . I appreciate your words as I so identify …you have such a wonderful gift of writing. I pray today you can spend time remembering all the beautiful moments and years spent with Bob. He was loved by so many and so are you. Love uou❤️🙏🏻

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you my dear friend. You know how hard this process is and I’m thankful for your friendship, support and prayers. I spent time with Michael and his family today and had dinner at their house too. That helped. Love you❤️


      1. I’m so happy you went to the kids for dinner…..I’m sure being around the children put some sunshine in your soul. Love you, my friend💞

        Liked by 1 person

  2. That is such a beautiful poem! You do have a gift! I keep a journal and I know that it helps me day by day. When we write our feelings down, we often can see things more clearly. I am so very sorry for your loss. I will pray for you in these days and hours. I hope that writing helps. This poem that you wrote for a friend is so uplifting. May God bless you and give you His peace. I was a caregiver for my mother and when she passed, it was more than just losing a mom. I had spent so much time with her, so many errands, so many little moments shared. It would be hard to explain to someone else how it feels. It is, of course, very different from a husband…there is no comparison. But caring for someone around the clock is almost a way of a life for a time. And then, suddenly, they have moved to heavenly quarters! There is great peace in knowing that they are safe and free from pain. Grief and saying goodbye for the time being is a process…one day at a time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Linda. Journaling really helps me too and writing this piece is just another baby step in the right direction for me. I appreciate your thoughtful comment and your prayers. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Aaah Nancy! I remember your posts about your walks. What can I say? As you walk this path, I am thankful that you have indeed discovered that safe place- whether under His wings or in the palm of His hands. May God’s peace continue to saturate your heart especially in those tumultuous moments when the pain overwhelms. Thanks for sharing your journey… 🙏🏾💖


  4. Oh, Nancy, I’m so sorry for your loss. You write about grief and grieving as beautifully as you write about love. Happy birthday to Bob, and may you feel his love enveloping you from just beyond the veil, especially on this special day. Sending you lots of love and support as you walk this new path – not alone but maybe not with anyone visible by your side. ❤


    1. Thank you so much, Wyn. That is a good reminder for me … I’m not really alone! But there is a loneliness that comes over me (even when I’m with people) and that is one of the hardest parts of this grief journey right now. It’s good to hear from you! I hope to become active here again soon. I do miss the WordPress community. ❤️

      Liked by 2 people

      1. There was a wonderful 10 Percent Happier podcast a while back where a neuroscientist explained that the brain, specifically the nucleus encumbens part of the brain, changes as we bond with people. And that part remains changed by the routines, the habits, the presence of our loved ones, even as the thinking part of our brain knows they are gone. Thinking about that, it makes so much sense you would feel that loneliness – because that special bond remains. Sending you lots of love!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh…so you know all about the winters here. So far it hasn’t been too bad this year but we still have a couple more months to go.


  5. A beautiful symbolic photo Nancy for what you have gone and are going through. There is a part of grief that does not heal totally until we reach the safe harbor. I won’t pretend to know anything about losing a life long spouse ( for us so far). I know I would be lost for awhile.


    1. I will always miss Bob. I agree. There will be a part of grief that doesn’t totally heal. It’s all pretty fresh right now. Releasing it through writing helps a little. Thank you, Gary! Hug your wife…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Nancy, within the depth of your loss you have found threads of incredible beauty, threads of light like in your sunrise. As I finished reading your post, the verse from Psalms 18 came to mind- “To the faithful You show yourself faithful.” Your faithfulness to the Lord in this season of loss and grief is certainly showing the depth of His faithfulness to you. Know that I am lifting you up in prayer.


  7. Thank you for expressing so beautifully your profound experience of grief. I have sent your post to two of my friends who recently and suddenly lost their husbands. I pray that it will bring comfort knowing that they are not navigating the waters of we-to-me alone. Blessings to you as you move through the stages of your own grief. 🙏


    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Julia. I hope your friends find a little encouragement through my experience with grief. Blessings to you and your friends!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I am in tears reading your sorrowful heart, Nancy. Yet in your despair you connect and inspire so many of us who have experienced grief and will indeed, know it in the future. I have never read such a profound statement of sorrow and yet the grief uplifts and prepares us in such a beautiful manner. I have loved your penning. Yet, this, by far is your heart, your soul, your being, your best! To know the God who created us, who loves us so, is there beside you, as He promised to walk beside you in this time! I don’t want to just say, “I am sorry for your loss.” Yet, I don’t know what to say. Only that you and Bob were both given each other by God! What gifts you received! Look forward to your reunion and the love that will last eternity. God bless you my friend in this time of readjustment. Capture new moments with your family. One more thing, keep blessing us with your pen!


  9. The part of the of this entry that refers to the secondary losses, is what gets to me. Such a hard reality. I hope I have a chance to minimize some of those if it happens that I’m the one left alone. 🥺. So nice to hear from you in this way again Nancy. Take care💕🙏


    1. Thank you, Vickie. There’s many facets to grief when you’ve lived with someone for so long. Always nice to hear from you too. ❤️


  10. Nancy, your writing is gracious and beautiful. I know the celebratory days and holidays are difficult especially during the first year.
    Your wise words, “sweetness of grieving is also felt in my relationship with God” testify that you are leaning into the God of all comfort spoken of in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. I pray Christ Jesus will meet you in your pain and loss each day solidifying His love for you.


    1. Thank you so much for you lovely comment, Manette. As Lamentations 3 says, His mercies are new every morning. I’m thankful for that and for the encouragement God sends through people like you.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Nancy, you are so gifted in your writings. That poem is so inspiring! Thank you for sharing your inspiring thoughts & stories! The good Lord continues to bless you to overflowing! Love you!


  12. Dear Nancy, your poem, your post, and your picture are all so beautiful. I’m tucking the following truths you shared into my heart for it’s my turn to grieve:

    “Each one must be felt and not buried if I want to move forward.”

    He is close to the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

    Thank you for blessing us as you grieve.

    With prayers for you always,
    Wendy Mac


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