THE Bible clearly says that a husband is to “love his wife as he does himself.” A wife should “have deep respect for her husband.” Both should do their part as “one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:33; Genesis 2:23, 24) Over time, the attachment a couple have to each other gains strength, and so does their love. Just like the roots of two trees that grow right next to each other, the feelings of a happily married husband and wife become deep and closely knit together as time passes.
But what if the husband or the wife dies? Then that strong bond, which was unbreakable during the couple’s life, is broken. The surviving husband or wife often feels a combination of heartache, loneliness, and maybe even anger or guilt. During her marriage of 58 years, Daniella knew many who lost their mates. * (See footnote.) But after her husband died, she said: “I never understood this experience before. There is no way to comprehend it until you go through it.”
PAIN THAT DOES NOT SEEM TO END
Some researchers say that no stress is more severe than the stress of losing a mate. Many who have lost a mate agree with that. Millie’s husband died many years ago. She explains her life as a widow this way: “I feel I am a cripple.” She was trying to describe her emotions after the loss of her husband to whom she was married for 25 years.
Susan used to think that it was unreasonable for widows to mourn for years after the loss of their husband. But then, after 38 years of marriage, her husband died. Now 20 years later, she still says, “I think of him every day.” Tears often flow from her eyes because she misses him so much.
The Bible says that the pain of losing a mate is cruel and lasts a long time. When Sarah died, her husband, Abraham, “came in to bewail Sarah and to weep over her.” (Genesis 23:1, 2) Even though he had faith in the resurrection, Abraham felt intense sadness when his beloved wife died. (Hebrews 11:17-19) After his dear wife Rachel died, Jacob did not forget her. He spoke tenderly about her to his sons.
What lesson should we learn from these Bible examples? Those who have lost a mate in death often feel the pain of the loss for years. We should not view their tears and their sadness as a weakness. Instead, these emotions are a natural reaction to their great loss. They may need our compassion and support for a long time.
ONE DAY AT A TIME
When someone loses a mate, life does not just return to the way it was when he or she was single. After being married for many years, a husband usually knows how to comfort his wife and encourage her when she feels sad or frustrated. If he is gone, the love and comfort she received from him is gone too. Similarly, a wife learns how to make her husband feel confident and happy. There is nothing like her gentle touch, comforting words, and the attention she gives to his interests and needs. If she dies, he may feel an emptiness in his life. Because of this, some who lose their mates worry about or even fear the future. What Bible principle can help them to feel secure and give them peace?
“Never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties. Sufficient for each day is its own badness.” (Matthew 6:34) Those words of Jesus mainly apply to our material needs, but they have helped many to endure the terrible pain of losing a mate. Some months after his wife died, Charles wrote: “The intensity of how much I miss Monique is still great, and at times it seems only to get worse. However, I realize that this is normal and that the passing of time will eventually reduce some of the pain.”
Charles still had to endure “the passing of time.” How did he do it? He said, “With Jehovah’s help I took it one day at a time.” Charles was not defeated by sadness. His pain did not disappear overnight, but it did not consume him either. If you have lost your mate, try to cope with your loss one day at a time. You do not know what benefit or encouragement you might receive tomorrow.
Death was not part of Jehovah’s original purpose. Instead, death is part of “the works of the Devil.” (1 John 3:8; Romans 6:23) Satan uses death and the fear of it to control people like slaves and take away their hope. (Hebrews 2:14, 15) Satan is pleased when someone loses all hope of finding true happiness and satisfaction, even in God’s new world. The deep pain a surviving mate feels about the loss of his or her spouse is the result of Adam’s sin and Satan’s rebellion. (Romans 5:12) Jehovah will completely repair the damage caused by Satan and will defeat his cruel weapon, death. The ones freed from the fear that Satan uses will include many who have lost their mates in death, as you may have.
For those who will be resurrected, life in the new world will bring some changes. Relationships between humans will change. For example, parents, grandparents, and other ancestors who will be resurrected will gradually become perfect along with their children and grandchildren. The effects of old age will be gone. The younger generations might view their ancestors very differently from the way they do now. These changes will help to improve the human family.
We might have many questions about resurrected ones. For example, what will happen to those who lost two or more mates in death? The Sadducees asked a question about a woman whose first husband died, then her second, and so on until five more died. (Luke 20:27-33) What relationship will they all have in the resurrection? We just do not know, and it is pointless to guess or worry about these questions. For now the only thing we can do is simply to trust in God. We can be sure that whatever Jehovah does in the future will be good. It will be something we can look forward to, not something we need to fear.
THE RESURRECTION HOPE COMFORTS US
One of the clearest teachings of God’s Word is that dead loved ones will come back to life. Bible accounts of past resurrections guarantee that all those in the grave will hear Jesus’ voice and come out. (John 5:28, 29) People at that time will be overjoyed when they are reunited with loved ones who have been resurrected. And we cannot even imagine the happiness that the resurrected ones will feel.
As billions of people are resurrected to life, the earth will be filled with joy as never before. (Mark 5:39-42; Revelation 20:13) Imagining what it will be like to see this future miracle happen should comfort all who have lost loved ones in death.
Will anyone have a reason to be sad when that resurrection occurs? The Bible answers no. According to Isaiah 25:8, Jehovah “will actually swallow up death forever.” That includes completely removing death and its painful effects. The prophecy in Isaiah also says: “The Sovereign Lord Jehovah will certainly wipe the tears from all faces.” Any sadness you feel now because your dear husband or wife has died will not even be remembered after the resurrection.
Soon you will welcome back the one you miss so much
No human completely understands all that God will do in the new world. Jehovah says: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9) When we believe Jesus’ promise about the resurrection, it shows that we trust in Jehovah, just as Abraham did. Right now, it is important for all Christians to do what God asks of us. If we do, we will be judged worthy of living in the new world along with those who will be resurrected.
A REASON FOR HOPE
If you keep your wonderful hope clear in mind, it will help you not to be anxious about the future. Most humans have little hope for the future. But Jehovah promises something better. Even though we do not know exactly how he will do it, we can be sure that Jehovah will satisfy all our needs and desires. The apostle Paul wrote: “Hope that is seen is not hope, for when a man sees a thing, does he hope for it? But if we hope for what we do not see, we keep on waiting for it with endurance.” (Romans 8:24, 25) A strong hope in God’s promises will help you to endure the loss of your mate. If you endure, you will experience the wonderful time in the future when Jehovah will “give you the requests of your heart.” He will satisfy “the desire of every living thing.”
Near the time of Jesus’ death, his apostles became deeply saddened, afraid, and confused. Jesus comforted them with these words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Exercise faith in God, exercise faith also in me.” He told them: “I shall not leave you bereaved. I am coming to you.” (John 14:1-4, 18, 27) Jesus’ words would give his anointed followers throughout the centuries a reason to have hope and endurance. Those who have a strong desire to see their loved ones in the resurrection also have no reason to lose hope. Jehovah and his Son will not abandon you. Those who have died will be resurrected. Soon you will welcome back the one you miss so much.
^ par. 3 Names have been changed.