“I could see nothing hopeful in our future. I was devastated and felt like my life was over.” – Amy Jo Secker
“After a crazy season of adjustment to parenthood, I told my husband that I pretty much had our life all figured out,” said Amy Jo Secker. “How I would organize my time, which activities to be involved in and how to manage our household. Two weeks later, I found my healthy, 41-year-old husband lying on the floor in the middle of the night, and I knew that my life had just changed forever.
“I had been relying heavily on my own abilities to keep life going up to that point. Now here I was, a widow, raising a 3-year-old boy and newborn twins all alone.
“Having to break the news to my son was unbearable. I couldn’t begin to understand how God could give us three children who would be raised without a father, or how the plans He had for me could be good. Jeremiah 29:11 was a verse I’d learned as a child but I could see nothing hopeful in our future. I was devastated and felt like my life was over.
“As someone raised in God’s Word, the need to control my life slowly began to be replaced by a new dependence on Him, and on the people He put in my life to be a tangible expression of His care. Family, friends and even strangers would bring meals, others came by after-hours to help with housework. A single friend left her cute apartment and actually moved in for nearly a year to help me with the children, and encourage me through daily struggles.
“I, the independent young mom who had life all figured out, was now relying on others and, more importantly, God, in a way I never had to before. James 4:8a tells us that if we draw near to God, He’ll draw near to us. That verse typified the first eight or nine months after losing Danny. I was clinging to God’s promises with all I had. And He was near.
“That fall, I decided to sign up for Watermark’s grief recovery class, GriefShare. I had been combing the internet looking for some hope or maybe a blog to tell me how to deal with this pain. It turned out that what I really needed was to be surrounded by people who could look me in the eye and assure me that with God’s help, I could get through this. And that’s what I found.
“These women shared the greatest pain they’d ever experienced and listened patiently as I struggled with questions about how to face mine. Questions like, ‘When should I stop wearing my wedding ring?’ and ‘Is it normal that I think about Danny all the time?’
“During the class, we focused on Psalm 139:16, ‘all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.’ This verse was difficult to swallow, but the Lord was showing me that He was not surprised by anything that had happened and that He was in control. Not me. So I had to ask myself if I was truly going to trust Him or keep relying on my self-sufficiency.
“I’ve been through the class now twice, and in the past two years have returned to serve as a facilitator. God has taught me to ‘lean into’ my grief and not try to ignore it or get around it. I’ve learned to focus on the day-to-day tasks when the future overwhelms me or when processing a big decision is just too much in the moment. If I’m honest, I use what I learned then, even now.
“In the years since we lost Danny, we’ve experienced many firsts. Our first vacation as a family of four, a first ballet recital, and our first Christmas without him. But it’s still hard. I’d love to figure out a way to fast forward through the pain that, some days, is still very present and very real. But unfortunately that’s not how it works.
“Perhaps the biggest thing I’ve learned from this journey through loss is that I have to stop trying to figure it all out. The truth is that I can’t. My life often feels like too much for me, and the weight of responsibility seems too heavy. In those times I focus on 2 Corinthians 12:9, where God told Paul, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ And Paul replied, ‘Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.’ I’ve found freedom in knowing that when I am struggling the hardest, God has our future all mapped out. I don’t have to know what it is. I just have to take the next step of faithfulness.
“I used to tell Danny that I was so glad he didn’t have to travel for work so we wouldn’t have to be apart for days
at a time. Now it’s been almost four years since he went home to be with the Lord. I look back at that verse in Jeremiah and still struggle to discern a ‘plan,’ but I know now that God is going to be walking with me through it every step of the way.”
Mondays starting September 14 • 9:15–11:15 am • (for women)
Tuesdays starting September 15 • 6:30–8:30 pm
(for men, women and kids grades 3 thru 12)
If you have dealt with the loss of a loved one, no matter how long ago, you can experience joy again. During our two fall classes, we’ll examine what God’s Word says about death, hope, joy and heaven. Sign up at watermark.org/events. Kids’ Ministry available with advance registration.
This fall we will also launch a grief recovery class for kids grades 3-12. To find out more, contact Mark Nicholson at email@example.com or watermark.org.