Loss of Spouse

Rediscovering Myself After A Great Loss – By Margaret Moses

I met Hillmon when I was nineteen, in a youth social club in Williamstown, NJ. This was in the mid-1950s; he and his siblings would drive over from Camden to the youth clubs in that area. At first glance, I had no idea of the love, friendship, and companionship I would experience after 61 years together and 57 years of marriage.

We began dating and he was so kind and mannerly. He always wore a shirt, tie, and suit when he came to see me. In the early years of our courtship, we went on many group outings. His siblings were accustomed to going places together, so we often double-dated. He treated me with such affection, buying me sweet and thoughtful gifts. I also noticed his love for people through his actions. He cared for his mother and sisters intently, and he used his talents unselfishly. Once, he graciously rewired my father’s entire house, showing his great skill in carpentry and electrical work.

After over three years of courting, I started thinking about the next phase – marriage. Hillmon wasn’t rushing, as he simply enjoyed our dating. While I felt the same, I still wondered when we would embark on our journey to matrimony. During that time, most girls got married right out of high school. Church taught me to focus on being single or plan for marriage but dating long-term was not acceptable.

So, I urged Hillmon to choose whether we would move forward together or go our separate ways. I had no desire to casually date. Before meeting him, I prayed that God would send my mate. Little did I know, Hillmon prayed the same request, and on August 22, 1958, at twenty-three years of age, I married the love of my life, my God-given mate, and my very best friend.

We were always together. We worked in and out of the home together, worshipped together, and traveled together. I worked closely with Hillmon in ministry. God prepared me to be the wife he needed for each of Hillmon’s elevations in the church: Deacon, Trustee, Elder, Pastor, and ultimately Bishop. I knew my husband better than anyone. God needed me ready and available to support Hillmon along his path. I was determined to be my husband’s support, encouragement, and love – his Helpmeet.

To be an effective Helpmeet, I had to KNOW Hillmon – and know what God put him on earth to do. Wives must understand why their husbands are doing what they do and learn not to selfishly nag because they are not doing what WE want them to do. They really need our support!

Hillmon had been going to a specialist for a long time, but I never knew the specifics of his illness. It wasn’t until I had to start taking him to the doctor, and all the hospital visits that I understand how sick he was. We were away at the COGIC Holy Convocation in St. Louis, MO when my husband took ill. He stayed in a hospital in Missouri for about a day or so and once we returned home, he did not rest, which wasn’t surprising.

In those last few months, he had countless doctor visits and hospital stays. Eventually, we made the difficult decision to put him in a nursing facility, as I could not care for him on my own. But he never left the hospital as he took a turn for the worse as we were preparing to transfer him.

During that final stay in the hospital, he ministered to everyone who visited. I wanted him to preserve his energy and breathing, but he was doing the work of his Father, even then. He instructed the Elders on the needs of the church and God’s people.

I honestly never knew he was dying. I knew he was sick but not sick enough to die. There were so many people in the hospital – all his family, pastors, and bishops were there, and I couldn’t understand why so many people were there. It still never crossed my mind that the end was near.

I was in the waiting area when my late son Kevin came and told me it was time to say goodbye. He brought me to Hillmon’s bedside. His breathing shallowed and as tears filled my eyes, I whispered in his ear, “You did a good job as a husband, father, and pastor. Go rest in the arms of the Lord.” He took a deep breath and then he was gone. My covering, my protection was gone.

The grief felt nightmarish at times, however, I’m grateful for my support system. Unbeknownst to me, Hillmon told our children to take care of me. He knew he was dying, and my children along with my church family have gone above and beyond in their consideration of me. Over the years our church was such a close family – I have been loved and cared for like I was their blood relative. It was as if they studied Hillmon to know what I needed.

My children were always determined to make their father proud in the way they cared for me. Before my son passed away, he always made sure I was comfortable and well looked after. My daughter lives in another state but runs tirelessly, ensuring I have everything I could ever need or want. I wish my husband was still here, but I pray he rests knowing God has placed me in the most careful hands.

Grief is an individual and personal experience, and depending on your lifestyle, the death of your spouse may not be the only loss you experience. My covering, my friend, my companion, the person I would talk to daily, was now gone from my life. He wasn’t just the leader in my home but my spiritual leader at church.

The church is a place of releasing one’s burdens, but it transformed into the source of my sadness as it held so many of our memories. When I went to church, everywhere I looked reminded me of him. His presence just remained due to all the memories. The grief was ever-present. The culminating reality was heartbreaking and as I was mourning his loss, I was also experiencing the transition of the most embedded parts of my life – my ministry.

When a Pastor or Bishop passes on, that part of his wife’s ministry passes on too. It’s difficult to explain, but I mourned my position. I wondered what my place was here now. What are my responsibilities in this ministry now? I felt like all my titles were just snatched away. The Bible talks about the work of one’s hands, and my hands felt so empty. I didn’t have that work to keep my mind occupied. I know people missed him and mourned him, but they moved on while I remained stuck. I saw him in every pew. It felt blinding and suffocating at times – an all-consuming grief.

God has been faithful as I go through this, but I honestly didn’t know when I would smile again. I tried not to appear broken, but you just don’t get over the love of your life. I now had to move through this life on my own, for the first time. I had lots of support; however, it was very different from the support of a soulmate. Hillmon always knew me, but God knew me best, and I had to learn to lean on Him for my future.

For the first time in my life, I’m living alone. I wake up and I’m by myself. I go to bed by myself. I turn on music to hear noise. I’ve also had to become independent – I still had to learn to do things for myself, like knowing the timing of car repairs and certain house needs. God prepared me for the things I never thought I would be able to do for myself. I learned so much with the help of the Lord. The kindness bestowed on me by others has been second to none.  

I’ve truly felt God’s love through people. Every generous act, no matter how large or small, is a symbol of God’s love for me. Unfortunately, I’ve seen another side of transition and learned that with genuine love, also comes situational love. As I was no longer in certain positions, I sadly lost some of the support I once had. I don’t take offense to it because I have learned to appreciate those God has allowed to remain in my life.

I wouldn’t say I am detached from life, but I haven’t been close to anyone. I’m friendly, but I don’t have a “person”. It’s just me and the distance is notable. Everyone needs someone they can talk to and trust. And I don’t have that anymore. I found myself reverting to introversion when Hillmon passed, not prioritizing relationships with family and friends. If I wasn’t with him, being alone was fine. But, I knew God didn’t want that for my life, so I purposely engage with my loved ones. It helps me to live. I am relearning life after sixty-one years with the same person. It’s not easy but God is with me through it all. I hold close to the scripture Nahum 1:7 because I can run to God in my trouble. The scripture says He knows them that trust in Him. I feel so safe knowing God is aware of me and cares about me. 

I miss Hillmon terribly, but I don’t question God’s decision to take him, because I know that God doesn’t make mistakes. God showed me that Hillmon’s work on earth was finished. That is the ultimate glory of our Christian life, resting in our Father’s arms. I didn’t realize how Hillmon was suffering as he got sicker, so I find comfort in his healing and eternal rest.

If it wasn’t for my faith in God, I would not have made it through. I trust God. He is mindful of me because His word says so. I don’t believe God has brought me this far to leave me. It’s been seven years and I still grieve for Hillmon. I will always miss him, but God sustains me. He’s with me when I get lonely. Not one day passes when I don’t think about my husband or my son, but I don’t linger on those thoughts. I have no idea what the future holds, but I trust that God will take care of me.

Encouragement for Moms:

My relationship with God is the best thing I could ever have. Yes, the company of people is comforting, but a crowded room can still feel lonely. That is why God is always with us. Only He can carry us through the pain. He always knows the right thing to say and how to comfort when nothing else will. Be cautious, because the enemy desires to isolate us from God, stopping His plan for our lives. If he succeeds, we forfeit our freedom. God is faithful to provide a way of escape when the enemy comes in to attack. God’s truth repels the enemy and quiets the lies used to feed the pain. Don’t expect people to provide what only God has the power to supply; true, lasting, sustainable comfort and joy; a renewed mind.

Through God’s faithfulness, I pray that women who experience this loss will cling to the Lord, believing He, alone, can bring them through. God was with me even in my dark places. I’m certain of it. Knowing God, His sovereignty, faithfulness, and grace, I was able to keep going. God held me up.

Prayer for Moms:

Lord Jesus, send your ministering spirit to moms that have lost their spouse. Let them experience your presence in their hour of need. Take away the fear, anxiety, doubt that may arise and replace it with your peace. Give knowledge and wisdom to moms with young children, showing empathy.

Amen.

~Margaret


To connect with Margaret, visit her at www.margaretbmoses.com and learn more about the book she wrote about her husband: Life’s Blueprint: From the Desk of Bishop Hillmon Moses.


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