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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Monday, January 09, 2012

A Howling Wilderness

A few days ago, Millie and I were talking; she asked how I was doing. I told her, "where Dave used to be, here on the farm with us, is now a black hole and everything is rushing toward that black hole, being pulled into, sucked inside, and wanting, needing to be wholly obliterated. It's all a horrible dream, a nightmare that is never ending. It goes on, day after day after day, breath after breath after breath... ."
See what lies before you, dear ones? At a time when one is most vulnerable, most grief stricken, most emotionally is the time when the vultures come forth to feast on the psyche.
~ Very loud, very heavy organ music is appropriate here ~
"Oh, we're so sorry for your loss. Your husband owed us xx dollars on his last credit card bill so if you'll give us your checking account information, we can deduct it immediately, as in today, right now, to pay his account in full," said one credit card rep.
"That's not possible. I need to go to the bank rearrange some funds and will send a check tomorrow," said I.
Said credit card rep, "no, that's not our policy. We want our money NOW and if you don't give us your checking account information, we'll search for your husband's estate and seize the estate."
"What part of "I called you" don't you understand? I called you to find out how much money he owes so I can pay the bill...but only after I ascertain there is enough money in my checking account. I've paid a lot of bills this week and need to make sure I have enough money in the account to cover the check. There's no need to treat me like a criminal! Finally, I am the estate...get it?!"    
So, when I disappear for days on end, it's because my energy levels have been sucked entirely dry by some emotional vampire in their day job as a corporate employee.
One thing about grief that has entirely caught me off-guard is how physically exhausting it is to simply put one foot before the other. I knew it was emotionally overwhelming but the physical exhaustion has caught me altogether by surprise. I'll have one good morning or afternoon, or, once or twice, a time or two almost a day, but those few good hours cost me ten times more in days of feeling totally submerged, of being dead-headed, of seeing through a glass darkly, if at all.
Remember that black hole mentioned earlier? Inordinate amounts of time are spent pulling back from that black hole edge; trying to maintain some semblance of balance in a fight to stay upright, on my feet and not completely drowning in an emotional quarry of grief and other emotions. It's my experience I cannot pray myself out of it, I cannot talk myself out of it, I cannot cry myself out of it...I must bear the weight of grief as a mantilla; bowed, bloody, breathless, exhausted until it passes and, for a short time, I am given respite. A relief, all too brief, from it all.
Grief is a howling wilderness where I stumble around, for the most part, blind to everything but the pain of grief, while it drenches me in fog as in the photo above.
There are two Bible verses I clutch with whatever strength God gives me.
"The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still."
~ Exodus 14:14 ~
"He will command His angels to guard you in all your ways."
~ Psalms 91:11 ~
I'm beginning to understand why no one, much, speaks of grief. It's too personal, too raw, too emotional, too messy. Yet, is that not why we are called to be Christians? To help one another? I tell you truthfully, I believe if I were not a Christian, I would have killed every living thing on this farm and myself last. It is being a Christian, casting myself on Abba's, my heavenly Father's lap, that gets me out of bed each morning. It is He who gets me through the days, the weeks, the months, the moments. In time, grief subsides, tiny bit by tiny bit, and, I think, but am not sure, I am left, perhaps, a tiny bit stronger.
"I walked a mile with Pleasure
  She chattered all the way
But left me none the wiser
  For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow.
  And ne'er a word said she
But oh! the things I learned from her
  When Sorrow walked with me."
~ Robert Browning Hamilton ~

Blessings ~ Stephanie ~ Millie ~ Timi ~ Sandra ~ Jill ~ Vicki ~ Mary Lois ~ Ray ~ Fred ~


  1. I wish I could make those calls for you. I LOVE to talk to asshole customer service people. Really. I do. :)

  2. I admire you so much for putting one foot in front of the other ... and for sharing your grief with us ... and you maintain a prayer list to pray for others. Bless you!

  3. I know you are in so much pain Sandra but I feel you need to talk to someone...someone that does not want anything from you. I have lost both a husband and lately my dad...I have grieved as you have but I was never angry...please..find someone that is maybe neutral that you can sit down and just talk with about what you are feeling.

  4. I am so glad you stood your ground and did not give your checking acct info to that &%?#!! card rep. He/she was way out of bounds. His/her time is coming.
    One step at time, leaning on the Father's strength, His word filling your thoughts, you are doing well.
    I'm keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

  5. May the Lord bless and keep you and lift you up like an eagle. Drown yourself in the Word and lean totally on the One who knows exactly how you feel. Do you have someone that you can talk to and pour out your guts to? Don't give service people the time of day if you don't want to. All in time, it will work itself out. Praying for you...

  6. I think Sandra, the best way to describe is what happens with say a fox is caught in a trap and it gnaws it's leg off to escape. Grief is like that, if you could do something to get away from it you would, but the thing is grief means you have to go through it. The only relationship I have not experienced loss has been that of my husband. Reading what you write is how I expect it to be. In a odd way it comforts me. I have thought that it would be like that, I think the black hole describes it.
    I am so glad you are a Christian. I am sorry that people are being mean.
    I remember the first time I laugh, is always like a miracle. Because joy does come in the morning.
    Reading your post today reminds me of the book on grief written by C.S. Lewis.
    He said some of the same things as you did.
    The men in my husband's family don't live much past 50 he is 54 his Dad died at 56,
    I know that that it is possible I could be with you.
    So I walk with you knowing that we all have but today.
    I will be praying for you.
    I know that our God is bigger and I am glad He has you in His Everlasting arms.

  7. Vicki - you're a woman after my own heart -LOL-!

    Hartwood Roses - there are those who don't like "real"; glad you're not put off by my honesty.

    City Gals - perhaps you're not familiar with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and her 5 Stages of Grief. Anger is a very real part of the grieving process. If one denies any part of the process, it's entirely possibly one has not fully grieved nor fully healed. The western world is not comfortable with emotions, grief and, especially, anger.
    God deals with each of us as individuals and we each deal with life and death in our own way. It's okay for you to deal differently than I and vice versa. I am sorry you're not comfortable with my emotions; I'm entirely comfortable with them.

    Lindah - Women, statistically speaking, are the ones left behind and the system is set up to take advantage of women. When we've got information, knowledge and aren't afraid to speak up, we're a lot less disadvantaged.

  8. Vickie - unfortunately, there's no not talking to people; it has to be done. Bills have to be paid and, so often, corporations will NOT wait. The phone company, V, gave me 7 days to make a decision or they would cancel my cell phone. I saved them the trouble and canceled it myself so they started begging me to stay. I turned a deaf ear and now use a different phone.

    Farm Girl - You got it, thank you! A Grief Observed is a classical writing and Lewis was masterful. It's been years since I read that book; it's time to pull it off the bookshelf again.

  9. Anonymous11:21 PM EST

    Ouch Sandra. I'm so sorry for you. I got a call the other day from a bill collector trying to get $ out of me for my dear mom's debts. (She passed in May and I was in charge of all her affairs). Boy, did that call get under my skin!! I wanted to tell them they could find her at the Veteran's Cemetery if they wanted!!'s just sooo unnerving!

    Hugs sister. :(

  10. Sandra~
    The older I get the more I find myself waiting for 'the other shoe to drop!' Like Farm Girl above, I always imagine it will be just like you say it is.
    I have experienced members of my family passing, but it was the untimely death of a favorite 'fur baby' that dropped me into a four year depression and I experienced so many of your fears and emotions. I scares me so how I might react if the inevitable/unthinkable should happen to my beloved. I only hope I can be as gracious and level headed as you when dealing with nasty folks ~ my mouth (and temper)get me into trouble often. :~{

    I continue to pray for you, my friend. You are always on my heart!

  11. Sandra, all I know to do is send up prayers on your behalf... but then, that is really the best thing any of us can do in times like these. ((HUGS) and may God wrap His arms around you right now.

  12. Thinking about you..........i'm so sorry this is such a incredibly terrible time. Draining.

    God is getting you through this. You're passing through a valley of the shadow of death.

    You're very brave to share,

  13. Big banks get bailed out.
    then they treat citizens like garbage.

    Credit cards are unsecured debt.
    Don't give them a DOLLAR!

    Seriously. Check out what I am saying. My Dad died with credit card bills, Mom can't pay - they went away. Unsecured debt - check it out!
    What is right for big corps is right for the little guy too.

    Want to "do the right thing?"
    THEY don't - it's all business. You LEGALLY owe them nothing, and you can't show "honor" to a business that has NONE itself. GOD wants you to be secure. In time you will heal. You will never forget your dear one. And we will join them later. Don;t let these vultures add to your pain at this time. THESE ARE THE RULES- unless you are wealthy FORGET those nasty people and never talk to them again. Hang up. Get an answering machine. Take a vacation with the money. But LOTS of food and Share it with your needy neighbors. A much better use of the money!

    Aloha from Waikiki
    Comfort Spiral

    > < } } ( ° >


  14. God bless you.
    Prioritize. Maybe you can get a TracFone phone at Walmart and dump the phone company?

    you are real. you are loved. you are in my prayers.

  15. I'm talking about credit cards in your loved departed's name. they just write it off.

    Your local utilities you will need again and can work out a payment plan. If they continue to be uncooperative call your State or local Attorney General's office or consumer advocate. If you offer to send them $25 a month they CAN'T proceed against you.

  16. Ooh I do so love your frankness is so raw & salty. I am entirely convinced that the world is crying out for authenticity. Show us real!!! Grief is so real..there is no assuaging it. It is time to talk of the hard things. Platitudes simply will not suffice. I'm very pleased that everything is still alive on the farm then! Ah messy...that we all are, messy indeed, yet still He loves us...phew. Much love to you Catherine x0x0x

  17. Often during the worst times of my life, things seem to get worse in spite of prayers and pleadings. There is no respite, and then I remember in my exhaustion, Satan does not take a day off. He does not declare a day off for you either..he attacks with a vengeance! Get you while you're down and feeling as if you cannot go on. I think that is why God has given us so many scriptures reminding us of His promises and His staying with us through it all, also reminding us He does not give us more than we can handle, even if it feels like we cannot go prayers are for you Sandra.

  18. BTW, I agree with Cloudia regarding bill collectors. Get a new phone , and get an answering machine.If the bills are legitimate and your honor and word require paying them off, do so in YOUR time, not theirs, and not giving in to threats.

    Thank-you for your honesty during this time. I know God will use it for His Glory & honor.

  19. Anonymous6:23 AM EST

    I appreciate your honesty during this time of grief. Each person does deal with grief differently. I hope the knowledge that you have many blog friends praying for you helps. I lift you up in prayer many times during my day.

  20. You describe grief so well... Praying for strength for you.

  21. Trouble with learning through our grief/pain - it is so doggoned painful! I'd prefer to take an online correspondence course with time out for breaks OK Lord?
    Your descriptions continue to be clear, honest and stark - piffle on the bill collector people - you are an honorable member of the community and will do what is right - in your own time. Glad you changed phone providers -
    Springtime is coming - and you will be doing what comes to hand. Seasons - it is all about seasons -

  22. Yes, you are living it. There is no instant cure, or we would have found it. I remember your description from my own life, years ago. Numbing, wearying, soul-sucking and life-ending sadness. I clung also to a verse, blindly. "I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Ps. 27. I hoped vaguely, but did not really believe, that I would see goodness again, or any light at all. My heart breaks for you, friend.

  23. I'm here, one distant blogpal, standing in the gap, praying for you every day.

  24. May God bless you and send his everlasting peace to you. I will be praying for you to pass on thru this valley of sorrow... Blessings Jane

  25. Insult upon injury. It really doesn't help. Something similar happened a few years ago when my oldest daughter died.

  26. When I read your strong text I think about Hiob.

  27. Praying for supernatural strength for you, Sandra.

  28. I followed you over from Throwback's blog and have spent several hours reading your excellent, excellent blog. Cried quite a bit, too. Agree completely with Deanna; you are very brave to share what you are going through and feeling by journaling it publicly, like this. I'm amazed at your resilience. It rings through every post. Can't help thinking of a favorite phrase my dear departed mother said often, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." In the midst of the calamity, it feels like anything but strength. But many, many peoples' experiences have proven this simple truth. Please know that I am very grateful to witness a strong, resilient woman traversing this slope ahead of me - it will be my turn too soon, I fear. My prayers are with you.


  29. I pray the black hole will become further and further away each day, that those brief moments of joy will become longer and longer and overshadow the grief. Grief is awful but also good in that it teaches us to really appreciate the joy. You are always in my prayers. Hugs and love.

  30. So sorry for all the added grief coming your way Sandra. Still praying for you my friend.

  31. These tiny letters are so wonderful, a big hope for all who carry grief.

  32. Diane - I did just that. When I first met Dave, he was totally overwhelmed by the death of his first wife, Cathy. Someone called, repeatedly, asking for her and I told Dave, "I can get rid of them for good and won't even say a bad word." He said, "Do it!" I gave them the phone number of the cemetery where she was buried; Dave never heard from them again...wicked grin!-

    Lady Farmer - when I fail, I fail God and when I succeed it's due to His grace and mercy pulling me through.

    Paula - prayers most welcome, needed and appreciated, thank you!

    Deanna - brave or stupid, I'm not sure which. Although the Bible tells us not to be frightened, this is a frightening time.

    Cloudia - wish I'd know all this before I paid the bill -wry smile- and thank you.

    Catherine - you're so right; I'd rather hear silence than platitudes. At least silence is real.

    Kathy B- I'd really rather have Dave than go thru all this but God didn't ask me -wry smile-. So, if He wants my whiny sorrow for His be it!

    Maple Mildred - thank you for your prayers, for standing in the gap. He's using it all, you me us, for His glory.

    Amber - thank you for your prayers and for visiting; bless you.

    LindaSue - you don't know how often I think of you and say a prayer.

    Nancy - thank you.

    M. K. - you have no idea how much your note has ministered to me and encouraged me; bless you!

    Michelle - bless you for standing in the gap; it's not so lonely when I know others are praying.

    Jane - thank you so much.

    Deborah - I simply cannot imagine and I thank you for your comment.

    Dora - I'm not familiar with Hiob and not sure my search turned up what you mean...I am sorry. I'll keep trying.

    Pom - thank you for your prayers.

    Thistledog - many thanks for your visit and your kind comment. I'm really rather a weakling and would have chosen to not go through any of this. God, however, had other plans -wry smile- so I trudge forward. It's not easy but He provides what I need to continue.

    Jill - we are in total agreement and I think, perhaps, the black hole moves a tiny bit at a time.

    Penny - bless and thank you!

    Dori - they are hard to read but added so much; at least I though so. Thank you.

    And to all you who read this blog and choose not to comment...know you're choosing NOT to be a blessing...shame, shame on you.

  33. Grief is a journey, with a lot of holes and hills and dark places. But there is light, too, in so many other places. You can't go around it and I know you have everything you need to go through it. Blessings!

  34. I am sorry that things have been so awful. There is so much you have to do that most of us don't think about, because we haven't been through it yet. Hang in there. Sending you hugs.

    You don't have to clear and count. You can just clear. That is what lots of people are doing, and it's fine. The point is to clear out and make our homes more livable. Sometimes making a "game" out of it make it more fun, so some of us are counting too. But you can clear anyway you want to. I'll add you to my list. :-)

  35. I continue to pray for you, Sandra. If I could carry some of your grief for you to lessen your pain I would. As I told my sister Debbie, "Better times are coming. Hold on!" Those waves of grief will subside. Unfortunately rude heartless people will still be around.


  36. Honestly, I don't know how bill collectors sleep at night. I wish you didn't have to go through this. I hope that soon you find more moments of peace and comfort in your life.

  37. Oh, Sandra! Some people just don't get it. Bill collectors may or may not get it but still have to ask for the money. How crazy. Have you read Auden's poem "Stop all the clocks..."? It is beautiful. I wish the world could stop when our hearts are broken and we need that time. I'm sorry that it doesn't, and I'm sorry for your loss.

  38. W. H. Auden

    Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
    Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
    Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
    Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

    Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
    Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
    Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
    Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

    He was my North, my South, my East and West,
    My working week and my Sunday rest,
    My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
    I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

    The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
    Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
    Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
    For nothing now can ever come to any good.

  39. I posted it so you wouldn't have one more annoying and exhausting task today. ;)



  40. I'm so sorry that you are being treated rudely by the banks! Be very careful, there are companies that prey upon the families of departed loved ones. We had some horrible people coming after us from my mother's estate, and their claims were not legit. They nearly saw the death notice in the paper and fabricated a debt!

    My prayers go out to you.

  41. I just want to say the comments no matter what they say should lighten your path for another much love out there.

  42. I wanted to write and say I'm so sorry for your loss.
    I can even empathize a bit.
    We lost our son on November 29th.
    Grief, I've discovered is not a state, it's a process that we go through.
    Fortunately, for us both, we don't go through it alone.
    Our loving God is here through the entire process.
    Lean on Him.
    I pray this for you.

  43. Your honesty is so brave. I hope and pray you will have comfort during this time; however long it takes.


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