Man Copes With the Death of His Wife By Hiking
What may become my standard opener for posts about death and grief:
My mother died a little bit before the year 2010 (yes, I am being intentionally sketchy about specifics because I would like to remain anonymous).
I discovered the hard way after my mother’s passing, and I was shocked and deeply saddened and disappointed to find, that most Christians are terrible at helping someone who is in grief.
Many Christians do not even want to try to be there for someone who has experienced loss, whether out of laziness, selfishness, or feeling uncomfortable with open expressions of emotional pain.
Whatever the reason, most Christians do not want to weep with the one who weeps and therefore leaves them to cope with the loss completely alone, which I feel is terrible and insensitive.
I watched a Christian program that involved a man whose wife died of breast cancer. He started hiking to cope with the loss.
Before I get to the link and his story, I wanted to use his story as a reminder: conservative Christians keep offering this fairy tale story that marriage will solve all a person’s problems.
The conservative church portrays singleness after the age of 25 as being second class or merely a waiting period until one eventually marries (what if one never marries? they never address this possibility).
Getting married is not a solution to loneliness, financial problems, or about anything else problematic, as so many Christians like to portray it.
Should you marry, your spouse may turn out to be abusive (whether physically, emotionally, verbally, or financially), your spouse may announce one day that he’s not in love with you any longer and wants to divorce you to marry another; or, your spouse may come down with a mental health problem or get into a car wreck and become paralyzed.
And, of course, as this post shows, should you marry, your spouse may die from a physical cause.
Each year thousands of people attempt to hike the entire Appalachian Trail from start to finish. Only one in four completes it. When then 58-year-old Paul Stutzman took his first steps on the 2,176 mile journey, he wanted more than a great adventure. He was looking for an encounter with God.
Years before, Paul was busy living life. He was happily married, had three children and a great job managing a large restaurant in Ohio’s Amish country. Then in 2002, doctors diagnosed his beloved wife Mary with breast cancer. Although they did everything they could and believed God would heal her, Mary passed away four years later.
Learning About Grace from God
This devastated Paul and left him consumed with a burning question for God. Why?
A year after Mary’s death and still with no answer, Paul knew he had to do something different.
“And I just felt God say, ‘It’s time, give it up, go on the trail and I’m going to meet you there,'”he said.
[Paul later went on many hikes around the nation]
…Paul says that when someone loses a spouse he needs to remember the loved one is no longer going through pain.
“Grieving means we loved somebody; the only way not to grieve is not to love. Our loved ones want us to go on with life – they’ve got it made, they’re in heaven, they’re just having a ball, and we’re the ones that are kind of suffering down here and they want us to enjoy life and there’s a lot to enjoy,” he said.