My Husband Died Suddenly in the Wilderness

As his widow, I live with grief every day. But I also live in the Good Shepherd’s grip.

One early morning on our family vacation, my husband, Rob, left our campsite for a long hike in the backcountry of Mount Rainier National Park. He and his hiking partner set out on the trail excited and energized for the path ahead. Both loved hiking and knew how to do it well.

Being in the outdoors was Rob’s favorite way to recreate and connect with God. But his cold and lifeless body returned to the trailhead late that afternoon, airlifted by a helicopter out of the wilderness. That day, marked on the calendar as a highlight of our family trip, became the most sorrowful of our lives.

In a moment, my world changed forever. I am still dumbfounded at the swiftness of death’s destructive work. Rob’s passing ushered me into a harsh and lonely landscape of loss. His sudden, tragic passing erased my plans for the future and set my feet at the trailhead of a new, unwanted path.

For the rest of my days, I will walk with grief. I will travel down a trail nobody wants to take.

I never knew deep grief until I lost Rob. I had suffered other losses but none that broke me so profoundly, none that rearranged the entire order of my life. I will admit, from the very beginning, I have been a reluctant traveler on this new path of sorrow.

Left with four children to raise alone, there is not a moment I do not long for the life I lived before. Rob and I enjoyed 17 imperfectly wonderful years of marriage. Our life together was deeply satisfying. We shared the same passions and dreams. He loved me with all his heart, and I adored him.

As Sorrow and Suffering have beckoned me forward on this grief journey, like Much-Afraid in Hannah Hurnard’s classic book Hinds’ Feet on High Places, I have cried …

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