My fifty-five-year-old husband died of a sudden heart attack after thirty-six years of marriage…. He had chest pains and called me. I told him to go see a doctor, and he said that he would just take an aspirin. I couldn’t do anything: he died in my arms. I tried to revive him and gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but he didn’t come back.

I have protested to God. I got angry with my husband for leaving me. At times I feel guilty. Maybe if we had gone to the emergency room in the first place, he would not have died.

Dear Friend,

We are so sorry for your loss! Adjusting to life alone after thirty-six years of marriage will take an extended amount of time and considerable emotional strength, so we encourage you to depend upon your Heavenly Father for the help and comfort that you need. The Apostle Paul taught that God “comforts us in all our troubles.”(1) After the initial shock has worn off, if you ask God for His help, you will be able to feel His arms of comfort wrapped around you.

However, right now clearly your emotions are in turmoil because of the shock and the circumstances of your husband’s death. You are second-guessing yourself and having guilt feelings because you didn’t force your husband to go to the hospital. If he had been unable to speak for himself, you certainly would have taken him. But when he indicated that he would just take an aspirin, you could only take his word for what was happening inside his body. You had no way of knowing how serious it was. You respected his right to make his own decision because he seemed capable of making that decision, so the only thing you are guilty of is trusting your husband. And that is exactly why you have felt anger toward him: because he betrayed your trust. You believe that you are now alone because your husband decided to just take an aspirin and not go to the hospital. And now you are angry with him for making that decision and leaving you.

Your anger also protects you from having to accept that your husband is really gone. If you can be angry with him, he is still present in your life.

Both guilt feelings and anger are normal reactions under the circumstances. As time passes, you will work through those feelings and the shock will wear off. You will go through times of intense sadness, but as the weeks and months pass, the sadness will be a little less intense and eventually you will accept that he is really gone, that you did nothing wrong, and that you must now make a life without him.

Right now your emotions may keep you from feeling God’s presence and His comfort. But never doubt that He is with you and that He is waiting for you to depend upon Him.

We wish you well,

1 2Co 1:4