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God’s love in grief

By Camille Ramdial-Cumberbatch

I am now a widow!

This was one of my first revelations upon receiving a call on March 15 at 2:40 a.m. from the hospital advising me that my husband, Michael Cumberbatch, had passed. As a mother, I now had to inform our 23-year-old son, Joshua, who was sleeping at the time.

How does one prepare emotionally and mentally for a life-changing and traumatic experience like this? Although my husband was much older than I was, 78 years to my 55, with a deteriorating health condition, his death was unexpected and a shock. Being his sole caregiver for years, his well-being was a priority to me. I was therefore very upset by the effects of a slip in the shower on the night of Wednesday, February 28, which led to a brain bleed and brain surgery on Thursday. He died two weeks later from a heart attack while hospitalised from his emergency brain surgery.

One of the most traumatic experiences I have ever experienced in my life, and as Mike’s wife, was having to urgently decide in 30 minutes if to do the brain surgery for Michael on Thursday. Feeling helpless, I cried out to the Lord for wisdom and guidance to make the right choice for my husband’s life. After praying with Fr Robert Christo, it was only by the grace of God that I decided to do the surgery. I placed the outcome in God’s hands, praying for the strength, courage, trust, and faith to manage the unknown consequences of the choice.

This aspect of my experience reinforced two significant points to me. Firstly, I had no control, influence, or impact on Mike’s medical situation. I truly had to surrender it all to God and release it to Him to have any sense of peace. I internalised the importance of the phrase, “one day at a time, Sweet Jesus” as things changed daily. This has become my personal mantra, currently. Live each moment and live each day, one at a time. This allows me to focus on my priorities and conserve my mental, spiritual, and emotional energy for what is in front of me now.

From the very beginning of this journey however, God was with us. As a wife and mother, having to navigate all the interactions and make critical decisions could have been overwhelming. God made His presence known to me however in many ways, helping me through the process.

He aligned human, physical, and financial resources to help us through this challenging experience. His Word, Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God” was real to me and manifested in the following ways through His earthly angels:

✔ The responsiveness and professionalism of the medical team at the San Fernando General Hospital and from Guides Funeral Home and Crematorium

✔ My Camsel family’s unwavering support,

✔ The overflowing of love from our families, friends, neighbours and loved ones, Presentation College and the Naparima Girls’ High School community, to name a few.

✔ He used Mike’s passing to rebuild family connections and relationships.

✔ His Holy Spirit cleared the path for things to flow easily without blockages or issues. A major one was ensuring our son could come home from abroad, in time to see his father alive, even if unconscious.

My heart is overflowing with thankfulness to God and words cannot express the depth, and breadth of my gratitude and love for my Lord–for His comfort, strength and guidance.

Regarding the future, I can tell you one month later, it has not been easy dealing with grief. The very fabric of our lives as a couple, created over our 27 years together, was tightly interwoven. Mike and I were deeply connected in our thoughts, our emotions, and our physical connection, even when we were in conflict. That is now gone, and I miss his presence and spirit in a very deep way, so I cry and am sad at any given moment. Others have shared that I should not try to suppress my tears or my emotional responses as I heal.

Although this is a challenging time for our family, just knowing God is with us, helps me feel stronger to embrace my grief and support our son, so we can live to fulfil God’s purpose for us, the way Mike fulfilled his for Him.