Sometimes I feel no one’s ever been in this place before

This is hard, and I’m not sure I can do this anymore.

I know someday I’ll look back and all this won’t seem real,

But Lord, right now I need you to know just how I feel.

(Jeff and Sheri Easter, “Hear My Heart”)

I could not pray; I could not think; even breathing was a challenge. Just a few hours ago, I had arrived home from a visit to my father to find that my dear husband, Ron, had fallen asleep in his easy chair. And passed into Glory.

Amid the chaos of paramedics arriving, adult children crying, my autistic son sitting solemnly in a wooden chair next to Ron’s empty bed, and making phone calls to family, I  functioned on automatic. I said and did the right things for the paramedics, Ron’s mother, my father, my children, and the medical examiner.  

But as I lay alone in bed after Ron’s poor, sick earthly body was taken away, I could not form the words to talk to God. I was too broken to think in terms of coherent sentences, my sorrow too deep to utter.  

I needed the Holy Spirit to hear my heart. 

When there are no words to say

And no prayer that I can pray, hear my heart.

When I don’t have strength to try

And I’ve cried all I can cry, hear my heart.

 Long before the Holy Spirit indwelled the believers on the day of Pentecost, he was at work. As one of three identities of the Trinity, many consider the Holy Spirit to be unfathomable, but in truth he is very present and has been since the beginning. Genesis 1:12 says that at the moment of Creation,  “The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” You can’t go back any further than that!

There is much evidence in the Old Testament of the workings of the Holy Spirit. Joshua is described as “a man in the Spirit” (Numbers 27:18) and Othniel, Caleb’s younger brother, had “the Spirit of the Lord upon him” (Judges 3:9-11). 1 Samuel 16:12-13 says that when the prophet anointed him, “The Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward.”

Cause you know every fear and every doubt I cannot speak.

You know all the ways I need you and all the ways I’m weak, so I’ll be quiet

So you can hear my heart.

I was exhausted the night my husband died. The long years of being his caregiver had been physically draining. His sudden death depleted my emotions. After my adult children and best friend Chris left and my autistic son went to bed, I was left alone with my sorrow.

But I was not really alone. Over the next few weeks, I was comforted by the Holy Spirit in several ways.

  1.   He prays for us in a power we do not have. “The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness” (Roman 8:26). My own strength was spent; I had none left. But the Holy Spirit is an inexhaustible fount of strength and energy.
  2.   He prays for us with wisdom we lack. “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26). I lost all words at that difficult time. The Holy Spirit heard my groanings and understood.
  3. He prays for us in mercy we cannot understand. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). My husband died as a believer. I knew he was in Heaven. The Spirit helped me to focus on this and not blame God for Ron’s death.
  4. He prays for us with a connection we do not possess. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:35) As part of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit was able to bring me closer to God, even as I mourned my beloved.
  5. He prays for us with God’s will in mind. “And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (Romans 8:27).  My life had been intertwined with Ron’s for so many years, it was difficult to imagine moving on without him. But God knew that there was another path for me, and the Holy Spirit showed me a writing ministry I had never planned on having.

Each of us suffers losses. Each of us comes to a point in our lives when we feel abandoned, uncertain, and in need of comfort. What better comfort can we have than that from the Holy Spirit, who knows us in ways no human can, who sees into our hearts? 

Now, three years later, there are still mornings when I wake up, startled to find Ron’s side of the bed empty. I do not need to find words at that moment. I just need to be quiet, and let the Spirit hear my heart. 


Hear my heart



Linda Cobourn

Linda Cobourn picked up a pencil when she was nine and hasn’t stopped writing since, but she never expected to write about adult autism and grief. When her husband died after a long illness, she began a remarkable journey of faith with her son, an adult with Asperger’s syndrome. The author of Tap Dancing in Church, Crazy: A Diary, and Scenes from a Quirky Life, she holds an MEd in Reading and an EdD in Literacy. Dr. Cobourn also writes for Aspirations, a newsletter for parents of autistic offspring. Her work in progress, tentatively titled Finding Dad: A Journey of Faith on the Autism Spectrum, chronicles her son’s unique grief journey. Dr Cobourn teaches English as a Second Language in Philadelphia and lives with her son and a fat cat named Butterscotch in Delaware County. She can be contacted on her blog, Quirky, and her Amazon author page.