The Faithfulness of God in the Loss of a Husband

By Donna Mitchell

Donna and Family

The Mitchell’s on a beach trip in May 2003. From left to right: Richard (her late husband), DJ, Trystan, Erin and Morgan

My name is Donna Mitchell.  My family and close friends call me DJ, and so did my late husband.

I’m 51 years old.  I was married to Richard for 23 years, two months and 23 days when he was killed in an automobile accident on January 30, 2004. He was 42.  He was driving late at night, fell asleep at the wheel and hit an 18 wheeler head on.  He was killed instantly.  The truck driver ran down an embankment but fortunately was able to walk away.

When a tragedy like this happens, I have found that I have to start looking for God’s hand in it and His mercy.  My husband’s boss (and great friend) and his wife drove to my house at 3 a.m. to deliver the news to me and my son who was 16 years old at the time. I called another church friend who lived close by and she came over to be with me too. Our friends drove me and my son to Chattanooga to deliver the news to our 2 daughters, then 20 and 22 years old.  I can remember praying the entire trip and I believe God gave me a picture of myself sitting down, hugging my knees, head down, but in the palm of His mighty right hand.  I was devastated, yet I knew I was in God’s hand and that everything that I was experiencing had carefully been sifted first through His hands.

 There is an indescribable peace that comes with walking with the Lord through adversity.  (God was pulling me most of the time.) Richard was a Christian and I take great comfort in knowing that I will see him again someday.  One of my greatest joys was seeing him worship in church…so now, when I’m sad, I am reminded of how he is worshiping in Heaven.

I can’t help but think about the past sometimes and say, “If only I had a do-over, I’d change________.”  So instead of a list of what I did wrong, I have to opportunity to encourage other women.  I would encourage women to trust their husbands more in decisions they make and trust God that He is using your husband to care for your needs.  Thank God for your husband’s job, no matter how much it takes him away from the family.  This is God’s provision for your family at this time.  Pray for your husband every day, he’s making sacrifices for you and carrying burdens for you that you cannot see. And, save a few “A-game” moments for him at the end of the day. J

For those who are in a similar trial:  Trust God.  He is sovereign and knows your every need.  He has a plan for you.  Dive into the Psalms and pray them out loud to Him.  Find some key scripture and memorize it so that you can repeat it out loud during the day and night.  I found Matthew 8 late one night when I couldn’t sleep.  After reading it I pictured myself in Jesus’ boat asleep in the bed across from Him.  There are storms and waves everywhere yet He is in there sleeping!   So, from that time on, when I would wake up at night fearful or full of thoughts I would re-tell this scripture to the Lord in prayer.

It’s been eight years since Richard went home to be with the Lord.  God has remained faithful.  Since that time all three children have completed college and I was able to go back and finish too.  It’s something my husband always wanted us all to do.  God has shown me that He is my Provider.  He has shown me what His church body is and how He provides for us all through His believers.  I thank God often for the friends that walked along beside me through this trial.  There are men in the church who have come along side my son and mentored him.  The singles and youth have served at my home doing projects.  I’ve had financial and legal advice from men in the church who volunteered their time…I could go on and on!  I see this as a practical way God is caring for me.   I am grateful beyond words to Him for the way He has grown me and blessed me through this tragedy.  He is Who He says He is.


donna and kids

Richard and Donna had planned a vacation in Hawaii and had booked the flights the night before he died. Three months after his death Donna and her children took the trip to Hawaii. From left to right: Erin (20), Morgan (16), DJ (43), and Trystan (22).

Donna Mitchell graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2009 with a degree in Plant Sciences. She owns a horticultural business, “From My Garden,” where she sells fruits and vegetables from her home garden.  Mitchell lives in Knoxville, TN and attends Cornerstone Church of Knoxville.

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5 Comments to “The Faithfulness of God in the Loss of a Husband”

  1. Erika says:

    I am always encouraged by you, Donna. This story is a sobering, yet hope-filled one. Thank you for reminding us to love, support, and appreciate our husbands while we have them by our sides. And for reminding us of how strong, merciful, and ever-present our great God is.

  2. Honey says:

    Wonderful article that will encourage many. Thanks Donna for your example!

  3. Katie Gleason says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am a young wife (married 8 years) and I have found such wisdom in this article! Thank you for your transparency! I will be praying more today for my husband, and being thankful for things I once complained about (long work hours).

  4. Melanie Cahill says:

    Thanks for this reminder Trillia and Donna. You, Donna are my hero. You have been such an example and encouragement to me. Thank you for sharing your story and life to encourage others. love you.

  5. Jill Brickey says:

    Thanks for posting this Trill! DJ is by far my favorite older woman! I have gleaned so much from her and she continually serves as an example of how to be a God-fearing woman. If only everyone had a DJ in their life to look up to.