Site icon Larger Story – The Lifework & Legacy of Dr. Larry Crabb


This month I want to introduce Phoebe Crabb, wife of Larry’s late brother Bill.   Larry’s only sibling died in a United plane crash 32 years ago in Colorado Springs.  When Larry and I found Phoebe, among the chaos and sadness of that tragic March Sunday, she said, “God is sovereign.”  

Phoebe has truly lived with that truth guiding her and has guided many of us in that truth.  She’ll reflect that to you in this article. 

I hope this makes you think about folks who are struggling with grief and guiding them into truth. 

Becoming me without Larry,

Rachael Crabb

A Becoming Me Without You Blog
By Phoebe Crabb

Can you really be prepared for the death of a loved one? Realistically, no. Death is always a  shock. My loss was unexpected when my husband, Bill, was killed in a plane crash. My sister in-law Rachael’s loss came after twenty-five years of living with Larry’s cancer. Both were  shocking. Both were life-altering experiences, accompanied by overwhelming grief.  

At first, you’re just numb. Then so many questions whirl in and out of your mind: 

  • How will I live without him? 
  • Who is going to help me with the day-to-day issues and decisions of life? 
  • Will I  ever be able to walk into an empty house and not feel deep loneliness? 
  • Who will walk our  daughter down the aisle? 
  • Will I always feel out of place? How long will this grief last? 

And on and on. So many questions. But then you realize that the best answer is, “I’ll take it one day at a  time.” I’ll cling to God, get up every morning, and face today – not tomorrow or next week, or next year, just today.  

But in hindsight, I realize that there are things that can be considered and decided ahead of  time. Apart from most importantly being prepared spiritually, there are many practical things  that can be addressed. 

Bill and I had not fully discussed so many things. God was faithful in  providing me with family and friends who supported me and helped me in making many difficult decisions. But there are many widows who don’t have that kind of support or who are  taken advantage of by people who say they want to help. 

What would I suggest? 

  • Set aside some time with your spouse or family member and discuss financial issues, funeral/burial  plans, practical ideas of how to do life on your own. Often these are uncomfortable conversations that we all want to avoid, but having discussed these things and then put them  in writing is very helpful. 
  • Make a list of passwords, bank, savings, and investment accounts and the names and numbers of the people who manage some of those things. Having things in  order and readily accessible is a big help when it’s hard to remember anything or make difficult decisions when you’re still in shock after a death. 

Have those conversations!  

Sarah Young in her devotional Jesus Calling states: 

Trust and thankfulness will get you safely through this day. 

Trust protects you from worrying and obsessing. 

Thankfulness keeps you from criticizing and complaining: 

Those “sister sins” that so easily entangle you. 

Keeping your eyes on Me is the same thing as trusting Me. 

It is a free choice that you must make thousands of times daily. 

We get caught up in the world we live in: difficult relationships, financial hardships,  health problems, loneliness . . . but it is still possible to find contentment in our day-to-day  lives. Remember God is sovereign. He is in control. Jesus has paid the price for that reality.  

Six months after Bill died, his only book, The Church in Ruins, was published. Here’s an excerpt:  

“The Lord says ‘expect suffering.’ We need to learn to respond to it as He would. As we do, we not only develop His character, but we also build pockets of communities as witnesses to  Him (John 17:22-23). This process is spiritual; it is not under our control, nor are we even fully  aware of what is happening to us. Exodus 34:29 records that Moses ‘was not aware his face  was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.’ In the same way while others watch us  become transformed into people who reflect the Lord’s glory, we may not notice that we are  doing anything more than continuing, by faith, to put one foot in front of the other. Now and  then we’ll catch a glimpse of our slow growth in Christ and rejoice.”

The Lord continues, after all these years, to strengthen my faith and trust in Him. And for that I  can rejoice.  

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