Death is something that’s supposed to happen to old dogs and very old people and preferably, in the distant future. But sometimes death visits unexpectedly.
That’s what happened to me. I never saw it coming.
In the time it takes for the moon to cross the sky, my life changed forever.
My husband Jay and I had built a beautiful life together complete with two baby boys and a cat that didn’t get into the trash. Just after our 14th wedding anniversary Jay unexpectedly died of a heart attack. He was 39.
Devastating only begins to describe being widowed.
Grief affects every aspect of life. Parenting. Finances. Meal planning. Social occasions.
Fear grips you in ways you never thought possible. As a widow, I would lay awake at night wondering:
- Is my house safe?
- Can I sleep with a window open?
- What do I do about money?
- Who will take me to the hospital if I get sick?
- Do I know how to buy a car?
- What happens if the oven breaks again?
- Who will teach my little boys to tie a tie, drive a car or treat a woman?
- If I die in my house, would anyone notice?
Cling to God
All I could do was cling to God and trust that he would lead me through the season of sorrow.
Twenty-five years have come and gone since that dreadful day. Now more than ever, I can attest to to faithfulness of God, the power of prayer and the importance of living in community with God’s people. That triumvirate will produce a victory of joy in spite of circumstances every time.
7 Caregiving Tips
If someone you know is widowed, here are 7 suggestions you can do to ease her pain and suffering.
1. Look for her. Smile at her. Talk with her. Don’t avoid her because you don’t know what to say, or you feel uneasy. Widows lose up to 75% of their relationships within a year. Push through the feeling of awkwardness.
2. Pray for her often. Ask her how she needs God to show up in her life:
- Parenting wisdom?
- Decision making?
- Grace for dealing with people?
- Pain relief?
3. Ask her to tell you about her dead husband. Weird, I know, but trust me, she wants to remember him and talking about him helps her process her grief. Not sure what to ask?
- Ask what he was like.
- What does she miss the most?
- How did they meet?
- What did he do for fun?
4. If you knew her spouse, tell her a story about him.
- What struck you about about his character?
- Tell her about a shared experience.
- A tale that makes her laugh.
- An account that confirms what a great guy he was.
5. Celebrate with her. You can’t replace romance, but you can fill in some gaps. Take her out for her birthday or her wedding anniversary. Send her cards or drop off flowers.
6. Make a note on your calendar to contact her on the 3, 6, & 12 month anniversary of her husband’s death. Let her know she isn’t forgotten.
7. Offer to assist her. She’s all alone now and quite likely overwhelmed.
- Can you offer a playdate for her littles or take her teens for a burger or movie?
- Could she use help with her yard, gutters, leaves, or snow removal?
- Is she interested in meals? Most widows lose their appetite and it’s hard to cook when you’re not hungry. Bring a meal, gift her with restaurant gift cards or inviter her over for a meal.
Great love is worthy of great sorrow.
It will take time to recover. You can’t fix her, but you can ease her pain.
Remember, you don’t have to do all these things, pick the ones that are easy for you. Whatever you do will make a big difference.
Can you think of other ways to minister to a widow?
Verse for today: When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. – Deuteronomy 24:19 NIV
Prayer: Oh Father, we thank you for your care and for your compassion. You have not forgotten us. Let us not forget those who are suffering loneliness and grief. Prompt us in ways to minister to the hurting and demonstrate your great love. In Jesus’ Name, amen.