Understanding the Widow You Know and Love
- Family members, friends, and the church play a vital role in a widow’s life.
- The widow’s world has turned upside down by the loss of her husband. His death also results in the loss of hopes and dreams for the future.
- A widow is faced with having to create a new identity for herself – she cannot go back to being the same person she was before.
- Grief induced stress may cause personality changes such as anger, negativism, complaining, and other difficult expressions. Be assured, these changes will pass with time. Your proactive unconditional love, and involvement in her daily life, will help the process along.
- Widows are often lost in the moment and unable to acknowledge all that is happening around them. She may be unable to say “thank you” or give positive feedback in the moment – don’t let this discourage you. Continue to reach out to her.
- The widow does not need to be “fixed” – she needs to be loved right where she is.
- Remember the widow’s family members have also suffered loss. Each person grieves differently. This may affect how they relate and respond to the widow they love.
- Widows typically lose 75% of their closest friends within one year of their husband’s death. It is critical to help her connect with others who truly understand what she is experiencing.
- It’s very difficult for a widow to ask for help on her own – be her advocate.
- Be patient with her – widows describe themselves as “living in a fog” – this may last for several years. There are no quick fixes for grief.
- The widow’s family and friends are often unable to provide the help she needs – don’t be afraid to seek outside help.
The Role of the Church
- The positive impact the church can have on the life of a widow cannot be overstated. Likewise, failure of the church to help will multiply her pain and leave lasting scars.
- The church should work in concert with the widow’s family and existing support network – giving precedence to the family, unless it is determined that her needs aren’t being met. If this happens, the church should clearly communicate her needs to the family, and invite them to be part of the helping process.
- Church friends should make an extra effort to stay in touch with her, and spend time with her. Invitations should continue indefinitely, even if she has turned them down in the past.
- It is often difficult for a widow to go to church alone – friends should invite her to attend with them.
- Frequent and on-going phone calls and periodic visits will demonstrate the church’s long-term commitment to her.
- Providing meals for an extended period of time is a great help. Be sure to ask for her preference – she may prefer to be invited to eat with others rather than have meals delivered for her to eat alone.
- The church’s Care Ministry is a perfect way to designate people to help.
- Many widows have expressed that it is especially helpful to have men be part of their support team. A man should always act as part of a team and not alone. Often, couples are an excellent option to offer help.
- The role of helpers will vary depending on the widow’s wants and needs. Most often, a listening ear, or not having to eat a meal alone, is all that is desired.
She may be unable to say “thank you” or give positive feedback in the moment.