Now that I’ve become a widow, I find myself asking lots of questions of those in my same shoes. I want to know if the things I feel and the things I am experiencing are unique to me or just part of what comes with this new position. I’ve always been one who has wanted to understand how things work, thus the questions. So far, I’d have to say I am a textbook widow! About the only thing I see different among us is the timing of the different emotions that arise. For some, they come quickly after the spouse’s death. For others, it’s later down the line.
Before widowhood, I didn’t think that much about it. I didn’t take time to visit or help someone who suddenly found themselves alone. But let me tell you, there is nothing like walking in someone else’s shoes to quickly change your perspective! During these past 10 months, I’ve realized we just don’t know what to do with widows. It’s not that we don’t want to help, we just simply don’t know what to do and many times, what to say.
One of my goals for this blog is to share the lessons God is teaching me with the hopes of teaching you, my readers. God has placed a burden for widows on my heart. Actually, when I think back over the last 10 years or so, I guess God has been prepping me for this. Although I said in the paragraph above that I didn’t think about widows much, maybe I did more than I realized. Many of my friends over the years have been widowed or at least single. Les was always comfortable with that and many times we would include them in things we did. It never felt odd. For the 5 or 6 years before Les got sick, we hosted a Valentine’s dinner (on Valentine’s Day) for as many as 10 or 12 women who didn’t have a valentine with whom to spend the evening. It was always so much fun for us. As I think about all that, I see God’s hand at work in my life. He knew this time was coming for me. Isn’t that just like God!?
Maybe you’d like to do something for that widow down the street from you but you just don’t know what to do. Perhaps you did tell him/her to call you if there’s something they need. They appreciate that offer, but most likely they will not call you. Why? Because just like you, they don’t like to ask for help. That’s just pride, you say. Yes, you are right. And that’s not how any of us, widowed or not, should live, but we all do, don’t we? So what we have could be called a “stand-off.” It’s a difficult situation for both parties. How do we deal with that? Well, if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to share a few practical ideas with you, things I’ve gleaned from my conversations with fellow widows.
The #1 desire for someone who lives alone is companionship. Most of the women I have talked with have expressed a longing for people to just stop by for a visit. Maybe you could simply take a few minutes and visit with them. Your visit would be a bright spot in their day.
You can probably figure that if your gutters need cleaning, theirs do too. Now that fall is quickly coming, there will be plenty of leaves to rake up. Or how about taking off their trash along with yours (for those who live in the county without trash pickup) or push their trash can to the street for pickup. That wouldn’t take too much extra time and would be a huge help. If the person is older or perhaps house-bound, offer to pick up some groceries while you are shopping for your family. Being widowed doesn’t change the chores that have to be done. It just doubles up the work on the person. You can be a blessing and also receive a blessing by reaching out and helping your “neighbor.”
Eating alone is never much fun. Maybe you could invite them over to share a meal with your family. It doesn’t have to be a 4-course dinner on the good china. Whatever you are having, even if served on a paper plate, will be delightful to them. It’s not about the food. It’s the fellowship.
One way I am reaching out is by making phone calls. I have a list of people that I contact to let them know someone is thinking about them. Many times, I have to leave a message, but that’s okay. They know someone took the time to call.
Hopefully, these ideas will be useful for you and will trigger other ideas for helping someone. Our lives are busy, too busy really, but it is in serving others we can find great joy. Why not make it a point to find a way to serve someone who’s alone this coming week. You will be glad you did.
Lots of love, Sharon