How to Talk to a Widow

Well now, there’s a title for you to ponder.

What prompted this? Pastor Scott’s message November 2, Orphan Sunday, was, “What Pleases God?” James 1:22-27. In a nutshell, we were reminded not to only listen to/read the Word, but to do what it says. Put some action verbs to work in our lives.

Verse 27 specifically says to “…look after orphans and widows in their distress…” From personal experience, I thought I would write some suggestions on how to help widows. Keep in mind, this is one widow’s opinion and suggestions; situations, grief cycles and styles may vary greatly.

“You’re in my prayers.” Please say this with upmost sincerity and not as a filler for an awkward moment. I know, without a doubt, that faithful prayer warriors carried my sons and me through many difficult and dark days. Please continue to pray for the days, holidays and anniversaries after the funeral is over. One of my saddest moments was the day after the funeral, when I realized everyone’s life was returning to their normal and our house had no normal to fall back into.

“Call if you need anything.” I have said it myself and meant it. However, chances are, the widow doesn’t even know what she needs or if she does, she won’t want to “bother” anyone with her problems. I suggest trying to be more proactive. You follow-up with a visit, call or text suggesting help: Would you like to take a walk? Can I help with thank you notes? Would you like to go with me Christmas shopping? Do you need help putting the tree up? Is your lawn mower ready for spring? Think about what season is approaching and what activities/chores you find yourself needing some help with. Chances are a widow is overwhelmed by similar needs.

Encourage! For me, more than sympathetic looks, I needed encouragement. Encouragement to go places when I felt more like hiding away. Encouragement that I was strong enough to continue raising two boys when I wasn’t sure what I even wanted to eat for breakfast. Some “atta girls” along the way from people as I found full-time employment, went on long walks, traded for a different vehicle, and started making other changes for myself and my sons.

Give the gift of laughter. This is one area I may be really “different” in; or just plain crazy. However, I needed to laugh more and cry less. I would often feel guilty for laughing, as though maybe it was disrespectful. I pictured it like in the older days when women wore black hats/veils and clothing during a mourning period and maybe I was showing up in a hot pink hat. Or, do you remember the scene in Gone with the Wind when Scarlett, in her mourning clothes, can’t stop her foot from tapping to the music? Throughout my husband’s illness, we often coped by laughing and making (bad) jokes that I am quite certain other people didn’t understand. Still, I would suggest inviting a widow to see a comedy or some fun event. Send a funny “Coping” or “Thinking of You” card in the months that follow a loss. Maybe there should be a Top Ten List for uses of casseroles or flowers? For me, I knew I was going to be okay when I could laugh.

Love them. Do something with love and no strings. You can’t fill every void, but knowing people care is HUGE in a widow’s life (and their children’s). It truly makes you feel less alone. It’s a little like putting a Winnie-the-Pooh Band-Aid on a wound. The scar is inevitable, but the love in the action of acknowledging and doing something aids in the healing process.

Pastor Scott quoted the John Bunyan quote below. I encourage you to apply it today!

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