"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling."
This is a blog about widows,
mothers and daughters,
facing change and challenges
and receiving ordinary, everyday blessings that don't seem quite so ordinary anymore.
It chronicles the journey from grief into the restoration of what has been lost.
*** I am no longer actively posting to this site, so please come visit me at my new site ***
http://www.jrrmblog.com/ - "Starting Over ... Again"
Friday, September 14, 2012
Morbid, you may think. All of us wallowing in our personal grief, having a collective pity party. No so! I find that when I need encouragement and hope, the best place to go is my fellow widows. We are a plucky bunch, tis true.
I came across a blog by someone who is definitely "Not Your Average Widow" - that's the name of her blog, BTW. Our military connection (both our husbands served in the armed forces) was what drew me first to the blog, then the fact that she is 3 years into her journey - not as new to this journey as I am, but someone to whom I can definitely relate.
Her post entitle "Project: Unleashed" caught my attention. And sparked something inside of me. I have been feeling many of the same things she speaks of in her post. So I am posting her link here:
Please feel free to check out this post, and her blog. :)
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Reaching Out to the Hurting
There she is, the newly widowed mom. Your heart hurts for her, but you don’t approach her. You just don’t know what to say. She looks your way and you pretend not to see her. You see intense grief in her eyes and you look away. You feel guilty and squeeze your husband’s hand. Seeing her awakens a fear that you have tried to keep buried—fear that something similar could happen to your family. It is natural for us to feel these emotions and pull away. It is difficult to know what to do and what to say to someone whose spouse has died. I have been on both sides of the situation and I implore you to let God expand your comfort zone and reach out.
Each individual’s grief is unique, yet every widow and widower is struggling to figure out how to function as half of a couple. One of the many intense emotions is feeling alone. Widows and widowers don’t want to be pitied. Instead they long for friends that are willing to encourage them on their journey.
Don’t avoid the widow or widower.
It communicates that no one cares. No matter the reason, we feel forgotten and abandoned.
Please pray and let the widow or widower know that you are praying.
Many, many times the prayers of my friends, as well as other Christians I have never met, have carried the girls and me through intensely emotional times. Knowing others were praying gave me the strength to keep breathing and continue putting one foot in front of the other.
Please reach out.
Many people often think family and friends have been reaching out to the grieving family, but fewer people are reaching out than you think, especially after the first three months as well as after the holidays are over. Don’t expect widows and widowers to seek you out. Grieving itself is intensely draining. We are also juggling work, helping children with their grief, legal and financial issues, and many other situations that we must face without our spouse. We have already felt family and friends pull away and we don’t risk being hurt again. You need to be the one to approach the widow or widower. What do you say? “We’ve been praying for you and the kids and I was wondering how you are really doing?” Then really listen. Or “I don’t know how you feel or what to say. But if it’s alright I’ll just sit here and let you know I care.”
Don’t be afraid you’ll make us cry.
Our tears don’t mean that you have hurt us. Our grief is our constant companion. Tears just mean our spouse was very special to us, and we miss them immensely. Let us feel it is okay to cry. Offer us a tissue, squeeze our hand, or put your hand on our shoulder. Better yet, weep with us.
Please speak our spouse’s name.
There is a special comfort to the girls and me when someone speaks Robby’s name, especially when they share a good memory or what they miss about him. Hearing my spouse’s name on the lips of others is like warm sunshine on a cold cloudy day; it’s soothing to the soul.
Don’t say “Call if you need anything.”
Often we don’t know exactly what we need and even if we do, it is very difficult to ask. Instead offer specific help. “I made a double batch of lasagna; I’ll bring it over around five.” and then include the recipe. “Could my son come mow your lawn or shovel your driveway?” “We are on the way to the park. Could your kids come with us? You could come along or enjoy some quiet time at home which ever you prefer.” “Could my husband and I come over and see how we could help you get the house ready for winter?” Sit by us during the choir concert or soccer practice, or at church. It is comforting to not sit alone.
Please keep your word.
Not keeping your word implies the same thing as avoiding us. Children are keenly aware of those who show they care, and those who don’t. Their whole world has turned upside down when a parent dies. Their security is shattered. Their trust is shaken. Their emotions are as tangled up as a ball of yarn. Show them they can count on you.
Don’t give advice unless asked.
Trust me, unsolicited advice is always in abundance for widows and widowers. Everyone else seems to know what to do about things we are unsure about. Our whole world has been turned upside down. We have had something happen that we did not have control over and are trying to listen to how God wants us to handle things. The more unwanted advise, the harder it is to discern God in it all.
Don’t judge our children.
As I said before, their emotions are a tangled mess. Sometimes their grief comes out as sadness, but often it is masked in anger, rudeness, depression, hyperactivity, or inattentiveness. Events you may consider normal in your everyday lives could be a grief trigger for our children. Again, don’t pity them. Be kinder than necessary yet lovingly firm.
Please share your spouse.
Let me clarify this. Don’t jump to conclusions or assumptions when a widow or widower talks to your spouse. We are used to hearing a different gender’s perspective on various issues. Letting us talk with your spouse in an appropriate setting is very helpful. I am very grateful to the ladies who have let me talk with their husband’s about lawyers and legal matters as well as landscaping and cars without jumping to the conclusion that I was a desperate woman trying to steal their husbands.
Special days like our wedding anniversary, anniversary of the death, birthdays (the missing spouse’s too) Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and holidays are especially difficult. A call, a small gift, a card, or email around these times is very meaningful. Before I was widowed, I thought after a year things were better. I now know that grief has no timetable. Like many widows and widowers, my first year was about survival, making it through all the “firsts” without my husband. The next year will be one of harsh realities that my husband will never be here again. I still have days when grief waves overwhelm me and my mind gets blanketed by fog.
Please continue being there.
We need to talk and share. We need friends who will listen without judgment and refresh us with their prayers and encouragement. We need friends who rally us to press on when we want to throw in the towel.
Monday, July 9, 2012
"Motivational speaker and coach Fleet, who was widowed at 40 and has since made numerous guest appearances on television and radio, offers a guide for women who have also experienced the loss of a partner at a young age. Fleet's presentation is frank and interspersed with bits of honest humor. The text is easy to read, with charts and tips sprinkled throughout. Fleet, with psychotherapist Harriet, provides information on how to organize details such as funeral arrangements, wills, social security, and insurance at a time when organization is the last thing a new widow may want to face. She discusses emotional, physical, and spiritual health and finishes by focusing on living the rest of your life. This is a book about hope, and women will want to read it and share it with others, regardless of marital status or age. An essential addition to every public library" - The Library Journal
"[The] author has created a wise and practical guide for young widows on how to recover, cope, heal, and find a fulfilling life." - Orange Coast Magazine
"Carole Brody Fleet offers advice and humor in the book,' Widows Wear Stilettos...' to help young widows cope with loss." - The Orange County Register
"A young widow holds out a helping hand to others who have lost their husbands" - The San Diego Union-Tribune
My biggest "take away" from reading this book was to remember that there are many "armchair quarterbacks" out there that have lots of advice - but you need to trust your own instincts and your heart. Grief is a tricky emotion and only YOU can (and should) make the choices about what's best for you. And it gives you practical tips about dealing with some common problems associated with navigating this time of grief. Let me know what you think about the book! :)
Here is Carol's blog as well: Widows Wear Stilettos blog