Monday, February 11, 2019

Dealing with Valentine's Day Loneliness

Dealing with Valentine's Day

 Valentine's Day countdown has begun. About 110 million roses will be sold, and more than 58 million pounds of chocolate will fatten women's hips. Other women's...sadly. I understand. I've been widowed too. My first husband, Bruce, died instantly of a brain aneurism on Feb. 15, 2000 --the day between the big V and my birthday.

 It doesn't hurt like it used to, although I wanted it to hurt always. I never wanted to forget, but the years have drawn a shade over the grief and lifted the weight. I don't know if that will give you some hope today, but hope is a precious commodity so I want to give it out to as many as will accept it. Contrary to popular quotes and memes, Grief does not last forever. But I've been blogging and reaching out to widows since 2010 so I know it can feel like forever when you're in the middle of it. Suffocating at times. 

If you feel on the verge of getting pulled into the vicious vortex of Valentine's Day loneliness, here are some ideas I've collected over the years from other widows. You might be able to transform it by thinking ahead and using these ideas to do something different. If you want to pretend the day doesn't exist and not acknowledge it at all, that's okay too. I often find that people deal with sorrow in two different ways: 
  • remember/memorialize it
  • or choose to leave it alone. It's in the past, its been dealt with, and its time for the next chapter.
Depending on your background and personality, both of these methods can work. There's a third way too---have a pity party, but that won't get us anywhere.

If you'd like to memorialize the day or give yourself something to look forward to, here are a variety of things that might be meaningful for you: 
  • Visit the cemetery and leave a message of candy conversation hearts to melt into the snow
  • Tie a home-made Valentine to a helium balloon and let it fly away to heaven
  • Collect old Valentines and love letters and put them together in a decorative memory box keepsake.
  • Create a collage of photos and frame it to hang on a wall or stand on your dresser.
  • Buy a package or two of school Valentine cards. Send them to your own children, nieces & nephews or other family members. Write a little love note on them.
  • Or send Valentines to various groups--nursing homes, children's hospital wards, missionary kids you pray for, your childrens' ministry leaders, your Bible study group or group leaders . . .
  • Offer to babysit for a married couple so they can enjoy a romantic evening out. Prepare a lot of fun things to do with the kids so you don't end up bored and feeling sorry for yourself.
  • Invite other widows over for tea or coffee and snacks, or a carry-in lunch or supper. Give them an opportunity to share their stories and send them home with a love verse from the Bible.
  • Do something nice for yourself: sign up for a class about anything you're interested in--from Acrobatics to Zebra farming; join a church or community group; get a library card and use it; rent a musical instrument or buy an Irish whistle (I'm having so much fun learning to play mine!); volunteer or find a part-time job...
--hey, I'm getting carried away here, but you get the idea. Plan some 
fun
and show yourself some love and kindness.

If, on the other hand, you just want to forget the day that's OK too. At least your pants will still fit without that 58 million pounds of chocolate.

Do you have some new ideas to share about dealing with Valentine's Day? Please comment today. I love to read everything that comes in and will post it asap. Other widows love reading your comments too and find them a big help.

 ferree
 
P.S. Have you ordered your copy of Postcards from the Widows' Path yet for yourself or a friend? Take advantage of a 20% off sale if you order here in my bookstore. (Not on Amazon!) Thanks!

Monday, January 28, 2019

What's Your Love Story?

Even the saddest things can become, once we have made peace with them, a source of wisdom and strength for the journey that still lies ahead.

(Frederick Buechner, from the book "A Grace Disguised," by Jerry Sittser, pg. 92)


Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Would you like to share some memories? Your words can become wisdom and strength for the journey so many others have ahead of them. . . 

When I have some widow friends over for the afternoon next week we'll do the same thing, only in-person. I wish you could come too! 
Click here for the original post, You'll see what I mean and you'll just love hearing other's brief stories.

Here are the questions I'll use with my group. They'll choose one or two favorites to talk about. (Feel free to copy for your group!) For now though, I'd love to hear about your answers. 
*What's your love story?*
  • When did you and your husband first meet?
  • Where did you go for your first date?
  • At what moment did you "know" you wanted to spend the rest of your life with him? 
  • Did you fall in love or gradually grow in love? 
  • How did he propose? Did you say "yes" right away?
  • How long were you married?
Sometimes though, reminiscing can be difficult. On some days memories are too painful--and that's nothing to be ashamed of--they just are. Don't worry about it. Don't force yourself to remember, and don't "command" yourself to never remember again. There will come a time down the road they won't sting so much and will prove helpful and healing. Be patient.

For some people there are times when it's impossible to recall any good memories. This is frustrating and disconcerting! You know your life wasn't that bad; you know there were good times but you just don't remember them and it's a guilty and crazy feeling all rolled into one. I.Have.Been.There.

I was re-assured a little bit by hearing that it's a part of grief. People aren't perfect so when we are grieving we grieve over the whole person we miss so much--the good and the not-so-good, happy and not-so-happy, and what was and what-could-have-been. For me, I could not recall even one nice thing my dear husband ever did for me. I knew there were many things but my brain was just empty!

I finally prayed about it and asked God for some relief. A few days later I asked one of my daughters to bring me a little glass of water. When I took the glass in my hand it was like a key unlocked a flood of memories starting with the many times Bruce had also given me a glass of water. It was a gracious relief and unburdening. I will be praying that God will do the same for those of you who need that too.

*Please go ahead and post your memories in a comment at the bottom of the blog today or email them to me at wcplace@gmail.com
If I get enough I'll post them here for everyone to love and enjoy during the week of Valentine's Day. ❤

Monday, January 21, 2019

Dealing With the Loneliness of Widowhood


Do you find yourself with a lot of "alone" time now? A widow once told me that it wasn’t being alone that bothered her; she was used to that because her husband had travelled a lot for work. “I’m OK with being alone, but being lonely really hurts.”

Many widows will attest that loneliness is one of their hardest problems. It’s pervasive. Like a weed it fills the cracks and chips in our broken hearts with an ache that keeps coming back. God himself declares that it’s not good (Genesis 2:18), yet people die and their loved ones have to live alone. How do we adjust? How can we be alone but not lonely?

Here are some tips and ideas that can aid us like steps on a path.

BE AROUND PEOPLE. When it feels like the walls of the house are closing in it’s time to get out and be around other people. Go for a walk at a mall or farmers market. Sit at a McDonald’s or Starbucks with a coffee and a magazine or newspaper. Simply being around people is good. Visit a friend or relative and pitch in to help with cleaning or cooking. The sounds of everyday life like dishes clattering in the sink, a tea kettle whistling and children running up and down stairs are sweet to a lonely person.

STAY WARM. If you have a fireplace, the warm blazes from it can ward off both a cold night and the icy grip of loneliness. Drink a cup of hot cocoa or chamomile tea. The University of Toronto reported a connection between loneliness and feeling physically cold. Warmth helps.

STICK TO FAMILIAR ROUTINES. Routines provide structure for our day and help us know what to do next. Life isn’t so overwhelming and lonely when routines keep a semblance of order and control. In the evening prepare for the next day—lay out what to wear, plan meals, and check for appointments and chores. After that work on handcrafts, sewing or puzzles to pass the time, relax, unwind and get sleepy.      

READ. The well-known author, C.S. Lewis, once said, “We read to know that we are not alone.” I don’t know if he said that before or after his wife died but he certainly knew the loneliness of widowhood. Reading is another good night-time routine and hobby. It’s informative and relaxing. Stories of real people, other lands, history, nature, travel can perk up our interest in life once again and ease pangs of loneliness.

HELP OTHERS.  In Chera, a Christian magazine for widowed people, widower Bill Lake wrote about how he dealt with loneliness: “I had to remind myself that idleness is not God’s will for a person. I am not talking about activity for activity sake. But as I exercised my spiritual gifts in serving others, I began to leave loneliness behind.”

LEARN FROM BEING ALONE. One widow told me this: “For me, it has been important that I not miss what God is teaching me through this journey. It seems as though He has deliberately taken me into the wilderness to teach me more about Him. I tend to “forget” God when I have people to take away my loneliness…”

Making peace with loneliness means finding new ways to be around people, staying warm, employing healthy routines, reading, helping people and learning what God intends. It’s a journey, not a race. Each little step you take will leave the lonely path further and further behind. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Widow's Journey Retreat March 1 - 3 I hope you can come!

Last year I got to meet Sandra and her mother. Her mom wasn't
a widow but several widows, like Sandra, brought along a dear
friend or relative for company. They are welcome to attend!
I often hear widows talk about how much they want to get together and here's a fantastic chance to do it. 😄 Click here for the info about it.
It will be at Sandy Cove Ministry Center in North East, Maryland. Costs are based on the number of people in your room. If you want to stay with other women to reduce your cost I think you can call in and ask.
Once you register, please email me at wcplace@gmail.com so I can be sure I get to meet you.
💗 ferree
A "Naomi" group from Pennsylvania started by using my
book, Postcards from the Widows' Path. Their leader, Denise, is
in the front in the blue print shirt and I'm right behind her.
Over 150 women from all over the country attended.
Sweet memories!





Wednesday, January 2, 2019

A Great Help for Widows--Bible Reading Plans for the New Year

The very best thing a widow can do to help herself is to read and meditate on God's Word every day.
Why? Because it is food for your soul and just like good nutrition it will help you heal and be restored.

Daily devotionals based on Scripture are a good place to start. Visit a nearby Christian bookstore to look at all the selections. Your church might have free booklets with devotions for each day of the month. An excellent resource for devotionals for grieving people is to sign up at GriefShare.org --they're delivered to your email every day and they are free. Specifically for widows, please visit my friends at A Widows Might.org for their beautiful and heart touching ministry.

If you want a deeper look into God's Word as a whole, though, consider a Bible reading plan. You'll get a grasp of the whole world of the Bible plus the sense of accomplishment as you check off the chapters and books you've read.

In addition to the reading, I like to keep a small notebook. Every day I jot down my "ABC's" --
  • A is a title of what I just read. I make one up and you can too, no expertise is necessary :)
  • B is the best verse that stands out to me personally that day. 
  • C is a command to follow or a comfort to claim. 
I love this simple but profound little outline and one of the best blessings of it is to look back and notice the many ways God actually guides and directs me when I apply what I've read!

There are many yearly Bible reading plans to choose from--just Google your favorite ministry site and they will probably have some.

The selection might be too overwhelming if you're dealing with widow fog though so I've created my own Bible reading plan just for widows.

Here's the beauty of my Bible reading plan:
  • You can start it at any point during the year. 
  • You'll read the entire New Testament and corresponding Psalms, plus Proverbs and Ruth. 
  • Each season you'll read a gospel: winter--Matthew, spring--John, summer--Mark, Christmas--Luke.
  • The first day of every month (except February)a section of the longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119 will encourage and remind you of how great and effective God's Word is for daily life.
  • And last but not least, an * marks chapters that contain the word "widow."
It took me a couple years to do this and test it out on myself! And then a friend who's a graphic designer helped me format it and set it up here so all you have to do is click on the pages in the sidebar ---> and print them off. (If you don't have a printer send me a self-addressed, stamped envelope and I'll mail you one: Ferree Hardy, PO Box 5024, Florence, SC 29502).
No matter whether you choose to go with a devotional or try a Bible reading plan, the important thing is to start today. Do it in the morning, before bedtime, after a meal or as many times a day or week as you want! Just Do It! You'll be so glad you did! And if you miss a day? Just pick it back up, don't try to catch up. God will meet you where you are.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Are You Facing A Lonely New Year?


Do you find yourself with a lot of "alone" time now? A widow once told me that it wasn’t being alone that bothered her; she was used to that because her husband had travelled a lot for work. “I’m OK with being alone, but being lonely really hurts.”

Many widows will attest that loneliness is one of their hardest problems. It’s pervasive. Like a weed it fills the cracks and chips in our broken hearts with an ache that keeps coming back. God himself declares that it’s not good (Genesis 2:18), yet people die and their loved ones have to live alone. How do we adjust? How can we be alone but not lonely?

Here are some tips and ideas that can aid us like steps on a path.

BE AROUND PEOPLE. When it feels like the walls of the house are closing in it’s time to get out and be around other people. Go for a walk at a mall or farmers market. Sit at a McDonald’s or Starbucks with a coffee and a magazine or newspaper. Simply being around people is good. Visit a friend or relative and pitch in to help with cleaning or cooking. The sounds of everyday life like dishes clattering in the sink, a tea kettle whistling and children running up and down stairs are sweet to a lonely person.

STAY WARM. If you have a fireplace, the warm blazes from it can ward off both a cold night and the icy grip of loneliness. Drink a cup of hot cocoa or chamomile tea. The University of Toronto reported a connection between loneliness and feeling physically cold. Warmth helps.

STICK TO FAMILIAR ROUTINES. Routines provide structure for our day and help us know what to do next. Life isn’t so overwhelming and lonely when routines keep a semblance of order and control. In the evening prepare for the next day—lay out what to wear, plan meals, and check for appointments and chores. After that work on handcrafts, sewing or puzzles to pass the time, relax, unwind and get sleepy.      

READ. The well-known author, C.S. Lewis, once said, “We read to know that we are not alone.” I don’t know if he said that before or after his wife died but he certainly knew the loneliness of widowhood. Reading is another good night-time routine and hobby. It’s informative and relaxing. Stories of real people, other lands, history, nature, travel can perk up our interest in life once again and ease pangs of loneliness.

HELP OTHERS.  In Chera, a Christian magazine for widowed people, widower Bill Lake wrote about how he dealt with loneliness: “I had to remind myself that idleness is not God’s will for a person. I am not talking about activity for activity sake. But as I exercised my spiritual gifts in serving others, I began to leave loneliness behind.”

LEARN FROM BEING ALONE. One widow told me this: “For me, it has been important that I not miss what God is teaching me through this journey. It seems as though He has deliberately taken me into the wilderness to teach me more about Him. I tend to “forget” God when I have people to take away my loneliness…”

Making peace with loneliness means finding new ways to be around people, staying warm, employing healthy routines, reading, helping people and learning what God intends. It’s a journey, not a race. Each little step you take will leave the lonely path further and further behind.