Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Widows Stories: Holiday Plans & Unexpected Hugs

The first year of widowhood is strewn with many special days besides Thanksgiving and Christmas. Your husband's absence is sorely missed on birthdays--yours, his, and the childrens'. Of course you'll miss him on your wedding, engagement, or day-you-first-met anniversary . . . In fact, any holiday could be significant, but Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Memorial Day can be especially loaded.

Am I depressing you enough already? It's hard to look at a whole year full of tough days coming at you. Like my kids say, It sucks.

But if you think ahead and prepare a little, the holidays won't be as bad as you're afraid they could be. In fact, they can surprise you with precious moments and priceless memories.

1. Give yourself something to look forward to for Thanksgiving Day
  • Take a trip out of town to visit relatives or friends.
  • Try something totally different like spending the day volunteering at a homeless shelter.
  • Instead of cooking like a maniac, make reservations at a restaurant that serves on the holiday. Then go to a movie to pass the rest of the afternoon or evening.
  • If you've never tried the Black Friday shopping mania, buy a Thanksgiving Day newspaper and map out the stores and bargains you'll find. Go to bed early, set your alarm for 3 or 4 a.m., set your budget, too, then start your engine, fire up that crazy glint in your eye, and yell "CHARGE!"
2. Give yourself an escape plan
  • You're at Aunt Minnie's and feel like you'll suffocate or explode? This will be easier if before you go, talk to Aunt Minnie and say something like, "If I disappear for a few minutes, please don't worry about me. I get these little grief storms and I might slip into the bedroom or take a little walk. I'll be back shortly and I'll be OK." If Aunt Minnie disagrees with you and says you have nothing to cry about, then you'll know maybe you shouldn't even go to her house. But chances are Aunt Minnie will be your bodyguard and valient defender if you let her in on the plan.
  • For other situations, like a restaurant, movie theater or shopping, you can just walk out. But you can also slip into the restroom first, think about what's best for all involved if you've got children, family or friends with you, and pray. Then you can leave, but you might be glad you stayed. In any case, you've given yourself the ability to make a choice and do what's best for you.
  • Be your own best friend. Take a look at yourself and ask, "What does this girlfriend need right now?" Then remember this: "My God shall supply all your needs . . ." Philippians 4:19, and set out to find what God has supplied. Don't hesitate to call in the troops, ask for help, or invite yourself over to someone's. Unbelievable as it might sound, people think you've got it all together and that you don't need them. Cash in on all the "If there's anything I can do" offers you've received. 
3. Be open to "A Hug From Above." Here are two examples:
  • The second Christmas after my husband died there was a rather large box under the tree and it had my name on it. I had no idea what could be inside, or who it was from. Finally, Christmas Day came and I opened it to find that my daughter Lisa had bought me the lovliest, softest, most huggable teddy bear on the planet! It was large enough for me to hold--its arms around my neck, feet around my middle as I held one arm under its bottom and my other arm across its back. Oh, that teddy bear felt sooo good! But you know what Lisa had written on the label? "A Hug from Above." Whether she meant it as a hug from her dad or from God, it was a deep and wonderful expression of love. I still give that teddy bear a good smoosh every once in a while!
  • The first anniversary of her husband's death, which also happened to be the birthday of her youngest son, a young widow received a different sort of "Hug from Above." She told me about it shortly afterwards:   
After we said our supper prayer on Steven's birthday and were about to eat, I know we were all thinking about Tim not being here. The radio was quietly playing, and just then the song I Will Rise by Chris Tomlin began. I noticed it at the eagle part. Eagles were Tim's favorite collectibles (bald eagles) and also the verse from Isaiah 40:31.
. . . but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
So, true-- he will rise and so will we. This has been a comfort the last few weeks."

That song didn't "just happen" to play on the radio! That was no coincidence, that's what I mean by a hug from above! (Scroll down to the next post to hear the song).

"A Hug From Above" is any sort of coincidence that's got God's fingerprints all over it. That this young widow and her sons were together having supper--and at the very moment they would miss their Tim the most--a Christian song plays on the radio that clearly portrays the eagle and the verse Tim so closely associated with--that's God. He's the one Who inspired the artist who sang the song. He's the one Who timed that song to intersect this widow's heart at the perfect moment of a very hard day.

It's wise to see these days coming on the calendar. Try to prepare for them by giving yourself something to look forward to, keep in mind an escape plan, be your own best friend, but most also, anticipate A Hug from Above. 
Your Heavenly Father has not abandoned you. He loves you and holds you close. 
Send in your ideas for dealing with the holidays, and your Hugs From Above to encourage other widows.


  1. It has happened so many times. The right song or a
    phone call just when you need it. I have had two hugs from above related to the medical helicopter as well. On the night of the 1st anniversary of the accident, we were just before the site driving home and the medical helicopter flew right over the site. A second time was in September when we were going to go our first family picture taken without
    Tim. As we were heading out of town, the helicopter flew over, too. If
    one pays attention to the little things, God shows us His presence.

  2. It is amazing to me that God is so concerned with each one of us that He will arrange for a song or a sermon that gives us exactly what we need when we need it. My favorite thing to say to my boys is, "Wow, God was all over it today!" Sometimes it even works the other way - instead of giving ME a message, He puts me in situations where I can give a message to someone else, and it doesn't even have to be spiritual in nature. Our God is an awesome God.

  3. It's pretty amazing, too, how God puts people together on the Internet. . . Just the right word, at just the right time . . . The Lord is faithful and loving. Emmanuel--Our God Is With Us!


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