Thursday, October 6, 2011

Top 10 Tips for New Widows

If you were my sister, my mother, or a dear friend and your husband had just died, here are the ten things I'd tell you to successfully navigate the waters of widowhood.

1. Trust God. Easier said than done, I know. But just do it, one step, one breath at a time.

2. Trust yourself--for the most part. Don't let others make decisions for you like what to do with his clothing, when to change your pillowcases, etc. You can do this. God knows you can. On the other hand, realize that this huge jolt in your life can put you in a spin and make some irrational actions seem perfectly logical--now's not the time to start an affair, make large donations or rush into plastic surgery. "Don’t make a decision in a storm that you wouldn’t make in calm weather". ~Max Lucado

3. Breathe, cry, walk. Kind of reminds you of Eat, Pray, Love doesn't it? But I wouldn't advise any of those yet. They'll happen on their own. Breathing, crying, and walking are what you simply must do.

4. Don't worry about sleep. It'll happen sooner or later.

5. Take care of your kids and/or grandkids. They just lost their father and/or grandfather; they don't need to lose their mom or grandma, too.

6. Read these 2 books right away. First, read Grieving: Our Path Back to Peace by James R. White. This is a short book that describes the patterns of grief and God's part in it, so you know you're not going crazy. Then read Miriam Neff's From One Widow to Another for some practical tools in dealing with widowhood.

7. Find your board of directors as mentioned in Miriam Neff's book. Use these people, call on them frequently to help with your many decisions and new way of life. Don't worry about payback, you'll do the same for someone else someday.

8. Get counselling. Attend a GriefShare group, join a Widow's Walk conference calling group, find a local grief or widows support group like Widow2Widow, or see a professional Christian counsellor. See the Christian Websites for Widows tab at the top of this blog.

9. Give this chapter of life to God. This problem is really His problem anyway. Widowed author, Sandra Aldrich, decided to "tithe" her years of life like she tithed her financial giving. This gave her great freedom in the use of her time and in setting priorities.

10. Rest. It's OK to do nothing at times. Grief is physically exhausting. Lighten up and give yourself time to recover. Schedule a check up with your doctor, allow yourself some breaks, and don't feel guilty about laughter or feeling happy again. Don't feel guilty about feeling sad, either. I love the example authors Ron Marasco and Brian Shuff offer. In their (secular) book, About Grief, they write, "Truth be told, as long as mom is not boarded up in her room with a bottle of Jack Daniel's and an Uzi, the situation may not need immediate intervention." 

11. Oops, I just have to add one more. Give yourself something fun to look forward to. For example, my best friend/cousin, Gwen, couldn't come to the funeral, but she scheduled herself to fly out to visit me a month after the funeral. I really looked forward to her coming! After she left, a trip to San Francisco to visit my daughter went on the calendar, plus lunches with various friends, everyday walks with my friend Laura, long-distance phone calls, pedicures, long drives (because I love to drive) . . . all sorts of activities I enjoyed gave me things to look forward to and helped me endure those down days when the house was one person too empty.

I'd love to hear your tips for widows! Email them to or enter them in the comment line. Thank so much,


  1. Great device here. I still,11 months after the fact,feel like I need to give myself time. a friend gave me the best advice,Be gentle on yourself.

  2. These are great tips, Ferree. Thank you. I, too, love to drive and make myself get out of my house almost every day just to drive. Most of the time I have no destination, but it feels good just to get out for a little while.

  3. Good tips. It's almost 4 months for me. Friends keep telling me "Take care of YOU". I'm trying.

  4. Two and a half years into my grief journey has taught me so much! Most importantly the Faithfulness of our God and the importance of supportive family and friends. All of this is wonderful advice, Ferree! Your blog would have been so helpful, especially during the early days and months of fresh grief! Besides my one on one time with the Lord, I think enjoying the pleasant distractions provided by my loved ones were the most helpful, especially the antics of my grandchildren! Writing has also become such a blessing as I have shared my journal through my blog. Thank you for your beautiful ministry and your message of Hope!

  5. So good to hear from each one of you and to see how God tailors our comfort to each of our unique personalities and situations.
    Thanks for sharing! :)

  6. I wish I would have seen this list 10 months ago. I still regret that I gave things away right away because that is what I was told to do. Thank you for being a resource for us! -Jenn,

  7. The best advice I've ever read for someone in grief. Thank you, Ferree for sharing your heart as well as your knowledge.

  8. My sweet husband passed away a week ago. Today is the 17 yr. anniv. of our first meeting. Our two dogs and I are grieving. It is a blessing to have found this site and advice in the very early hours of a tuff night. Thank you!!

  9. Dear Gayle, how well I remember those sleepless nights. I'm so sorry for your loss, and I hope you'll find many good helps here. It's not easy, but it is full of grace and God's faithful love. May the Lord sustain and comfort you. Matthew 5:4


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