Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Widow's First Thanksgiving

Today I'd like to introduce you to Elaine Cook, of Widow2Widow, and the story of her first Thanksgiving as a widow and what she learned. I look forward to getting to know Elaine more and more in the future, and sharing her amazing story with you.

     When my husband died, that first Thanksgiving was more difficult than I could have imagined. My son and I were completely alone in Nashville, TN. Although we had new friends who have since become like family, that first year was something I never had felt before---lonely!
      On Thanksgiving Day I took my son, Tyler, to spend the day with friends. I had every intention of going back home, crawling into bed and forgetting about the world. I didn’t want to feel anything.
      But I was in the beginning phases of starting up a widows ministry and a young widow whose husband was killed in May of that year called as I was heading home. She was having a very difficult time, as was her son, Austin, and they were visiting with her in-laws. Could I come over and join them? I told Letty that I really just needed to go on home and that we could talk later-- but then I felt that tug on my heart (yes, from God). I needed to make that visit. So, I found myself going over to her in-laws house; each one of them were broken-hearted. Not only were a young wife and child left behind, but also there were siblings and parents who were having just as difficult of a time trying to grasp the loss at their table and in their hearts.
      That first Thanksgiving every shred of any tradition flew out the window. The pain that I was in was unbearable; and yet, being around others who needed to share their grief and loss was one of the first steps of healing. As the widows ministry began to grow, so did my heart in caring for others. Oh, how I want to be there now to help others get through these times!
     I share these things with you because the Lord wants you to know that He is there, embracing you with His guidance, His love, and His desire to help you through this difficult time. He will place certain people at just the right moment to bring you peace, even if for a brief period of time. He will make His presence known to you.
     However, if you remain closed off to avoid the pain and anguish, you might not allow yourself to feel His grace upon you, either. Sometimes it is easier to crawl back in bed and pull the covers over our heads and not “deal” with anything. But, I know from experience, if you will get up, get dressed and open your heart to allow God’s presence to come to you, then you will know peace and perhaps even experience joy……Even if only for a moment-- that moment will be worth getting out of bed.
     Happiness is based on circumstances, but joy is a gift from God. You can find joy in the midst of all that is going on.
     Blessings to each of you, and please---if you feel that you cannot get out of bed today or tomorrow, call someone who is an encouragement to you. Contact me through Widow2Widow if you like. I will be honored to respond in any way that God directs.   ---Elaine
Today I'm going to remember the widows who were such good examples and role models for me: Eleanor Rohler, Ruth Lehman, Jeanine Tusek, Dottie Mack and Nancy Myers. I would have lost all hope if I hadn't seen with my own eyes that they lived on and lived life to the full after their losses. I'm also grateful for the many widows who seemed to come out of nowhere---it seemed every time I called a school, a doctor's office, a landscaper, etc--- and had to mention I was widowed there was a widow on the other end of the phone: I was not alone! I am still thankful they told me. I'm thankful for this secret bond and fellowship we share. 


  1. I lost my Ben on June 15, 2011 so this is my first Thanksgiving without him. I was invited to his nephew's for the holiday but I declined because I just am not ready yet to go to a big family dinner (especially Ben's family) without my sweet man. Ben was always the life of the party. I would be so lonely without him there. About 4 months after Ben died, I adopted a shelter dog (Hiker). She and I will spend our Thanksgiving Day together. She is now my family.


  2. I lost my husband on June 2, 2011 and am spending T-day with my little dog Izzy. For the same reason as Kay,I really don't want to be around a large group of people. I picked up some prepared turkey and fixing's today and also went to the movie rental, coming home with 5 movies just to take my mind off things if it gets a little rough. Just watched story of Jane Austin tonight.

  3. I lost my husband April 24, 2014 and all my family lives up North. I just found out that my "annual Thanksgiving visit up North" will not take place because everyone has other plans. I have no friends here so what do I do? I dread the holidays. I had plans to go up North for both Thanksgiving and Christmas but everyone has other plans that don't include me.

  4. I'm so sorry to hear this dear Anonymous! Your family sure made their plans earlier than I have! I wish they would have thought to include you. Don't give up though; keep the communication and the dates open because they might adjust things once they realize what they've done. In the meantime, you have time to plan ahead for what you will do. is a good site to visit and find a group near you that you can begin attending. They have some good material on Surviving the Holidays which will be a big help. In their bookstore buy a copy of "The Empty Chair--Handling Grief on Holidays and Special Ocassions." Also join one of my Lifeboat groups (see line at the top of the page) and you'll find other widows who face the same sort of things. Talking and praying together is a huge help. Please let me know how you're doing.


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