Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What Can Churches Do For Widows?

I am on a stay-cation with a houseguest for a few days so I'm not planning to post much this week. However, early this morning I found a new comment on this post from last year and I thought it was so valuable I ought to run it again. Please add your comments too! I'll be away from the computer most of the day, but I'll get them posted for you just as soon as I can. ferree


7/17/2012
Yesterday I let you in on a seldom heard conversation among widows---how does the church respond to them? It became more a matter of How does the church NOT respond to them. I challenged them to make a list of specific things a church could do for a widow. Like I promised, here's the beginning of their list. What would you also recommend???

1) Remember who they are as a person
‎2) If we respond with a specific chore that needs to be done, when asked if we need help, don't get a look of terror and hedge! Yes, it happened to me! Just say "Yes, I will arrange for someone to come by."

‎3) Make sure somebody calls her at least once a week - not email, not texting but an actual physical "voice heard" phone call.
‎4) Mow the lawn! I had neighbors who were kind and did this for me while my husband was sick, but the spring and summer after he died, when I tried doing it myself, it made me cry too much because that used to be his job. So I paid the neighbor boy to do it, but I don't think it occurred to anyone that I might still really appreciate having that done for me during the first year after he died. I'm doing it myself this year and doing okay.  4b) along with the summer task of mowing the lawn, come and plow out her driveway when it snows. and 4c) watch on Facebook if she mentions pipes freezing & come thaw them for her (someone did that for me! what a blessing!)

‎5) If she is able to make it to church - don't let her sit a.l.o.n.e. Call her to see if she would like you to pick her up for services.
‎6) Remember if she declines your first invitation it doesn't mean she is refusing a.l.l. invitations - k.e.e.p. c.a.l.l.i.n.g.!

7) another great help, which thankfully one couple did for me: occasionally invite her to supper, live theatre, a good movie, or a picnic -just something to get her out of that lonely house.
8) In the fall, see if she needs help with leaf/yard cleanup, and if the weekend you suggest isn't a good one, or it rains, please schedule it for another time! Same goes for the spring.

9) One of the biggest needs is for the men of the church to step up and mentor these fatherless kids! The men of the church need to mentor the fatherless kids. It so not happens.
10) here's an idea: a "Ghostbuster" ("who you gonna call?") list given to each widow. If each person in the church would write down one specialty household thing they are willing to help with - or teach us how to do - it would be SO good! Like: unclogging drains, rototilling the garden, boosting a dead car battery, & - my personal nemesis - changing windshield wipers!

11) I think it would also be helpful for churches to offer discounts or complimentary religious eduction/schooling, vbs, and other related activities.
12) If you DO offer to do something, then do it. Those that promised to help me have not followed through. Although I know that they meant well...sigh

13) Stick around! I have 4 sons, one who struggles with mental illness (but has a very likeable personality) and I am disappointed with the men in our lives. Some came around for the boys early on but nothing lasting. A couple men from church even told me that God had put my mentally ill son on their hearts, but they took him to lunch a couple times but didn't stick around. It makes my heart sad to think about. I am glad my boys have each other. I also think it would have been so nice to have been invited to dinner occas. The first year my youngest & I fixed dinner & ate upstairs in our game room, it was so painful for me to be in the kitchen & I couldn't even think of sitting at the table because that's what we did as soon as my husband walked in the door each night and he was always so appreciative of it. Some people said they would have us over for dinner but never followed through. All in all we have been loved & taken care of but I just wish some of the men close to our family would have stayed more involved.
14) I would have loved more visits from the Pastor. Just a short visit and a prayer is so helpful.

15) Also there was a meal train for me for several weeks and I appreciated it so much but I would suggest that people who drop off food stay for a short visit too. I sometimes felt like they couldn't drop it off fast enough. I guess I expected to see my church family at my house more than anyone else so when it didn't happen I was surprised. I received most of my support from others, many who are not churchgoers. They don't need to know the right thing to say. They just need to be there.
16) I think maybe we could suggest that all churches look into finding contacts for widows not just grief counseling, just in case they need them!!!!

17) Just do something! Even if they don't hit the need exactly on the head, do something. Actually my oldest daughter and son- in- law are being led to start a widow's ministry in their own church, just like was mentioned - getting a list of who would help and what areas they can help in so that when a widow has a need they know right away who to call.
I'm sure this is just a starting point. What do you think churches should do for their widows?
Can't wait to hear from you!
Your "two cents" is very valuable! Let's hear from YOU! 
ferree

22 comments:

  1. I attend a tiny church. Our only deacon's sweet wife sent me an encouraging card at least monthly for 8-9 months after the death of my husband. Oh, how much those simple little cards meant to me! I was sure to tell her so, too.

    But, unfortunately, there is true rejection for widows from so many. We had couple friends that are now gone...they must have thought I died, too? It hurts. We even had one set of couple friends that now the wife won't allow her husband to talk to me now...he was very close to my husband and a family friend. I even called their home to ask if I had offended someone. He told me the truth. He even apologized for her but had submit to her wishes to get along with her. It was so sad and I still don't get it. I thought we were friends.

    It does make me more sympathetic towards other widows, especially new ones. It doesn't take much to send encouragement. Our hearts are very sore and lonely. Rejecting us only adds to the pain of loss. Don't worry about what to say. Just say " hi" and greet us as if we are still alive.

    Just do unto others as you would have them do unto you... :). (ReginaV)

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  2. As far as men stepping up to mentor kids after losing their father or even offering to do needed yard work or fix a leaky sink...... I think the issue is how to do that without seemingly showing a romantic interest to the widow. This is sad, to me, but I believe very true. I was amazed how friendly widowers and some men, even at my church suddenly became overly friendly! They barely spoke to me before. It caused me to withdraw also, which probably adds to the issue of people not knowing what to say! I've been widowed now almost a year. I still wear my wedding band almost as a form of self protection....not that I'm such a great catch. If God wants us to find new love, HE will open that door somehow....but men need to watch 'how' they approach widows. Respect is the key. (ReginaV)

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  3. Greet us as if we are still alive--oh, yes, is that so hard?? I think CS Lewis spoke of those who crossed to the other side of the street to avoid him after his wife died. We've got to stop this cycle!

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  4. Perhaps churches could give some thought to combining forces - one church might have the perfect location, one could have many "helpers", etc. Just start - God will do the rest when He sees that you are following His word - true religion in the sight of God our Father-care for widows and orphans in their time of trouble...

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  5. Since the death of my beloved, I've discovered just how petty, insecure and jealous other women are. I am perceived as a threat now because I am single. I feel like the other women think I've got the plague and that what I "have" is catching. Talking about me and ignoring me won't make their problems go away. Widowhood isn't something that can be "caught" like a disease. It's a very lonely reality that we face each day and when we are treated poorly by our churches, it makes that reality hurt even more. Churches, don't ignore your widows. Women, don't talk about the widow or make her feel less than what she is. Don't treat her like an alien or like she's got some incurable disease. You can touch her and hug her. She might cry, but that's okay. She won't break. She NEEDS your love and acceptance, not your condemnation and gossip and ridicule. Love her...period...and accept what she's going through.

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  6. Since the death of my beloved, I have found that I am treated like I have the plague or some other incurable disease. I'm kept t arms length from a lot of people. My couple friends are no longer friends because I am not a couple anymore and they can only associate with their "couple friends". I'm perceived as a threat now that I'm single. Apparently they think that I'm on the prowl and will steal their husbands away. I've discovered that women are petty, jealous and insecure and take out their insecurities on widows. I'm still me. Just because I don't have a husband anymore does NOT mean that my core values have changed and I've suddenly become this harlot who is out to jump into bed with the first man that shows me any attention. We do not have a disease. Widowhood isn't catching. Don't alienate us. We need your love and compassion - not your condemnation and ridicule. We don't need to be made to feel like a freak just because we've lost our husbands. If you say you're going to do something, then do it. We are too often forgotten about after the first couple of weeks and left to fend for ourselves and flounder through this new life we've been given. And it's not one that any of us have willingly taken on - it's a hand that we've been dealt and are trying to figure out how to handle it all. It is overwhelming. Take us out for coffee. If we say no, ask again. Sometimes we just need to make sure that people genuinely WANT to be with us and the invitation isn't a "pity" invitation. And don't you dare pity us. Pity is the worst. Love us. Help us. Pray for us daily! Call us. Bring us food. Bring us flowers or a new plant or just bring us a cup of coffee and sit with us a while. Don't be afraid if we cry. We need to share our stories. Talk to us about memories you have of our husbands. We need to hear those stories. Most of all, just love us, flaws and all. This is new territory to us and we have not been given a road map on how to navigate these valleys and hills. It's the hardest thing I've ever done.

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  7. In my experience of almost 2 years as a widow with many children at home, I find that people are just so busy and wrapped up in their own lives. I don't think they neglect on purpose, just ignorance and business.
    I feel very blessed when someone talks to me, and remembers a special day- the anniversary, my husbands birthday,... and asks me what area is the hardest for me, the children... Just slowing down enough to show they care.

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  8. I am so glad to see actual quality suggestions listed. I won't go into all the pain inflicted on us after my love went Home. But, nothing will change if the preacher doesn't believe the scriptural admonition to help the widow and the fatherless. Mine didn't and told me so.

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  9. In March 2008 my husband unexpectedly moved to heaven. When he passed, there went not only my handyman but most importantly, my computer geek. I love the idea of a list of things churches can do to help widows. There is always something that needs done. From the time I get out of bed, until I crawl into bed at night, I am on the go. It would be nice to have someone help with the tasks of everyday life.

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  10. Excellent list. I also received monthly cards during the first year of widowhood from a church friend; it was such a simple gesture, yet very meaningful. It is so significant to know that others haven't forgotten our loved ones, or us.

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  11. Please talk to us about our husbands. I love to hear how my husband inspired people as he dealt with illness, stories about his sense of humor, his faith in difficult circumstances, or just an acknowledgement that they miss him. Having been widowed for a little over a year, it now feels like I am the only one who remembers him.

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  12. WOW, this is amazing - it sums what many of my widow friends have addressed as they 'walk' back thru the 'open doors of their church'.
    thank you

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  13. Hi I am new here. My husband passed away in Jan. and I feel so left out and lonely without him. Since he died basically no one from the church has called me to ask how I am. I will ad more comments later but for now I have started a James 1:27 page on facebook. Please like it and share it. It is at https://www.facebook.com/pages/James-127-Canadian-widows-and-orphans-need-support-too/385939294855276

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  14. Dear Caroline, I'm so glad you dug around on the blog or Internet and were able to find this post. Be sure to visit the home page and find out about my private Lifeboat support groups on Facebook. Other widows who've felt so left out find Lifeboat to be a real 'life saver!' And I will be sure to visit your FB page and I'm sure others will too. Thank you for posting!

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  15. One of the neatest things a friend of mine and I (both widows) started in our church was a "Hope for the Heart" group it is Widows Mentoring Widows not a grief share. We get together on Saturday mornings at the church, coffee is always brewing along with snacks, we pray together, sometimes even weep together, we have a Bible study and often go to lunch together afterwards. We minister to widows in Nursing homes we gather up items for them and pay them a visit at Christmas. This year we are making pretty pillowcases for them for Christmas. It gives us such joy to see the smile on their faces and knowing that we are reaching out, gives us something meaningful to do as well. We also visit a new widow a month or so after their loss and take them a care basket.

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  16. Dear "Hope for the Heart" leader, What a wonderful ministry God inspired you and another widow to begin! Truly, widows need widows! It's good to understand the basics of grief and find help with it (if necessary), but equally good is to find a group of supportive and understanding widows to provide friendship, guidance and a shoulder to cry on. I'd love to hear more about your group. If you're ever so inclined, please email me at WCplace@gmail.com Thanks for telling about Hope for the Heart!

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  17. Thank you for this entry and this website. My husband passed in March and things around the house are a struggle to keep up with. The garden and lawn were his domain; and now I either sob while attempting to weed the garden or just pay someone to do the chore. I never realized how much love and work he poured into keeping the yard beautiful.

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  18. I think what you mentioned about "pooling" you talents/trade to offer help when a widow needs it around the house is one of the best things. My husband went to be with the Lord last month and he was a jack of all trades, including with computers....and now I have no one like that. He could make and fix anything. Also, instead of plants/flowers, consider giving gift cards to the store, gas, an oil change/inspection, a massage, etc....sometime we're left with financial difficulty and the gift cards are more of a Blessing then plants/flowers. Or make it fun and make a coupon book of things you're willing to do so that she can use them as she needs them. A ride to somewhere, sidewalk shoveled, leaves rakes, house cleaned, car wash, a meal..etc...

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    Replies
    1. Dear Joan, gift cards or anything is a great idea.but if the church forgot about you how you they help in that manner. Its been just over a year since my husband died and I haven't been to church. I admit that I feel a little hurt by the fact that no one calls.I guess I have to take the first step but its hard. Hugs to all.

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  19. #9 is where I am at. I have three teen sons and one daughter. A few months after my husband died, a few men gave indication that they would be there for them, but it didn't happen. It's been a year and a half now and there are no men who have come alongside (not even when I asked) One of my widow friends told me not to have unrealistic expectations. She found that in the end, it ended up being just her and her children. If you have a good support system to help you and your children, thank the LORD for it. I still thank God, but I am considering moving on because I sense it will never happen.

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  20. I am a widow of 5 months. Recently a very nice man has been sitting with me during worship. He has been kind and attentive. I am not sure if he is being kind or a interested. How do I know the difference?

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  21. Dear Widow of 5 months,
    How do you know if he's interested in a relationship with you or if he's just being kind and thoughtful. Hmmm, that's a question I'd wonder too if I were you. Let me offer the most likely of possibilities--- Unless he's kind to all new widows like this, he's interested! BUT the question is why is he interested? So, allow for some time for him to reveal that reason. In the meantime, decide if you are interested in him, and if you're not, that's ok. Find other people to sit next to you before he arrives. Most widows are surprised at how easily they become attached to the slightest attention at first, so be sure to guard your heart and take it slow, if at all with him. Please let me know how it goes.

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