Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Widow's Story: Sharon Vander Waal, part 1

Sharon VanderWaal
Dear Reader,

My guest today is a special lady I was able to meet in person about a month ago up in Wisconsin. Not only a widow, but also a cancer survivor herself while caring for her husband, she has some wonderful wisdom to share about how the Lord has seen her through.

Sharon, would you tell how and when you were widowed?

I became a widow on January 2, 2011. This was after being my husband’s caregiver for four and a half years. My husband, Wayne, had a rare and devastating neurological disease called Multiple Systems Atrophy type c. It affected his cerebellum. It resembles Parkinson’s disease only moves much faster. At the end I needed to use a lift with him. My son and I found that Wayne had slipped into eternity on Sunday morning, January 2, 2011, the day after his 65th birthday.

Sharon & Wayne, autumn 2010
Is it hard to believe that it will be two years in January?

In some ways it seems much longer, but in other ways it only seems a few months ago that Wayne died. I still measure time since his death in months.

What were the most helpful things people did for you?

Listen to me, assure me of their prayers, send gifts of love and flowers, and include me in activities.

The worst thing?

There were and still are people who I would have expected to be there for me, but were and are not. I have tried to let this go and to be thankful for the people who have been there for me. Perhaps the others have their own grief issues to deal with.

What was the best thing you did for yourself?

Grief Share, a Christian ministry for those who have lost a loved one to death, was a wonderful help to me. Also reading Christian grief literature was helpful. The most important thing I did for myself, however, was to continually turn to the Lord. Grief is very spiritually cleansing even of past hurts and sorrows. It is truly a healing, refining, and transforming experience.

What do you do during the holidays?
Sharon & Wayne
Last Christmas in 2011 almost a year since my husband’s death, I gave each of my sons and their wives and each grandchild a little wooden “Forget Me Never” photo box. On the lid of the box is a picture of Wayne and the words,
“When someone we love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure.”
Also on it are my husband’s name and birth and death dates. We did celebrate Christmas last year, but it was a little more low-key. Wayne was very good at giving me cards on other special dates. So on my birthday, Valentine’s day, and anniversaries I have sometimes dug out old cards that he sent me on those days in the past.

What Scriptures have been most comforting to you?

There are so many Scriptures that have become so precious to me. It is difficult to choose just one. It does seem like I keep coming back to Hebrew 13:5b, however, which says,
“God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” 

I also have Psalm 30:5b hanging in my bedroom. It says,
“Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing (joy) comes in the morning.”
Knowing God always has been and always will be with me is such a comfort. The Psalm 30:5 verse is also a promise of hope for the future.

Thanks, Sharon! Readers, please visit again tomorrow for more of Sharon's story and to find out about her about her blogs. 


  1. Thanks Ferree and Sharon for sharing.

  2. Thank you, Teri, for your comment. May the Lord bless you in the days ahead.


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