Monday, June 17, 2013

Widows Helping Widows: Meeting With Terrie

Last month I was back in Ohio to pick up more books from my printer, and I was privileged to meet up with Terrie at a local Panera Bread cafe. Good food and great company! As Terrie and I talked, I grabbed a pen and started scribbling on a napkin so I could share with you some great tips that have helped her through her first year. I wish you all could meet her in person, but from my sketchy notes and my shoddy memory, perhaps you'll catch a glimpse of the glow and hope of this sweet lady.

You know, it's kind of awkward to meet someone you've never met before. We had texted and talked by phone to agree on a time and place to meet. We joked that once inside the restaurant we could always call each other's cell phones and watch to see who answered so we'd know who to look for! But as soon as I walked into Panera, I saw this nice looking lady holding my book---it had to be Terrie!

What a joy to meet! We shed a few tears, too, at first. Sometimes widows have this very sensitive emotional bond. Even when we don't know each other, we know what we've been through. It's a tremendous connection.

Timing was tremendous, too. May was an anniversary month of some significant days and her first year of widowhood, which is always a milestone. I was fascinated to hear her process these times out loud, and then to hear how she's beginning to emerge from her mourning and starting to look ahead, make plans and give herself things to look forward to. That's when I took my pen out.

"Terrie," I said, "as you look back over this past year, what sort of things helped bring you to this positive point today?" One thing was my book, which she read cover to cover in one night, and then later on, a secular book called "Saturday Night Widows" which showed a group of widows growing and beginning to take on life as an adventure rather than a doom.

She gave a lot of credit to having a co-worker who was also widowed. They supported each other a lot. When one saw the other was overwhelmed and needing some air, the words "Let's take a walk," got them out together for a quick break. She and her co-worker coined a phrase---"swiss-cheese brain." I knew exactly what they meant, and I'll bet most everyone's who's been widowed has felt that same lack of control over the "widow fog" and details that escape us---it's like everything runs right through all the holes! Swiss cheese brain was their code to cover for each other.

Turning points and positive actions that Terrie enumerated---and here's where I grabbed the pen---
  • She realized her life hadn't stopped. She still has a good number of years left, and with God's help, she can choose the attitude she'll take on to meet them.
  • She realized life is still an adventure, and she could give herself something to look forward to, like she read about in the Saturday Night Widows book. So she's planning her retirement and booking a tour to celebrate!   
  • She took some steps to protect herself, like freezing her husband's credit files (Equifax, etc) so his identity couldn't be used by someone else, and putting his car titles in her name before he passed.
  • She is down-sizing and letting go of stuff in order to move to a more manageable house when she's ready.
  • She's said "no" to certain requests by others, for their good and her own.
  • She meets with an accountability partner once a month to go over her finances and make sure she's on track during this crucial time. She emphasized how important good advisors are, and really appreciated knowing Miriam Neff's idea about a board of directors for a widow. (A person with financial wisdom, a practical friend, a godly widow, an encourager, a person with spiritual discernment & courage, aA relative whose priority is YOUR well-being)
Her life isn't a smooth cakewalk, she'll be the first to admit. But as she continually calls on the Lord, He's helping her take it step by step. She's helping her co-worker; her co-worker helps her ... its amazing how widows can help each other! I hope you're as encouraged as I was now that you've "met" Terrie too!

Share your helpful tips and positive actions by emailing me with your own story, or add a comment today. Thanks!

4 comments:

  1. I am so learning that everyday is a
    new day of something to learn and that
    FAITH is never an arrival but a journey.
    And so it is with widowhood - it is not
    an arrival but a journey. Even though
    we didn't select this path, I was reminded
    this weekend our Heavenly Father is
    the Alpha and Omega - he knows the beginning
    of our path to the omega of our path and that our
    Faith is never an arrival but a journey.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was blessed to read your story, Terri. I love what you say about life not stopping and being an adventure. I also love what you say, Anonymous, about faith and widowhood never being an arrival but a journey.

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  3. It's so wonderful to meet you Terrie! Thank you so much for your encouragement and sharing your turning points and positive actions with us.

    Ferree, thank you for using your sketchy notes and your shoddy memory to make it feel like we were right there with you both! :) Great story and such wonderful encouragement for other widows.

    Thank you both! ♥

    ~Cathy

    ReplyDelete
  4. I always enjoy meeting those who've read my book or follow this blog---each one is like a gem---it's so inspiring to hear that in spite of difficulties they are powering through with Christ, and life truly is an adventure! There's "life after death" for the widow too! Meeting Terrie was a real joy! Thanks for the comments everyone! :)

    ReplyDelete

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