Monday, July 8, 2013

Do's & Don'ts for Widows

Dear Reader,
This is stuff I want my family members and best friends to know--it's stuff I wish would have been spelled out for me! It might sound pretty obvious, but I was in shock and numbness, and I think I really needed plain, clear, simple advice.
What other essentials do you think another widow might need to know in order to get through? Please add your advice in the comment line at the bottom of this post.
As always, if this post arrives in your email inbox, simply click on the title line to get to the website so you can enter a comment.
I'd love to hear from you!

  • Allow yourself to grieve. Some days you'll amaze yourself, other days you'll be an emotional volcano; this is normal. Roll with the punches and identify positive people around you to call on.
  • Ask questions. For example, "Am I losing my mind?" is a pretty frequent and normal question. (By the way, the answer is "NO!")
  • Avoid alchohol, especially drinking alone or with men around; it'll make matters worse in the long run
  • Avoid dating for a while, life is complicated enough at the moment
  • Become your own best friend
  • Beware of exploitation. There really are bad people out there who stalk the obituaries. Also, sometimes business partners, employers, relatives, financial planners, even clergy, etc. might have ulterior motive$. Seek advice from more than one person. Let others know if you are threatened in any way.
  • Break the ice. People in general are awkward about grief. They don't know what to say or do; break the ice by saying something like, "I know you don't know what to say, so just give me a hug, or come sit with me . . ." Let them know it's OK to mention your husband, tell stories about him, or ask about him.
  • Concentrate on your kids if they are young and still with you. "In saving your kids you save yourself." - Myra
  • Eat right. It's OK to throw away all the funeral food.
  • Exercise or take a walk everyday. Your body has these little feel-better-fast things called endorphins which are released through exercise. You need them now more than ever! Get up and move!
  • Explore new interests, enjoy the positive aspects of single-living. It's OK to laugh and have fun.
  • Find all your assets and benefits
  • Gather a "board of directors" for yourself as mentioned in Miriam Neff's book, From One Widow to Another
  • Join a grief support group to learn about the grief process and what might be ahead of you
  • Learn that you are not alone. Connect with other widows through blogs, Facebook, or some of the websites for widows listed on this blog.
  • Realize that other stuff of life will affect you. PMS, empty nest, menopause and illness happen. In other words, life is complicated. Not everything you're crying about has to do with grief.
  • See a doctor for sleep issues that haven't resolved naturally after a few months, or earlier if needed.
  • Seek God's mercy and great love for you even if it seems Heaven is silent
  • Tell people when you need help. They can't read your mind.

  • "Don’t make a decision in a storm that you wouldn’t make in calm weather." ~Max Lucado~
  • Don't let others go through your husband's belongings and get rid of his stuff right away. Tell them you'll do it when you're ready. It's OK to sleep in his favorite shirt or not wash your sheets for a few weeks; pretty much, that's what we've all done.
  • Don't try to contact the dead. This can be a real temptation for some but Scripture plainly warns against it.
  • Don't use the prescription meds that well-meaning but wrong people want to share with you
  • Don't talk to strangers or answer emails from a "friend" saying they lost their passport and need $$.
  • Don't make any loans. That's what banks are for. You are not a bank.

Don't forget to comment! We'll all be so thankful for your comments and advice.


  1. Great list!!!

    Tomorrow is my 7 month mark and I am feeling less distressed and moving along. I am so thankful for you and your blog, your book too, and for the other widows with blogs, for the books I've read, for the Bible always a source of love and encouragment, and thankful to God for being my strength. I still cry, and I miss my husband every day, it's all just not so raw and I am finding my way living differently without him.

    Love and hugs to you Ferree ~ FlowerLady

  2. Hugs and love to you Lorraine, in the early days we don't know how we'll survive, and I'm so glad those raw feelings are falling behind you. It's ok to still cry and miss your husband, but your spirit of gratitude and ability to trust God through this is helping you so much. You show us what God can do when we choose to trust Him.

  3. Dear Ferree, what's this book you wrote that I hear about? I'm just over a year and I think I could use it.
    thank you, Mary

  4. Hi Mary, Just over a year is a perfect time to read it. You can find out more about it by clicking on the book cover at the top right side of this blog. "Postcards from the Widows' Path." It's only available through me, so use the Bookstore link at the top of this blog, or email me if you prefer to pay by check. Each chapter ends with an invaluable exercise that will really show your progress. The whole thing helps you see the big picture and how God is working with you on an individual basis.

    1. Ferree I tried what you said to do to order your book but it isn't allowing me. Is there another way to order it?
      Thank you, mary

    2. Hi Mary, Thanks for trying. Just email me at I can create a Paypal invoice for you or let you know where to mail a check.

  5. It has been a little over 5 months since my Dear Nathan died. One of the things that sustains me is the "Bill of Rights for the Bereaved" authored by June Cerza Kolf and provided by Hospice. Unfortunately I do not have permission to reprint the 10 rights but I encourage you to get a copy. They are simple things that give you permission to take care of you.

  6. Dear Anonymous, I'm so sorry for the loss of your beloved Nathan. Thank you for mentioning the Bill of Rights for the Bereaved (and thanks for not reprinting it here without permission). Hospice has some wonderful resources and this is one of them. Blessings on you.


Thank you for taking the time to comment. I am not always able to reply but your remarks mean a lot to me and will appear as soon as possible.

Here are some tips for commenting:
Remember to click the Publish button when you are done.
Choosing the anonymous identity is easiest if you do not have your own blog.
Using a computer rather than a cell phone seems to work better. Thanks again!