Monday, September 30, 2013

A Widow Asks "Dear Abby"

Newspapers And Glasses
Newspaper and glasses
I don't usually read "Dear Abby" in the morning paper, but as I was turning the pages today, my eye caught a letter from "Dying of A Broken Heart." And of course I knew it was from a widow.

Her husband had died three years ago and she found her grief hadn't lessened, it seemed to be getting worse. No one around her could understand. No one cared what she was going through. She wanted advice on how to find a good therapist and what sort of questions to ask in order to know if they'd get along.

"Abby's" answer was brief. In summary, she told the widow to ask friends and doctors for referrals and explain that her grief hadn't diminished in three years.

That's a pretty good answer and starting point. But I'm pretty certain that other widows could offer better help. So I was wondering this: What would you tell this grieving widow? How does one find a good therapist? What are the questions to ask? What other helps would also be good to seek?

Here are some of my ideas:
  • Besides asking friends and doctors for referrals, she should ask her pastor, church secretary, or women's ministry team leader.
  • Some important questions for the therapist are: Can they offer you biblical hope and help you in your relationship with God? Do they understand widowhood? For example--can they offer help or referrals for learning new life skills for single living issues such as finances and abstinence? Do they know that loneliness might be a huge challenge and will they address it?   
  • Other helps for widows to seek are good role models, support groups and books. 
Please add your own suggestions in the comment box today. I don't know if all the comments will be "Dear Abby" status, but that's OK. I'm sure they'll be dear and valuable suggestions. I look forward to hearing from you!   


  1. I think my biggest helps came from some of the books I read: From One Widow to Another by Miriam Neff, Getting to the Other Side of Grief by Susan Zonnebelt-Smeenge and Robert C. De Vries (I haven't had a chance to get Postcards yet!). There are others as well, but these were the most practical, and also helpful since they were written by widows. Many of their comments that described how I felt helped me feel less alone.


  2. I definitely agree with Ferree about asking your pastor or church.

    I have found many local support groups, books, online communities and family and friends.

    But if they aren't Christian friends, Christian support groups or Christian online communities, well then, the advice you might be getting isn't quite as good or full of truth and hope as it could be.

    Now that I'm starting my 2nd year as a widow, my goal is to only go to faith based sources.

    I sure hope this helps, as I haven't gotten very far in my first year.

    Signed, A hopeless and sad widow

  3. I also have read several books by Christian widows, yours included, that helped me tremendously, plus my Bible, found a local Christian widow's group, plus blogged about what I was/am going through and prayers and encouragement have been wonderful from online friends.

    I still cry. It's just been 9 months for me, and while the grief isn't so raw, it is still there. My husband was my best friend for 43 years and now half of me is missing. It's a learning process. We take small steps, sometimes it's several forward then some backward. You never know what a day will bring, but you keep trusting Jesus to see you through.

    I dreamed about my husband the other morning between 4-6 and he had this big beautiful smile on his face. That did my heart a world of good.

    Dear Ladies ~ Ask Jesus to be your strength, to guide you in your life. Things are different now, much different, but it doesn't mean our lives are over. We can help others as we ourselves grow in God's grace and love.

    Love, hugs and prayers ~ FlowerLady

  4. From my experience (8 years widowed after a 48-year marriage) and watching others, I recommend not attending "grief support" groups for too long a time period. Women who surround themselves with others whose pain is fresh seem to take longer to move through the mourning phase.

    If possible, find a group of widows, preferably Christian, who have coped with widowhood in positive ways. I was fortunate to join a church that already had a group in place called "Widows' Might," (a play on the parable of the widow's mite). In our many years of monthly meetings, our members have only shed a few tears from time to time. We share stories about past, present, and future, but focus mostly on the positive aspects. Our stories are varied--when a new member joined recently, we went around the table listing how long we'd been widowed (from 3 years to 40 years) and how long we cared for our husbands (from 0 to 10 years). These numbers were sobering. When I imagined being suddenly widowed at a young age, or think of caring for an invalid for ten long years, it put my own loss into perspective.

    Try to be around people who are positive and know how to laugh and enjoy life. Don't stay home waiting to be invited out, pick up the phone and make a date with another single friend. Service groups at church and in the community welcome singles as well as couples.

    Another widow recently shared this with me (supposedly by Dr. Seuss): "Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened."

    I hope this helps someone. God bless your ministry.
    from Marie (rhymes with Ferree)


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