Thursday, December 18, 2014

Teresa's Tips for Widows

Here's the continuation of yesterday's interview with Teresa McWilliams. Don't forget that her radio program is live this afternoon at 2:30 Eastern Standard Time. Links are at the bottom of this post. As our interview proceeded I realized it really fell into two parts: her own story which we touched on yesterday; and then some wonderful wisdom and tips to pass along to other widows. This flows from her 13+ years on this journey and her extensive ministry experience. I feel like we've stumbled upon a treasure trove today! I hope this gives you an idea of what her radio show is like too. Well, enough of my rambling. Let's move on to what Teresa told me.
 
Teresa, Christmas is one week from today! It can be such a hard holiday with all the expected traditions and precious memories. How do you handle it? What do you do during the holidays? Although holidays were really big before my husband passed, the kids and I don’t really do much now. At Thanksgiving, none of us have ever really liked turkey but every now and then they ask me to cook one. And as far as Christmas gift-giving, we don't do much of that since the kids are grown and there are no grandkids yet. I imagine that once my eldest son’s wife has their twins (April 30th) that we will probably start doing more gift giving again. But for now, we spend time together as much as possible throughout the year so when the holidays roll around “it’s just another day”-- church as usual, football, and my famous made-from-scratch mac n' cheese.

I love that, Teresa! Your example will be a relief to many widows who are dreading Christmas this year. It's OK to take a break from tradition; what's important is to do what works for you. What else can you tell us about this path? What advice do you have for widows in general, or especially for new widows?
I'd have to say, Get connected with other widows through your church or other organization as soon as possible. There is something comforting and healing about being surrounded by those who have suffered in the same manner. Those experiencing grief need to see that others have experienced similar things and have lived through it. In fact, people go on to thrive, not just survive. The Scripture says very plainly, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man" (1 Cor. 10:13). In other words, any situation you find yourself in is not only experienced by others, but it is a common experience.
Teresa McWilliams
What would you tell a widow who asks “How long does this take?”
Let me gently say this: It takes a life time. You never stop loving your husband and even in his absence, he never stops being a part of your life (or who you are) whether or not you remarry. But the good news is that as time goes by the sting of death becomes less harsh and the happy memories bring peace and wash away the pain.

How did you begin to grow through your own grief, Teresa?
I used to think that it was when I finally discovered the widows before me who survived it. Not only the widows of the Bible, but rather, real life, modern day widows who were brave enough to write books about their journeys and to even start blogs and support groups on the Internet. Before then I was just making it by. But now, I see how that was just the beginning and that the real growth began when I launched The Widows’ Voice in April (just seven short months ago).

The Widows' Voice is a wonderful example of how God works. Sort of like how when we lose our life we find it; when we give of ourselves God restores us over and over again. I'm so glad you were able to begin that broadcast, and I'm so thankful for the church, your guest-hosts Elease Patterson and Cleora Fortson, and the many other people behind the scenes who make it a reality each week.

As you minister to widows through your church and through your radio show, what steps have you found are effective for a widow to begin to rebuild her life?
  • First and foremost, focus on what matters; taking care of yourself and making sure you stay healthy.
  • Don’t worry so much about who calls and who doesn’t, who visits and who doesn’t. I believe that is nothing more than a distraction engineered to keep you from healing through your grief.
  • Let go of those old relationships and create new ones (I had to do that twice; after the accident and after he died). Surround yourself with positive and supportive people.
  • Instead of waiting around for someone to invite you out, meet new people and invite them out; be assertive (even if it hurts)!
  • Every week, make it a point to try something new, something you have never tried before or something you have always wanted to do but never got around to it.
Thank you Teresa, those steps will take some courage as I know from my own experience, but God gives us that courage and strength. And we don't have to do it all in a day. It's step. by. step. Sometimes one step forward, two steps back it seems, but God truly does work it together for our good when we follow Him. Your advice is excellent!

In five years from now, if anything were possible, what would you like to be doing?
I would love to be in full-time ministry and remarried.

That's so cool! A measurable goal! :) May the Lord grant you favor and the desires of your heart Teresa! I hope you'll keep me posted with the good things He brings along your way in the next few years. God bless you for all you've shared with us today, and I hope you have a very special Christmas Day full of rest and relaxation and that famous mac n' cheese.

Everyone, please tune in today:
 This week on The Widows' Voice -
"Bah Humbug: Overcoming the Spirit of Christmas Past"
 
Tune in at 2:30pm EST every THURSDAY via internet at www.WMBM.com or on your smart device using the free app WMBM-AM

2 comments:

  1. December 17th should have been our 49th anniversary. And I was dreading the day as usual. Through a strange set of circumstances which included an accident with my garage door and bringing supper to my son's family, I received a very special gift. The supper on the 16th had included a plate of raw vegetables (spinach, cherry tomatoes, carrots and celery, each on their own quarter of the china plate). When I was with my son's family on the 17th, they showed me the small heart that was left on that plate after the vegetables were removed, and before it was washed. The kids have been finding hearts in special places for the years since their father passed away and considering them gifts from God and Gary. Of course, we took a picture! This was made even more special because it came on this special day!

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  2. What a special happening, Ruby, I'm so glad you took a picture. I love it when the Lord steps in and touches people with his love at just the perfect time. Thanks so much for sharing this with us, and may Christmas be a wonderful day for you too.

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