Monday, April 25, 2016

GRIEF: for widows it involves rebuilding

There's grief, and then there's widowhood. Is there a difference between the two?

Obviously, many people experience grief, but only a widow (or widower) experiences widowhood. Do you think the grief of widowhood is different than grief in general?

I sure do! A major difference I've observed (and personally experienced) is that while people grieve over losing a loved one, and grieve deeply, when that loved one was your spouse you are left with the task of not only grieving but also the task of rebuilding your life in a major way.

I'm going to let that sink in a bit.

Do you agree? Do you face an unknown future? Have your plans and dreams pretty much turned to ash? Do you feel lost and like half of you is missing? Do you wonder what next step to take? When we have to deal with any of these questions, it's because we need to begin to rebuild.

Now that's a huge topic, and differs widely amongst widows, but I've found an Old Testament man who could show us a thing or two about starting over. If you feel far from home, surrounded by possible dangers, unwelcomed, or overwhelmed at times, read on about this guy named Nehemiah.

Nehemiah was far from home, exiled to the land of Babylon, employed as cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. When he heard how Jerusalem was trampled and the walls needed to be rebuilt, his heart broke. He bravely requested leave of the king to serve his homeland.

Miraculously, the king granted leave to Nehemiah, and he traveled hundreds of miles to Jerusalem at great cost.

But did he receive a warm welcome when he arrived carrying his building supplies? No! Enemies of Jerusalem stirred up conspiracies of jealousy and murder threats. Nehemiah's every step became complicated, every move was subject to sabotage.

Do you ever have days like that? Some widows come close when employers try to weasel them out of due benefits, or relatives circle the estate like sharks. For others, health problems, bills, a washing machine overflow, car repairs, or the kids getting sassy and disrespectful are problems enough to relate to Nehemiah. Does it seem like the cares of life are cresting against you, too?

Here was Nehemiah’s solution: “But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.” (Neh. 4:9)

I’m reminded that whether we’re rebuilding walls, or rebuilding a life after loss, we, too, have enemies.

“Guard your hearts” says Proverbs 4:23 in agreement with Nehemiah.

When you are occupied and concentrating on the good work of rebuilding, like Nehemiah, you need to post a guard. Ask your family, church family, friends, neighbors, widows group, pastors, etc to help guard you with their prayers and watchfulness. You're not asking for rescue, you're only asking them to stay alert for you, to faithfully pray for you like they were your personal bodyguard, and to let you know when they see dangers, threats, and things that ought not to be in your life. Is that too much to ask? You have enough to do with rebuilding! But be a guard for your own widowed friends while they, too, rebuild.

Be alert and keep rebuilding. Do you have some examples, questions, ideas or suggestions about guarding and rebuilding? Let's talk about this more with your comments today. 

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1-3


  1. Beautiful post, Ferree, and so true. Widowhood is a total rebuilding of one's life. This is tiring at times. God has grown my faith and my love for Him immensely in the last years. He has shown His faithfulness in awesome ways and has even used tragedy to bless others.

    Yet facing life's issues without a spouse makes me feel more vulnerable and lonely and discouraged at times even though I know the Lord is with me every step. Somehow it seems more difficult to ask for prayer five years into the process. I think we widows fear coming across whiny. Prayer is exactly what we need, however.

  2. For the last few days every time I feel alone I say to myself, "God has a purpose for me. He values me so much that He chooses to be with me 24/7." I agree with Sharon that the longer we have been a widow the harder it is to ask for help of any sort unless we pay for it. People around us just assume that we don't need help with things that our husbands did for us because it looks like we are doing fine. And, it is easy for us to feel so set apart from others that we feel that we might be considered a burden.


  3. This message of rebuilding is timely, since for many of us, our churches will be recessing most of their activities for the summer. What will I plan to keep my summer from seeming empty? (I know helping with VBS will be high on the list!)

  4. Ferree

    Two of my first eye opening (unsheltered widowhood moments) was about four weeks after Thomas's passing. I went from having monthly income to zero income. My landlord threatened my daughter and I to move and sent us a certified letter with some very abrupt language. She was cold, uncaring and very unkind. Then my next unsheltered awakening moment was when I had to go the DMV and get my license plate tag and car title changed over into my name. There were many other's that followed but just the grief alone is overwhelming. The world goes on, the sun comes up but our world has been momentarily at a standstill.

    As a widow (like Nehemiah) I too sometimes feel like I am in exile in a strange land, but I believe also that is part of being a Christian. So blessed and grateful that he included in His word " to us widows .. fear not, for I am your maker and your husband" Sometimes I fuss at God just like my husband, but I am always calling and depending upon Him for grace, strength and wisdom to take another step.

    God Bless


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