Monday, March 7, 2022

Just Be There

From my email---this is too good not to share. This is from a widow friend named Paula. We met several years ago when I was able to host about 20 widows from all over the country in South Carolina. We've kept in touch ever since and I think the world of her! (That's her having some crafty fun in the photo to the right.) Post a comment or you send me an email too! It's always great to hear from friends near or far. 💗

Good morning Ferree,

I just finished reading your article in the newest Plain Values magazine, March 2022, "Just Be There," where you talk about being present as a ministry during grief.

It brought to mind the night my father-in-law passed away.

It was in the early morning hours when we got my mother-in-law back to her apartment. I had suggested that she come spend the night at our home but she insisted that she needed to be in that apartment and not dread going there the next day. I could see that she just needed to stay there that night. I sent Don home to gather some belongings for me and I stayed the night with my mother-in-law.

After Don dropped off my overnight bag, my mother-in-law and I sat down on her couch. She just began to sob for the first time since we had lost her husband earlier that day. Being very young, I didn’t know what to say. What could possibly help someone who had just lost their her best friend of 50 plus years?

I just sat there and prayed, "Lord, please just give me some words of encouragement, or help me know what to do." Nothing came. She sat there and sobbed, and I sat there and sobbed. She sobbed some more, I sobbed some more. Then she got up and said, "Well I feel better now. I’m going to bed. I’ll see you in the morning," and off she went!!!

Over breakfast the next day I said, "Mom, I just want you to know that I didn’t know what to say last night. I don’t want you to think that I didn’t care, but I just didn’t know what to say…" She said, "If you had said anything, I would’ve gotten up and walked away! I didn’t need words, I just needed to be with someone. Nothing you could’ve said would’ve helped me right then."

That spoke volumes to me: sometimes we just have to be silent.

I was a very young Christian at the time, (this was in 1987), so I didn’t have the maturity to understand that God was keeping a hand over my mouth--but He was!!!

I saw your magazine article and it really reinforced to me the lessons that (hopefully) I’ve learned over the years: sometimes you just shush up, and sit there, and just let them sob.

Anyway, I just wanted to share my story because your story resonated with me. I hope to be able to maybe go the Widows Journey next year since I couldn't go this past weekend. I’m doing well, but still being cautious with Covid. I miss you and hope we can connect this summer. Have a blessed day! love you, Paula


  1. This was beautifully expressed, thank you Paula. And thank you Ferree! I too was touched and aided by the same article. I remember well those moments when I was comforted by "quiet people" in my grief journey. One particular friend stands out...Jackie. She and I live in the same retirement community and she would drop by most mornings in those early days to see how I was. When we had the time to visit, she would sit beside me and simply hold my hand as I shared. Those loving touches still comfort me 4 1/2 years later.

  2. Ferree, Thank you for this!! Love this so much!! Thank you always for your ministry!!

    I am blessed with a particularly kind & gracious younger friend, who by nature is a beautiful, quiet, soft-spoken soul. Just her presence is always such a comfort for me (and to everyone... it's just who she is). I've been blessed to know her for years.

    She and her family always sit on the other side of church on Sundays. But one Sunday last year, when I was (once again) sitting by myself just before church started, her teenage son sitting next to her, whispered to his mom, "Mom, I think we should go over and sit next to Mrs. T." So they got up and walked across the aisle and came to sit next to me. It made all the difference in the world ...just her presence next to me.

    I thanked her after the service, and that's when she told me her son had initiated it. (I thanked him then, too. She & her husband are raising great kids!) Ever since then she & her husband (and a teen not away at college yet) always sit with me. (Oh, and her husband also "anonymously" started driving across town to clear my driveway after winter snows!)

    When I get teary-eyed (or just the tears start to flow heavily) in church (I sit towards the back of church for this reason), she will just put her hand in mine or reach over to put an arm around me for a hug.

    Going to church has become a lot easier because I know I won't be alone, and my grief when it surfaces won't be as painfully hard in my "aloneness" in church.

    Thank you again, Ferree, for your ministry for all of us in widow grief. Oh, and I just recently finished reading the book you recommended awhile back "A Way in the Wilderness" by Rachel A. Moore. So good!!!! So helpful. Thank you for that recommendation!

    Martha T.


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