Part II Embracing Widowhood

Physical, emotional and spiritual changes

Part II — The Emotional Changes of Widowhood

Read Part I here.

The death of a spouse is rated as the most stressful yet a normal life event. This loss is 3 times more possible to occur for women than men and leads to twice as many women as men over the age of 65 who live alone. Loneliness is real.

Emotion: a natural instinctive state of mind derived from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others. If we would don an Emoji mask and go around showing our feelings right up front, perhaps the insensitive inquisition would stop. Questions like, “How are you doing,” or “Is it getting better yet,” or my personal favorite, “Are you ready to jump back into the game? Six months are passed, don’t you think you should move on?”

Emotions will run high during staggering life events; sometimes for years following them. It is normal for grief to affect all aspects of life. 

Our pain is not the same. My emotions express themselves different than yours. This is because our lives and the relationship we shared with our spouse differed. Our personalities and our environment all play a role in how we process our sorrow. You may undergo a season of helplessness as you face life alone. You question how you can survive the next 10 or 20 years. 

Jesus experienced emotion too. He wept at the death of Lazarus and grieved the death of a wonderful friend. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His faithful servants.” (Psalm 116:15 NIV) If losing someone moves you to tears, it moved the Son of God to tears too. “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35 NIV)

I might be dealing with emotions of survivor’s guilt as I bring to mind all the plans we laid out for as a couple. Retirement shone on the horizon, travel to new places, extra time to spend with family, perhaps pursuing a dream held close to your hearts for so many years.

What about the weeping? Those unplanned expressions of sadness which overtake you in an instant. They pour down your face at the least convenient time or place. You can’t control them. We often view tears as a sign of weakness, but they are a symbol of healing. Let them fall. Many of us would never consider crying anywhere but alone. Tears embarrass us. We rather relegate them to our private times, in the basement, the backyard, in the car, while on a walk; never, in front of someone. Goodness, what a lot of pressure we put on ourselves.

Another emotion we deny ourselves while in the state of grief is laughter. We are afraid what others might think if they see us laughing only a few weeks into our widowhood. Don’t let someone else dictate your behavior. Again, we are all different and face differing experiences. 

Your emotions are real. Emptiness can overtake you without warning. Do something to fill the void. Call up a memory which brings a smile, recall a memorable time you shared. Don’t try to escape but allow yourself to embrace them. They are healing and are part of the process of grief.

Are you experiencing the guilt of relief? Perhaps your spouse, a prisoner to his bed, lay ill for a while. You stood by, helpless as he struggled for breath or writhed in pain. They are pain free now and take comfort in this realization. If you shared a common faith in Jesus, now is the time to embrace you faith.

I experienced a special gift during worship one Sunday, not too long ago. I sensed my husband praising and worshiping his Lord and Savior, and I was right there with him. What a gift God gave me. I stood in church, in front of the altar at the foot of the cross of His Son, while a wave of perfect peace washed over me. 

I turn to Him to His Word to receive confirmation that God understands my heart and wants to heal it. He knows you too. Let Him embrace you in His love and mercy. “In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.” Psalm 25:1 (NIV)

Time to Get On With It

I don’t like winter. I don’t like cold weather, ice or snow. But then, I am also the first one to complain about the heat and humidity in the summer. I recognize there are advantages and disadvantages to every season, as they all offer opportunity to grumble and complain, or approve and applaud.

Eight years ago I entered the winter of my life when my husband was diagnosed with cancer. A fierce storm took over and in a short 77 days, everything changed. Fast forward to February 2019 and more change is coming. I plan to retire. There, I said it out loud. As scary as giving up a steady paycheck is, there is excitement ahead as I pursue my next season.

Each season we enter, is a step toward another season until that day when Jesus calls us home. God called my husband, and one day He will call me. But, until then, life goes on. During my preparation for this next season, besides creating a new budget, I realize that I must sell my home. This is a major step for me and something I dreaded for some time now…until this morning. 

The first hour of my day is spent sitting in my family room sipping coffee, reading my Bible, and writing in my journal. Today, as I sat pouring my heart out to God, I asked the Holy Spirit to impart wisdom and discernment regarding a few decisions I needed make. Peace covered me. 

As an introvert, I relish my alone time and I love the warm sensation of early morning silence coupled with God’s Word. This verse stood out as I read from scripture, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34) I went on discussing my situation with Jesus and reminded Him that I really did not want to sell my home, I loved it. I asked for peace about this.

I looked around the room, acknowledging how safe and content I felt. After praying more, a definite calm accompanied this thought. “Lord, is there another person or family who needs the contentment found here? Is it time to share the peace Your Presence provided me during all the trials, trouble, and life lived here throughout the years? Is it time for me to get on with living?”

The words for this post did not come easily. I wrote, I edited, and then erased many times. I couldn’t understand why I experienced such difficulty while formulating my feelings and getting them down on paper. 

I initially I started this blog for widows, to offer an outlet for our pain. I wanted to let all widows know that the feelings we were experiencing were normal, and nothing we will get over any time soon. I am coming to understand that I no longer want to keep hashing over the loss. I want to speak the words to free us up to move forward. I came to give life with joy and abundance.” (Voice)

After eight years of widowhood, God spoke such words to me today. 

Turning Dreams into Memories

camera-photos-photograph-paper-prints-46794This month marks the 7th anniversary of the end of Dave’s earthly life. It marks many other things too – the loss of a friend, a brother, father, and husband. While Dave’s life has begun again in Glory with Jesus, those left behind still must go on. Until that day we are reunited, we have pain. Our loved one does not.

Seven years is a short while, and yet a long time. Dreams that once were, are no more; but new dreams have replaced the old. I have done so much dreaming over the years that I felt stuck, in the same old story.

Recently I heard this statement, and it stuck with men it is now the tune I sing.  Make memories of your dreams and they will last a lifetime. This is brilliant and I am moving forward singing this song. For years I have been reaching for the stars, my personal stars, only to stop short of attaining them. I have chased after the dream to write since I was a teen. So much so, that I think my friends are tired of hearing it.

I know I have a passion for writing, and a gift – at least enough of one to learn the rest. So, from this day forward, no more living in the past, chasing dreams from years gone by.  No, from now on I have every reason and ability to make memories out of my dreams.

Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart
                                                                      (Psalm 37:4)