Friday, June 24, 2011

Lend a Help to a Widow

Despite having two widowed grandmothers growing up and my own mother a widow at a young age, I never understood the plight of a widow until I became one last year. How could I? With my husband’s sudden death after four years of dating and a great 29-year marriage, everything changed in an instant and my life went into a tail spin. So much was happening, and I had no idea what to do.

I had to handle a funeral and burial with no money.  (Thanks, Mom, for helping me.)  Eighty percent of our family income disappeared and I had three sons in college. I had to tackle insurance, estate things, debts, and for the first time in my life, handle finances and the paying of bills. I had to find a buyer for my husband's practice on a very firm time-line.  My boys' college garden home sustained major damage in a devastating tornado. I had unwanted attention from some men that should have known better and date requests via Facebook that absolutely floored me. I did the best I could to take care of things on my own, but it was definitely a struggle and I was doing things that I previously would’ve considered unimaginable.

I couldn’t believe what had happened. I thought, “What on earth am I going to do?” That sounded so weak, but I felt weak. Constant comments containing, “You've been so strong,” resonated but I didn’t feel strong at all. Life has a way of hitting you in the head like a sledgehammer without first having posted a warning sign, and we are brought to our knees by events beyond our control.

I have learned so much through all of the deaths in my family, especially that of my husband, and I see life through a whole new lens. We are here today and gone tomorrow – life is quite ephemeral. When we leave the earth, our survivors often are left saying, “What on earth happened?” We have difficulty grasping the concept of death. Yet when we understand and accept the precarious nature of humanity, we feel differently about the gift of life itself. It becomes more precious and we appreciate those we love on a deeper level.

Losing a spouse is earth-shattering and life changing. There are close to 11.5 million widows in America alone and another 800,000 are added annually, yet there is little dialog regarding widowhood and few places to seek help. What’s wrong with this picture?

It takes very little to make a widow feel happy and loved. Sometimes, a simple smile or a hug is just what the doctor ordered. Widows have needs and it’s wonderful when someone observes them and offers assistance without being asked because frankly, most widows have difficulty asking for help. An invitation to lunch or movie , sending a card, a sweet email or phone call – those are small things that are sure to be appreciated.

If a widow owns a house, you can pretty much bet that she has things that need to be repaired. In the Bible, there are references to helping and looking out for widows which punctuates the fact that widows do, in fact, need assistance. Part of the problem is that many widows are able-bodied and don’t appear to need help, but let me reiterate – Widows of all ages need some type of help.

Widowhood is devastating and it turns a married woman’s life upside down. As we engage in our busy lives, perhaps we can pause for a moment to consider the vast number of widows in our world and take time to lend a helping hand. It’s the right, godly thing to do.


Fr√łydis said...

You express feelings so well. Thank you for sharing.

A Myeloma Widow's Journey said...

This is a wonderful post, Cyna. You said it all so very well. Thank you.