Note to readers: this is an excerpt from my book The Compassionate Congregation, in which Glenda shares her story of coping with becoming a young widow. Thank you, Glenda, for sharing your wisdom. ~ Karen

When my husband was killed in a private plane crash, I was completely devastated.  Not only was I left a very young widow, but I also had two teen-aged boys to raise on my own.  Raising two children is an awesome task with a mate; now I was alone, almost incapacitated with grief.

It took about fifteen months before I was able to function in a fairly normal capacity without breaking into tears.  It’s hard to describe all of the adjustments I’ve had to make since Michael suddenly was taken.

Grief is a process.  It takes a great deal of time and patience.  I will never “get over” my tremendous loss, as some have suggested.  When one friend implied that I should be over it by now, I felt like she had thrown cold water in my face.  I could not even speak to her, I was too hurt.  Another thoughtless remark came after a friend received the news about Michael’s death.  I’ll never forget her comment, “Well, Glenda, you’re young; I’m sure you’ll marry again.”  What she didn’t understand was that I didn’t want to marry again, I wanted Michael back.                                                                                                           -Glenda

Wisdom for the Caregiver (from Glenda)

I appreciated friends who

  • came over and answered the phone for me every day for two weeks after Michael’s death.
  • thought of my needs and acted upon them; for example, my card group gave us six months’ worth of restaurant coupons, realizing that I would not feel like cooking.
  • said, “Is this a good day?”  not “You’re looking good” (implying I should be good).
  • talked about Michael.
  • mentored my sons.
  • included me in dinner parties.
  • asked me out to lunch, knowing that then I must get dressed.
  • met me at church. (I did not want to sit alone and needed incentive to go since I was angry at God.)
  • asked me to Sunday brunch, realizing how lonely Sundays can be.
  • gave me a bag of hard candies to suck on when I felt like I was going to cry.
  • invited me to go on a trip, and planned a fun event to do that would give me something to look forward to.
  • gave me a Walkman and wonderful music tapes. (I especially like Emile Pandolfi’s piano music.)

Some of the things I did for myself:

  • Slept on my husband’s side of the bed.  This made me feel closer to him.  As another widow said, “Then I didn’t have to look at his empty spot.”
  • Gave something to Michael’s friends that had been meaningful to Michael.
  • Journaled what I missed and didn’t miss about Michael.
  • Wrote notes to friends one year after Michael’s death to let them know how much I appreciated their care.

You may also appreciate the tips in our ministry’s e-book, 122+ Ways to Care Well. Download a free copy here.

Photo Credit:  Bradley Gordon

Karen Mulder

Karen Mulder

Karen Mulder is the founder of the Wisdom of the Wounded ministry. She lives in Holland, Michigan with her husband Larry.