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