Have you ever noticed how when you’re thinking of changing your hairstyle (or hair color) or buying a new car or choosing a vacation location, you keep seeing your imagined choice all around you? Every woman seems to have layered blonde hair. Every car you pass seems to be a Honda CR-V. Everyone you talk with seems to be going to or just returning from Aruba.
So why didn’t that happen for me with widows? Including my own mother.
Before I became a widow, widows were invisible to me. Oh, I knew them. I often pitied them. I categorized them as old and gray. But I put them in a corner and tucked them away. Maybe shared a meal with them once in a while. But I just didn’t use the W word.
I admit it. I had very little empathy for my Mom after my Dad passed away. I kept expecting and waiting for her to get on with her life. But she really never did. Fourteen and one-half years of existing but not really living. Then she passed away.
What would have made a difference for her? Hard to say. But I know that more visits and phone calls from me, more planned activities that included her, more time going to church with her would have brightened her life. But I had become too busy with my own life. Survival of the single life. Then immersion into married life, family, church. Then taking the life detour of serious illness with my husband.
And then I was there with her. A widow. Defining my own experience of losing my husband. She passed away just three months after my husband did. I never got to restore those years of not seeing what my Mom was really going through as a widow.
I would like to say that widows see widows. But that isn’t always the case. I had to finally stop seeing myself as a wife in waiting and face the fact that I am a widow. Then God opened my eyes in a new way.
You don’t have to be a widow to see widows. The key is asking God to show you, and he will.
Now, I’m living in the reality of my life as a widow. I see widows. Each one has a name and a face. Each one has a unique experience. And what I see can be encouraging. Heartbreaking. Inspiring. Frustrating.
I see that no one experiences life as a widow in the same way. Circumstances are different. Economic status is different. Families are different. Homes are different. Challenges are different.
I see that widows do have some things in common. They know about grief. They know the emptiness of a kitchen table. They know the frustrations of car problems and home repairs. They face challenges in managing money, no matter how much they have.
If you’re a widow or if you’re not a widow, reach out to widows. Believe me, I know how difficult that can be. From both sides. Especially after a few snubs or refusals. Entering into some else’s pain is difficult. We sometimes don’t want to know about the challenges that others are facing ― and that may be waiting for us.
But keep reaching. Some of the new or renewed connections you make will help you see in ways you never have before. Guaranteed.
In all of this, I pray that if you are a widow, you know the companionship of our Savior. He's the only one who will never leave us or forsake us. He wants all of us to have abundant life. Here and for all eternity. Jesus said, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10).