Category Archives: Friendship

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Through the Eyes of a Widow

For the next three weeks, I want to introduce you to some remarkable women.

One of them has been a widow for decades, one of them lives as a single woman with no living family members, and a third is the parent of a special needs daughter. They all have struggled in ways I can only imagine.

I love living as a Storm Sister (a friend who sticks close when storms hit her friends life), but I know that I have so much to learn about what that really means. And so I asked my friends to tell me about their lives. I want to see. I want to understand.

I want to know how best to live as a Storm Sister to women in unique situations.

Perhaps you do too.

Let me introduce you first to my sister writer, Sandra Aldrich. When her husband died, she faced the challenge of raising a 10-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter.

Welcome to the blog, Sandra. I am so thrilled to have you with us today. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your life and talking about the challenges of being a widow and a single mom.

I count it a privilege to be a part of your blog. Thank you!

What is the hardest part of being a window and single mother?

That depends on the day. Some days I grieve the life we had planned. Other days I miss our former friends who fall away because I no longer fit in this two-by-two world. Most days I am weary of having to juggle everything alone. Loneliness creeps in, too—especially when I see traditional families participating in activities we once enjoyed. And in all of this, I try to remind our children that we still are a family!

What is the best part of the role?

Even on the weary days, I can smile because I know I am taking care of our children. My faith and my example of putting one foot in front of the other will encourage our children as they later face their own trials. And even with limited funds, I know how to create special memories that will be carried into adulthood.

What part does faith play in your grief?

Faith often is the only thing that helps me put one foot in front of the other. But please don’t think I’ve lost my faith if I cry. After all, Jesus is our personal example: He wept over Jerusalem, at the tomb of Lazarus and in the Garden before He was to die.

Also, let me know you are praying for me. And when you ask how you can pray specifically this coming week, I am encouraged, and I don’t feel quite as alone.

How can the church encourage you in this journey?

Pray for me! I’m not contagious so please talk to me for a few minutes on Sunday morning. Provide practical help occasionally, such as having a free car-care clinic one Saturday a month or having the men invite our sons to a game. And please don’t think there’s something wrong with me if I have chosen to remain single and raise my children alone.

How can a friend become a Storm Sister to a widow and single mom?

  1. Acknowledge our pain. Too often folks don’t say anything because they don’t “want to remind” us of our grief. Believe me, our very breath is a reminder that someone we love is no longer with us. Offering a sincere, “I’m so sorry” or even stating, “I don’t know what to say, but I care this has happened” will mean much to us.
  1. After you acknowledge our pain, let us guide the conversation. In other words, listen as we talk. Too often well-meaning folks follow the “I’m so sorry” with hollow comments about how God will bring somebody else into our life. Or how a distant relative became a missionary a few months after her widowhood.
  1. Remember special occasions, especially the first year. The spouse’s birthdate, the couple’s anniversary, the planned, but never taken, vacation. A phone call, an invitation for coffee or even a “thinking of you” card will be lovely.
  1. If you are hosting a holiday party, please invite us. Too often we are deleted from guest lists because we are an odd number—one—instead of the former couple number—two. We may not be comfortable attending your party, but we will be encouraged by your thoughtfulness.
  1. Understand that grief is a process that cannot be hurried. We will wade through our pain and come out on the other side of it stronger and better prepared to help the next widow.

Sandra Aldrich has written more about her journey as a widow in her book Will I Ever Be Whole Again? Surviving the Death of Someone You Love.
http://tinyurl.com/bhvgnkh.

She has also written a devotional for all single mothers, whether widowed or divorced: Heart Hugs for Single Moms: 52 Devotions to Encourage You
http://bit.ly/Heart_Hugs

You can read more about her at sandraaldrich.com.

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Dancing around Hard Stuff

This week I spent a lot of time thinking about orphans, widows, and those with special needs as part of a writing project for my church. I danced around actually putting words on paper because I felt so inadequate to give voice to these people who struggle with such complicated issues and deep grief. How can I truly know the depth of their pain and what might bring at least a measure of comfort?

Don’t we all feel this way when a friend hits a challenging time? What should we say? What should we not say? What should we do? Sometimes, honestly, don’t we dance around doing anything just as I danced around putting words on paper?

“I’ll call tomorrow.”

“She is probably so overwhelmed that I would just make things harder for her by showing up.”

“I’m sure she has a lot of help from family.”

As part of my writing project for church, I interviewed a friend who is an orphan, a friend who is a widow, and another friend who is the parent of a special needs daughter. Each one has unique insights, of course, but a common theme or two did emerge.

First, please notice me. See me. Hear me. Offer to let me into your life and family.

Second, I SO appreciate offers of help.

Life can feel so overwhelming sometimes, can’t it? So much to do. So many people to help. So many chores. So many schedules to coordinate.

And now I write about helping orphans, widows, and those with special needs.

Overload?

Maybe a bit. So I think about one small thing I could do this week to reach out with compassion to an orphan, a widow, or someone with special needs.

I could make a phone call. Or extend the invitation for a walk or a breakfast date. Nothing flashy, just an opportunity to say, “I see you. I hear you. I care.”

Interested in hearing more about what my friends had to say about being an orphan, a widow, or the parent of a child with special needs? Let me know by leaving a comment on this blog.