I want to take a few moments to encourage those of you who are widowed to begin to step out of the shadows of your widowhood. As a widow myself, I know that society can sometimes place a certain stigma, or label, on widows. You walk around feeling branded and often ashamed. Not to mention the lack of compassion and empathy you feel around you. If this is you, then this message is for you!!
I want to encourage you to step out of the shadows. The shadow of the label society places on you AND the shadow of the life you used to lead with your spouse.
Widows are often a forgotten class in society. More focus seems to be placed on those who are married or single. If you are married or single you always have a place to belong, as there are always events, conferences, and outings that celebrate marrieds and singles. There are rarely any such events for widows.
Most widows also feel themselves being slowly edged out of certain friendship groups they were once a part of, along with their spouse.
Eventually these people begin to sense a climate change towards them, by their married friends, as they try and continue to fellowship with these groups after the loss of their spouse.
This coolness often comes from the other women in the group, who for whatever reason, no longer see them in the same light. They are now looked upon as a threat to have around, and no longer made to feel welcomed in the group.
An unattached woman is perceived as a threat by a married woman, so she prefers to keep her at a safe distance, and hence away from her husband.
This can be devastating for a widow because what she needs now more than anything is the loving support of friends and family, and to feel some sense of normalcy during this dark and difficult time. But her new status in life has often left her without that support system.
These people are also forced to choose a certain status in society, against their will. Whenever you have to complete any type of paperwork, where it asks for your marital status, the options are usually “married,” or “single.” There is often no option for “widowed.” This is when you have to take a few moments to ponder before answering the question. Are you still married, or are you now single?
In my mind single means one who has never been married; but on the other hand, since you have no living spouse, can you legitimately answer the question — married?
This is a difficult choice to have forced upon you. By lumping everyone together with the “single” group, you are in essence negating everything they’ve been through. Is it really that hard to place an option for “widowed” on the form?
It’s been my experience that these labels often carry over into the church as well, as the church also seems to primarily celebrate married couples and singles, while ignoring widows. Hopefully this will all soon begin to change.
Step out of the Shadows of your Former Life
Now that your spouse is no longer living, you have to begin to pick up the pieces of your shattered life and start moving forward and etching out a new life for yourself.
If you are newly widowed and the pain of your loss is still fresh, you need to just focus on going through the healing process — and it is a process. It takes time. Don’t allow anyone to rush you through this process; take all the time you need to heal, then make a concerted effort to move forward with your life.
We could never bring back our spouse, nor could we go back and re-create the life we once shared with him or her. As difficult as it is to start all over again, we must be willing to start afresh, and learn to make the most of our new life without our spouse.
I’ve always heard the saying: time heals all wounds. I don’t know how true this is, but time certainly does help to ease the pain. In time you will be able to breathe again, smile again, enjoy a beautiful sunset again, and feel alive again.
It’s natural to want to carry on with the life you and your spouse shared, but it’s not always plausible, or even healthy.
As Christians, when we marry, the Bible encourages us to become one — (“the two shall become one”). One in unity, love, and commitment. We can no longer lead a separate life apart from our spouse; we must begin to merge our lives together so that the two become one. When this happens, you become like a two-strand cord, which, when it is braided together and becomes intertwined, becomes stronger and harder to break apart.
But once a spouse dies, this two-strand cord must once again become one. This is not easy to do as by now all of the fibers of the cords have begun to blend together, making it virtually impossible to tear apart.
This is why grief is so difficult. You’re still holding on and clinging to a part of you that has died. It is therefore not easy for you to complete the separation. But you must, because you have to now move forward as an individual person again.
So, how do you begin to step out of the shadows of your former life? By giving yourself permission to let go of that part of you that has died. By beginning to see yourself as a whole person again without your spouse. By celebrating the life you had with your spouse without being weighed down by it, unable to move forward. And by allowing God’s love and compassion for you to heal and make you whole again.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
God has great love and compassion for the widow, and the orphan — those who are without a covering, and henceforth the most vulnerable in society. He said He would be their covering, protector, and provider. He would help them when they feel weak, and protect them when they are defenseless.
God’s hand is extended to you. Grab hold of His hand and allow Him to assist you with your first few wobbly steps until your feet and ankle-bones are strengthened enough and you are able to walk on your own.
Step out of the shadows and into your destiny. God Bless!