The Widows and Widowers

So the Bible is pretty clear about taking care of the orphans, the widows and the outsiders.  Whether you believe in the Bible or not, it usually doesn’t take much convincing that we should care for widows and widowers.  The concept has certainly hit me a little harder this year as I am learning to care for my Dad in new ways as he is now a widower.

Below are 10 ideas of how we can care for the widow and widowers in our life:

  1. Care for the caregiver – If an elderly person is now widowed, it is very likely that one of their adult children are caring for him/her, and it is also very likely that the caretaker has children of their own.  Consider taking the kids out for an ice cream or just spending time with them, or offer visiting the widow so that the caregiver can have the evening off or go on vacation.  A well rested caregiver will be a true blessing to their widowed parent.
  2. Feed them! – Invite them out to dinner, invite them over, or surprise them by dropping food off at their home.  If you drop it at their home, consider providing everything in disposable dishes so that they don’t have to wash dishes or remember to give you your dish back!
  3. Let them feed you (this is the best!) – Ron and I had an widowed neighbor for a number of years, and she LOVED to cook.  After her husband passed away she lost a lot of weight.  She was no longer cooking because she didn’t have anyone to join her for dinner.  We found that she loved to have us over, and she would even make a plate of food for our dog.
  4. Let them share their stories – When our neighbor Hazel became a widow, we would just go by her house and let her share her stories.  We heard many of the stories multiple times, but it was such a joy to hear how God had used her and her husband through the years.  What was meant to be a blessing for her ended up being a blessing for us.
  5. Love their children – If the widow or widower still has young children at home, then simply love his/her children.  This could mean taking the children to do fun things, but mostly consider telling the parent fun things you noticed in their children and how special they are.  Remember, not only has this person lost a spouse, but they’ve lost someone that they spent a lot of time talking to about the children and loving them together.  Anything you can do to show the parent that their children are special will in turn be a blessing to them.
  6. Give the practical gift – Offer to help with the yard, changing the sheets, doing the shopping, providing an unexpected financial gift, etc.  When offering a helping hand to the widow or widower, be specific in what you would like to do.  Most offers that include “Let me know if there is anything I can do” get forgotten about or don’t get taken seriously.  Instead, say, “I’m going to the grocery store on Friday, can I pick anything up for you or would you like to go with me?”  If you decide to provide practical help, please do not try to do everything for them.  You don’t want to take away their self worth.  Allow them to thrive in the midst of their grief.
  7. Say their loved one’s name – Even if you didn’t know the spouse that passed away, say his/her name out loud in conversation with the widow/widower.  It is often a tremendous blessing to them to just hear their loved one’s name.
  8. Remember important anniversaries if possible – Wedding anniversaries, birthdays, day of death, holidays, etc will forever be different for this person.  Send a card letting them know you are thinking of them, or even ask, “I know Susan’s birthday is around the corner.  Just know that I am thinking of you both.”
  9. If you miss the person, let the spouse know – Grief can sometimes be a lonely process if one believes that they are the only person who misses the person who has passed away.  It is one thing for people to offer sympathy, but it is especially heart warming to know when someone actually misses the person and is grieving the person just as they are.  It provides true bonding during the time of grief.
  10. Remind them to laugh or have fun when possible – Sometimes a widow has no desire to laugh and have fun for quite sometime.  One widow confided in Ron and I that she did not see her flowers in color for a few years after her spouse was gone.  Offer to play a game, or tell them something silly that happened in your own life, give them a gift certificate to someplace enjoyable, but don’t give up on them.  Help spread joy, but don’t force the issue.  Your love will go a long way.
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