I’ve been doing a little thing on social media on Wednesdays called “Widow Wisdom Wednesday – Changing the Conversation”. If you’re joining me from there, you’ll need to scroll down to pick up where things left off on the post. If you’re just joining me, here’s the scoop. I post a common question or idea people have about widowhood and answer it – from the perspective of a widow. There are so many “taboos” and questions and misconceptions about widowhood and it’s time to change that. It’s time for Changing the Conversation.
This week’s question is: I just want to help her/him get over this (grief); how can I do that?
When a widow is steeped in the fog of grief, it is not your job or responsibility to pull them out. That is not what they need. A widow needs time to feel and grieve and process. They need grace to feel numb and lost and sad and unsure and stuck and lost. (Yes, I said that one twice. Hmm…) They do not need you to “fix” them; they’re not that kind of broken.
They also do not need you to leave. If their grief is too much for you to handle, by all means, do what you need to do to be healthy and move forward in your journey. Understand, though, that that is most likely a permanent decision regarding that friendship. And, honestly, that’s okay too. No harm or malice intended.
**Brutally honest statement coming** If you aren’t going to be around during THE MOST difficult aspect of their life, even when it lasts for a few years, they likely won’t want you around when it starts to get good again. (Again, no malice intended.)
Okay, if I didn’t lose you on that statement, I have a few more thoughts.
If you intend to keep building this friendship with your widowed friend, then come alongside and have a seat. Listen more than talk. All that grace that’s talked and sung about? Yeah, practice it. For years. Widowhood is hard! See a need? Fill it. Can’t do that on your own? Get some helpers to join you. After all, everyone is always asking what they can do to help. Facilitate it.
Grieving shifts and changes. It has seasons and stages. It has growth and set backs. It has triggers and new paths. Let them grieve how they’re going to grieve, not how you think it maybe should look. Don’t assume, ask. Be present. Be a constant. Laugh. Play. Do life together. And if they need to sit and cry or lament their loss and frustration and loneliness, do that, too – without trying to “fix” it.
Hopefully, all that is done with widows and friends on a journey forward, eyes and hearts focused on healing and growing. In that light, the deep pit of grief doesn’t last forever. Grief will always be a part of a widow’s life, but they won’t live IN grief forever. (Read my thoughts on that here.) That’s an important distinction to understand, on both sides.
So, don’t try to “fix” the grief, or your grieving friend. They’re not that kind of broken. Be there. Support them. Journey with them. In this way you will be showing #loveonpurpose. What a beautiful way to #liveyourfaithboldly.