Friday, April 13, 2007

Talking with Widows

All of us in pastoral ministry visit widows. Church is filled with widows.

As a young pastor, I thought that being a widow wasn't too much of a big deal. Men die before women so if you live long enough, you lose your husband. Women must know this, I thought, so they are prepared.

At that time, I didn't know anything about long time love, like being married for decades. Didn't know a thing about the loving meld of a committed relationship.

I didn't intend to be dismissive of widow's grief. I knew nothing about it.

I will have lunch soon with a recent widow. J. died just a few weeks ago. His wife, T., is a friend of many years. Both were in their 70's (is this the New 50's?) with a 50 year marriage.

Pastoral care means visiting with the family before a death occurs, if you can. Then, visit the dying and their family. When you get word of the death, go visit as soon as you can. You may be planning a funeral for the family so you'll want to talk with the wife, children and any family who come to grieve with her. Ask those funeral planning questions.

What I didn't know as a young pastor, and what I know now from observation is the disruption caused by death.

When a spouse dies, the survivor loses the most significant character in their life Story. One day, identity is assured; the next day, all is up for grabs.

Our part of this is to allow the spouse to tell her story as often as she wishes. Some think that bringing up the dead spouse in conversation may be too painful. Denial of death makes grief more horrible. We talk about our spouses and then we are to be silent about them?

Widows don't know themselves after their spouse dies. Some of course are relieved and we must acknowledge and affirm this with them because every death makes someone happy. Perhaps the decedent's physical pain, now ended, causes joy. Or, the spouse was a creep and the widow is free of him.

One of the charming things I observe is how at death, a widow can turn a spouse she complained about every moment becomes A Great Saint. Why not? As long as she is able to heal from death, we may need a few saints. Yep, I said that.

I dread the day I lose Mr. C. His life means all to me and I've been grateful for his presence in my Story from Day 1. At this point, everyone says, "well, he wasn't perfect" and I say, "of course not! who'd want to be married to a perfect human?" When my Story is told you'll hear about Mr. C because, by God's Grace, we've had a love match.

Blessings to you,

St. Casserole


Rob said...

Posts like this make me want to let you know that I wish you wrote something every day, several times per day, year-round. While it's not fair to you, or your church, family, etc., I still wish for it. Your words do often bring me comfort. Thank you.

reverendmother said...


Thank you.

PPB said...

You're the best, St. C. And all the best people know it.

Quotidian Grace said...

Beautifully put, St. C. As usual.

cheesehead said...


Sue said...

This is a lovely post. Thank you so much.

zorra said...

Thank you for this.