Church Support for Widows & Widowers

GOD PLACES THE LONELY IN FAMILIES

By: Carol Clemans

My heart has been concerned for years about the widows and widowers in our churches. When a spouse dies, the family, friends and church family come around with comfort, attention and food. Within weeks, sometimes just days, everyone goes back to his or her normal way of life and the remaining spouse is feeling the aloneness like a plague that is emotionally deadly. But reality is that the life of the surviving spouse will never return to the former normal.

One of my experiences of being a support to a widow was in my middle 30’s when the husband of a woman in our church suddenly died of a heart attack. The widow had family close, but even they had to go back to their regular life. The widow was 20 years my senior, but I would call her and invite her to come to my house for coffee. I set lunch dates with her. I put her and her late husband’s birthdays, anniversary and his death day on my family calendar. I would either call her or send her a card for these special days in her life for over twenty years. Many times she would tell me her family did not remember. When we were together, I would ask her to tell me about her husband, how they met, etc.

On a regular basis, we invited my widow friend to join us in family outings. I invited her to couple functions that we had at our home along with other single/widows. I put myself in their shoes and decided I did not want to be treated any different when I became a widow, so I treated others the way that I would want to be treated as a widow. I set the ‘lonely’ among our family and friends. (Psalm 68:6 NLT “God places the lonely in families.”)

Every church should make it a priority to set the lonely widow/er among a family in the church. This should especially be done if the widow/er has no immediate family in the local church. It can be done discreetly. Encourage a family to contact the widow and invite her to a family dinner. Find out their birthday and surprise them with a birthday cake and flowers, etc. On holidays be sure the widow/er is invited to someone’s family function.

The widows in some churches get together for lunches, etc. That is wonderful, but they should not be labeled the ‘widows group’ and be isolated. They need to be integrated into the church family. They can be an adopted sister, aunt, mother, grandmother, etc. The same can be done for widowers.

I do not believe that God intended the church to be segregated in to groups by age or marital status. I do not see this in the Bible – Old or New Testament. I do not find in the Bible where the young were lead by the young or the old were taken care of by the old. Families were integrated together. When Jesus taught on the hillsides of Judea, there were families, men, women and children all together.Everyone has value and worth whether they are young, old, single, never married, married or a widow/er. The church family needs to be much more supportive all year round to those who have lost a loved one through death.

My mother was a widow for 12 years. I have friends who are widows/ers. The loneliness is the major issue for all of them. Not having that special person to share their lives with. They must learn how to create a new normal for their lives and it greatly helps when the church family steps outside of their routine of life and shows love and care to the lonely.

If the Lord tarries, many of you reading this article will experience your spouse’s death. When it happens to you, you will want others to willingly give their time, attention and love to you on a continual basis and not just at the funeral time. I pray you (the reader) take this article to your pastor and church family and start showing the world your love for God by continually loving one another in time of need and loneliness.

© Carol Clemans – April 2012

carol@carolclemans.org

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