GrowingForChrist

Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

To the friends and family of the new widow


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My last post was to the young widow and there will probably be a part two but now I want to focus on the friends and family of the young widow, there will probably be a part two to this as well.

These are some things to do and not to do – I stress not because you cannot bombard the young widow with questions, inane requests or questions. What you might consider helpful, to the young widow, usually is not. Remember our loss is different than if you had lost a parent, grandparent or even a child. Each loss is unique and with that I’m going on what helped me.

So the top of my list would be gifts – money and/or gift cards. I cannot say how much gift cards to restaurants, grocery stores and/or gas cards helped me in those first weeks and months. Giving a Pizza Hut gift card means I could go online order a pizza or two and soda, have it delivered and never once have to leave my house. Gas cards for the many trips to the funeral home, church and cemetery we’ll be making over the next several days and weeks. Grocery gift cards allow a friend to pick us up stuff without having to worry about giving them money and change, etc. and when we feel like going to the grocery we don’t have to worry about our check book dwindling – this was a MAJOR worry until I could access my husband’s bank account and began receiving benefits in March (3 months AFTER his passing).

Set up a Take Them A Meal or a Meal Train. Again this is something that tops my list! Meals that we don’t have to plan, prepare or think of. If you can include enough for leftovers for lunch and maybe even breakfast, even if it’s cereal and some milk. Don’t forget toilet paper and paper towels! Seriously, this is stuff I couldn’t begin to think we needed let alone wanted. If the person’s church or their children’s activities director isn’t setting something up – do it! Even if you don’t know them well, if you find a new widow isn’t having food brought to her house, set it up! The nice thing is even if you can’t make a meal and take you can have food sent, a little costly, but well worth it and appreciated. One friend who lived quite a distance from me order a Bob Evans take out meal, I ran in real quick to pick it up. All was paid for and it was home in minutes for dinner and leftovers for lunch the next day.

To go along with the second idea – DO NOT call, text or email the widow asking what she wants or needs. I had absolutely no, zero, nada, idea of what I needed let alone what I wanted. There should be 1 – one, uno, contact person. If the person who is setting up the meal train, they should find out what meals the family enjoys, allergies and list those on the site so that those signing up to take a meal does not bombard the widow with these questions. If there can’t be one contact person then a friend or family member needs to be appointed point of contact or even two people. Trust me, we have enough to deal with with having to pick out an outfit for our husband, making sure the details are correct, writing the obituary, meeting with the funeral director and the cemetery people which are usually two separate meetings, and taking care of the children.

Going along with the previous idea – DO NOT call, text or email to ask what you can do, what can you bring, etc. The majority of us will be in shock, especially if the passing of our husband is sudden and unexpected, we can barely think of what has to happen next let alone what things you might be thinking of. Our world is upside down – literally and figuratively. Contact their church, a mutual friend, a family member, etc but try to keep your contact minimal. Let them know you’re thinking and praying for them by sending a condolence card, on Facebook, text, email or phone call BUT do not ask, at least right away, what they need.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt” UGH! Please, please think before you speak. What you might think is helpful, may not be. I had one person while I was standing in the receiving line tell me I was young and could re-marry. WHAT!? Really? Or he’s in a better place. Yes, but I’m not focusing on that, I want him here with me and the children. He’s not suffering. Sure, but again I want him here! Many of us don’t know what to say, and you know what, it’s okay to admit that. I would have much rather heard, “I don’t know what to say and I’m sorry, you’re in our thoughts and prayers” than some of the “helpful” words spoken.

I’ll leave it at that for now, I’m not saying all these things are true for every single widow across the board BUT these are things that did help or would have helped me in the first days of widowhood. I’m sure there will be another post – things about when to say widow in front of her, talking about her husband, etc but for now this is a start.

 

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To the new widow (especially the young one)


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I received word last night that another husband passed away – he was young, it was sudden and unexpected. Another fellow blogger also lost her husband suddenly the other day. Then there was the friend of my husband. 3 widows in just a short span of time. It seems, like my husband, two were taken by a heart attack and one by a blood clot in the lungs – their wives and children’s lives turned upside down in minutes.

I want to write this to the new widow, especially the young ones, that may still have children at home. I’m not discounting the elderly widow or those young ones without children at home, but with all things there are certain dynamics that come with being a young widow with children at home.

First, there will be a light at the ‘end’ of the tunnel. I know it’s hard to see or even want to hear that, believe me I know. There will come a day when you begin to feel alive again and when that day comes you will also feel guilty. Guilty because maybe that means you’re forgetting him? Guilty because you’re the one still alive? Guilty just to feel guilty.

Please know it’s okay to tell family and friends to leave you alone, to go away. Sometimes you just need that time with your children. As much as our friends and family mean well and love us – it is okay to tell them bye and just BE.

It’s also okay to admit that you don’t know what you or your children want or need. I had so many people, who wanted to help us, ask me what we needed, what we wanted. I honestly couldn’t answer that. The first few days and weeks are a fog, you’re mind is going a thousand a million miles per second – you won’t know if you’re out of toilet paper or if you need milk. That is where your friends and family come in, let them enter your home go through your cupboards, your fridge, bathroom and see what you need. I know to those who aren’t going through the loss of a husband can’t fathom that, letting friends and family go through your house, unthinkable. You are just trying to get through the day, walking with your children and going to the store becomes your unthinkable.

Don’t say you’re okay – I learned that even when it shocked people – admitting I wasn’t okay helped ME. When I finally went to the grocery store for the first time and the cashier asked how I was, I honestly said not good, and told her about Don. She was shocked by my honesty. I’m no longer afraid of being honest – if they can’t handle the truth that is their issue, not yours. If you’re not okay or if you are okay, be honest, it will help you face those feelings.

Make sure to proof read the obituary before letting the funeral home submit it to the paper. I regret this. There were errors in my husband’s leading some to think that we had expected him to pass away – if I had been of sound mind I would have caught that and had it removed.

During the visitation, it is okay to sit. I tried to stand for hours, thankfully a friend and my mom noticed that I wasn’t doing well and forced me to sit. I sat as the hundreds of people filtered through. I don’t care what they thought, some didn’t even know there was a widow! I wouldn’t have done my children any good by passing out in front of my husband’s casket. Sit if you need to sit, cry if you need to cry and even exit the visitation area for a few moments. Don’t worry what others will say – this is about you and your children. I know some didn’t like it that I didn’t make my children stand next to the casket and receive visitors instead I let them ramble around the church with their friends. They’d come up to Don and then leave again – that is what they needed.

Reach out – I wish I had had a younger widow to reach out too – the ones that I know are elderly with adult children. If you can find a younger widow who has walked this road is walking this road (we’ll always be walking this road) that can help. We can know that you’ll want to remember your husband, hear his name, cry. We’ll know that you need silence and someone to just hold you or hold your child(ren) while you hide under the covers. If you don’t know of another young widow, maybe your pastor does or the funeral home or a loss support group.

Grieve your way. If that means you need a support group, join one. If that means you need to stay in and cry, do it. Many well meaning people told me to get into a support group, I didn’t. That is what I needed. I take on other peoples grief and I couldn’t do that and I still can’t. It was suggested for me to go to a widow’s group – I didn’t do that either as most were elderly and I’m in a totally different stage. Maybe some day. If you need a group, if you don’t, both are fine.

Don’t let others tell how you how you should feel – I’ve had some tell me what they’d do in my situation. Ignore them! They don’t know and I pray they never do. If you laugh over a funny memory, don’t let someone tell you you shouldn’t be laughing (there is a time to weep and a time to laugh). If all you do is cry, then cry. If you need to scream, scream. There is no timeline – even though I’m 18 months out doesn’t mean there aren’t times when I think Don will be coming home soon, or waiting for a phone call, and so on. If I hear Toto on the radio.

Basically, grieve your way – you’ve loved this man for years, you’ve had children together and now it’s gone. I won’t lie, you’ll be lonely at night as you search for his body in your bed, you’ll long for another adult to talk to once all the company goes back to their lives, you’ll try calling his cell or work number only to be brought back to reality. You are going to be lonely, if there is a friend or family member who can stay with you, accept it. It’s not the same thing but they can be there.

Lean on the Lord – His presence is there, it may not be a physical, human presence but He is there. He can take your questions, He can take your anger and He will comfort you and your children. I still get angry some days – I question why so and so is still alive and Don isn’t. Why the couple who is divorcing is throwing it all away. I even get jealous – friends kissing their husbands, couples holding hands at events. The Lord can take it – He knows your pain, He knows your children’s pain – He will take it all upon Him, He can’t take it away only His return can spare us that, but He can comfort us.

There is so much more I could write, but I know that one’s mind can only hold so much especially in the time of grief. Please, reach out to me, if you don’t know of any other young widows, I’d love to come along side you and just listen.

 

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I have HOPE


I have hope.

I didn’t think that I would be able to ever say or think that again back in December of 2014.

I knew then and I know now that God is there – He is for me and with me BUT in the midst of grief, caring for my children, planning a funeral – one doesn’t recognize that all the time – all you can personally feel, see, touch, taste is the grief.

Overwhelming grief.

I’ve lost before – all my Grandparents are gone.  I lost class mates in high school.  I’m no stranger to loss but I’ve never lost a spouse and that is a loss so different from losing a friend, a Grandparent – it rips a hole in your heart, your mind, your soul that feels like it will never mend.

Going to bed alone at night.

Reaching for a hand that isn’t there.

Wanting to make a phone call to a person who can’t answer.

In Ecclesiastes 3 we are told (not including the whole text here):

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

Don’t get me wrong – I’m no where near acceptance but I’m finding it a little bit easier to find hope in the everyday.

I don’t dread going out into public like I did the first two months.

I can tell people easier, not without tears, but I’m not hysterical like I was in January had someone asked.

There is still a time to weep and we just did that on Sunday in church as a young lady sang a song about earthly and Heavenly dads.

There will be no dad to protect my girls from boys.  Their husbands will never know the man they are measured against.

So we are still weeping.

We are laughing – when we remember Don’s laugh or one of his many sayings:

“It builds character”

We can remember him with laughter and I find myself laughing at life.  Watching my son at a karate tournament, where even though he didn’t place, he was MUCH improved from the last one – Don would be happy.

Lately, I’ve been taking solace in journaling and Bible journaling – drawing, writing, painting, and stamping in my Bible gives me a relaxing way to get into God’s Word and soak it up.  Many verses have been speaking to me and one day I’ll have a keepsake my children and grandchildren and hopefully great grandchildren can treasure and see the legacy I’ve left for them.

March 9th was Don’s birthday.  He would have been 45.  On the 13th we marked the 3 month mark of his passing.

We put flowers and released balloons at the cemetery.  We laughed.  We laughed that he would have been upset that I spent good money, even if it was only $6.99 for crazy daises.  We laughed that he would complain I spent too much money on his casket.  We cried that he was gone.

We also agreed that on this birthday he didn’t have to go to work, he was not in ANY pain, he wasn’t stressed about bills.  We cried that he isn’t here, I know he’s with the Lord but he isn’t here and so we come back to the point where I’m not at acceptance.  Even three months later I’m still waiting for him to come through the door, although not as much as I was in December.

The sound of his laughter is fading.  The sound of his voice is fading.  The feel of his soft skin and beautiful hands is fading.  The only smell of him is what is left in his cologne bottle.  My son even told me the other day, I can’t remember what dad sounded like.

This post isn’t about tears though – it’s about hope and while I feel guilty for laughing, for living, I also know Don would not want me wallowing in sorrow.  He was never one to let the world get him down, oh he may have gotten sad, or mad but he wouldn’t stay down.  He would want me to have hope.

The sun has been out quite a bit lately and that helps.  It tells me spring is here, even if it’s still cold,

The Son gives me hope for where I’ll be when I pass – while the Bible tells us there will not be husband and wife, mother or father in Heaven, I think we’ll know each other and I’ll get to see Don in his glorified body.  I’d like to think he’ll be there waiting for me with our baby we lost, standing next to my Grandparents and Great Grandparents, welcoming me home and the Lord most of all and I pray to hear the words “well done, good and faithful servant”.

So I have hope – yes there are still days of tears and pain but there is also the days of laughter and joy.  Even as I finalized the order for our cemetery marker I felt a bit of hope – it wasn’t too fancy but honors who we are/were – husband and wife, son and daughter, and the parents of three wonderful, if sometimes trying, children.  It symbolizes our faith and will show the legacy we’ve left.

Hope, because sometimes that is all we have to hold to.

(c) 2015, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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One month….


I debated on how to count the time – go by each Saturday or go by the day, the 13th?  I’ve debated and even asked friends.

I’ve decided to count by Saturdays – each Saturday marking one week – one long, sad, alone week.

Today is the 10th – I’ve been a widow for four weeks – one month.

One month!

Oh my heart aches – I’m trying not to cry as I write this – I’m not at home as I write or I would be crying.

The holidays are over.  The meals are trickling to a stop.

But the reminders are there – his toothbrush still sits in the holder in the bathroom.  His shirts still hang in our closet.  His car is in the garage.  The reminders.

I still can’t see myself as a widow – a widow has gray hair, wears big, clunky shoes, has grandchildren and maybe even great grandchildren.  I’m 36 – I’m young, I have maybe two strands of gray – I am surrounded by our children, not grandchildren.

My hand is empty.  My lips haven’t been kissed in 4 weeks.  I haven’t felt his touch in 4 weeks, the gentle “groping” that at one time annoyed me to no end.

I’m still waiting…..waiting for him to come through the door, to call me, to drive me nuts with another zombie movie, to tell me he loves me, to do something.

Instead – I’m left with an empty bed, an empty hand, a hole where one shouldn’t be.  Along with my husband’s death comes the death of our dreams –

Dreams of more children, vacation dreams, seeing our children graduate, get married and serve the Lord.

Dreams of owning our own DD transportation business, dreams of owning a camper and traveling, dreams to see Greece, Ireland and Germany.

I recently told a couple friends, that if only I hadn’t love him or loved him so much then the loss wouldn’t feel so bad, the hurt would be easier to cure……..

If I hadn’t loved so deeply that I could get back to normal and ignore the space in our family – my night driver, my errand runner, my lover……..

I often wonder did he know how much I loved him?  I could get mad at something small…..did he know?  I pray he knew – I wasn’t the romantic one – oh how I wish I had been more romantic.

Some say things can’t change in the blink of an eye – well my life did – in a matter of hours my whole life changed – I lost my husband, my friend, the dad of my children.  The provider, the defender, my other half.

I can still feel the cold as I touched his hand as I tried to wake him, thinking he was playing some horrible, terrible joke on me.  The stiffness where there once used to be soft, tender skin.  Still I wait thinking think he isn’t really gone, then I get a card in the mail, a call on the phone, or a look from one of my child saying “I miss dad”.  He’s gone.

One month.

One long month has passed and I wonder how I’ll make it to month 2, month 3.  Yes, I know the Lord is there – but I must admit that doesn’t warm my bed at night, that doesn’t kiss my lips or give me a hug when I need it.  Please, don’t think me blasphemous that is not my intent – I’d so much rather have my husband here and while I know I can seek comfort in the Lord it’s not the same as having your spouse next you.

I’m working through much – some days are okay other days are so, so hard.  I try to do something each day – like now we’re getting back into the children’s activities and we’ve gone to a couple stores.  The anxiety when I go to a store is so high I almost can’t stand it.  I want to call Don and ask him if so and so is a good deal.  I NEED to talk to him but alas he isn’t here. I know one day I’ll see him again but until then my heart hurts. My brain is muddled and I’m alone.

One month.

(c) 2015, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Happy Anniversary??


As most people celebrate the new year and the rolling in of 2015 – I am left with feelings of loss and not of celebration but of sadness and grief.  Today would have marked my 14th wedding anniversary to my husband – 14 years of ups and downs and a testimony that gives God the glory in our life.

Here is a post about our 9th anniversary and our 7th. Here is one I wrote about Marriage and about Love.  I honestly don’t know if I should still consider this our anniversary.  I’m confused.  Do I celebrate our anniversary as we would have when Don was here?  Do we forget about it and move on?  Can I say I’ve been married 14 years even though he’s been gone now almost 3 weeks?  I. DON’T. KNOW.

When we married I had my sister in law leave out the whole obey part – now I wish we had left in – but at that point I wasn’t going to obey anyone but myself!  As I look at the marriage vows several things stand out to me:

  • we had and held each other from the day we said “I do” – even though there were times of fighting we always came back together stronger and ready to take on the world.
  • for better and for worse – yep, covered that, if you read the older posts you’ll know our first few years were fraught with harsh words, slamming doors, raised voices and flying objects, we’ve been at the worst and we’ve been at the best.
  • for richer for poorer – yes, we covered that too well except for richer – we’ve never even been close to rich even when my hubby was working two jobs so I could stay home we were never rich but the poor we had that covered like a couple of pros.
  • in sickness and in health – the last couple years we’ve had our share of sickness with his heart issues and what we suspect were gallbladder issues but the doctors wrote him off, my bouts with pneumonia and an ongoing cough and that doesn’t include our children’s illnesses.  We had our periods of good health – in fact in November of this year he had a pace maker put in and was feeling the best he had felt in awhile so when my son found him the morning of 12-13-14 it was a complete shock.
  • to love and cherish – more about this later but yes, we loved one another and we did cherish our relationship and our time together.
  • till death do us part – this is the one I never thought I’d have to go through.  I imagined us as an elderly couple in our 80’s and even our 90’s surrounded by our children, grandchildren and maybe even a great grandchild or two – we’d hold hands and we’d both pass onto our Eternal reward together.  Neither left behind.  No.  That was a dream.  We’d talked the “what ifs” – but I never really thought it would happen not to him at 44 and not to me at 36 with three children at home.

An online friend of mine lost her husband several months ago to cancer and she writes a wonderful blog titled The Joyful Widow – I especially liked her recent post, A Widow’s Fear of Being Alone.  Of course, right now I don’t feel like chatting on the phone nor do I feel like going out and doing things, but it will come, in time it will come.  Today, our anniversary also marks two weeks since his funeral service – should have timed that better – it’s hard to know that the day you’re supposed to celebrate your anniversary now becomes the day that you realize you said good-bye to your friend.

I used a bit of the Christmas gift money to order a mother/family ring, it was something I had wanted but we kept putting off thinking there would be more children.  As I stood at the counter looking at the rings, the sales lady who knew nothing of my loss, recommended a ring that I could add more too.  I kindly told her there would be no more children.  She looked at me, smiled, and said well you’re young there could be more.  I smiled and said no, my husband passed so there will be no more children.  I ordered a ring that included six stones:  March for my hubby, August for myself, I chose April for our baby we lost as it the clear color reminds me of purity like a baby, February for our oldest, September for our middle and July for our son.  It is something I know Don would have picked out for me, it’s plain not gaudy or large, but simple and elegant.

So much has been going on during this time – Saturday will be 3 weeks since his passing and it still feels like yesterday – I’ve had to start tossing the flowers from the service as they die.  I’ve been told I wouldn’t want to see the flowers and plants but to me, they represent the love people felt for my husband and also for us – seeing the tangible acts of love makes me treasure these plants.  My oldest had to convince to throw out the dead flowers we couldn’t use for jewelry.  I’m finding I could hang onto everything that reminds me of him.  I’m making it a goal to keep these plants alive so that in some way I can keep the love that was felt toward him alive in our home.

On Christmas day I went down to do laundry and found, to my dismay, our basement partially flooded.  A friend came out to help.  Ended up having to shell out money for a plumber which seems to have fixed the issue.  Monday I have Sears coming out to do a check up on our dishwasher, thankfully it’s free so I figured better do it now.  I’m still waiting to figure out what benefits we’ll be receiving, and as of last night I have zero health insurance for myself and I can’t really get Medicaid until I get his benefit statement.  There are so many hoops that I have to go through and in my muddled mind they are bigger and much larger than they really are, or so I’m told, but to me they seem insurmountable.

I’m reading a book right now titled From One Widow to Another by Miriam Neff and it’s got some good stuff in it, although not everything pertains to me such as going back to work.  I had many try to sympathize with me about how they lost a parent, a sibling, or even to compare their divorce to my loss.  One thing Miriam points out is that our loss is final.  “Over.  No second chance, no future hope, no rewind or replay.”  She stresses that our loss isn’t great only that it’s different.  I honestly can’t take on another burden’s – there are well meaning people who are draining on me – they want to tell me of all their losses and how they grieved – but I can’t take that on, not right now.

I’m going to do another post on the whole love and cherish thing because I believe it needs it’s own post especially to give my husband the honor he deserves.  If you have other suggested books that you’d recommend that are written by Godly women based on Biblical principals for widows, please leave me a comment with them.  Try to refrain from recommending books geared towards elderly widows as they are and will go through things different from being a young widow who is staying home with her children and homeschooling.  As much as I hate to sound like I’m asking for money, if you feel led to contribute I do have a fund set up at Huntington Bank and you can go to any Huntington and make a donation to “The Bailey Family Fund” I also have PayPal if you’d like to donate that way (I won’t use Go Fund Me as I didn’t realize how many fees they take) leave me a comment and I can message you my email if you leave a contact for yourself.  Thank you for listening to me ramble on.

(c) 2015, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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