Personally, I find asking for help difficult. I was raised to be tough and independent, not to rely on others. However, I have also learned over the past nine months that managing finances, childcare, and grief all at the same time is a fairly tall order. So, I have learned how to access resources, reach out for assistance, and let go when I need to.
Whether we realize it or not, young widows with children often face unique challenges and need support to navigate their grief and the more practical aspects of raising children alone. Fortunately, various resources and organizations can provide assistance and understanding during this difficult time, including these recommendations based on my personal experience.
1. Grief Support Groups
Joining local or online grief support groups can be beneficial for young widows. These groups offer a safe space to share experiences, emotions, and coping strategies with others who have gone through similar losses. You can usually find groups with a quick Google search or by checking with your local hospice care provider.
2. Nonprofit Organizations
Nonprofit organizations are usually great local resources for people who need immediate assistance. Many of these groups are set up to help with the physical, financial, and emotional needs of families. Some even have specific programs geared towards those who have experienced traumatic life events, including the death of a spouse. They can help you get back on your feet and move forward.
There are also nonprofit organizations specifically dedicated to supporting widows and widowers, providing resources, counseling, financial aid, and community programs. Some examples include our own Hope For Widows Foundation, Modern Widows Club, and Soaring Spirits International.
3. Counseling and Therapy Services
Professional grief counseling and therapy can help young widows and their children healthily process their emotions and grief. Look for therapists experienced in grief counseling or family therapy, as this will be most beneficial. Also, if you can find counseling centers with dedicated therapists for children, that can be especially beneficial for your children.
4. Social Services and Government Agencies
Many countries and states have social service agencies that offer assistance to widows and single parents. These services may include financial aid, childcare support, and access to resources like food assistance programs. You may find that you are eligible for unique programs designed for newly single parents, or your children may qualify for certain benefits because they lost a parent. A social worker or similar professional can help connect you with the right agencies based on your needs.
5. Religious and Community Support
Local churches, mosques, synagogues, or community centers may offer support groups and assistance to young widows, including practical help and emotional support. I know that the church we attend has a widow’s group that meets monthly and they have a specific ministry designed to help single parents with finances and other physical needs.
6. Online Forums and In-Person Parenting Groups
There are various online platforms where young widows can connect with others in similar situations, such as social media groups, forums, and virtual support communities. Reddit is a great place for this, with a highly supportive subreddit called r/Widowers, and anyone is free to post there for support or advice.
You can also look for parenting support networks or organizations that offer advice, resources, and connections to other single parents. You can seek out these groups online or use apps like MeetUp to find them.
7. Financial Advisors
Seeking the guidance of a financial advisor can help manage financial matters, especially if the widow is unfamiliar with handling finances alone. They may be able to provide advice for both short-term needs and long-term financial planning so you can feel confident with money. Some financial advisors even have resources and workshops designed explicitly for widowed parents, covering financial planning, legal matters, and parenting tips.
8. Schools and Educational Institutions
Schools and colleges may have counseling services available for children who have experienced the loss of a parent, helping them cope with their grief and adjust academically. A school counselor may also be able to check in with your child periodically and provide your family with a list of local nonprofits and other resources that may be helpful in your situation.
Remember, reaching out for help and support is a sign of strength, not weakness. The journey of healing and raising children as a young widow can be challenging, but it becomes more manageable with the right support network. All of these resources (and others) can really make or break the first year or two after losing your spouse, so don’t be afraid to seek help when you need it.