I was reading an article about a current flaw in America’s social service net. It’s focused more on identifying the worthy, while forgetting the needy. Most popular news or social media trendy articles, highlight successful people, while often shedding little light on those in precarious situations or dire situations in life.
The article brought me to draw a conclusion about the treatment of widows. My observation focuses on how society, support programs and even churches treat widows. I know there are many articles about the lack of resources for widows or how society groups all widows in the same category as those who have experienced other types of grief and loss. Most of us (widows) have felt the “emotional sting” when someone compares losing our husband, with losing their beloved pet animal. While it’s a loss, it’s not quite the same.
The only common denominator of widows is that we no longer have our spouse here on earth. That’s what makes us a widow. That common denominator is a strong link that unites us reading blogs from other widows who chose to tell their stories of the grief journey as they experience it.
Stories of determination in the face of hurting hearts, perplexing financial situations, increasing health challenges, solo parenting kids under 18 years old or supporting adult kids over 18 with disabilities. We are determined to live on.
The reality is that we all need help. We, as widows all need someone, some support system, some church or religious organization, friendship, or neighbors to identify and provide for our ever-increasing needs.
These needs may be more pronounced initially when it’s all so new learning to navigate life without our spouses. As we travel the widowhood journey, reaching out to others may be minimized but we still require some assistance. I’ve found the longer I am a widow, while my fears have changed and shifted, I still have many concerns about my future ability to live a good life as a senior solo parent. Life does not get easier- I just learn ways to adjust.
In many ways, I wish there was a way to “self-identify” my ongoing need for assistance. I still need someone to help me with home repairs, or to support me as I think through challenging experiences that arise. But people stopped asking if I need help. They either assume I have it all together, or don’t require assistance. Well, I don’t have uncles, cousins, brothers, or any close relative to “pop over” and fix things when they break. I must seek out a professional to pay for even the most minor household repair. I seek out a man’s opinion on many things I am puzzled with, and often end up empty handed. There is no one.
In some countries, mourners wear all black clothing to identify their grieving period. It could be for 30 days or even several years. People know to treat that widow with kindness and to offer support and help. When I traveled to Ghana years ago, I witnessed firsthand the gentle kindness shown several widows, as people in the neighborhood brought food, helped with household chores and were generally available for as long as required. I wish in America, we had identifying markers (a badge, or sticker?) which would let people know a widow is still mourning and needs kindness shown. What a community of compassion could be developed! Widows wouldn’t have to suffer alone in their isolated pain and loneliness or be starving for hug or even monetary support. People wouldn’t have to ask, “Are you ok?” Grace and compassion would extend to young and old widows, for however long it is needed. Maybe we can start a movement of widow compassion? Create a Hope for Widows badge we can sell and help identify a widow who needs kindness? Let me know your thoughts?