I woke up this week to news that a former church member had died last week before Christmas.  While not knowing any specifics, the news shook me for various reasons.  He and my husband had served in the church as ushers for many years and while not close to our family, he was one of the dedicated members that I remember fondly for his humor, smile, pleasant personality and for being an “all around good guy.”

The last time I was in he and his wife’s company was April of this year, and he greeted me warmly and gave me a hug I still remember today.  Most importantly, our conversation focused on memories of my husband that caused me to laugh and reflect on some of the good times we had in ministry.

When thinking of his now widow, my thoughts centered on how she must feel now.  Was he sick and suffered a long time? Or like my husband’s death, was it a sudden, unexpected experience?  Either way, I knew I must make time to reach out to her after he is funeralized and the relatives all return to the comforts of their respective homes. She will be alone.

As some of you may remember, I provide support to widows in my local community.  I am a peer leader of a widow’s group that meets monthly at a local funeral home and have been volunteering for over 5 years.  It’s fulfilling ministry and provides me an outlet to share my personal grief journey.  But it can be taxing and I do become weary.

When I meet a new widow, it can be a complex situation.  What do I share first?  Where is she in her feeling about her recent husband’s death, and is she ready to talk about the ups and downs of grief? Or ready to talk at all?

Being Present

Most times I provide the Ministry of Presence.  Just being there. Sitting, praying with, reading with, or even laughing.  Just being present is one of the most important actions I can provide.  It takes a special emotional stability to be present for someone grieving.  Not moving too fast, or sharing too much.  Just Be.

I was feeling the same complex feeling when reaching out to the wife of this current gentleman.  While I’ve known her for over 10 years, we aren’t close, but have always had great conversations about life, spirituality and maintaining our health as we age.  Knowing her, I sent a quick text to let her know she’s in my prayers and I am lifting her and her family up as she journeys the next couple of days and weeks.  I also let her know I will circle back and contact her to spend more quality time.  I wanted her to know I feel her pain and sorrow, as only another widow can.  I am here for her.

Shared Experiences

So, the question is always, what do I share with another widow? While most people think we are grieving only the loss of our husband. In truth we are grieving so much more, here are a few:

  • The loss of intimate conversations and discussions
  • Unfilled plans which include vacations and travels
  • The unique bond that only a marriage holds
  • Someone to confide in and help solve situations as they arise
  • The loneliness of experiencing life alone
  • Watching close couple friends shrink and become less contacts
  • Day to day household tasks and responsibilities no longer being shared
  • Loss of financial stability with one income
  • Missing sexual intimacy and even romantic dinner dates
  • Hugs, kissing and holding hands as a couple

How do I let my newly widowed friend know that the grief journey as a widow is like an ocean wave, never knowing when it will arrive slowly and suddenly wipe you out?

Like everything else, I will take time and slowly be in the present for her.  Listening, truly hearing her voice and pain. Allowing her to express and experience her own grief journey, while knowing she is a woman of faith and has a strong belief in God’s sustaining power.

I trust that with her faith and the resources I will offer her; she’ll be able to weather the storm, just like us. And give her the comfort to know I am here for her.  Don’t we all need someone like that?


Ajai Blue-Saunders is a servant leader and works for a nonprofit in the Richmond VA area. She is always seeking ways to encourage and serve others, even while experiencing the sudden death of her husband in 2015. Her work experience includes project development, herbalist, management, supervision and overseeing several companies and nonprofits.

Ajai has a heart for the disability community and serves on many local and national boards. She currently is solo parenting an artistic adult daughter with disabilitiies and together they are navigating this life with faith and love. She currently runs a widow's support group that meets monthly sponsored by a local funeral home which provides a safe place for widows to experience their grief journey with love and compassion.