Becoming a widow at 33 was never on my to-do list. The journey was harder and darker than I ever could have expected. My walk with Christ was strong, but without my church being the hands and feet of Jesus, lifting me up when I couldn’t lift myself, I don’t know where I would be.
Ministering to young widows can be a difficult journey. It can be hard to know what to do or how to reach out. Young widows’ needs can be overwhelming. Here are just a few tips to pray and think through if you know a young widow:
To be remembered is one of the most meaningful things, whether in the early days of grief or years down the road. This includes the anniversary of the hard days, the happy days, doing special things for holidays and remembering these women every single day and letting them know it.
Grief is a long road. Widows need constant support and commitment they can depend on. With all the changes going on in their lives, if the church can be the one physical constant, it can provide the stability necessary for healing.
Church should be a safe place, safe physically and emotionally. Young widows need the church but so often no longer know where they belong. Going to a mostly marrieds small group was the only place I felt comfortable. As I stepped foot into a house for small group, the tears flooded my eyes. One of the small group leader’s wives took me by the hand, walked me to a side room, pulled out a box of tissues and let me cry. It was a safe place. Even though I had made huge steps to be there all alone, I stayed because of their response. It was this small group that I leaned on in the days to come.
The needs can be great, and young widows are mostly just trying to survive. If a church can come alongside and meet as many physical needs as they possibly can, such as mowing the lawn and bringing meals, that will free the widow mentally, emotionally and physically to take care of other things that no one else can do for her.
Being loved has many shapes and faces. There are many ways to reach out and love on young widows and their families, and each way shows God’s special care and love.
God will use his church to care for widows; the church just needs to seek his plan for their care. I’ve heard widows share countless stories of how God used people to meet every single need from the big to the small—all orchestrated in ways only he can do.
Spring Rutland is a women’s ministry representative for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.