How do we care for someone who has lost their soul mate, especially when the person enjoyed that companionship for over 50 years? This question poses a great challenge, but one that God in His grace can equip the church to do. There is no way to fill the void, but there are ways to soften the sting of loneliness that most who have lost their spouse will always struggle with, regardless how long ago it happened. One effective way to care for these dear saints is to find something in their life they enjoyed doing with their spouse and offer to go do it with them.
A widower in our church enjoyed 63 years of marriage with his wife, when he was shocked with her sudden diagnoses of advanced cancer. She died six weeks later. Four years later, this man has never stopped grieving her loss. There are many ways her death radically changed this man’s daily life. One in particular was his pattern of eating meals. He loved going to a restaurant with his wife, but after she died, he stopped going out to eat. Though his love for eating out still remained, he didn’t want to sit and eat by himself, knowing he would be thinking and missing her.
Once I realized through a conversation with him that this was the case, I asked if he would be willing to go to a restaurant and eat with me. He was surprised by the offer, but took me up on it. That was 3 years ago and we still go to lunch about once every month. He beams every time we go; he loves the company, loves to introduce me to his friends, and tell me the same stories. Though I invited him out originally, he never lets me pay. In God’s grace, it has provided an opportunity to shepherd and care for him spiritually as we eat and visit that I would have never had otherwise. I receive regular encouragement from him about how meaningful this time has been for him. As a result of this fruitful experience, several other church members have pursued lunch with this man and the spiritual care he has received from the congregation through this medium has been immeasurable!
Embrace the command to show a particular care for the widows (1 Tim. 5:1-16) and meet with those in your church who have lost their spouse. Ask about their deceased spouse and the things they did together that meant so much. You will gain insight into those things they loved to do as well as provide a healthy way for them to continue to grieve their loss. Make the time. Think creatively. You can have confidence you will be as blessed as they are by your efforts.