A widow is a unique lady who, now that her husband is gone, not only has this once very special day (wedding day)transformed into a very painful day, but has also added another anniversary to her annual calendar—the anniversary of her husband’s death. Both become very painful days, days which pastors and the church need to be aware are coming in the lives of the widows in their care:
This day becomes the day every spouse dreads to have in their life, that is, the yearly reminder of when their spouse passed away. This day brings back the memories all over again of not just the passing of their spouse, but the circumstances surrounding it. It could have been the final day in a long, hard, painful death from cancer or some other horrific disease or illness that finally won. It could have been the day where that unthinkable phone call comes from the police that her husband was just killed in a car crash and it is a day that brings back the memories of having to identify the body and tell her children, “Daddy isn’t coming home.”
The best way to care for a widow on this day is simply to be aware when this day is approaching and make intentional plans to extend care on that day. If you are writing a card, get it in the mail a couple of days ahead of time so it arrives on that day. If you are able to pay a visit, warm Christian fellowship is a wonderful way to pass the time and help her get through this day. Even a phone call, text, or email can be a meaningful effort on that particular day. No one can take away the painful memories of this day, but what we can do is remind them they are loved and not forgotten as the memories of this dreadful day coming flooding back.
We can be certain that every widow, regardless of the duration of their marriage, remembers her wedding anniversary. It becomes, arguably, the hardest day of the year for her. This means that the church should be keenly aware of this day also and seize the opportunity to care for a widow on it. How can we extend meaningful care on this day? Find a meaningful way to celebrate this day based on how she used to celebrate it with her husband.
We had an elderly lady in our church lose her husband of over sixty years. A young man in the church recalled her telling the story of what her husband always did for her on their anniversary. Each year, the husband presented her a yellow rose accompanied by a card with hand-written encouraging words inside.
On the afternoon of her anniversary, this young man arrived at this woman’s door with a yellow rose and a hand-written card to give to this woman. Did this act replace the absent effort of her late husband? Certainly not. However, this gesture was incredibly meaningful for this woman, and it forever changed the relationship she had with this young man. She still talks about how much that meant to her; how thoughtful it was; how much it reminded her of her husband’s love for her. That young man now possesses a door into her life to care for her physically and spiritually in ways few in the church can.
Pastors, the most fruitful ministry is often times done when we know the needs of our people and we extend care in those most needed times. These two anniversaries are certainly two moments every widow needs care and will probably be most receptive to it.