Note from Miriam:
I first met Christy in Colorado Springs, Summer 2012. She had just moved into her new home with sons Landon, Caleb, and Joel, ages 12 to 3. She hosted a group of military widows. I had the humbling honor of listening to their stories, and their unique needs. Yes, we laughed, cried, and found we had some things in common, though the military experience is truly unique. At her lower level, these young widow’s children romped and played. The city was under pre-evacuation warnings due to wild fires, but we took little notice. We were connecting, I was learning, and they were eager to share so others could gain comfort from their journeys. Here’s a bit of Christy’s story. HERE
Hatie’s story is a departure from those you see here. She entered heaven decades ago. Grandma Hatie was an intriguing lady. She and Grandpa lived with us during his illness, and she lived with us much of her widowed life, which was probably 30 years. During the years I knew her, I listened to stories about her life in rural Kentucky, her thoughts on the Hatfields, her suiters, as she called them, and how she taught herself Algebra and Geometry. We never really talked of her widowhood. I was a young mother when she died, and probably consumed with parenting my little brood rather than considering how her life changed when she lost Grandpa.
Her greatest gift for me (and the rest of us) was not discovered until after her death at age 97. She left a sturdy suitcase packed with a few cotton dresses and talcum powder. These words were crowded efficiently onto three small sheets of paper. READ HERE
“Hi Miriam. My name is Brittany Grider and I am a 28 year old widow. My husband, Aaron, was killed in September of 2010 while serving in Afghanistan. My worst nightmare had come true, and now I faced life on this earth without my husband, partner and best friend by my side. It has been a year and a half of deep discernment, time spent in God's Word and with fellow believers; time learning more about and remembering God's sovereignty, mercy, and unshakeable, unbreakable love. Aaron's witness to me in his life on this earth and his sacrificial death has changed my life...and I am so grateful to our Father for sharing Aaron with me.”
I’ll share more of what Brittany is doing today. But first, meet Aaron. ...more HERE
Darlene Parks has said yet another, “Good bye.” Her hardest ‘Good Bye’ was in December, 2008 when her husband Dan was tragically killed in an accident leaving her with children ages 17, 14, and 13. With our email meeting, she shared her reality today. ...read about it HERE.
I have not met Kerri personally, however, I think her story is important to us all. What a woman of courage! This is taken and used with permission from From Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front by Karen Whiting and Jocelyn Green. Copyright © 2012, God & Country Press, an imprint of AMG Publishers. All rights reserved.)
Kerri Hartwick, wife of Chief Warrant Officer Michael Hartwick, Iraq 2005–2006
Michael and Kerri Hartwick were high school sweethearts. They married during their senior year of college and then decided together that he would join the military.
“His dream was always to fly,” said Kerri. “He loved airplanes, anything that flew. I was supportive.”
Milena Bekteshi is a young widow I hope to meet. In exploring helping widows in Albania, my friend, Enkelejda, sent me her story. I share it here with encouragement that God’s love for widows transcends differences in cultures and countries. While I cannot imagine the death of one’s husband while in the hospital giving birth to her son, I do know God’s comfort is great enough for any circumstance.
“When you lose a husband the very first thing you want to do is to tell to someone else that had that kind of loss how deep is the pain and to be understood . It is so important to ask them how long your soul will be shattered and if there’s any hope because you don’t see any.
So when I lost my husband I didn’t have around me a mature widow to ask these many questions I had. I was so full of pain, and angriness. I had just given birth to our son, and I had a 1 year old baby girl to take care. My pain was greater because I never saw my husband dead. I was in the hospital giving birth when my husband died and my parents and the parents of my husband decided to bury him without my presence. Nobody understood my pain. I begin to search on the internet for books and caught my eyes the title From one widow to another from Miriam Neff. I sent the link to one of my US friends to buy a copy for me and she did.
I read and I read it very often. It was like having someone in front of me and was like reading my mind and the hundred question I had on my head.
– Milena Bekteshi.
Forgiveness at the Foot of the Cross
Cheryl McGuinness’s husband, Tom, had been a copilot on American Airlines Flight 11 when it was hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. At that moment, Tom was ushered into heaven, which gave Cheryl and her two teenagers great comfort—but the loss was still piercing. ...more HERE.
Please say “I remember.” We love to hear tender, funny, and just interesting things about the one we lost from your perspective.
Let go of your expectations: yourself and others.
Invite us out to anything. Be specific example – do you want to go with me (date and time) to the new Arboretum exhibit, new breakfast restaurant, etc. Ask if there is anything in particular we’d like to do with someone joining. Just keep asking and inviting if we’re not ready or able to. It’s nice to be asked.
It’s OK to say that you just don’t know what to say to encourage us. That’s way better than saying “I know how you feel… my cat/dog/goldfish died last year…”
Be willing to flex from traditions. Changes are not necessarily permanent and things will be different anyway.
Guard your heart from your ears. You will hear people say things that you shouldn’t take personally.
Prepare for the unexpected, both positive and negative. Remembering a favorite dish that does not need to be prepared, an item that needn’t be purchased, an empty chair, will occur when we least expect it.
Make a memory. For example, for Christmas, create an ornament with the persons name and a word that describes them, or simply a picture.
Try something new, light-hearted, and fun.
Sign up to a service project this season. You will hopefully meet interesting and kindhearted people as you serve along side them. A side benefit is seeing we are not the only ones struggling.
Find a light holiday series of books and read through them all. Nighttime can be lonely and a great book can be a little comfort. (I called this going to Mitford)