This prompted me to study the meaning of ‘widow’ in the Hebrew and Greek. Not being a theologian, I simply went to dictionaries like Strong’s and Unger’s Bible Dictionary. I discovered phrases like, “lacking a husband either figuratively or literally,” “desolate,” “bereaved.” Other phrases were, “of uncertain derivation,” “a woman abandoned.”
Given those definitions, the term ‘widow’ includes more than our western concept of one whose husband has died. To have once had a husband and to now have none unites many.
A friend whose husband is incarcerated found that the widows need to select her new ‘Board of Directors,’ those who will advise her with HER best interests at heart, not their own, was an important concept for her. She needed to discover those who would be her support network for her and her six children, given the reality that her husband is in prison.
Another friend’s husband had moved out, taking the checkbook and more. Her unconditional trust of her husband was admirable. Yet, she was placing herself and her child at great risk by ignoring the legal ramifications of what he was doing and spending, all of which were not in her best interests. Our Bible study on the persistence of a widow seeking justice, and God’s love for those of us alone, empowered her to face the realities in her life. Yes, it was a tearful and tough recognition. Our group was a safe place for those tears and her anger as well.
In my travels in Africa, I had observed a unity of sisterhood between women whose husbands had died and women whose husbands had simply left them. It was not uncommon for a man to announce to his family that he was going to another area, usually a big city or an area that had mining opportunities, to find better work. Often those men never returned. They settled in to a new place and sometimes started another family. That Mom left behind was, by biblical definition, a woman abandoned, desolate, not unlike the woman whose husband had died.
These women shared watching each other’s children while one walked to their maize patch to garden. Given that the patch might be more than a mile from the village, this sisterhood was important for survival. In some cases, the villages were predominately women and children.
This realization for me has raised more questions than answers.
Thankfully churches are beginning to awaken to the biblical mandate of James 1: 27 that is not just about caring for orphans, but widows as well. Does that mandate include all ‘abandoned’ women?
Whether the church acts or not, are there ways that those of us who are widows because of our husbands death, can serve and comfort other abandoned women?
I welcome your insights and comments. Contact us and let us know your thoughts.
I’ve posted an excellent article titled, “7 Ways To Recession-Proof Your Life.” These 7 tips are excellent regardless of the economic out look, but are especially helpful today.
Also, these are good days to go back to your basic budget and trim, trim, trim. Its also a good time to make another pot of my comfort food, Miriam’s Girl Chili--good for your health and budget.
In Mozambique, I’ll be actually staying in a widow’s village. Donations are coming in for me to provide this village with 6 sewing machines--Singer treadle foot--like the kind I learned on as a child! Also, with your help Widowconnection will provide the necessary resources for widows to operate this project for 6 months. This is a viable self-sustaining economic project. Yes, we’d appreciate your financial support, and your prayers on this new adventure!
The most important goals in communication are to always safe-guard the relationship and to always seek to fully understand other’s perspective before beginning dialog.
Try asking your spouse or your parents some of the following questions to start a dialog on this topic.
1. How many times do you want to move?
Might want to move to a one level home or condo, then move elsewhere later or maybe move into a Continuing Care Community where all levels of care are available and no other moves are needed.
2. How much space do you actually need?
One bedroom, a living room and a kitchenette might be enough or it might be too small at this time. Remember you would also have use of the common areas at your new location, such as guest suite, private dining room, a library, exercise facilities, etc.
3. Is home maintenance causing worry or stress?
Look at what will have to be maintained or even replaced if they stay where they are
for the next few years. “At what point is it no longer worth trying to keep it up?” How would
you know when it is time to move to something that is not a burden?
4. Do you have safety concerns?
How would you describe your physical capacity? Do the stairs present a difficulty either up
to the bedroom or down to the laundry in the basement? Do you climb a ladder to store things in the attic or the garage? The goal is to make a change before an accident happens.
5. Are you still comfortable with your neighborhood?
Has the two-lane street become a four-lane highway? Or maybe too much neglect has reduced the quality of the neighborhood. What has changed around you?
6. Do you expect to live with your children?
Every family will have their definite opinion about this. For some, even though they may wish they could do this, it is impossible. Be sure you talk openly and kindly about these things.
7. Are you concerned about being a burden to your children, family or friends?
What would being a “burden” look like to you? How strongly would you want to avoid this? Rate your feelings on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest.
8. Who is your support system?
If there was an emergency, who would you call? Could your spouse really deal with it or would you need other close family members? How quickly could they come? Where do they live? Would moving closer be a pro-active thing to do?
9. What if you could no longer drive?
How would this impact your social, recreational and doctor appointment needs? Would that indicate that it is time to move?
10. If something happened to either one of you, what would that mean for your spouse?
Would the surviving spouse be capable and comfortable in managing the home alone?
11. How important to you is it that you make your own choices?
If it is important to you, make those choices before you are unable to make those choices. Important choices are: 1) Who do you want to have your precious, sentimental and sometimes valuable items? 2) Who would you want to have the power of attorney? 3) If you had to be moved to a assisted living or skilled nursing location, which one would you choose based on your financial reality? If you want to stay in as much control as possible, making these choices ahead of time is mandatory.
12. How attached are you to your “stuff”?
Where would you begin reducing the quantity? Where would you want to give your
larger or extra items that will not be needed in the downsizing? Sometimes a professional organizer can help with the sorting.
13. How important is it to be located near children or family?
Rate that importance on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. Which adult child or family member is most capable and available to serve your needs in times of decreasing abilities? Do you need to make a move now to be closer to them?
14. If left alone, can you maintain your current lifestyle?
Explore some “what ifs” options of what might fit best for the remaining spouse. Would they be able physically and financially to maintain their current living location?
15. Would you prefer to make a lifestyle transition by yourself, as the remaining spouse, or do it together as a couple while you are able?
Maybe you think, we’ll just wait. If something happens to one of us, then the other one can cross that bridge when they come to. If you make the move together, then the other one isn’t left alone to deal with all the “stuff” and the transition. Even if you choose not to make any move together, what actions can you take now to make that transition go more smoothly for the remaining spouse, such as clean out the closets, give away some large items that would never fit in a downsized location,
have certain rooms painted, etc.
16. Is it increasing difficult to get out and socialize or to drive at night?
Has your evening socializing reduced over the last few years due to poorer night vision? Do you spend more and more time watching TV? Do you go to few interesting events lately? Do you have nothing to talk about because you are not taking in any new information or experiences?
Knowing what loved ones think on these issues gives insight into what and when future actions might need to be. The interaction support is so valuable for them not to feel abandoned.
Summarized by Carol Nevin of Axelson Realty, Northbrook – 847-271-2711
From the book: “Senior Housing 101, Your Basic Field Guide to Understanding Today’s Complex Senior Housing Market” by Randalynn Kaye.
See her website at http://www.Elder-Transitions.com
Miriam’s Comfort Corner
As fall settles in the Midwest chilly breezes are bringing down the first yellow leaves from my walnut tree. Maples are turning and the squirrels have kicked into overdrive hoarding acorns and walnuts.
Longer evenings and earlier darkness are not necessarily something we gladly anticipate. I confess, however, that I welcome a freeze frame on my overwhelmingly healthy weeds enveloping my home.
So here are a few suggestions. Visit your local library and check out the Mitford series by Jan Karon. Each book is filled with warmth, humor, and personalities you can’t help loving.
Before settling in, make a pot of my girl chili. Women get this. Men like lots of meat, spice, and beans. My recipe is different. Here it is.
Miriam’s Girl Chili
1 1/2 # lean ground beef
2 small cans of chili beans (you can omit this and it will still be yummy)
1 fresh zucinni (6 inches long)
5 celery stalks
1/2 large green pepper
1/2 large red pepper
3 green onions
1/2 bag baby carrots
2 large cans diced tomotoes (or the equivalent fresh if you garden)
Chile powder, salt, and pepper to taste.
Water to the consistency you desire
Brown the ground beef, add chopped onions and peppers and continue to heat. Add beans, tomatoes, and the other chopped vegetables. Add chili powder, salt, and pepper. Add water only if you like a thinner soup. Simmer until vegetables are tender.
What to do with such a large pot of soup? Put in smaller containers and freeze to pull out on later, colder days. Give one to a friend. Invite a few women over for soup supper and talk about the books you are reading.
Good book, good soup, and God--bring on the chill.
Isaiah 51: 12 "I, even I, am he who comforts you.