Our Friends Are Widows


widowI never expected to watch our friends become widows. Friends, as in plural, more than one. We aren’t even 40 years old yet and have more than one widowed friend. It cuts like a knife every time I think about it, and I know it’s not one ounce of the pain they feel. I miss our friends that passed, and I miss the person their spouse was before these tragedies. I remember seeing my friend hold his newborn baby. I remember my friend’s laugh and her smile. Right after the first loss, I remember feeling helpless. So, I started reading. I researched and read endless articles, books, blog posts, you name it, on how to support a widow/widower.

I would like to share some of the tips I found most helpful.

  1. The support dwindles after the funeral. Leading up to the funeral, people have family and friends reaching out regularly. They see food coming to their houses and cards in the mail. Be the friend that provides as much support after the funeral as before.
  2. Talk less and listen more. Everyone wants to fix things. You can’t fix this, but you can listen. Saying less can mean more.
  3. Meet your friend where they are. Do not have any expectations of how their grief timeline will go. There is no linear fashion in which they will “heal” or “get over it.” That’s impossible. The grief and loss are ingrained into who they are now. They have to learn how to live with this new life, and you have to learn how you fit into that.
  4. Talk about their significant other and find ways to keep their memory alive. Your friend wants to talk about their loved one. One of my friends started an email account for people to email in stories. Think of different stories or different memories, and tell your friend when you are thinking of their loved one. Consider donating or volunteering your time yearly to an organization in memory of your friend.
  5. Give yourself time to grieve and take breathers. You are also going through a loss. You do not need to pretend to be strong and have it all together. Your friend wants you to be genuine. You will have days you are emotionally drained, so you must take care of yourself too.

I hope that you never find yourself in this position, but you may find yourself needing to support someone undergoing a significant loss. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one-third of widows are widowed before age 45. Death is tragic, no matter the age or the reason. Resources are available for widows, but nothing can replace the support of family and friends. You have to get in the trenches with your friend and be an active participant in their journey. The journey has no end, it is messy and takes unexpected twists and turns. However, you will learn to be a better friend and a better person throughout the process. I promise you will never regret lending a listening ear, lending a than,d and lending whatever else your friend needs.