A Widow’s First Year Alone

Four Big Ideas and Advice

First Year AloneNo, I’m not really alone. I never have been, and I never will be.

But grief is hard. My husband died exactly one year ago. I don’t think I’ve ever been through anything so exhausting – not OB-Gyn residency where I’d spend long nights in the hospital with little or no sleep, not the weeks caring for my husband as he became increasingly unable to completely care for himself. They say losing a loved spouse is like losing an arm or a leg. I think it’s more like losing most of who you are.

Grief hurts. In some very real ways I’ve come to terms with the pain, and most of the time I focus more on the future than on the past. But there’s a treasure in grief that you can’t purchase any other way. Words don’t do it justice, and you’d never choose the pain you have to endure in order to get it. But for those of you who are walking a similar journey, perhaps these ideas will help you find your own treasure.

This is in response to some of you who have asked me to share more about my journey as a widow. I’ll try here to share some thoughts about what helped, and God’s place in the journey of grief.

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What to do with Pain as a Widow: 2 Critical Keys

The most helpful truth I learned

There’s no way to make death and grief OK. Death is an aberration in God’s universe, and every time we meet it there is suffering. We try all kinds of things to delay it, ignore it, and pretend we can evade it, but not one of us can escape death. Death hurts – a lot.

Grief is many things; loss, loneliness, anxiety, stress, anger, depression, exhaustion, and so much more. Grief comes in waves, and each one is different than the one before. If you’ve lost someone close to you, even caring friends are unlikely to fully appreciate its deep and long-lasting impact on your mind, heart, and life.

I think the best word to describe the impact of death on those of us left behind is pain. What do you do with the pain as a widow? The death of my husband Al last year wounded me deeply. And yet I’m still standing. Some days are harder than others, but I keep going. Some have asked how I can do so. It’s more than simply knowing God, although that’s important.

Several things have been helpful in my grief journey, but there’s one thing I’ve come to know that has made the most difference. And it is this:

It’s not supposed to not hurt.

You could take out the double negative and it would still be true; this is supposed to hurt. This is not OK. And when we as Christians try to make it OK we cripple our own hearts and miss out on the empowerment God would like to gift us with.   Tweet that.

For those of us going through grief it often seems that if we could just make the pain go away everything would be alright. But that’s not what God promises, at least not yet.

And it’s not even true. If the pain would magically go away, so would the memories, the love, the gift of that person in your life. That is true even if the relationship also included suffering.

Pain means we care. Pain means we loved. Pain means this is not the way God intended our lives and the world to be. Pain means our love was deep, our lives are different because of that loved one’s place in it, and their time on this earth changed us forever. Those are good things. Would we really not want to hurt at the death of someone we cared about so deeply?

It’s not supposed to not hurt.

So what do you do with the pain? How do you go on? Can you even go on?

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12 Things to do if you’re Lonely at Christmas

Being Proactive about your Holiday Experience

Hot CocoaThe Christmas holiday season is promoted as a time of togetherness. Families sometimes travel long distances to be with loved ones for Christmas. Holiday parties, family gatherings, giving of gifts, and even church events are usually focused on joy and celebration of being together.

But what if that’s not you this year? What if you’re lonely at Christmas?

What if your family is messed up and being together only stirs up more trauma? What if you have no family or friends nearby inviting you to be with them? What if your marriage is in trouble, your kids are estranged, or outside circumstances are keeping you apart? What if you are spending your first Christmas after the loss of a loved one?

Feeling Lonely and Being Alone are not the same. You can feel lonely in a crowd; I’ve been there. You can feel at peace when you’re alone; I’ve been there too.

The important thing is to take positive action, to plan in advance. You may, and probably won’t, experience the ideal Christmas you think you want. But you’re not a victim!

Don’t let the loneliness of Christmas happen to you; you happen to your Christmas!

Taking Charge of your Christmas Experience

Wearing yourself out trying to please others or wallowing in self-pity are easy traps to fall into during the holidays. You have other choices! Here are some positive actions to consider as you choose to happen to your Christmas.

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Beating the Holiday Blues – Audio Program

Practical Tips to Survive the Christmas Season

MicrophoneAre you one of the 45% of those surveyed who said they DREAD the Christmas holiday season in some way? That’s a lot of us!

I recently sat down with Evelyn Davison of LoveTalk, and discussed a number of practical ways to Beat the Holiday Blues.

(And a big Thank You to Gene Bender, John Cotner, and The Bridge 1120 for making this program possible!)

In this program you will hear:

  • reasons why so many of us struggle with Holiday Blues
  • what the loss of my husband Al has meant for my holiday season
  • exactly what I have done to find healing personally
  • specific steps you can do this Christmas season in Beating the Holiday Blues – whether you’re facing grief or some other problem
  • how Christmas can help you see the Love Plan that Jesus has for you and your future


In the program, we talk about some FREE resources that will help you Beat the Holiday Blues. I hope you’ll join me!

YES! Help me Beat the Holiday Blues!

Let’s beat the Holiday Blues together!

Tweetables: won’t you help someone else find help to beat the holiday blues?

  • Singing the blues? Get some FREE help to Overcome the Holiday Blues this season.        Tweet that.

No Christmas Tree for Me! (Singing the Holiday Blues)

A Baby is God's opinion that the world should go on!

Holiday Blues at ChristmasIn my neighborhood many families go all-out with Christmas decorations. Thanksgiving leftovers are still in the refrigerator when the blow-up Santas, twinkling multi-colored lights, huge red bows, and evergreen wreaths appear on many of the trees, doors, roofs, and lawns. Tall Christmas trees are visible through living room windows. The only thing missing is the snow.

But I won’t be putting up a Christmas tree this year. I’m not sure I’ll even be able to hang the wreath on my front door. I’m gluing together the broken pieces of the little wooden crèche I’ve carried around with me for 15 years; that symbolizes more how my heart is doing right about now.

You see, this will be my first holiday season without my beloved husband Al. He loved Christmas! We loved Christmas together! Last year we had a really big real tree – and I decorated it while he sat in his chair, too sick to help. We made it out of the house for a Christmas Eve family gathering – barely.

And two months later he went home to be with the Lord.

So you can see why it’s just too painful for me to put up a Christmas tree this year. I’ll do good to get the pieces of my little wooden crèche glued together.

There are still things I’m looking forward to this year. Giving gifts is a joy. There are some Christmas carols that open up the deepest places in my heart. I will be spending Christmas Eve with wonderful family. I love celebrating the amazing gift of Jesus as He entered our world as a baby. It’s just that the heartache and sadness are so acute during this season.

Holiday Blues

Are you singing the Holiday Blues like I am?

Something about Christmas makes us want everything to turn out like a Hallmark movie. Come December 25 everything will be OK!

But you don’t always get a boyfriend for Christmas. Your son or daughter doesn’t always make it home for the holidays. Your grief doesn’t go away; it probably gets worse. A box of groceries and firewood don’t always end up on your back porch. Families don’t always reconcile just because of a date on the calendar.

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