Cheryl is a licensed, ordained minister and has a BA in Psychology and Church ministry.
If you are not asked please don't volunteer
The death of my husband has opened my eyes to the dangers of religion in a whole new way. I am experiencing well-meaning people giving me unsolicited advice that all points in one direction. It seems that Christian females want me to just get over it and ack as if the past 45 years of my life did not happen. Sadly I have also been told by a number of people that some women are jealous because they were not able to maintain a marriage for 4 decades. That's not my problem or the problem of any grieving spouse who has been left behind. I've been advised to not take the comments personally because each person is dealing with their own personal situations. Even so, as a grieving widow, I emphasize on behalf of other wives who are mourning that we don't need foolishness at such a time. This is why I feel led to announce that if a grieving widow does not ask your advice, be it personal or spiritual then please do not offer it on your own. This can apply to any death but because this relates to the passing of my husband I address widows.
Don't use the word for selfish purposes
I have had a number of people emphasize that I know the word and indeed I do. My husband is with Jesus but when I see him again he will no longer be my spouse. I understand that we do not grieve as the world does because they have no hope. This does not, however, indicate that you will not miss your spouse when they are gone. It is all too common today to have eulogists stand in pulpits and emphasize that the gathering is a homegoing celebration. In other words, the family should celebrate and pretend their hearts are not breaking and this is cruel. The Bible teaches that to everything there is a season and that includes a time to mourn. Many people become overwhelmed as the casket is closed or being lowered into the ground because it makes the death all the more real. If at such times the loved ones of the deceased want to cry, no one should stop them. The in-thing in this day and age is to pretend all is well, keep a smile on your face and give an appearance of being spiritual. None of this stops the pain that is in your heart. It's not your job to tell a grieving person when to stop mourning. If you don't like their method then pray and keep moving. Volunteering Bible verses that you believe should be adhered to is wrong.
My husband began buying me clothing that matched his in 1977 and continued to do so until the pandemic in 2020. We often posted our photos on Facebook because that's who were are, yes I meant to say are and not were. I wrote stories and poems for my spouse and have continued to do so because it helps ease my pain. I memorialized his Facebook page and continue to share on it as I am led. Since posting a poem a few days ago, several Christian women have taken it upon themselves to critique me. This is my personal decision and really no one else's business. If I or any other grieving widow continues sharing memories after the death of a spouse it is not someone else's place to try to get us to stop. I perceive that these women are somehow uncomfortable seeing me continue to express my love for my spouse which did not die when he did. Grieving people have the right to express themselves as they please without censorship.No one should expect 30, 40, 50, or 60 years of love, commitment, and companionship to be erased within a matter of week or months, or even years..
Religion can be damaging
You may believe that what you are doing is helping but again, trying to force your will on a grieving person is not the right thing to do. Spiritual people will be led by the Holy Spirit to say what is on His mind and it will be a blessing. Religious people misuse the Bible for their own purposes and this can be very damaging. My brother-in-law recently told me to continue to celebrate his brother however I choose as long as I desire. He added that if I were remaining in the house, not taking my daily walks, or not eating then he would be concerned. I am amazed that anyone would believe that a widow who has been with her spouse 4, 5, or 6 decades can just move on. One person told me that some women who have not had relationships to last don't understand the bond and connection between two people who have endured that long. It probably seems to them as if a widow is dwelling on the past because they cannot relate. Whatever your personal romantic situation or lack thereof you should never be envious of anyone whose spouse has died. Religious Bible thumpers are one reason why so many people have left the church because they are doing more harm than helping.
Compassion is Christ like
Jesus had compassion but religious people simply want you to straighten up and fly right based on their expectations. This is not a story I ever thought I would be writing but it needs to be addressed. A few days ago I was asked a question about local government and when I said I had not been following the issue I was told "You need to get your mind on something else.." The implication being that I was dwelling on my spouse and not paying attention to current events. I've even had people to share with me how they dealt with the death of relatives but not one of them was a widow who had spent 40 years with her spouse. None of us can really minister to or offer advice to anyone whose shoes we have not walked in. During such times it's best to just let the grieving person know you are praying for them. If the Lord leads you to give food, money, a gift card, or simply be a listening ear then by all means do so. Express the compassion and love of Christ instead of making a widow feel bad about missing the love of her life. Don't misuse the Bible because you can't handle the way a widow is dealing with her loss and yes it is a loss because a marriage ends at death. If you find yourself feeling some kind of way because your own relationship did not endure then please take a step back. If you don't like the posts on social media then you can unfollow, block or delete. What you should not do is attempt to religiously tell another person how to grieve the death of their spouse. To think that anyone would be happy that a widow is now without a man just like they are is pretty disgusting, especially within the body of Christ. I hope that in addressing this issue that someone will recognize themselves and make a choice to do better by exhibiting the love and compassion of Christ to the grieving rather than having a personal agenda.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Cheryl E Preston
Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on May 23, 2021:
Thank you God bless you
Anya Ali from Rabwah, Pakistan on May 23, 2021:
Please accept my condolences. May God give you strength and consolation and may your husband's soul rest in peace.
Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on May 21, 2021:
Thank you Peggy
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 21, 2021:
I am so very sorry to hear of the loss of your husband after so many years. There is no right nor wrong way to grieve. Each person must find their own path. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you in the days ahead, Cheryl.