Many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other believers find unexpected twists and turns in their life. These can be challenging. One of those unexpected twists is to find ourselves alone as widows or widowers when a spouse unexpectedly passes away. This particular life challenge creates a special kind of person: one who has lived through a very traumatic experience from which we will never recover but will learn to accept.
This happened to me on New Year’s Eve almost 10 years ago. I have learned quite a bit in the last ten years on coping as a widow. Here are my thoughts:
Prayer and scripture reading/study are vital:
The one constant in my life was prayer and scripture reading. It is an anchor which keeps me grounded when everything else around me is falling apart. It is often the difference between night and day. The Spirit stays with me constantly and I am never alone. It is still up to me to motivate myself to pray and read every day but I received so much emotional encouragement by doing these two things; I could not do without it. Our church leaders are always encouraging us to pray and read our scriptures every day, but sometimes the importance of this doesn’t hit home until some disaster happens in our lives and we seek comfort from our Heavenly Father and His writings.
Attending every Sunday is a great constant. You can always count on being uplifted by taking the Sacrament and listening to the Sunday talks. Even if you just sit and feel the Spirit, that time helps us the rest of the week and it will refill our emotional cup. It does no one any good to stay home. Even if we feel unworthy to attend church, go anyway. We should go when we are at our lowest. It might feel awkward attending because of the circumstance but Heavenly Father loves us, and the good in attending far outweighs the awkwardness. Sit in Sacrament meeting, breathe easy and just relax. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:10)
If you don’t have a calling in your ward and you want one then you should counsel with your priesthood leaders to get one. Priesthood leaders are counseled to be aware of the needs of each member of their ward and provide each member opportunities for growth and service. Your priesthood leaders should also be happy to give you a calling.
Support the singles program:
There are many single members who feel that they shouldn’t attend single activities because they do not want to meet a mate. They are mistaken if they feel that the main goal of the singles program is to get married. They do themselves and other members a great disservice if they stay away from church organized single adult activities because they do not want to get married. It is not the intention of priesthood leaders to marry off single members when they plan and proceed with an activity. The main purpose is to bring all single members closer to Christ. Singles over 60 have such a wealth of knowledge and experience. They are a blessing in any singles’ group. Members who have served in many different capacities in the Church can contribute so much to a single adult group. Support the singles program by attending when you can. You will not regret it.
Keep a Song In your heart:
When experiencing great tribulations and having to take life one day at a time, it is so very difficult to find joy; in fact many times it is painful. Whenever you can, remember that Heavenly Father loves you. There are many loved ones looking down from above and they love you and want you to keep a song in your heart. You might feel deflated, you might be thinking there is no reason for you to stay on this earth, but try to see a bright side to life and keep a song in your heart. Listen to happy music and keep it inside you all day. You might not be able to do it every day, but whenever you can, hum a tune, or hear a song in your mind that will make you happy. It really helps to lighten the load.
Losing a spouse is so difficult but as single members, we want to do what Heavenly Father asks of us. We all want to be cherished and loved by our church family and friends. We need those around us to support us emotionally and spiritually. We need for priesthood leaders to be understanding to our situation because not one of us has the same position or experience in life.
If you will remember these suggestions and keep them actively in your mind, life will get better every day. Become actively engaged in a good cause and you will see that the joy you once had in your life will return as it has for me. Life is good and we can learn to cope.
Valerie Steimle has been writing as a family advocate for over 25 years. As a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she promotes Christian living in her writings and is the mother of nine children and grandmother to twelve. Mrs. Steimle authored six books and is a contributing writer to several online websites. To her, time is the most precious commodity we have and knows we should spend it wisely. To read more of Valerie's work, visit her at her website, The Blessings of Family Life.