A Deeper look at Widows
At Table for One Ministries we are passionate about reaching singles of all ages and backgrounds. In this series of blogs we are looking at the “profile” of each type of single adult. While these are not all encompassing, they are meant to help singles and those who lead singles understand that type of single adult better or in a different light. We WELCOME feedback and additions to these profiles as we grow our ministry!
Characteristics of this Group
Seventeen million widows live in America. Their average age is 57, with an average of 14 years of being alone after their spouse has passed away. Widows are not only little old ladies, but young fathers who lost their spouse to cancer and women who lost their spouses during war. Too often widows are characterized in the wrong light and the church fails to target them properly. Some widows may remarry while others choose to stay single. Many feel awkward in a singles group, while most find that after their spouse passed away they have more in common with singles than ever before.
Ministry Needs in this Group
Widows desire to have deep relationships like the ones tragically taken away from them. No one chooses to be a widow, so building a ministry sensitive towards widows is vital in connecting them to a group of singles. Widows need a support structure and opportunities to move forward after the passing of their loved one. This group does not need to be isolated from a singles ministry at large; however, they may take time after becoming a widow before integrating with singles. Widows may be single parents and need help with adjusting to parenting alone. Widows can also have a former spouse. A person who has been divorced could have a spouse pass away, and while the connection may not be as strong, it is still a process for them to go through with grief.
Communication Strategies for this Group
Widows need to know there is a loving place for them to find community. There does not need to be a push to get them into a singles group, but space to process feelings and emotions that ends with opportunities to interact with other singles. Since so many widows stay single for over a decade after the loss of their loved one, singles must connect with them to offer a similar structure to what they had prior to the loss of their loved one. E-mail, phone, and text messaging are great avenues to work with widows as they are more personal than social media outlets.
Strategy for Reaching this Group
Widows may have needs such as cleaning around the house and running errands to the store and doctor, although statistically widows do not fit that circumstance. Reaching out to widows starts by having an active griefshare ministry in a church. In this ministry, community and processing grief become vital to growth. Widows take different amounts of time to process their grief, but singles ministry must be prepared to reach out to them and offer community. In the church, singles need to be a part of running griefshare ministries to provide a bridge to the singles ministry. Widows are rebuilding their social interactions for months and years after their spouse passes away.
Cornish, Carol. The Undistracted Widow. Wheaton: Crossway, 2010.
Rodgers, Joyce. Grace for the Widow. Grand Rapids: B&H Publishing, 2010.
Silvera, Jennifer. Believe: A Young Widow’s Journey Through Brokenness and Back. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2009.
What do you think?
Do you agree with this profile of single adults who are widows? What resources or information would you add?