Loss When You Are All Alone

How do you handle the death of a loved one as a single person?

It’s a borderline selfish question that doesn’t seem quite as selfish once you break it down. Whether it’s a family member, dear friend, life partner, or spouse, the loss still sucks and is incredibly hard at any level. I’ve had a lot of losses in my life. By 19, I witnessed the burial of a teenage cousin, uncle, great grandmother, and two grandparents.

It was a 70/30 split on the expectation of their deaths, but each one produced a loss. Three happened over a year. In my early 20s, I felt the psychological loss of my father, who was a shell of who he used to be, because of an intense accident. By my mid-thirties, I had lost three of my favorite people in the whole world. One who had a considerable hand in shaping me into who I am today. In 2020, I suddenly lost my younger sister and three close friends. I’ve recently seen someone lose their spouse. Becoming not only a widow but also a single parent. I couldn’t imagine the pain, and I cried for them.

I feel like Jeremiah “Why has my pain been perpetual And my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?” 15:18

The loss just sucks. I paint this mournful portrait not to drum up pity or concern but to show I’m no stranger to loss. I know we all leave this world at some point. Our individual timelines vary just as our physical bodies and personalities do. But as I lay here, wide awake at 2:00 am (a grief side effect, I’m sure), I find tears rolling down my face at losing anyone else in my life. I go and listen to my mother’s snoring as proof of life. And with her signature sound, I write my minor panic off as an overreaction and begin to write this.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

Back to the original question… how do you deal with death as a single person? When we lost my sister, I saw my brother-in-law (a different sister’s husband) swoop in and become this rock for our family. I watched couples console one another, which built a safe space to let out their tears and fears and be vulnerable.

How does someone do this alone?

  1. Everyone processes differently– I look at Eva’s passing. My mom, sister, and I all three processed it totally differently. My mom wanted silence and solitude, and DeeDee wanted only her immediate family around. I tried to crawl up in someone’s arms and just be held. Everyone’s version looks different.
    • Psalm 34:18 “The LORD is near the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
  2. You’re not really alone – even if silence and solitude is your process, God is sitting beside you, ready for whatever you have for Him. As cliche as it sounds, I felt like I was just wrapped in His arms and surrounded by His love. It also may have been the weighted blanket.
    • Psalm 34:19 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.”
  3. Let people love you – just because it’s not romantic love doesn’t mean it’s not love and a gift sent from God. My friends were relentless in showing me care and support. One of my dearest friends texted or called every day until I told her I was okay. Y’all, if that’s not a divinely delivered friend, I don’t know who is.
    • John 13:35 “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

You are complete in Christ.

Your singleness doesn’t mean you don’t have support and love around you to help you get through the pain and grief. God puts these beautiful humans in your path exactly when you need them. He also is there, waiting for your relationship to begin. I can say from experience, even in my anger and frustration, God never left my side. He showed Himself in all these little ways, reminding me I’m not alone.

It took time, and I still struggle with the idea of being “alone” when my next loved one dies, but remembering that I have community and friends who will love me through my loss and my relationship with God will sustain me through those times are by far the most effective tools I have.

I Am a Widow, But Do I Have To Be Single?

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The death of a spouse is tough. In addition to the grief, there can be the confusion of changing financial arrangements, and the assumption of household and family responsibilities that were once shared. For many, there is also the added challenge of discovering where they now “fit” among the social circles present in their local congregation.

Single adults who were once married cannot be lumped into one big “Single-again” category.  Many widows/ers do not think of themselves as single at all. They carry on living, in many ways, as if their spouse were simply away on a trip. Others, however, see a completely new chapter of life before them, and choose to seek out new friendships and opportunities.

Table for One Ministries wants all widows/ers to know you are not alone. The decision to be “single again” is yours and yours alone. We do, however, believe it can be a positive step. After the loss of such a close relationship, the void in life can seem unfillable. Many widows continue on with their current married environments only to find they have less and less in common with them as time moves forward. Widows need other widows and singles who understand their life stage and can sometimes minister to them more effectively than their previous group.

Becoming a widow is not the end of the road, but a new stage of life where bold things can be done and serving the Lord should be center stage. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8 & 9: “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.” Embrace your new life stage as a widow and see where the Lord will lead you next. Your singles group will embrace you with loving arms and you will find a place to connect.

Sunday Single Selection

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It is Saturday night and you know you should go to church tomorrow, yet you have reservations in your heart about where to go or if you should find somewhere new to go. You want to Worship and hear the Word preached, but the church you go to does not seem to get being single or you can not find a church with a singles group. Many singles have this Saturday night emotion, wanting to go to church for all the right reasons, but still desiring more in community with other singles like yourself.

Many churches don’t have a targeted group for singles, if they even seem to acknowledge they are present. Those that do have singles groups may not feel like they are targeted at people like yourself. While the emotions are valid, your response to these issues should have only one outcome and that is to go Worship with other believers. Worship is not a self serving activity where you get something for doing something. Worship is about praising God for who He is and learning more about Him through that experience. So here are a few encouragements for singles with regards to church selection.

  1. Base your selection on if the church Worships God and honors His Word.
  2. Connect with a congregation close as possible to enhance your ability to participate.
  3. Look for churches with existing singles ministries listed, if none are found it may be time to start a singles ministry in your area. Chances are there are several people like you looking for a place to connect.
  4. Bring or invite a friend to help you select a church, it helps to debrief with someone over lunch after Worship.

Finally, choose! Go to a church where God is calling you, make roots and serve. Don’t spend all your time looking when you could be connected to a church and start building a singles ministry for people like yourself. Your efforts to do so will not return void and God will honor your commitment to serve Him.

 

Marriage isn’t the Finish Line

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The big day is here! Here comes the bride all dressed in white. The groom dressed to the nines in his rented tux stands fidgeting at the front to begin a ceremony that moves even the hardest of hearts to tears. Then comes the reception including a toast from the father of bride of just how proud he is that his little girl found a man, almost implicating that a secret achievement has been unlocked allowing the happy couple to continue in the game of life, side-by-side.

Singles. Get. It.

At the same time you are happy for another couple. Everyone is celebrating a monumental achievement in the lives of your friends. But in fact, is marriage the finish line? Singles often are looking to the next milestone or marker in life. At some point, it starts to feel like the only milestone left is marriage.

But the reality? It is not the finish line of achievement.

For married couples the next bombardment of expectation is kids. And while having a pet or three helped for a while, the next finish line of life is having a baby. Once that is crossed and no less than a day after the first child, there are questions of when the next baby will arrive. After baby two, the next quiz is will there be three. Have four, and comments of birth control fill the air. Then there is college for the kids, jobs for the young adults, and future weddings! The cycle starts all over again.

Here is the point.

The finish line is defined by a relationship, just not the one you may have thought or felt from your surrounding friends and family.

Being Complete in Christ is the only relationship that will leave you complete. All other relationships build off of that relationship and running a good race is defined by it. Keeping the faith and living for God is grounded in a relationship with Christ.

Singles, always keep in mind your life not measured by this world, but by following the One who paid our sins in full–Jesus–so we can live life more abundantly.

A culture that hides death hides the Gospel

A culture that hides death hides the Gospel

History lessons teach the impact of death prevalent in culture when death is removed. A look at the Middle Ages finds people lived daily with the reality of death. A look at our current culture reveals a much different story. The current American lifestyle not only doesn’t discuss death, it finds ways to minimize and remove it from our daily life.

An obsession with a youth-focused culture certainly is a major voice of today’s messaging. Another important factor? The lack of value and respect for previous generations. One example of the local church. Funerals used include more than a biographical speech. The usual funeral included presence at a cemetery and at the very least, on the way to worship, the parishioners passed a neighboring cemetery, a visual reminder of our fleeting, temporary life.

For single adults, this is a compounded issue. Not only do you have all the factors of a culture ignoring the consequences of lifestyle and morals upon death, there is the added pressure of marriage. Marriage isn’t the finish line but an expectation of an event to occur in our youth and an achievement before death. However, this could not be farther from the truth. Being complete in Christ is not related to an achievement, but rather a commitment to follow Him.

 

Choices to view death?

 

Death gives life perspective

For singles, your relationship status is momentary, not eternal. Consider when Jesus was asked who will be married in heaven.

Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” Matthew 22:29-30 (NIV)

Passages, when Jesus talks about how much we are valued, do not include the marriage relationship. Knowing the end result helps us to curate the life God calls us to live.

 

Death gives the Gospel a platform

When eternity is examined, the Gospel provides light in the darkness. In a moment of self-sufficiency people rarely reflect upon things greater than themselves or things to come. When death is discussed, it is a reminder of our temporary life on Earth, a reminder that gives urgency to sharing the gospel. To share with others that all should know him as Lord and Savior and welcome the gift to spend eternity with Him, not apart from Him. The realization of this will absolutely change the daily life.

 

Death shows Love

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NIV)

Eternal love is not one engulfed in a marriage relationship. True, eternal love is a God who sent his only son to die for us so we would not have to spend eternity apart from Him. It was His atonement on the cross that is love eternal. Singles, do not let culture influence the way we value eternal love. It should always be based on a Biblical foundation.

 

Jesus was single too

A life fully lived is not defined by relationship status, but by following the will of God. Not only was Jesus single but several main characters in scripture were single or single during a season of their life when God used them. Take heart, our savior was and isn’t back the same life status. Single. Regardless of relationship status, God uses everyone on Earth to bring glory to his kingdom.

 

Grasping death gives Eternal significance to your everyday life. It is our hope and desire as a Ministry that all singles would follow God every day and share the gospel with everyone. One way to ensure your passion for God’s kingdom is to keep the temporary nature of our days at the forefront of your daily life.

A Profile of Singles: Widows

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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.

Resources

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?

An Eternal Perspective on Worry

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I Love Jesus.

Jesus Loves Me.

I’m Going to Heaven.

 

Simple right? But how many hours do we worry over paying bills, our retirement accounts, and having nice cars? All for what? As born-again Christians, Matthew 6:25-34 is clear how we are to feel about this life. If you want to know more about being a “born again” check out our Am I Alone page on our website.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (NIV)

I Love Jesus

Christ died on a cross and rose again as an atonement or payment for our sins. “We love because Christ first loved us.” 1 John 4:9 (ESV)

Jesus Loves Me

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have life everlasting.” John 3:16 (NIV). God loves you. Jesus loves you. When you have accepted Christ you receive life everlasting.

I’m Going to Heaven

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:28 (NIV). Christ followers have assurance they will spend eternity in heaven despite our sin, despite our worry.

Life is hard. Things happen. Worry creeps in every way we turn, and we struggle over and over until we worry about worrying! John 10:10 is a simple and powerful reminder to live with less stress and as God wants us to live–abundantly!

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10

 

Can’t Take It With You

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Proven fact: if it’s here, it stays here.

Have you ever stopped to look around your home at all the things you have? This is not a blog about how “things” are bad or how we should even sell it all and give it to the poor. This post is about the life of a widow.

They had been married for years and years and with that length of time came things. Books, electronics, things of sentimental value and even things forgotten. Then came the sudden death of her spouse, the wake, the funeral, and the support from a local church. This widow, now in the house alone, is left to deal with the possessions of two lives. She is overwhelmed by the amount of material possessions that seem worthless now, but at one point, were treasured. It wasn’t that they were rich or lived a life of glamour–they just never let go of things.

Does the amount of items in your home reflect the fact you can’t take it with you when you die? As a single adult, when you honestly reflect on the things around you, does it show you are committed to this life or the next?

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17)(NIV)

When you are called home to heaven, be a single adult who doesn’t let the stuff left behind be your legacy. As a singles leader, encourage singles to chase after the Kingdom and not possessions or a relationship status.

Single Struggles: I Don’t Want to Live Without You

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After the funeral is over and life has released its hold button, a widow struggles with a new reality that they are now single again. Thoughts and emotions are all capsized in a singular thought “I don’t want to live without you.” It’s not that this widow is suicidal, far from it. It was just that the years of experiences together culminated in a life that seemed to only exist with the other. Now that person is gone and as a widow or widower you must move forward.

Remember that in Christ Jesus you are whole and while your love was deep, our Father’s love for you is so much deeper. You are complete in Christ, not in your late spouse. You can walk forward knowing that as a follower of Christ you can face tomorrow because He lives in you. Be strong, push yourself to be active in your church, push yourself to build new relationships and continue those already established.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfgf-R7bPsw

“Because He Lives!”

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,

Because He lives, all fear is gone;

Because I know He holds the future,

And life is worth the living,

Just because He lives!

Coping with Loneliness

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Loneliness can come into our lives in many different circumstances. You may be the only person in your home. Society can make a single person feel alone or you may be suffering without no one to turn to for comfort. You may be sad over the loss of a loved one.

Each single adult is faced with the decision to allow loneliness to pervade in your life or not. Being single is not easy. Budgets are tight, friends are sometimes harder to find, churches may not understand why you are still single, and family pressures are increased to find yourself someone to marry. You may have children, lost a spouse, or coming out of a divorce. Often these situations create a void that leaves you feeling alone.

As a single adult, motivate yourself daily to follow and honor God in all you do. Doing so will prioritize goals and values every day and help keep loneliness at bay during your journey. We believe as a single adult everyone has a few days a month they feel alone. If you are lonely in your journey less than few times a month, you’re doing pretty good! While we cannot fully control our emotions in this regard, we can choose to not dwell on them and instead, focus on Christ. For those singles with the desire to marry, it’s a hard task compared to those who are content with their singleness. Regardless, it is Table for One’s stance that if you can go the majority of the month without feeling alone, you are living life to its fullest as a single adult.

The is a loneliness in each of us that can only be filled by a Savior. Jesus understood this. He was 100% man and 100% God. Isaiah 53 says the Savior would be “rejected by all mankind” and He was “familiar with pain.” In his final hours, the men who He invested in His ministry left his side (Matthew 26:56). Mark 15:34 tell us that in His final moments, “…Jesus cried out in a loud voice, …My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” as He took the burden of our sins on the cross, alone.

Christ desires a relationship with each of us so we will never be alone. After Christ rose from the grave, He told us in Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always, even until the end of the earth.” We are never alone.

He loves you so much and wants to have a relationship with you.  You are never alone as a single adult with Christ! Share this news with others around you and be a witness to them of the love of Christ.