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.

Single Adult POV Two Years into COVID

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“I tried going back to an in-person church, but I didn’t want to take the seat of a family who may need it.”

“My job moved fully remote, I live alone, and in two years, I have only been out to social events a handful of times.”

“I struggle with being alone. The pandemic and quarantine have made me even more alone and even harder to reconnect.”

“Being a single parent was hard already when COVID hit. I was already alone, and it was like a double hit of loneliness with no childcare available.”

“I lost my wife to COVID at 32. I didn’t want to be a single adult, and now I am a single parent and a widower.”

“I started going to church online to stay safe. Now I’m not sure how I would even start going back.”

Singles POV.

We hear you, and we are your advocate in the local church. We exist to build a community for single adults through discipleship, as we have done for 10 years. Your voice is heard, and we have dedicated our ministry to helping your pastor, leaders, community, and friends re-engage you in 2022.

All the quotes above are from real people who need authentic community now more than ever. Singles were already 51% of the adult population in the US before 2020, and the average age of widows was 57. With over 1 million passed away from covid, there are even more singles in our communities than we realize waiting to find a community to connect in.

Leaders to singles.

You have done an amazing job these past two years. You learned how to do relational ministry in ways we never imagined and may need to do again in the future. But at this moment, will you be bold enough to take action and reach singles in your church and your community? Singles are not a ministry your church used to have years ago. They are searching online and talking to friends to see where they can connect with people in their life stage. While your church should be the destination where they learn to be complete in Christ, are they driving past your building to find friends?

We are two years in, but the work has just begun for you to connect.

Singles, you will need to re-enter a rhythm of joining in a safe environment focused on Christ. We hear your pain, but we were made in the image of God to be in community and complete in Christ. Take a step to try to engage with a new church family. You may find new friends and relationships to help you be a disciple. Leaders, there are many things on your plate to do in 2022. Still, if you are bold enough to be single-friendly, you may just find half your community will now feel welcome to join you in the new initiatives. Email us at [email protected] to learn ways to connect with singles and be single-friendly.

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5 Things Married People Dont Get About Singles

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1.   How singles date now.

  • Dating for singles now is the same as it has always been, but completely different. Confused? Singles now interact with technology in every part of the dating experience. From finding that person they would otherwise never meet online, to texting post date to affirm feelings. In fact, not using technology to date is harder than it is to embrace it and use it.

2.  Why singles wait so long to marry.

  • Some people will say the single is “too picky.” The mature Christian single hears the stats, sees friends or family members with unhappy marriages. We hear the horror stories about divorce but rarely hear the positive.

3.  We are Complete without a spouse.

  • No one needs a spouse to be fulfilled. But, what each and everyone of us, married or single, does need is a Savior. We said it before and we’ll say it again, Complete in Christ.

4.  How we spend our money.  

  • Being single does not mean you have an excess of funds. Singles have the same expenses as marrieds: rent or house payment, utilities, car insurance and car payments, food, medical insurance, student loans. For the single parent, there’s the child expense. No different than the married couple with a child.

5.  Where we hangout.

  • small groups. The local church offers the opportunity to intermingle with the body of Christ.
  • with co-workers. Those on the same team working towards a similar goal.
  • with others like ourselves: It could be the same hobby or interest. It could be others with the same calling, on the same mission, at the same place.
  • social events. Meeting friends of friends, friends of family. Meeting the stranger who enjoys the same type of music. Meeting the stranger who admires the same piece of artwork at an exhibit. Attending sports events.

Filling the Silence

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Take 30 seconds and just listen to your surroundings. Go on, seriously, right where you are, clear your mind and just listen….

For most of us, our lives are filled with noise. Whether it’s the noise of a busy street, music in our headphones, or the tv in the background, so we don’t have to feel alone. To be honest, most often, the noise is comforting, right? Because the noise is there, we don’t have to be alone with our thoughts, or our apartment doesn’t feel empty.

We find ourselves in the fact that we are almost always trying to fill the silence, yet it is in the silence that God speaks and reveals Himself most often.

The Prophet Elijah knew this better than anyone. In the scene where he is going up against the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18), God does something incredible. The prophets of Baal tried to get Baal to reveal himself by using loud chanting, singing, dancing, and crying out. For hours and hours. It was in the moment that everyone and everything got still that the one true God revealed Himself.

Can you imagine this moment? Elijah walks up to the altar with hundreds of people around, looking on in complete silence and anticipation of what might happen. Instead of a team of people dancing and causing a commotion, Elijah knelt and began to pray quietly. Then out of the silence (probably the occasional cough, because there is always that guy or a baby crying), BOOM, a column of fire comes from the sky and consumes the altar! Elijah’s God, the one TRUE GOD, exists and is all-powerful.

Fast forward to chapter 19 of 1 Kings, Elijah runs for his life and is hiding out in a cave, all alone. God wants to reveal Himself to Elijah and calls him out of the cave. Elijah experiences a strong wind that broke rocks, an earthquake, and a roaring fire. Then everything settled down, and in the absolute stillness of that moment, God spoke. In a moment of seemingly complete loneliness, he was never alone.

Have you ever asked yourself something like, “where is God?” Or “Why can’t I hear God?”

Instead of filling the silence, we all need to spend more time resting in the silence. Because God is not in the noise, God is in the stillness, in the quiet. If you aren’t hearing from God, chances are you aren’t spending time resting in the silence.

Time with God

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There are some excellent reading plans available to read the entire Bible in a year or even 90 days. These plans are great, and we encourage you to try one at least once. As a follower of Christ, you need to build a relationship with Him and know Him better. This comes through many venues. You can worship the Lord in praise. You can read about Him in His Word. You can also spend time with Him in prayer. All these require one thing: time.

As a single adult you might have been told “you have more time than married adults, so it is easier for you to spend time with God.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Every human has 24 hours in a day and can use that time as they choose based on priorities. It is a priority to get to work on time, so you do. It is a priority to eat food a few times a day to stay healthy, so you do. But it is the things we don’t prioritize that get shuffled lower on the to-do list and not accomplished. Single adults may or may not have children to tend during the day, and married adults have responsibilities to their spouse (1 Corinthians 7:33-35), but everyone sets priorities.

If you value exercise, you wake up early to work out. If you value TV time, you stay up late to catch your favorite shows. If you love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your strength, you will make time for Him and He will be a priority in your life (Luke 10:27). Time with God does not always have to be reading His Word, although that is how we grow in the knowledge of Him. It may be just meditating on Him for a few moments every day and giving praises to Him for the great things He has done (Psalm 111).

Make time with God a priority as a single adult. If your relationship status changes, this will serve as a successful foundation for your marriage. Accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior is the first step. The next step is to follow and know Him better.

What do you do to make time with God every day?

Stop Following Your Heart

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Have you ever heard of Lemmings? It was a popular game a few years back, when floppy drives were still in use! It’s also an animal associated with the idea of following the leader no matter what, blindly going where they lead. The problem, of course, is that lemmings follow the leader, even if it’s over a cliff! They follow blindly until something happens, whether good or bad.

Singles are no different when they follow only their heart in relationships.

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” Jeremiah 17:9.

We are obsessed with a Romeo-and-Juliet culture where love is nothing more than following your heart to find true love. This is made even more popular by shows like “Once Upon a Time,” where every character is centered around finding their happy ending. And it never comes!

Christ wants you to follow Him! Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” Trust Him with everything! Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Christ says “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24.

Following your heart leads to paths that are not always what God wants for our lives. Sin can creep into our decision-making and relying on our “hearts” leads to poor choices.

And as for that happy ending? In John 16:33 Jesus says, “The world will make you suffer. But be brave! I have defeated the world!” Christ has defeated the world through death on the Cross!

This world will never bring a happy ending, our happy ending as Christ followers is hearing the words “Well done my good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21.

It’s Just Me This Christmas

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Regardless whether a person is completely content with being single or not, the holidays for older single adults reveal a somber truth. It is logical then to see when time marches on, things change, and those who are dear to us pass on. For singles, this can create a situation they never saw coming.

 

It is just me this Christmas.

 

Small families have some amazing abilities to do more with everyone since there are less people to logistically connect with. This also means less siblings, if any, and for most singles, one Christmas day they find themselves the last of their family. We know this sounds extreme, but for one single adult this was exactly what happened.

 

Robert was an only child. He had dated a few times but never really found a person that shared reciprocal interest in marriage. Holidays were spent with mom and dad at his house. In the span of three years, both parents had passed to be with the Lord and then it happened.

 

Robert was alone for Christmas. Years of traditions with family are gone and his extended family were too far away to travel to see them.

 

Where was the Framily?

 

Robert was active in his church and had several friends. Many were close as family, they were framily (friends considered family). But they all forgot that he was a single child and both his parents had passed away. His close network of friends forgot to reach out. In all fairness, Robert also failed to reach out and seek a place to go to on Christmas Day. But, he also didn’t prepare to spend it alone.

 

We Have to Pay Attention.

 

Singles, leaders to singles, and anyone reading this blog: We have to be observant of singles in our lives and make sure we reach out often to keep them connected. In this case, Robert may had forgotten he was going to be alone for Christmas due to the busyness of the holiday season. Robert may have wanted to spend the day alone, which would be fine. But, the issue is that everyone lost sight of their single adult friend and where he was going to spend Christmas.

 

Churches Need to Connect Singles.

 

Church, however you connect singles you need to make it a priority. Singles like this one and others make up nearly half of all adults in America and as more and more adults age without a spouse, this number and scenario is going to increase. Churches need to have a focus on connecting singles in whatever discipleship strategy they have to minister to singles all year. Some will still fall through the net you build to catch singles, but your strategy to reach them will connect more than it misses.

 

Being alone for Christmas does not have to be the saddest thing ever. This blog was not out to say everyone needs to be with people on Christmas. This blog is an attempt to shine light into an area of need for the Church to connect singles at some of their most critical life moments and for the Church to reflect Christ in those times.

 

How does your church reach single adults? Do they do a good job trying to connect singles? Anything done to ensure the lone single is included during the holidays?

Left Behind

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As a single guy who is old enough to be pondering questions such as, “Am I contributing enough to my 401(k)?” or, “Does my potential new job offer dental benefits, because I might need dentures soon…?”, I have been around long enough to have witnessed the marriage of many of my best friends. Heck, most of my friends are on their second or third kid and are worrying about which school district has the best honors program for their supposedly gifted offspring!

Single adults often have to act enthusiastic in uncomfortable social situations, but perhaps the most painful and awkward act we have to perform is putting on a big smile and offering a heartfelt “Congratulations, that’s awesome, I’m so happy for you guys!” when our best buddy or childhood friend finally decides to tie the knot – and we have no prospects on the horizon whatsoever!  Maybe you have “made your peace” with the whole Being Single thing and are content with where God has put you in life – good job, great friends, nice place to live, a church you feel really plugged into, etc. – but, to my mind at least, there is nothing that will challenge this state of contentedness more profoundly than the news of a close friend that’s getting engaged.  Sometimes it doesn’t even take that much – we’ve all had those friends who were mainstays of our social group and who we hung out with all the time, but as soon as they found and began dating their soul mate they immediately vanished from the group and were gone from our lives as suddenly as the flip of a light switch.

Now don’t get me wrong – as someone who hopes to be married someday myself, but more importantly, as a Christ-follower who, in my better moments, attempts to treat others the way I would like to be treated – I am definitely not saying we should not or cannot truly rejoice with our friends when they come to us with the news that their lives are going to be permanently changed – far from it!  But if we are painfully honest with ourselves, we will admit that sometimes it is like attempting to grin cheerfully during a root canal to try to be as sincerely happy for our soon-to-be-married friends as we hope they would be for us if it were our turn.

So what to do?   First of all, acknowledge that it stinks – not that you necessarily need to tell them that (and if you do tell them, pray long and hard beforehand that God would give you the right words, the right time, and the right spirit in which to have that conversation).  Just be honest with yourself and with God and admit that, yes, you are losing someone, at least for a while.  In fact, it’s almost like someone close to you has died.  For a romantic relationship to strengthen into a God-honoring, rock-solid marriage, the couple has to enter into a much more exclusive relationship than any they (and you) have ever experienced.  Know that your engaged or newly married friends are not (99% of the time, at least) intentionally trying to leave you, their single friend, behind – they just need to spend a lot of quality time together in order to enter into that intimate relationship that God desires for them to have so that they can truly become one.   But none of this changes the simple fact that you’ll miss having them around like they were before!

And of course, as a single adult, having a friend get engaged and married is just another not-so-subtle reminder that we are not.  It’s not that we mean to be childish or jealous, it’s that our minds are being bombarded with thoughts like, “Why not me?” “Am I going to be the last one standing?” and on and on it goes… So yeah, just say it, “It stinks!”

Having said that, know that genuinely rejoicing with your friends while at the same time mourning the passing of an era and the permanent alteration of your friendship is not only possible, it’s also not “wrong,” so you shouldn’t feel guilty or weirded out about being in this seemingly conflicted state of mind.  As a guy, I’m not too proud to admit something like this, but let’s face it – God also made men just as capable as women of feeling loss.  We men probably don’t express it the way the ladies do, but yeah, we’ll definitely miss not being able to spontaneously call up our buddy to go skeet-shooting on a Saturday morning without him having to first check with his “social planner.”

Finally, remember that your “couple” friends still need you!  Yes, they will withdraw into themselves for a while and yes, your relationship with them will never be exactly what it used to be, but just because they are getting married doesn’t mean they don’t want or need your friendship any more.  It may take them a few months or so to realize it, but they will wake up one day and realize that their husband or wife, however wonderful he or she is, cannot satisfy their every human need – and God made each one of us with a deep need for friendship.  They need your friendship as they enter their new romantic relationship, and they will still need your friendship months and years after they get married and start having kids.

God is not the author of pain, sadness, or loneliness – His word tells us that all these things are the by-products of our fallen and broken world and will one day pass away with the coming of the new Heaven and Earth. Sometimes, though, I believe God allows us to deal with the “loss” of a good friend so that we will be reminded that He is, indeed, truly enough. He and He alone is our constant companion, and in a world of constant turbulence and change, we need this reminder often.  He always has a way of providing exactly what we need at just the right time – and sometimes He has to take away what we think we need to show us what we really need. Thankfully, His wisdom and timing are always perfect, and when nothing else in the world makes sense, we can trust His heart and know that, as a gracious and loving Father, He will never fail to provide for our needs in ways that are far greater than we would ever imagine!

I Don’t Need You Today, God

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Going a day without prayer is like telling God “I don’t need you today.” Wow. As followers of Christ, would we ever want to even think such a thing? But we all do, we all go a day without praying sometimes. Maybe it is because you had a long day, or you are busy and can not fit in a quiet time daily.

Regardless of your situation, you need to be praying daily and here is why. You have conversations every day with people on the phone, in person, online, or in your head.  We build relationships with others through communication, and the Lord wants us to do the same with Him. God wants us to ask ANYTHING in prayer and He just may give it to us, Matthew 7:7-12. If you know of someone who is sick? Pray–James 5:14-16. Are you anxious about anything? Pray–Philippians 4:6-7.

How do you pray? You can pray throughout your day, giving God praises and asking for His help–1 Thessalonians 5:17. Pray out loud using your voice and have a conversation with God–Psalm 66:17. Find a quiet place if possible and pray honestly to God without worry of what others will say about your prayers–Matthew 6:5-6. Martin Luther said, “The fewer the words, the better the prayer.” And, if you need a template of how to pray, Christ gives us one in the Lord’s Prayer–Matthew 6:9-13.

Every day you should pray, and when you lie down at night you can quickly pray Psalm 3:5 as your final thoughts of the day, “I Iie down and sleep: I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.”  As a single adult you have the opportunity to pray undivided to God daily–1 Corinthians 7:33-34. Use this as a chance to pray for others, friends who need to know Christ, and as a way to build a relationship with Christ. Spend time in prayer and never go a day saying you don’t need God.

Distracted

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Life is full of distractions. We’re distracted at work, at home, with media, and even our local churches. It’s not hard to wonder why it’s so hard to stay focused on the most important things in our life. How we handle distractions is a part of maturing our faith. Choosing the difference between a distraction and God’s calling is vital to following Christ.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matt. 4:19, NIV)

Do you find yourself starting a task, only to pick up your phone at the first ding of text notice? Could you go more than an hour without picking up your phone? Longer?

I often remind myself, I survived for years without a cell phone. I didn’t always get a phone message until I arrived home and checked the answering machine. Sometimes that was late into the evening. Friends didn’t panic. Family didn’t call 911. We just trusted that God had a plan and it didn’t usually involve immediate gratification and the distractions of media devices.

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23, NIV)

Jesus instructed his followers to do just that–Follow. He didn’t add, “when you can.” “If you have time.”

Being obedient requires a focus and Him and His calling for you this moment, this day, this week, this life. It may mean saying no to events. It may mean saying no to the four-hour marathon of your favorite show. And, yes, at times, it may mean not filling up our weekend schedule with friends and family. Sometimes we just need to turn off the world off for an hour, a day, a weekend, a week and spend time with Him.

When I find I’m getting agitated with the little things, I’m reminded that I’m not doing the Big Thing. Shutting off the noise of music, television, computer, phones brings me back to where I should have never left.

We all know we need to sometimes turn off the distractions, but how often do we take the challenge? Is it time? Turn off the noise. Ignore the distractions. Turn up the volume of Christ in your life. Spend time with Him today and follow where He leads.