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?

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.

Single Parent and Complete in Christ

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Complete in Christ not just a lifestyle. It is a mindset that no matter what happens or what worldly influences persist, wholeness is found in the Lord. Single families need to be reminded of Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…

Single parents need a Biblical foundation to affirm their family is not an accident. It is not less complete, or in any way a punishment for a lifestyle. Single parents need to acknowledge God knew their child before he or she was even formed in the womb.

For single mothers and fathers out-of-wedlock that means even though the parent did not follow God’s will regarding no sex before marriage, God knew that child’s life before they sinned, and that child’s life is consecrated or set apart by God. There are no mistakes or accidents when it comes to how single families are formed according to God, regardless of the circumstances that create a single family.

Likewise for single parents of adoption, God entrusted the single parent before the adopted child was even conceived. Their adoption is not a chance of fate, but a divine appointment. Their family was planned by a Holy God long before it came to fruition.

For single mothers/fathers that are widowed, there was no mistake about whether they could or could not handle the situation given to them. They are Complete in Christ, and God knew the widow or widower could raise a family alone and that the child would have a home that could be filled to the point each person in the home could be Complete in Christ.

Lastly, for single mothers/fathers of divorce and their children, God hates divorce. As Malachi 2:16 tell us, it is never His plan. But, Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 7 that even Moses had to grant divorce due to the sinful nature of man. Children should not be a chess piece in divorce or a reminder of a failed past relationship. God knows each child in the womb, and He sets apart each one’s lives. Therefore, single parents of divorce need to be Complete in Christ, even if they were never complete in their prior marriage.

The single parent needs to be mindful of Romans 8 where we are told there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Only Christ can complete someone, not a relationship, and certainly, not a spouse.

Another Closed Door

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When my marriage of 14 years ended against my wishes, I drove to and from work, often not remembering how I got there. When I arrived home at the end of the day, I found myself staring at the television without registering what was on. I was a zombie. All I could think was, “What now? I’m alone.”

That feeling eventually dissipated but not without the comfort of Christ. I grabbed onto the promise of God stated in Deuteronomy 31:8.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;

He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

When relationships end, it’s easy to have a pity party. To relive everything said or done. To grow angry or depressed. To calculate how you need to change to guarantee you will not be alone again. Yet focusing and obsessing on all of these things can take the Believer’s focus off where it needs to be.

It may take some time to pull yourself out of the doldrums, but lingering in the darkness is not where God wants us to be. We are called to walk in His light, to be a light for His kingdom.

No matter what changes your relationship status goes through, one thing remains constant. Your relationship with Christ will never end! Be Complete in Christ! Hold fast to the promise. Your earthly relationships may change or end, but not His!