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.

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?

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!