“…Nothing tends more to relieve that overwhelming sense of wretchedness, with which the heart of the sufferer is sometimes oppressed, than a generous pity for a fellow weeper!”
“Your long and intimate letter gave me great pleasure. There is a sympathy in the feeling of people who have been recently afflicted, which cannot be expected to be found in others; a mutual chord, which, touched, vibrates with a kindred sound. We have not suffered exactly alike. But we have suffered; and that circumstance has made us love each other better than we did before.” – The Widow Directed to the Widow’s God by John Angell James, 1841
There truly is sympathy in people who have been recently afflicted. I have found this to be so true in recent months. I have connected with other widows who are suffering as I am. I have also connected with women who have lost a sister or a child. I never thought I’d have a need for a “group”. But, I went at the urging of my son. And I am so glad I foundgriefshare. I thank God for these fellow weepers.
“The friends whom the freshness of your grief has gathered around you, will forget your loss much sooner than you will; and the force of their sympathy will have spent itself, long before the tide of your grief has ceased to flow. Few, very few, are the faithful friends whose tender interest is as long-lived and as deep, as our tribulation.” – The Widow Directed to the Widow’s God by John Angell James, 1841
I am blessed to have friends who still gather around me. They call, text, invite me to lunch. Their sympathy has not spent itself. I am thankful for their tender interest.
“To the widow of the departed Christian, there is another ingredient in the cup of her sorrow, another aggravation of the loss she has sustained, and that is—she is deprived of her own spiritual comforter and companion…How tenderly did he solve her doubts, relieve her perplexities, and comfort her in her sorrows. How sweet was it to take counsel with him on the things of the eternal world, and to walk to the house of God in company…but that tongue is now silent in the grave; those holy hands are now no more lifted up to bless the household; that mild scepter of paternal rule has dropped.” – The Widow Directed to the Widow’s God by John Angell James, 1841
Chuck was very tender when it came to handling my questions, my complaints, my sadness. He was patient with me.
I find I can walk into the house of worship alone, but sometimes I can’t make it through the service without tears. But, I did today, so it was a good day. I keep responding that I have good days and bad when people ask. It seems to have become strings of good days and strings of bad days.
“…those holy hands are now no more lifted up to bless the household; that mild scepter of paternal rule has dropped.” I found this to be so true during this first Christmas without Chuck. I had hoped to step into his place and lead the family in scripture reading and prayer, but it just didn’t happen. And I felt like a failure. I don’t know how to be the spiritual head of my family. This is part of the cup of my sorrow.
“Let that true religion still support you. What it has done—it can still do. It has proved to you its reality and its power—still trust it as the anchor of your soul, sure and steadfast. If it prevented you from sinking, when the shock came first upon you, it can do the same through every future stage of your solitary journeying, and every future scene of your now unshared sorrow.” – The Widow Directed to the Widow’s God by John Angell James, 1841
Such good advice, and like much advice, not always easy to follow. In the weeks after Chuck’s death I was so busy with paperwork and decisions that I just kept going full steam. I had to. Now, as things have settled down, finances have worked out, decisions have been made, the day to day living comes at me begging to be heard. What now? How do I live out this life I have now?
I think God has laid a burden at my feet for other widows. I desire to take this empathy I now have, one I never asked for but am grateful to have, and share it with others. I am seeing such a great need for ministry to widows that is being sorely neglected in so many of our churches. But, how many others are being neglected? What about the elderly cooped up with no one to visit them? The young mother struggling to make ends meet? Do I have empathy for all these? No, but sympathy, certainly. So I have to go with what I know, with what I’ve been given. To take that “cup of cold water” in Jesus’ name.
I had a conversation today with an old neighbor friend. We lived next door to each other for nine years, but I think I talked to her more today than I did those nine years combined. God has been so gracious to me to bring people back into my life to be an encouragement. Talking to her helped me to see that perhaps I AM on the right track as far as plans for the immediate future. I feel God leading me to be a help to my family. To be there, nearby, to be a help in their time of need and in mine. That looks like moving and it looks like traveling.