What not to say: How to reach out to a young widow

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  • my_two_cents_worth university place, WA
    July 24, 2014 1:20 p.m.

    @The Caravan Moves On

    "So we have the ultimate truth (the Plan of Salvation), literally brimming with comfort and strength and we should NOT mention it?"

    It's condescending and dismissive of the grief the one who has lost a loved one is going through.

  • llallred Tooele, UT
    July 22, 2014 11:53 p.m.

    Thank you for this article. Everything was spot on and helped me understand better a bit about me. Now I know why I don't know what I need when people ask - and it's okay. Thank you!

  • Janet Ontario, OR
    July 21, 2014 3:56 p.m.

    The most important thing to remember is that every marriage is unique and every surviving spouse has a unique way of feeling and dealing with grief. I was a young widow who had dealt with years of my husband's refusal to take care of his health. I did not grieve as openly as some thought I should. I fell deeply in love after a couple of years and remarried. I was chided by family and even church members for saying that my second husband was the love of my life. How dare I, when I was sealed to the first? I honored and respected my temple covenants, but how could I be happy eternally without the man I loved with all my heart? Ultimately, I had to let go and trust that God, who truly understands our hearts and what we need, will make everything right eventually. I have known others who had very different experiences from mine. One friend who was widowed young still looks forward to a glorious reunion with her eternal companion, even though she has been twice widowed since he died, and is married yet again.

  • Kelsey A Rexburg, ID
    July 15, 2014 5:01 p.m.

    The Caravan Moves On,

    You are missing the point. No one is doubting the comforting power of the Plan of Salvation. Of course we should speak of it, and have faith in it. But people need to be allowed to grieve. Suggesting that someone should not be sad at the loss of a spouse because of our knowledge of the Plan is like saying that someone who just broke their leg shouldn't be in pain because they know the bone will eventually heal. That doesn't take away the reality of the present, and very real, pain. I am not a widow, but having struggled with infertility for many years, I have dealt with many of these same well-meaning but misplaced comments, and I can tell you that I love the Plan of Salvation, I love knowing what blessings will be mine in the eternities if I prove faithful, but that doesn't take away the heartache and disappointment of another month without a pregnancy. When you are grieving, you need sympathy and love, not a sermon.

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    July 15, 2014 1:39 p.m.

    So we have the ultimate truth (the Plan of Salvation), literally brimming with comfort and strength and we should NOT mention it? I don't know, guys. I'll have to think about that. Without a doubt there are people in the article and on this comment board that think mentioning the Plan of Salvation in death is unwise, at least to them.

    OK, fine. If I knew you and knew you wouldn't want to discuss or consider the Plan of Salvation, then OK, I'll respect your preferences and won't mention it.

    But it seems you're leaving a massive potential of strength untapped.

    Please understand I'm not saying I/we do nothing but 'talk' about the Plan of Salvation. Nope. We should listen. We should support. We should render physical service. But doesn't the Bible say that faith (strength) comes by hearing the word of God?

    My 2 cents...

  • Barbara Anne Los Angeles, CA
    July 15, 2014 12:02 a.m.

    Having a husband who had a fatal disease but was spared, I am truly empathize to a degree. People did not know what to say to us but one dear friend sent me a text that said "to remember that we all will pass through the veil someday" and it was sent to me early on. It came on a day I was looking for hope and before he had a Priesthood blessing which gave much hope/comfort. I wanted to choke her but then I thought she just didn't know any better. I can understand that our need to say something even if it is true has to be timed right or we end up opening the wound over and over again.

  • I M LDS 2 Provo, UT
    July 14, 2014 10:15 p.m.

    Well said, Jeanie. Having been through the death of a spouse, I know that this is no time for sermons. But unfortunately, too many fellow Saints think it is.

  • jeanie orem, UT
    July 14, 2014 5:47 p.m.

    Part of "The Plan" is to experience suffering and grow from it. However, when you ARE suffering it is not faithless to feel anger or question God's ways or wish things could be different.

    Even Jesus, who not only knew the plan but was the key player in it, asked for the experience to be taken from him if the Father would. Knowing The Plan was not a comfort to Him at that point. Why would we expect those who have lost loved ones to feel differently?

    "I'm so sorry." Is what they need, not reasons their feelings should be different even when they believe and understand the Plan of Salvation. Peace from that knowledge can come in time, but in their own time - not ours.

  • M5flyerschick Spring Creek, NV
    July 14, 2014 4:25 p.m.

    Florwood, the article didn't say 1/3 of women are widowed before age 45. The article said 1/3 *of widows* lose their spouse before age 45. Those are very different statistics. The first would mean that data encompassed all women. The 2nd means the data only counts women who are widows. The article doesn't state what percentage of women lose their husbands before the age of 45. Also, statistically speaking, 1/3 under 45 and "nearly" 75& 65 or older aren't that far apart. I don't think anyone's trying to be misleading, and there will almost always be some difference between studies.

  • Florwood American Fork, UT
    July 14, 2014 3:24 p.m.

    "About one-third of widows lose their spouse before age 45." I don't believe that. An article in USA Today from 8/11/2010 quoted census data showing that barely over 1% of women aged 35-45 were widowed. And also this quote: "Deborah Carr, a social demographer at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., has studied widowhood since 1998. She says about 1 million people are widowed each year in the USA; nearly 75% are 65 or older."

    I appreciate the good advice about how to support those who are widowed, no matter the age, but spurious shocking figures have no place in a serious article.

  • splitme2 West Jordan, UT
    July 14, 2014 2:42 p.m.

    We have a neighbor whose daughter died, leaving 3 children. People would say 'she is in a better place'. Her parents didn't like that because they thought what better place could she be in than to stay here to raise her children? It's a matter of having a choice to stay with the family or leave them with many things undone. I thinks that's why the one widow said she hates the plan. She doesn't really 'hate the plan' but would rather have her husband here with her.

  • southmtnman Provo, UT
    July 14, 2014 2:41 p.m.

    The Caraban Moves On,

    The question is not whether it is "true" or not. The question is one of propriety. Just because something is "true" does not make it appropriate nor helpful.

    Let me illustrate.

    It is true that we will all die. As such, would you think it appropriate to say to a newly grieving widow: "Don't worry, you will also die and see him soon enough."

    Get it?

  • M5flyerschick Spring Creek, NV
    July 14, 2014 2:34 p.m.

    To "The Caravan Moves On," the beauty of this article is you have an opportunity to learn from people who have actually experienced being a widow teach you what is and is not helpful. When you describe how you would handle the situation, you are not only dismissing those real experiences, but you are putting them down because you would handle it "better." You cannot possibly know how you would handle the situation until you are there.

    I am not a widow, but I was with my mom as we found out that my dad had passed away. I can tell you that I did not immediately take comfort in The Plan of Salvation and neither did she. As time went on, I was very thankful, but in the extremely painful initially, not so much. Members of the church don't always allow each other to grieve. They assume that because we know that our relationships don't end with death, that we shouldn't experience pain when they die.

    Please don't dismiss the pointers in this article just because you think you would handle it differently. You just don't know until you're the one experiencing it.

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    July 14, 2014 1:54 p.m.

    Article quotes: "She was also hurt by well-meaning church folks who said, “Aren’t you glad there’s a plan?” Her response: “I hate the plan.”

    I agree with just about everything this article says except that. The Plan of Salvation is real and all of life and happiness depends soly upon it so why not gently encourage widows to stay focused on that? I'm not suggesting that that is all one does, no, much physical and emotional service must be done but I don't see how mentioning the Lord's omnipotent Plan of Salvation can be hurtful. I know for me it would be THE key to get me through such a loss.

    And this one, too, from Gerst: "God needed him more than you,” which she sincerely doubts."

    Unless the situation is suicide, how is this not true? Again, other service will undoubtedly be needed, but contemplating the reality that God did indeed call one home would decrease my anger somewhat. A pointless death would be horrible, but contemplating that the Lord is in charge and that all things are done with His wisdom would help.

    To all afflicted, good luck.

  • sally Kearns, UT
    July 14, 2014 1:11 p.m.

    Just planning the funeral is overwhelming. Also, if one is not financially prepared it can be a disaster with many unwanted changes in lifestyle, such as moving, school changes, new friends, etc. I have not dealt in a widow situation, only a child, yet I did learn that everyone grieves in a different way. So, I was not offended by any of the remarks. Most people do not know what to say and do. Our family just went about taking care of what was needed in our situation. If someone wanted to help, we were good with that.

  • amigo sandy, UT
    July 14, 2014 8:29 a.m.

    I deal with life insurance and have seen so many widows with no place to turn. This story hits so many important points right on the head. Thank you Lois for this story and thanks to those who participated in it! I will pass along this organization to all with whom I work.