Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Ministering to and with Widows

Neff.jpgEvery pastor needs this book on the shelf.

Every church needs five copies of this book in store.
And of course every widow could benefit from this book because it is written to help with “the new you.”
That book is Miriam Neff’s From One Widow to Another: Conversations on the New You
. Written by a widow, written for widows, this book reads like the experience of sitting at a coffee table watching one widow minister to another widow. It’s that personal. And because there are so many widows, it’s that important. There is a huge demographic of suffering women who are neglected, who are losing their place in churches, and who are seeking for help — churches need to have widow ministries. This book can build the structure of what needs to be done.
I don’t want to summarize every chapter, but here’s what this book will provide for you:
A widow’s vulnerabilities (grief, fear and [for most] dealing with money). I especially liked her points about the sort of friends widows need.
A widow’s strengths (opportunity to change and to comfort) is followed by relationships, where she shows that both family and friends are never the same again. And she encourages widows to find themselves and their mission and their faith anew.
This book, born of grief and working through fears, is a gift to the church.
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Unapologetic Catholic

posted September 30, 2009 at 2:22 pm

I’ll have to read this book.
I was widowed at 39 with three young children, ages 3, 10 and 12. I can say that each person’s experience of widowhood is very unique to that individual. The unique aspects of each particular situation are extremely important, although there are common issues in all situations.
One common result of widowhood, especially in young widowhood is the great “Why?” question. If that question is answered in a theologically offensive or insensitive way, faith can easily be destroyed. I have personally witnessed this on several occasions.
This issue desperately need pastoral planning. Approximately half of all persons in a long term marriage will be widowed at some time in their life. (Widow humor, there!)
Of course, I am not technically a widow.
I am a widower.

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Jim Martin

posted September 30, 2009 at 2:58 pm

I will get this book. For years, I don’t think I really understood what these people went through after their spouses die. Then, I witnessed what happened to my mother-in-law. Not only did she lose her husband but their friends began to pull away. No more invitations to meals, etc. Glad to hear about this book.

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Carl Holmes

posted September 30, 2009 at 3:40 pm

I look forward to getting to this book. One thing that reopened my eyes recently is that spiritually speaking, single mothers are widows. That is not always P.C., but when I understood that my eyes were opened up to just how many widows there are out there.

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posted September 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm

We need to do a better job of visiting the widows and orphans in their affliction. All too often this has become the pastor’s job.

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Unapologetic Catholic

posted September 30, 2009 at 5:48 pm

Brian is right.
It turned out that my parish had an active “bereavement ministry” at the time of my wife’s death. The ministry was notified and tracked each widowed person for at least a year a level comfortable to that person. Each new widow was assigned a “mentor” who had been widowed for a few years. “tracking” would include weekly home visits or telephone calls at the individuals comfort level.
The first year after widowhood is a series of anniversaries. You have the first post-widowhood Easter, the first Thanksgiving, the the first birthdays, the first wedding anniversary, and finally the first anniversary of the spouse’s death. The mentor could assist with these difficult milestones, each with its own theological implications.
There were also monthly potlucks and social gatherings designed solely to deal with the social losses. Again, all in attendance were widowed or bereavement ministers. At these gatherings, people could learn to feel joy again at their own pace and they could exchange useful information on matters such life insurance and social security benefits. Individuals could also be advised when professional psychological counseling or medication appeared to be warranted.
I can’t over-emphasize how important this ministry was to me personally.

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Elzada Mack

posted October 15, 2011 at 12:43 pm

I am in charge of the singles ministry at my church. It is surprising to me that widows don’t feel single. I found this site in looking for ways to minister to widows and also divorced people. I intend to buy this book. Does anyone have other suggestions that might be helpful.

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