This letter was written almost a year after my husband died. I can honestly say that I have worked through my hurts, been able to let go of my expectations and no longer feel anger.
Thank you for being there for me during my husband’s illness and for his burial. Thank you for all the kindnesses you showed us and all the words you said assuring me that you would walk through the journey of grief with me. I was so comforted by it all.
Some of you made some statements that weren’t comforting at all such as: “He’s in a better place now.” “Time will take care of this.” “He was so ill. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise to you.” “It was God’s will.” “I’ve been through a divorce and know what you are going through.” “Heaven needed him more than you.” I know you meant well, but those words made me feel as if my husband was unimportant and God doesn’t love me.
But, where are you now? It’s as if when my husband died, I died too. You haven’t called to just check on me or to see if I just needed someone to talk to. So many times I have needed you in that way, but you haven’t been there. I feel like I have this big “W” on my head that scares people away. It’s like being a leper in a leper colony that no one can stand to look at and avoids.
I would love for someone to just ask me if I’d like them to go out to the cemetery with me or to call and ask if they could bring me some soup. But, no one does. What is happening? I’ve not only lost my husband and the person that I was, but now have I lost my friends/our friends as well? Why? If I ever needed you in my life, it’s now.
Going through this grief is so confusing and deeply painful way down in the depths of my soul. I know that you cannot understand that because none of you have been in this place and I wouldn’t wish you to be here, but I need you now like I’ve never needed you before. Your lack of care and concern for me makes me even more sad if that’s possible.
Please don’t ever tell a widow “I’ll be here for you and we will walk this journey together” and not be willing to do it. Not ever having any contact with me at all since the graveside service has been devastating for me. It would have been better if you had never ever said those words.
Pastor, you were there for us during all those long stays in the hospital, in the ICU conference room right after we were told that my husband was in heaven and even spoke at the Memorial Service and at the graveside. I thought you really cared, but I haven’t heard a word from you since then and it’s been almost a year. Is this how a pastor shepherds his flock?
I feel not only saddened by all of this, but I also feel deeply wounded. I know it will only harm me to be angry and I will tell you that I have felt much anger towards you all and even resentment. But, I refuse to become bitter about this. Instead I am learning the right way to respond to another person going through the grief walk and hopefully I will get it right and be there for them the way that I wish others were here for me now.
I didn’t really “get” grief before at all. No one ever talked to me about it nor did I ever receive any instruction on how to grieve nor how to help someone who is grieving. So, I have failed others in their grief walk as well simply out of complete ignorance. I will now do better because I KNOW from first hand experience what grief is all about.
This letter should be posted in every church bulletin around the country a few times a year. I didn’t know anything about grief, either and I’m sure I treated others wrong in the past. It is difficult.
Oh my goodness, this hurts to read. Words can be so cheap. We do NOT know what another soul on earth is going through, even if we go through some of the same things. We are individuals with our own stories.
I think, most people just don’t know what to say in the face of tragedy, myself included here. What can we possibly say to ease the pain. We go on with our own lives, not thinking much about what others are facing each and every day.
My heart aches for you and I am sending you a big cyber hug along with love and prayers.
FlowerLady, I would have to say that the words, “I’m so very sorry for your loss” and a good hug is the best thing to say to a widow in her loss. Don’t make promises that you can’t keep. You may have good intentions to begin with, but may find that you cannot follow through for some reason or another.
Statistics say that 80% of widows lose their own personal friends as well as their couple friends after their husband dies. They have to literally start all over again with their life.
I was very blessed to have counseled for 9 months with a christian psychologist who has worked with widows for over 30 years. He showed me that I cannot change how people will respond and react to my loss. He enabled me to work through all of my expectations with God’s help and let them go. I have always had high expectations of myself and, therefore, of others.
Thank you for your response.
I wish that churches were more aware of “how to minister” to people in grief. Real help begins “after” the flowers are gone. My pastor began ministry to my family on the very night my husband died, and continued it for several years. He put the “15th” on his calendar, and he would mention that date to me sometimes in the church hallway or leave me a message on my answering machine. It meant so very much! Most churches can use a “Grief Ministry.” Maybe “we” who have processed through grief should offer to help in this area.
I have experienced some of the same disappointing lack of care and concern by some of my friends, but God has graciously compensated in other ways. He has helped me to see that it is not about my value, but rather just the business of life that leads to such neglect. Whenever I see or speak to these friends, because I have initiated contact, they usually mention they are sorry they haven’t been a good friend to me. I don’t believe it is intentional. I’m sure I have been guilty of the same before personally dealing with grief on this level. I am glad you were able to write this letter, and have been able to process your feelings and let them go; a mature and emotionally healthy move on your part, although I know it must have been a painful season of growth for you. People will probably always fail us. Thankfully, our God is always there!
Something I needed to read, it have bn rough on me since the funeral. Im sorry that left you alobe when all you needed was someone to guide you. I let my poetry heal me, express how deeply it hurts and I knoq they maybe in better place but it stills hurts that they gone! God Bless U:)
I could have written this letter myself. Thank you for posting it.