Hope for an Aching Heart

Hope for an Aching Heart : Uplifting Devotions for Widows

Margaret Nyman was widowed six years ago after six weeks’ time. She is telling her widow story over the next five days on Revive Our Hearts. Here are the links to the first two programs where you can either listen to her or read the program transcript.

Day 1 – https://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/revive-our-hearts/hope-aching-heart-day-1/

Day 2 – https://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/revive-our-hearts/hope-aching-heart-day-2/

Here are links to Margaret’s books:

Hope for an Aching Heart

Prayers for a Widow’s Heart

Margaret’s blog can be found here:

Getting Through This: Encouragement to Keep Moving Forward

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Reality Bricks

Jennifer Silvera found that finding something to look forward to helped her to be able to keep moving forward in her grief journey.  She decided to do something for her husband, to show how much she loved him, and to show people just what a remarkable person he was.   Jim was an underwater photographer who had some photographs that were stunningly professional even though he had never had any formal training.  His dream had always been to have his photographs published in his favorite dive magazine.   So, she began a crusade to accomplish that for him and succeeded.

Other ways a widow can create something to look forward to is to perhaps plan a trip to get away every few months just for a change of scenery.  Yes, your grief goes with you, but I find that a change of scenery somehow breathes a bit of hope into my life even during those times when I felt the most hopeless.

If you are a younger widow with children at home and cannot plan a trip away, then plan a few hours or even a day out with a friend to give you something to look forward to.

Another idea to give you something to look forward to is to create a collage of your husband’s life for yourself and have copies made for those in your family who would truly appreciate it.

Even though you plan something to look forward to, the reality bricks will still hit and this is what Jennifer says about that:

“They were cement blocks falling from the sky and crashing on my head.  I might be doing pretty good, considering the cards I’d been dealt, then something would trigger the knowledge that, indeed, life as I knew it was over.

I call them ‘reality bricks,’ and they still fall.  Even though I had added a powerful new took to my therapeutic skill set — something to look forward to — I also learned that reality would always find a way to slap me upside the head as a reminder of September 11th and the end of life as I knew it.  Some of the bricks came from other people.  Some came by themselves, unbidden.  Some came daily.  Some still do.  Such as:

*  Waking up every morning and realizing that this is not a dream.  For months, I would cry myself to sleep, then upon waking, just as a sliver of consciousness forced its way in, even though my eyes were still closed — BAM! — a reality brick dropped like an anvil.  Then came the thought suddenly like a knife at my throat — It really happened.  He’s not lying next to me.  He never will be again.  He is dead.  So I’d cry myself awake.  The days began and ended with tears.  The mornings were always — and still are — the worst part of my day.  I still have to force myself to get out of bed each morning, dreading the fact that I must face yet another day without Jim.

*  Every holiday, birthday, and anniversary.  It’s the classic ‘Empty Chair Syndrome.’  The fact is made blatantly obvious by the occasion that someone is missing, someone who is supposed to be there but will never arrive.

*  Reading Jim’s obituary in the newspaper.  When I wrote it, I was definitely on mental autopilot.  I simply summed up his thirty-eight years into four paragraphs, scanned a decent photo of him, and sent it to the newspaper via cyberspace, as if I was sending someone a recipe or something.  It just wasn’t real until I saw it in the newspaper a few days later.  Seeing it in print on the daily page dedicated to World Trade Center victims, that’s when the brick hit — and it was a big one.

*  Shopping for greeting cards.  I never realized I’d never buy another husband card again, nor would I ever again receive a wife card.

*  Opening his closet or dresser drawers.  At the time of this writing, I avoid doing either.  and if I absolutely have to go in there, I have a meltdown.  Right there on the spot.  A big part of this is what I call ‘olfactory overload.’  His clothes still smell like him, so if I open Jim’s closet, I get slammed with a scent that triggers a nerve in my brain, and that nerve triggers another nerve, which fools me into thinking — for a split second — that Jim is there in the room with me.  Then that nerve triggers the reality nerve, and the whole thing goes downhill from there with bricks flying everywhere.

*  The day I took my last birth control pill.  I won’t forget that one.  I stayed on The Pill for a few months after September 11th because I knew that if I stopped them immediately, the combination of my unstable emotional state and my roller coaster estrogen would send me into hormonal anarchy.  So I continued to take my pill every morning, and that reality brick hurt so badly each time I swallowed it.  Here I go again, taking a pill for which I now have absolutely no use whatsoever.  I will never again make love to my husband.”

Jennifer Sands/A TEMPERED FAITH

Finding Your Way After Your Spouse Dies

Finding Your Way After Your Spouse Dies

Ave Marie Press/2000

Marta Felber is a professional counselor who knows first-hand what it is like to lose a husband.  She found it helpful to write down her feelings, problems, lists of things to do, etc.  Her own personal faith was key to her grief journey.  Marta encourages the reader to keep in mind that there is no set schedule in your grief journey, but the most important thing is to just keep moving.

“I have what I call a comfort “cozy”: an afghan that my favorite aunt lovingly made for me.  Yours might be a family quilt, a warm blanket, an enveloping coat that belonged to your loved one.  Choose a spot in your home to claim as your “comfort place”–an easy chair that you normally don’t use or your loved one’s special chair—and spread your comfort cozy there, ready to surround you when you sit down.

Go to this special place when you want to cry or to just sit quietly and think about your loved one.  Pull your comfort cozy around you.  Feel its warmth and protection.  Express your thoughts and feelings, whatever they are, and then let them go.  Feel your loved one’s love.  Feel God’s love.  Hold on to them both.  Stay as long as you wish in your comfort place….and leave only when you are ready.”

In her book Marta talks about accepting the crying, asking for a hug when you need one, recognizing denial, ignoring certain messages, assuming control, focusing on your grief, facing your fears, and how to measure growth and accomplishment among many other topics.

This is an excellent book for a widow to read early in her days of loss because it is written in short, easy-to-read chapters.  Reading and comprehending after the loss of a spouse is very difficult for awhile.  A widow can pick up this book very easily and read one short chapter at a time finding comfort and affirmation of all the emotions that she is experiencing.

Thank you, Marta, for sharing with us what you learned in your grief journey and for sharing it in a way that even those just recently widowed can benefit from it.

Singled Out For God’s Assignment

Golden Morning Press/1996

Leona Choy was married for 45 years and served with her husband Ted in mission, church, and educational work in Hong Kong, Singapore, China, and the United States.  On the 2nd anniversary of her husband’s death, she realized that she had set higher expectations of herself than God did and had been trying to hurry through her grief journey which God lovingly provides for those who lose someone they love.

Leona sincerely assumed that a Christian “should grab a vine, as Tarzan did, and swing over the chasm between loss and moving on”.  She attempted to be “superlady” thinking that was what everyone expected of her.

“I had to learn that a widow’s journey is not an airborne experience by which she can fly over the inevitable, prescribed landscape of loss.  I can’t take a helicopter over grieving just because I have strong Christian faith, trust in God’s sovereignty and am sure that my husband is safe and happy in the presence of Jesus.  We can’t hop in a plane called HOPE and rise above normal, human feelings.  Good grieving is a ground transportation experience. ”  She decided she must go back to confront and embrace her honest emotions.

Many widows suffer from depression unable to adjust to their new roles alone and have difficulty functioning in daily life.  Others can’t see themselves as having any meaningful future.  Leona “addresses a wide variety of facets arising from widowhood….blending her biblical knowledge with an intimate understanding of the emotions experienced almost universally after the death of a spouse..  She writes from the vantage point of having weathered them–but not without struggles–in the years following the death of her husband….allowing herself to be vulnerable, admitting mistakes she made as she attempted to skip parts of the grieving process because they didn’t seem ‘Christian’ to her.”

The chapter titles in this book include:  Singled Out by God, Experiencing Good Grief, Don’t Push Me Through the “Stage” Door!, Making it Through Those “Firsts”, Checking My Scriptural Anchors, Refocusing My Relationships, Potholes on Adjustment Avenue, Resetting My Compass, and Receiving God’s Assignment.

“Your spouse has gone on ahead, but your Lord has further marching orders for you, too.  Perhaps renewed marching orders in the same direction, or different in some respects–or totally different.  Whatever God’s assignment, you will no longer carry it out as a married couple.  Nevertheless, you will carry it out as a couple!  There will still be twoGod and you!  Calling ourselves widows symbolizes a continuing connection to our marriage, but death ended that tie.  However wonderful our marriage may have been, it is now in the past.  Widowhood isn’t a rut to get stuck in forever, or a no-exit cave in which to settle.  It is a tunnel with an exit.  The Lord, our Light wants to lead us through this tunnel of widowhood not somehow, but triumphantly!   As we make our way through, we will gradually begin to understand the assignment He has for us.”

One of the things that Leona talks about is the importance of hugs and how human beings seem to thrive on the warmth of touch at any age.  She copied the following from a health magazine:

*  Hugging is healthy: It helps the immune system, cures depression, reduces stress, induces sleep.

*  It’s invigorating, rejuvenating and has no unpleasant side effects.

*  Hugging is nothing less than a miracle drug.

*  Hugging is all natural: It is organic, naturally sweet, no pesticides, no preservatives, no artificial ingredients and 100 percent wholesome.

*  Hugging is practically perfect: There are no movable parts, no batteries to wear out, no periodic checkups, low energy consumption, high energy yield, inflation-proof, nonfattening, no monthly payments, no insurance requirements, theft-proof, nontaxable and non-polluting.

*  Of course, hugging is fully returnable.

This is one of those books that a widow can read over and over again and continue to find more and more rich treasures to help her through her journey.  Many thanks go out to Leona for being honest enough to share with her readers that being a follower of Christ doesn’t make a widow a “superlady” — especially when it comes to grieving the loss of her husband.

WIDOW FOR A SEASON

Widow for a Season: Finding Your Identity in Christ

BMH Books/2006

In 1996 when Kristine’s husband died of pancreatic cancer leaving her with two teenagers, she found herself in a desperate place – a place of “how do you really trust God”.  This book is a result of the answers that she found.

Kristine explains three stages a widow goes through after the loss of her husband:

VICTIM – No power, No control, No choices

SURVIVOR – We begin to take full control and power and will interpret every choice as black and white – an “all or nothing” proposition. This need to control comes from the pain we have experienced and the hopelessness that we feel. “…….you might find yourself thinking, It’s just a matter of time before something bad will happen, so I won’t get my hopes up.”

THRIVER – Some power, Some control, Multiple choices. 

“You are where you are by God’s permission, and even though He had the ability to prevent this from happening to you, He didn’t.  Like everything else we encounter in life, our experiences will always remain with us to some degree because we are defined by them and our identity will rise out of them as the Potter works at the clay”,  Kristine shares. “I thought I had an unshakable faith, but it was to be greatly tested.”

The author talks about how family and friends want to listen to you, but may have unexpected and negative reactions to your thoughts and areas of struggles.  She reminds you that you can always verbally unload on God at the top of your lungs because He’s the only one that understands you and has the resources to help you.

God knows that the widow’s nature and needs do not change after her husband dies.  He also knows that her desires must be tended to and nurtured for her brokenness to be healed.  Dr. Willard Harley says, “The first and hardest loss a widow will experience will not be the sexual relationship but the desire for affection, attention, and the sense of being loved by a man.”  Kristine does go on to discuss what a widow is to do if she finds herself desiring a sexual relationship.

In chapter eight this author talks about the widows who are struggling to help their hurting children cope with the loss of their father.  She talks about the children’s struggle with death and then goes on to give guidelines from God’s Word for raising children.

An interesting subject talked about by Kristine is identifying idolatry.  “We may find ourselves struggling  with the loss of companionship when our husbands die.  Filling that void outside of Christ is idolatry whether we fill it with eating, shopping, reading, or movies. Idolatry substitutes a dependence on something else–anything else–in place of our trust in God.” 

Kristine also shares the Seven Principles of GOIA:

1. God Owns It All.

2.  I manage money for God.

3.  Every spending decision is a spiritual act.

4.  Contentment rules our hearts.

5.  Debt is dangerous.  Get rid of it.  Stay away from it.  Use it very, very sparingly.

6.  Saving and investing are wise, but we should not put our trust in them.

7.  Giving is a gift to the giver.

At the end of each chapter is a study guide with a set of questions designed to help you break down the information that has been given.  There is an even more extensive study along with resources for encouragement on Kristine’s website –http://www.widowtowidow.net Listed also are specific verses for you to print out and put onto a key ring for daily review and encouragement.

Pappas has remarried, but continues to minister to widows through her book and her website.

Thank you, Kristine, for sharing with widows what you have learned through the loss of your husband and in your grief journey.

LET ME GRIEVE BUT NOT FOREVER

Let Me Grieve, But Not Forever

Thomas Nelson/2004

On June 28, 1987, a plane crash took the life of Verdell’s husband Creath and three of their very closest friends leaving her with one married son and a son and daughter in college.  Creath was a minister for more than 27 years. In this book she shares very honestly the emptiness, the questions, and the fears that plagued her steps, but she also tells of the hope that anchored her soul when there was no desire to go on living.

Right after Creath’s graveside service, Verdell found herself standing at the entrance of a very deep, dark tunnel that she didn’t want to go into.  She kept trying to turn around and go back, but there was no life as she had known it to go back to.  She knew she had no choice but to walk through all the pain and heartache and questions and dark despair and had no assurance that she would ever come out on the other side a whole person.

“The tunnel was dark indeed, and I was sure, endless.  Each morning I awoke and found myself still surrounded by darkness.  Taking care of menial tasks required enormous effort.  Trying to stay with a conversation was sometimes beyond me–I would often be in the middle of a sentence and forget what I was saying.  In fact, remembering anything seemed like a miracle.  Trying to talk with lawyers and insurance representatives who were working with me on estate matters had to be as challenging for them as it was for me.  I know I asked them the same quetions over and over, not sure if I didn’t understand the answer or just couldn’t remember it,” says Verdell.

Verdell shares that she has learned in her grief journey that the candle on the toe of each shoe is really enough because God himself is the candle that lights the way through the darkness one step at a time.  Even so, she found herself questioning God and everything she had been taught and everything she had ever believed.

She wrestled with issues of faith and trust, with God’s sovereignty, and with his lovingkindness.  She asked, “Why?  Why Creath?  Why not me?  Why those four men?  What now?  How do I go on?  Is God truly sovereign?  Does he ordain all that happens to us?  What about the promises of God’s watchful care over us?  Just how is God a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows?  Is there a me without Creath?  Who, in heaven’s name, are you?  Who do you want to be?  When I am no longer the grieving widow, will we have anything to talk about?  When I am better and can walk again, will they still want to see me?  And Verdell  not only asked those questions; she struggled with them.  They stripped her of all her preconceived ideas and forced her to start over with the most basic question of all — “Do I believe God is all he says he is?

She found herself embracing her questions and discovered that rather than creating more doubt, they were raising up faith.  Instead of turning her away from God, they drew her toward him.

Words that Verdell uses to describe her grief journey include empty, alone, weary, frightened, inadequate, lonely, guilty, tired, overwhelmed, angry, doubtful, and painful.  Yet, alongside those words of heartache she also includes the words grateful, joy, anticipation, blessings, goodness, love, miracle, peace, acceptance, trust, and hope.

“In the valley and at points along the way, God gave me a hug here, a word of encouragement there, a little light in a very dark stretch of road, a glimpse of eternity, a reason for hope–but nowhere did he show me a shortcut through the valley.  He simply kept leading me along and reminding me, as I was able to hear it, that no matter how alone I felt, I was not alone”, writes Verdell.

She admits that she does not let go easily of either pain or pleasure and often asks the same “Why?” question of both.  She looks at each from the inside, the outside, the upside, and the downside.  When she reaches the place that she has wrestled with an issue in her life and refused to let it to until she can sigh as she thinks of it rather than moan, or she comes to accept that it can only rest in the hands of God, then she knows that the experience has become a apart of who she is and she is richer for it.

Verdell found that, “When we can’t carry ourselves, when the loss is one we cannot rise above or work through, when no amount of prayer or effort restores, our most immediate need is the grace to survive the intensity of emotional despair and the physical fatigue that accompanies it.  It is here that, at the same time it sustains us, our faith is being sorely tested.  It is here that we often cry out from the depths of disillusionment, ‘Where are you, God?’  It is also here that God can do his deepest work in our lives because here we become aware that we have nowhere to go but to him.”

In the last chapter of the book Verdell writes about the three things that beginning the journey toward healing requires and expounds on those a bit.  I have to say that this book is one that can be read several times during a widow’s grief journey because it is so rich and helpful.

Verdell, I’m so very thankful to you most of all for asking all your questions and for sharing especially that part of your grief journey.

I LOST MY HUSBAND NOT MY MIND

Sandland Press, LLC by The Reprint Company Publishers/2010

“Widows and widowers and those going through a significant loss cannot think in sequence  Our minds are constantly in a state of “chatter and clutter,” and our thoughts wander behind or ahead.  Being in the moment is painful, and most of the time, not doable.  I often thought I was losing my mind, and countless times I told my friends, ‘I’m just not right in the head.’  Thank goodness for the many friends who were quick to remind me that I had not lost my mind—I was grieving.”

Kathy and John Sheppard were very happily married for 33 years.  On November 8th, 2009, her big brother Chris called to tell her that he had been diagnosed with ALS more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  On November 9th, Kathy and John celebrated John’s 56th birthday.  Four days later she received the phone call that her husband had died suddenly of a massive heart attack.  Her life was spinning out of control and she had no idea how she was going to do something that she had never done before – take care of herself all by herself.

As far as finances were concerned, Kathy knew only that John had “flippantly told me that I would be better off with him dead”.  She had never been on a budget in her life.  The only budget she had ever known was for her husband to tell her not to spend any more money that month.  Even though her brother and her financial planner both assured her that money-wise she should feel secure, she struggled constantly with believing them.  All those “what if” questions were scary and unsettling.

Her brother Chris wrote Kathy a letter shortly after her husband John’s death telling her among other things that he would continue to support and cheer her on, hopefully for more than 2 years.  Her anticipatory grief on top of the grief of losing her husband was very, very difficult because her dependence on John had transferred to her dependence on her big brother.

Kathy talks about how she learned that “my” friends became different than “our” friends and how it took her awhile to realize that she couldn’t control what people say about her, but she can control what they say TO her.  She shares that it was a hard lesson to learn and continues to impact her life.

Some of the statements that were made to her in the first weeks after John’s death were not consoling at all:

Statement:  He is in a better place.

Mouth Answer:  I know.

Heart Answer:  Well, I thought John was happy here.  I thought we had a good marriage, and I thought he was enjoying life.  John told me he was happy, that he was looking forward to retiring and traveling, and that he wanted to spend more time with me.  He promised me that we would grow old together.  And he was really looking forward to being a grandpa someday.  A better place?

Statement:  Let me know if you need anything.

Mouth Answer:  I will.

Heart Answer:  How do I know what I need?  I am on a journey that I didn’t plan or pack for.  Do you have any idea how much effort it takes ME to pick up the phone and actually call?  You tell me what you want to do and then do it.

Three deaths in one year – her husband, her mother, and her big brother Chris.  I understand the grief that this author feels because I lost my husband, my mother, and my father all in 4 months time.  But what makes Kathy’s story important to me is that she made it through her grief and was able to come out the other side with joy.  It gives me hope that I, too, can make it.

I thank you again, Kathy, for letting us know that we aren’t losing our minds in the midst of grief.



Grace for the Widow

Cover Image

B&H Publishing Group/2009

Two months after Adrian Rogers retired from fifty-four years in the pastorate he  received a diagnosis of colon cancer.  Six months later he went to meet the Lord.  Joyce had loved him for more than sixty years and had been a pastor’s wife since she was eighteen years old.  To have his life end so suddenly threw her life into a place she had never dreamed that she would be.

The purpose of Joyce’s book is to introduce widows to her guide, the Lord Jesus Christ.

“He knows the way.  In fact, He is the way.  If you will lean hard upon Him, He will see you through.  His written Word, the Bible, has been my guide book.  It has brought encouragement and strength, help, and hope.  He has a plan for your life.  He wants to use you, and yes, even your grief to bring hope to others who have also begun this journey.”

Before Adrian’s death, Joyce had been wonderful at multi-tasking.  But she found that after his death she wished that someone would just tell her what to do.  She encourages the widow until the fog lifts to do simple things such as getting out of bed, taking a bath, getting dressed, spending time alone with God, eating breakfast, cleaning up the house, walking the dog, paying the bills.  Do not try to think about what the future holds.

Joyce introduces the reader to her new husband – Jehovah Sabaoth (the Lord of hosts) from Isaiah 54:5 which says that because you are a widow, “Your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is His name.”  She shares that He fights the widow’s battles.  He is her protector and her strong redeemer.

She writes one whole chapter on healthy habits and what an adjustment it is to cook for just one.  Hints for healthy eating are given as well as breakfast, lunch, and supper ideas along with some healthy desserts if you must have something sweet.  Joyce also talks about sleep, exercise and maintaining a positive attitude.

Widows are encouraged by Joyce to reach out to others in their grief and problems because God doesn’t want them to waste their sorrows.

“When I went through my third Valentine’s Day without Adrian, I began to think that it was time to do a little more for someone else.  The Lord put on my heart the idea to have a nice Valentine’s luncheon for some widows that I knew personally.  I got out my good china, crystal, and silver and set up a beautiful table.  After lunch we went into the living room and I shared how God had ministered to my life through His wonderful Word.  Then I asked them all to share about their sweet hearts.  As I reached out to others, God reached back to me.”

There are two appendixes at the end of Joyce’s book.  The first one is a list of some of the promises that she found in the Bible after the death of her Adrian.  The second appendix is her study and understanding of the names of God.

We thank you, Joyce, for sharing with us what you learned through those first years of “widow fog”.

Widow For A Season

Widow for a Season: Finding Your Identity in Christ

BMH Books/2006

The year 1998 was the one where Kristina Pappas began struggling with the question “What does it mean to trust God – really?” for that is the year she became a widow left with 2 teenagers at home.  In her desperation she looked for refuge in the Bible and stumbled on the promise that God is the husband to the widow (Isaiah 54:4) and father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5).  Yet, she did not know what that meant.  She needed steps of practical application because God’s Word was her only hope.

“You are where you are by God’s permission, and even though He had the ability to prevent this from happening to you, He didn’t.  Our experiences will always remain with us to some degree because we are defined by them and our identity will rise out of them as the Potter works at the clay. Being yoked in a marital relationship creates a faith oneness, similar in some ways to the oneness we have in Christ.  A certain confident faith develops out of that relationship.  When we lose our husband, an important element of our faith confidence is also lost.  It is not lost altogether, but we have to be aware of that loss as we, as single believers, begin to rediscover and redefine our faith”  says Kristine.

In her book, Kristine talks about bringing balance to our perceptions, bringing balance to our roles, the stages of recovery, stage-stuck, balancing our responses to others, co-dependency, boundaries, and establishing our identity in Christ and several more topics.  Her writing is filled with scripture references that are written out so that the reader does not have to look them up.  This is especially helpful for a widow when having to do another thing is so difficult.

Kristine discusses how many widows have no one to talk to after their husbands are gone and how we need to unload verbally, but must be sensitive about how and to whom we unload.  She reminds us that there is one whom we can “shout at the top of our lungs in frustration to or laugh and cry with” and that is God.  He can handle whatever we need to say and has the resources to help us with our problems.

The “idol mask” is an interesting part of Pappas’ book and is defined as anything that substitutes a dependence on anything else in place of our trust in God.  Kristine shares,  “We may find ourselves struggling with the loss of companionship when our husbands die.  filling that void outside of Christ is idolatry whether we fill it with eating, shopping, reading, or movies.  There is nothing wrong with any of these activities in and of themselves, but they can be used for the purpose of filling the void of loneliness that we should be letting Christ fill.”

At the end of each chapter is a set of questions designed to help you better understand what you have read.  This can also be used as a tool with other widows together.  There is an even more extensive study available at www.widowtowidow.net along with other resources for encouragement.  Additional study sheets can be found on this website as well and can be printed for personal or group study.

Kristine, thank you for giving us more things to examine in our lives in order to help us in time to find our new identity in Christ.

Straight From A Widow’s Heart

Life Journey/2003

Mildred and Mark Krentel endured many hard grief journeys in their lives.  Their daughter Martha died suddenly at the age of six months.  Their second daughter Melissa was born with Down’s syndrome.  Because of their burden for children with Down’s syndrome, they began a ministry called Melmark that served children and young adults with disabilities.

In 1990 Paul was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s complicated by Parkinson’s disease and after taking care of him at home for 6 years, Mildred was thrust into the journey of widowhood on November 11, 1996.

In her journal Mildred wrote to Paul, “I have a new name.  Widow.  I roll that name around on my tongue to see how it sounds, but I simply don’t like the word…not one bit.  Honey, you would laugh over the ideas propsoed to me now that I’m a widow.  People seem to have forgotten how to comfort.  Instead, they are all busy writing out prescriptions for my happiness. I often think about Job and the mess he was in and how his friends wanted nothing more than to accuse him and argue with him.  I love it when Job says, ‘Miserable comforter are you all’.”

This book begins with several chapters where the author shares her story of all emotions and loneliness that she goes through during those years of caring for her husband watching him slowly slip away from her.

Later she shares the restlessness that she felt during the holiday season of the 2nd year without her husband – that time when she was trying to find a new identity – and how she decided to take her daughter and run away on an Auto Train from Pennsylvania to Florida for Christmas.

Shortly after her return home an old friend suggested that Mildred go to Africa as a short-term missionary.  Not knowing what else to do, she applied and at the age of 76 became the oldest person accepted.   She became so completely homesick that she was unable to complete her term before returning home.  She began to ask herself if she had bombed out.

“For the last 8 years, I had become so entangled with my role as a caregiver that I failed to anticipate my own needs.  I had expected my grown-up, married children to fill in the blanks.  Now I know that God intends me to lead my own life, depending on Him.  Even to the point of not allowing the opinions of others to disrupt what He tells me in the quiet of our times together.  It is as though I experienced a new birth kind of thing.  He was growing me up for widowhood.  I had a new focus……Here I am–bound by my own frailties.  A widow, not by choice, but by design.  God’s!  Does God know what He’s doing?  In theory, I know the answer to that…….Every day there is a new assignment, an unexpected challenge but still and always….God!” says Mildred.

In the pages of this book you will be able to feel the heart of Mildred Kentrel and the highs and lows of her grief journey.  She bares her soul and tells of her ups and downs and the questions she has of God.  Her main purpose of her writings is to “show you what God can do with poor material”.

A very heartfelt thanks goes out to you, Mildred, for sharing your story with us!