How To Help A Grieving Friend

Re-released by Greenbriar Book Company, April, 2011

Stephanie Grace Whitson has experienced the grief of losing both of her parents in 1996.   In that same year just 3 days after her husband received a terminal diagnosis,  she lost her best friend.  Five years later in 2001 she became a widow after being married for 27 years.  When that happened, she experienced a totally different side of grief and realized all the well-meaning but clueless things that she had said and done in the past to others who were grieving.  From her own personal grief of widowhood this book was birthed.

“The entries are arranged in three sections meant to approximate the early, middle, and late stages of the first two and a half years of my personal grief journey.  I’ve named them Phase One: “I Can’t”,” Phase Two: “I Must,” and Phase Three: “I Can and I Will – by God’s Grace”.  You will undoubtedly think that some of the more emotional entries are misplaced.  This can’t be right, you’ll think.  She should have been past this stage.  Guess what?  Grief doesn’t happen in neat little stages,” says Whitson.

Each section has pages of How It Feels which helps to validate a widow’s feelings and emotions .  Opposite each of those pages is a How To Help page which informs her friends and family what they can do to help her.

At the end of the book, Stephanie shares 14 ways to pray for a friend who is grieving.

This book really gives others some insight as to just how a widow is feeling and what she needs from her friends and family.  It is a very short yet concise, easy to read book for a new widow and a very invaluable tool for all of her well-meaning friends.

“Jesus promised His followers that His burdens are light, and I have been in grief long enough to experience His Lightening of my load.  But it is a lightening, not a removal.  The emotions of loss are still there just on the other side of today.  Sometimes those emotions punch open the door between the past and the present, march into my life, and remind me of what I have lost.” 

Stephanie, thank you for exposing your heart to us during your grief journey!

From One Widow To Another

Moody Publishers/2009

Miriam Neff and her husband Bob  were married for 41 years and in those years they had babies, adopted, both had careers, had gone through crises in the lives of those they loved the most, had moved, had ministries, and traveled the world together.  Their final journey together was through years of Bob’s amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and was the hardest one of all.

In Miriam’s own words her description of becoming a widow is, “Imagine a single event that will dramatically change your calendar, your checkbook, your friendship network, the contents of your refrigerator, the temperature you set your thermostat, your outlook on your future, and your connection with your children.  And that’s not all.  Your appearance may change, your emotions, your sleep pattern, your theology, your social status, and possibly your address.”

Miriam covers a widow’s vulnerabilities, grief, depression, fear, money, a widow’s strengths, how relationships including not only friends and family but in-laws will never be the same.  She talks about taking a good close look at you and finding out who you really are as a woman.  She goes step by step into exactly what things need to be done during the first year when a widow is in that shock and numb mode and is in that place of great vulnerability where she can be taken advantage.

She suggests that a widow choose her own “board of directors” consisting of 6 people –  a godly widow, a trustworthy person with financial wisdom, a practical friend, an encourager, a person with spiritual discernment and courage, and a relative whose priority is YOUR well-being.  At the back of the book she includes several different forms to help you with your finances that you can either copy or go to her website and print out.

This book is one that I would recommend as the first book to give to a new widow because it is easy to read in that “widow fog” and is just what a widow needs to know as she begins her grief journey.

“…I am discovering something good about being a widow; in fact, it is grand.  God holds me more closely to His heart because of this new status.  Yes, this is true and unbelievable.   While in most circles here we have become invisible, or nearly so, we have become precious to God.  There are 103 Scripture references to widows, revealing that we are not invisible to God…..we are not only close to God’s heart, but He measures everyone by how they treat us (James 1:27).  He instructs that our needs be met (Deuteronomy 24:17) through the church’s tithes if necessary (Deuteronomy 14:28-29); 26;12; Acts 6:1-4).  He instructs that in our vulnerability we be given our legal rights (Isaiah 1:17; Luke 18:1-8).  He commends us for our sacrificial giving (Mark 12:42-43).” 

Thank you, Miriam, for this book!