Saturday, December 29, 2007


I've been asked several times by different people to address the subject of widows.

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My sources for information on widows come from two places: the references to widows in the Bible, and the memory of widows of the past.

Every woman should be able to imagine how she will manage in the role of a widow.Much of what happens to a widow begins earlier on in her life. Her life before widowhood is her spiritual insurance policy. How she copes as a widow has a lot to do with how she lived her life. A life of seriousness and dedication to duty in the home will be rewarded in widowhood. If she has raised good children who have an honoring spirit, she will be paid back for her efforts should she ever be a widow. If she has taught good things to younger women, she will reap rewards as a widow.

Young women need to really take seriously the role of wives, mothers and homemakers. If they spend their youth partying and getting into one relationship after another, putting their children in the care of others, and neglecting to be good house keepers and good homemakers, they will not find the comfort and honor they will need later in life, should they become widows.

For that reason, young women would do well to live their lives above the world, tending to matters at home, and really do all they can to make their houses real homes and their families really interested in serving others through hospitality, having a good knowledge of the scriptures, and wanting a Christian education. In the end, the movies and the parties and the shopping and the social life, even the BALLGAMES, ladies, will be meaningless. These sort of things do not "pay off" when one becomes a widow. Hospitality, teaching, working quietly at home, diligently training children in manners and respect, and making the home a home, will come back to bless you in your old age.

Although we seem many generations away from the last era that practiced any kind of widowhood etiquette, we can still find principles to follow in the case of widowhood.

Being a steady, faithful church member as a young woman, is important because as a widow, that sort of background will qualify you to teach others. Being a woman who maintains Biblical principles while you are young, is an investment for your old age. As a young person, you can study and practice things that will help you develop the character and the skills you need to become a woman worth looking up to when you are older. These can be things like:

-being on time and being a good steward of time.

-managing money well.

-managing a home, and being a good homemaker, including neatness, orderliness, cleanliness, cooking, sewing, caring for the sick in the home.

-looking after property, and keeping the house in good repair.

-finding ways to influence others.

Just from an over-all reading of the Bible, one can conclude that widows should behave in a dignified way, not being silly, not out in the bars drinking, not partying. In the Old Testament, widows sometimes went back to live with their parents until they found another husband. One reason for a young widow to remarry was to have help and guidance with any young children the couple had. Another was to keep the young woman safe with a protector and a provider, a husband, over her. Without marriage, she might take to wandering from house to house, talking about things which should not be talked about, and being idle.

This seems to be good advice for single women, even if they are not widows. Without a husband, house and children to care for, it is very tempting to be footloose and fancy free, using spare time for socializing and partying. If young girls learn to do this, the habit is not easily broken once they marry. They become discontent and restless and do not know how to occupy themselves as wives and homemakers. This is not to say they will be inside of a house every minute, as most of us certainly are not, but it shows that many women do not know about the millions of things that can be done as full-time homemakers.

Widows who are older, who have had long marriages, will be incredibly lonely after the loss of a lifetime mate. This can make them vulnerable and many have jumped into second marriages out of a feeling of loss and desperation. A portion of these have made very happy, lasting matches.

However, it is still important that the widow be very careful. If she has children and grandchildren who occupy her time, she may not benefit at all if she remarries. Remarriage means his children, her children, step this and step that, and a whole complication of relatives. Remarriage may involve problems of the family she marries into. If she remarries, her time will be occupied by her new relationship. If she is a grandmother, she may find her time even more divided. If she has a good relationship with her children, and they have reservations about her remarrying, she needs to consider this.

Another thing a widow needs to be careful about is relocation. Although friends and relatives may urge her to rid her house of all her husband's things and move to a smaller place, it is not always the right thing to do. If she has been happy there and if she loved her husband, and if it gives her security to have the familiarity of her own home and his things around her, why should she leave? Change is a trauma in itself. She has already lost a husband and is adjusting. Moving will create another adjustment problem. It is better if she stays put. I know one widow whose husband provided a house for them in their retirement. His plan was to have a place for her should she ever be a widow, and he had it made with ramps for easy access to the doors, and every convenience for her. After he died, her grown children talked her into selling it. It sold so fast she did not have time to find another place so she was talked into buying from a realtor a place much further away from the town, the children, and the church she was used to. The first night she was there alone, a robber entered the house, but she called the police and he was scared away. The distance she had to travel took its toll on her car. Eventually her children had to help her move to a small apartment in town where she could be checked on more easily.

Other widows I have observed who have stayed in their own houses, have lived much longer and in better health. They do suffer from missing their husbands, but it is not accompanied by the anxiety that packing up and moving around causes. There are exceptions, of course, and personalities are different. Some widows really need to move if the house is run-down and dangerous or if the children really want her badly to come and live with them, or if they are living a long way from relatives. Some widows feel they have stayed home enough in their lifetime and prefer to travel, but it is generally better not to cause too much upheaval in an already shocked and grieved woman.

One reason it is important for young women to develop some kind of thing that she can use as a service to others, whether it is hospitality, teaching sewing, crafts, or teaching younger women, is to give them practice. Then, when they are widows, they have their experience and talent to occupy them. They will have a driving purpose in life. They will be full of life and enthusiasm for the home and the family. They will be able to encourage younger women.


Sue said...

Very wise article Lady Lydia.
Thank you for pointing this out to all of us and giving us yet another reason to be diligent in our homemaking.

Anonymous said...

Very insightful and timely article. While I do not agree with all of Judge Judy's comments or her opinions, if we watch her show every once in awhile it gives us a glimpse into society. And the glimpse is frightening.

Just this past week a son had to sue his widowed Mother. He (age 27) had a wife and his Mother (age 46) lost her husband (not his Father). She gave him the land her trailer was on and sold her trailer and gave him $6000.00 towards the purchase of his trailer. She then moved in with him, shortly followed by two adult daughter, one of whom had two children. This young man just starting out in life was susposed to support his wife, Mother, two adult sisters and the one sister's two children! The Mother refused to get a job and the sisters did as well. The Mother asked him to help her purchase a car, and he did by getting a loan for her to put a down payment. She promptly refused to get a job, didn't pay the car payment, refused to return the car so her son could get out of the loan (he co-signed) and refused to pay him back for the down payment he had forwarded. She was receiving widow's benefits from the Va and was certainly young enough to get a part time job and either contribute or make her own way. Instead, she wanted her son to pay all her bills, indulge two foolish daughters and keep any money for herself.

After a lifetime of women refusing to submit to their husband and running them off, putting their children in daycare and running after careers or foolishness it is the height of folly to demand respect and love at the end of your life. They want eveyone to sacrifice for them when they never did for anyone else. Some also attempt to have a twisted relationship with adult sons (I see this sick thing more and more often) where he is their "husband" in that he supports them, but they run his life. This is why they HATE the wife.

Sick and sad! Being that I have seen my own Grandmothers on there own as a widows and lonely because they mistreated their first husbands and were horrible to their children has taught me a terrible lesson. They want to see their grandchildren and great grandchildren, but no one will come. Only Vultures who want what little they have. They demand honor and financial provision, but that was in their hands to provide for themselves long ago.

After treating their husband's like a bully and their children like a boil to be lanced, it isn't a wonder that they sit alone, uncared for and depending on strangers....just like their babies did in day care.

A horrible lesson. What you reap you sow and I for one am desperatly trying to watch the seeds I throw down.

Many Blessings :)
Miss Joy Gracie

Willow Cottage said...

Oh my goodness, what wonderful blog! I have been reading many of your posts and they are all on splendid topics. I will definitely say that I wish there would have been wiser women in my life when I was younger to teach me of a proper woman's dedication as it relates to the bible. I unfortunately married very young and moved away so I had to learn alot on my own which was not easy but I am glad I was persistent in using the bible as my guide.

Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom here and for enlightening others on this very topic. It is a sad topic of course but a very important one that will most certainly help many.

Thank you also for setting a wonderful example in providing such concrete information to women of all ages.

Lydia said...

Joy Gracie,

As I said, and you reiterated, living a life of folly and careslessness will not get the dignity and the care that an older woman will one day wish for. You reap what you sow. Young women, please take note! Everything from your health as an older woman to your finances, depends upon you living above the world, and living a good, clean life!

Anonymous said...

What a well put piece of writing! Oh I wish this article had been around for reading the last time someone asked if I would just "shrivel up and die" should my husband pass on before me.

Noby likes to think about the possibility of becoming a widow, but knowing that how one acts now will affect how one acts later is a wise and comforting thought.

Thank you again for taking the time to share this.

God bless,

Paula said...

What to do about the mother-in-law who is a widow? I am facing this situation now. My mother-in-law is in her 70s. She collects social security and her late husband's pension. She doesn't make much and with the high prices of meds, groceries, car insurance, etc., the money does not go far. However, there is never a little money set aside in case of an emergency or a maintenance item, and our family will usually pay for it. I don't mind this, but we have sat down with her to see how many bills she has, and she should have a little money to put in savings, but never does. Yet she continues to buy trinkets. We also live a few hours away, and her sister, who lives much further away, thinks that we should be doing much more for her.

I've heard through the grapevine that she wants her son (my husband) to be taking care of her, not me. I've suggested to my husband that he look into some home health care for her--with all of the privacy laws, etc., I do really believe this matter should be taken care of by her son.

What to do about the widow that lives far away? She has hinted about how other people have remodeled their homes to make a mother-in-law apartment. It would be quite difficult given our home's layout. Any suggestions? I can't imagine her even moving into an apartment in our area because she wouldn't know anyone other than us and it would be too expensive.


Anonymous said...

Dearest lady Lydia,

This is perhaps the most straightforward, realistic and honest article written to date upon widowhood in the annals of Biblical femininity.

May God bless you for your keen insight and ability to tease out the heart of the matter.

How many of we thirty-somethings started our adult life upon unsteady and unwitting feet? I thank God that He led me to a fantastic husband and has provided so graciously for me despite the mistakes and follies of my youth and young adulthood.

With a husband nineteen years my senior, from the start, we have both been mindful of what will become of me when he passes on before me. Though I do fear certain elements of his family, our own preparedness along with God's incredible mercy (He has already shown incredibly beautiful mercy to me) will see me right. Having been transient for most of my adult life, cultivating good relations within the church has been difficult though I've been led to a fantastic little church that has proven a true blessing. Therein I have witnessed the older women (a small minority of them) practice Biblical femininity (though the young don't see it for most of them go to different services). Two widows are both wonderful women and I've witnessed the way the church community looks after itself (there's a solid core of about 15 couples).

They live the feminine life each and every day, being an example to me without even knowing. I pray that when I am in the autumn of my life, I can be such an example to women my age now.

It would seem, despite the excellent example set by these women, that it is their felow paritioners who care for them far better than their own children and grandchildren; many of whom have so many of their own problems - divorces, difficult marriages, no marriages at all, grown grandchildren too busy pursuing their own lives...

Australia is (though it has faltered somewhat in preceeding years) well and truly a welfare state where the care of the elderly is not seen as the responsibility of the family, but the state - even so, ten thousand families in my state alone are carers for children with significant disabilities and/or elderly parents, shouldering the care alone. The death of the extended family in the West has led to usually one family member only being able to care without the support of other family members to share the workload. Pouring even more salt into the wounds is the divorce rate amongst couples who have children with a significant or profound disability. It is over 70% (far higher than the general rate of 40% in the mainstream population). Sadly, it is usually the husbands whose courage fails them, causing them to bow out leaving the mother to struggle alone often through immense difficulties far above those faced by mothers raising children without disabilities. Couple this with the fact a growing number are also caring for their own elderly parents (other cyblings mysteriously absent) and the true cost of the faled Biblical family in the West can be seen exposed for what it is. As for the horrendous divorce rate that can be seen in couples with children who have a disability, I believe there is an aching need for a few timely articles that fall into the category of 'Responsible Manhood' to be written that need to address this issue as elloquently as you've covered the issue of widowhood.

Ladies, raise up that next generation in the fear of the Lord that the grave mistakes we've colectively made as the boomer and gen x generations may not be repeated; that God's perfect model for men, women and family may be seen for what it is; the only sure remedy in an imperfect world.


Mrs. E.,

Mrs. Anna T said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

As always, right on target. Many young women should remember this today, when they are busy wasting their most energetic and productive years pursuing goals which will have no long-term benefit.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of reaping what you sow....

There is a wonderful scene at the end of Little Women where "Marmee", her daughters and all of her grandchildren are sitting on the grass together enjoying the twilight of the day after a pic-nic. After a lifetime of poverty and hard work, her daughters thank her for all the sowing she has done. Jo says, "Here it is, and we never can thank you enough for the patient sowing and reaping you have done." Marmee stretches out her arms, and says with "with face and voice full of motherly love, gratitude, and humility,-- 'O my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this!'"

Though Mrs. March isn't a widow yet, it's implied that it isn't far off. I didn't read this book until recently and I was wonderfully happy with how gracefully "Marmee" aged, it's not something you see much in literature anymore.

Many blessings,

Lizzy F.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for such an insightful article. I lost my husband of 13 years in September 2007. He was only 33 years old (I was 34.) I am so thankful that we both were strong Christians and had a traditional marriage with me as a homemaker. As I have worked my way through these first grueling months of grief, my homemaking skills have given me a purpose and grounding until I find my way again. And I don't know what I would have done without the support of our Church and it's members. My Christian beliefs have also protected me from the problem you mention of a young widow becomming loose. I have been invited to such occasions by non-believer aquitances. I thank the Lord I knew better. Sinful behavior is so easy to fall into. Thanks to all of these beliefs and cultured habits, I also have a good picture of the requirements for any possible future husband the Lord may bring. Which means I can leave it all in the Lord's hands.