I can’t say that I’ve read many books on widowhood and I hope (as all wives do) that I never have to apply anything that I did read in Widowhood – The Definitive Turning Point. I also hope I never see such a useful sort of book with such bad cover art ever again. (My eyes! Oh, my eyes!) If it were just me, all by myself, plucking books off of bookshelves, I would have avoided this one. But I read this title at someone else’s request and I found it to be rather insightful in attempting to understand the state of a widow a bit better. And there is a certain someone who is a widow that I care about understanding quite well – that is, my mother. Sadly, she is a widow. (Sadly, I am without a dad anymore and my children are lacking the presence of a very loving “Papa.”) But when push comes to shove, my mother has it the worse off. Because she is without the husband she dearly loved for a faithful 33 years.
Truthfully, I read this book for self, and I had zero intentions of reviewing it. In fact, I’m not really going to review it, per se. I’m just going to mention it to you because I do think it is an interesting, insightful and valuable resource. If you’ve ever been around someone who has lost their spouse (which we have – twice! – having also lost my mother-in-law to cancer a few years ago) then it can leave you feeling a bit confused yourself. How do you relate to them as a “single” person? How much or how little do you begin to include them in your life? What do you do when they are sobbing in your presence and you don’t know what to say because you can’t possibly fathom what it is that they are going through? (All you know is that you hope you never feel such a wound because it just looks and sounds so painful.) When their very identity is shaken and removed, and they find themselves alone and needing to rebuild, you yourself can feel rather helpless. I kind of wish that I had been given this book about five years ago as it would have increased my understanding. It would have helped me make sense of a very confusing situation!
Dotty Stephenson wrote and published this book back in 2007, after having been a widow for 15 years. She writes specifically to and primarily for widows themselves, to offer them encouragement and to assure them that they are not alone in any variety of thoughts or emotions which they are processing. Stephenson is a Christian and therefore her message is one of hope, despite the darkness of the hour. She writes:
“During the dark night of parting from my husband the Lord was my support and strength. When I wanted to sink into oblivion He was there nudging, urging, and encouraging me to the plae He had planned for me in the land of the living. He has paths planned for us to walk in, and He has good works foreordained for us to do (see Ephesians 2:10). Isn’t that a marvelous promise? All He asks of us is to believe Him and trust Him to do all He has said.”
Stephenson herself never remarried or moved from the home she shared with her husband. She understands every widow feels differently and needs to make decisions for themselves. As they do, she writes to encourage their faith in the Lord, extolling them to believe that God absolutely will not leave them or forsake Him, but rather that He will lead them in this new path which they must walk. They are missing the comfort and love of a spouse, but not the comfort and love of the Lord. She is very convincing in what she writes, as well as truthful and direct. The book, she says, is not necessarily meant to be read in one sitting, but to be visited with whenever the widowed reader needs clear mental direction back to the Lord.
No one wants to be a widow and it typically isn’t anyone’s first choice to walk alongside a widow (or a widower!) as they navigate their grief. It isn’t easy. But then we aren’t supposed to do things just because we want to or because we find them to be easy, are we now? Scripture says that we are to laugh with those who laugh and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15) and care for widows and orphans “in their distress” (James 1:27). So we don’t really have much of an option of how we will care for them or when we will care for them. Instead of just guessing as to how we might serve and support widows (and orphans!) best, it is good to gain understanding so that you can address them as accurately and lovingly as possible.
This was a good book for me to read and I doubt that I’m the only one in need of the insight. Furthermore, I’m also sticking this book out there for your future. Because eventually we will grow old (or not) and struggle with death and loss. Perhaps learning how to treat others now will aid us in the end, as we will then long to be treated in certain ways when it is our time to suffer a loss.
Honestly, I hope Jonathan and I die at the exact same hour on the exact same day. (It could happen!) But if not, then I do hope we will be surrounded with love and understanding as we process our own grief. Is it morbid to think of death? No. Actually, thinking about it every now and again helps me to number my days a bit better (Psalm 90:12) and to realize that today is all I’ve got! All I have is NOW – so I would like to live it well. This book helped me to do that.
Carrie blogs about life and faith over at Reading to Know. Occasionally she does pick up some titles that others might consider a bit odd or premature, but, well, that’s Carrie.