My wife left me. She left me on Christmas morning. At 9:40 A.M. on December 25, 2013, Ruth Ann Miller breathed her last breath. She departed this life but left behind her body (James 2:26; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23). On that day I became involuntarily single, forced to join a group nobody wants to be in: the widowhood club.
While ministering within the same church and community for 32 years, I was blessed to be alongside many individuals before, during, and after the loss of their spouse. I thought I knew what loss and widowhood was about. The reality is that I was clueless. The heartache is deep. The emptiness is real. The questions about you and your future are troubling. Some things about life are simply hard to understand without the first-hand experience. This is why in 2014 I launched the Widowhood Workshop ministry at widowhoodworkshop.com. My goals are to raise awareness of what life after loss is like, stimulate more effective ministry to the widowed (James 1:27), and create a network of solace and encouragement among members of the Lord’s body who share in this experience of life after loss.
Human relationships are among the best blessings of God. No relationship is more unique and none more intimate than marriage. From the very beginning, “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). Jesus said, “They are no longer two but one flesh” (Matt. 19:6). This divine togetherness is so special that our Lord added, “…let not man separate.” What other relationship is described so uniquely? During marriage the bond is strengthened by time and experiences, by both prosperity and adversity. We become deeply tied to one another through years of investing ourselves in the relationship. Death separates that unparalleled union. The one left behind is “released” or “free” (Rom .7:2-3; cf. 1 Cor. 7:39) of that lifetime commitment made when we vowed, “…until death do us part.” Death ends the marriage. Widowhood begins.
The end of the most important human relationship by death is the ultimate forced change with life-altering consequences. Throughout life, change is experienced, some chosen but others not. The one left behind is forced to deal with harsh realities. No spouse. No conversation. No hug. No hand to hold. No goodnight kiss. No intimacy. No eating partner. No traveling companion. Being married is a lifestyle. One widow put it this way: “I just miss being married. I miss having a companion. I miss cuddling, having someone to cook for, someone to come home to.” Marriage is also part of our identity. We are half of a whole, someone’s marital mate. Who are we when our marriage has been amputated and there is no prosthesis?
The widowed person is forced to deal with the loss of the individual with whom they spent more time in their life than anyone else. Such a loss is the beginning of an unpredictable grief journey, filled with experiences that may very well prove to be the most difficult of life. Family, friends, neighbors, and church family may (or may not) help. The one sure, consistent source of support is our Father in heaven. David said of himself, “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Ps. 61:2; cf. 27:1-5). That relationship with the Father is the widowed person’s best hope and source of strength along the grief journey.
Dean will be presenting a Widowhood Workshop at the Northwest Church of Christ at 6510 Old Oak Ridge Road in Greensboro, NC on October 18-20, 2019. The schedule is as follows:
Friday, October 18
Love, Life, and Loss…..7 pm
Saturday, October 19
Divine Perspective / Personal Perspective of Widowhood (Session 1)….10:30 am
Divine Perspective / Personal Perspective of Widowhood (Session 2)….1:00 pm
Sunday, October 20
Praise the Lord, No Matter What…9:30 am
What We Ought To Do When We Are Overwhelmed….10:30 am
Marriage and Remarriage….6 pm