Coping With Life After the Loss of a SPOUSE
VENTUALLY most couples will face the time when death separates them and one is left alone. Rarely do they go together, such as in a tragic acci- dent. Occasionally, but rarely, the separa- tion is brief—just a few days or weeks. Usually it is months and years. My wife and I were married for 58 years before the Lord called her home. Having experienced this separation, let me make some practical suggestions for others who will face such a time.
Have you and your spouse had an open discussion about death? What prior arrangements have been made? Has a funeral home been selected? What type of final service is desired? Where should it be held and who involved? Do you prefer interment or cremation? Is life insurance available? What will the expenses be? Is a burial place secured, mutually agreed upon? This list could go on and on. Do not put off this talk until some later time, for death might come unexpectedly.
Another matter is the use of artificial life support should such a situation be faced. Be sure that your spouse knows your wishes. Each partner should have a living will, stating in writing his or her desires in this regard.
Is the spouse prepared to deal with the necessities that come when left alone? If the wife has always “waited on” her husband, will he know how to cook meals and wash clothes if left alone?
14 EVANGEL • JUNE 2010
by Alexander W. Delk
Wives, see to it that hubby can do some things for himself!
Conversely, what if the husband has attended to all the business matters of the home—keeping the books and paying the bills—and done all the small fix-up chores? Husbands, see to it that the wife knows how to handle things that you ordinarily do!
When death comes, people will be around for the funeral and a few days thereafter, but the day will come when they are all gone and you are left alone. How will you cope?
First, face the situation. It is not some-
thing that will just “go away.” Months will pass, perhaps many years. Life goes on. People will go about their own lives and you will be there alone. Even your children have their own lives to live and cannot be expected to change everything just because you are alone.
Second, do not allow yourself to engage in
self-pity. If you decide to sit around feeling sorry for yourself, the world will let you do it. Remember, many others have had the same experience and learned to deal with it. Third, stay busy. There is always much to do if you look for it. Constructive activities such as reading, sewing, and watching worthwhile television will help pass the time. Become involved in church activities, in a community project, in helping someone else.
Fourth, if you have children and grand- children, be a blessing (not a burden) to them.
You have much to offer them—your love, your time, your knowledge, your prayers, and more. Move in with one of your chil- dren only if absolutely necessary.
Fifth, do not be in a hurry to remarry.
You can’t ever replace the one you have lost. A hasty remarriage often brings little but grief. Your children may resent the new spouse. Financial problems may arise unless money matters are clearly agreed upon. Think before you leap!
Sixth, develop a social life of your own.
Often a widow or widower feels out of place going to church, to a restaurant, or elsewhere alone. True, it is a bit difficult to go it alone. So, find some others who also live alone and do things together. Go out to eat, travel, go shopping—just get out with others.
Seventh, and foremost, exercise your faith.
As Christians we have hope, a certainty, beyond the grave. Death is separation, but only for a time. If you have a certain hope beyond the grave, death takes on an entirely different perspective than those who have no such hope. Stay in church regularly. Be a prayer warrior. Study God’s Word. Life will be much easier if your spiritual life is strong.
Perhaps you have seen your spouse suf- fering for weeks or months. My late wife was an invalid for four long years before she died. We prayed for the Lord to per- form a miracle and make her well again, but it did not happen. Instead, God called her home to heaven. Was she healed? Absolutely! Her new heavenly body has none of the sufferings and imperfections she endured in her old earthly body. How can I cope with my spouse’s death? Remember the words of Paul: “I can do all things through Christ who strength- ens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV).
Alexander W. Delk, age 87,
lives in Cleveland, Tennessee. He was a member of the Lee College faculty (1954-1960) and is retired from the Illinois public school system. He is currently teaching public speaking at Cleveland State Community College, and is a member of the South Cleveland Church of God.
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