According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one-third of all women who become widowed are younger than age 60, and half of those widowed become so by age 65. In fact, seven out of ten baby boomers can expect to outlive their husbands.
Absent in statistics, unnoticed by researchers, neglected by national and local authorities and mostly overlooked by civil society organizations – the situation of widows is, in effect, invisible.
Yet abuse of widows and their children constitutes one of the most serious violations of human rights and obstacles to development today. Millions of the world’s widows endure extreme poverty, ostracism, violence, homelessness, ill health and discrimination in law and custom.
To give special recognition to the situation of widows of all ages and across regions and cultures, the United Nations General Assembly declared 23 June 2011 as the first-ever International Widows’ Day, to be celebrated annually.
"We must erase the social stigmatization and economic deprivation that confronts widows; eliminate their high risk of sexual abuse and exploitation; and remove the barriers to resources and economic opportunities that constrain their future." - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Here are some things you need to know about the ever-increasing member of society, the widow:
A widow’s deepest pains last longer than a year.
A grieving widow who lives alone may go several days without hearing another human voice, especially months after the initial funeral. Emails and text messages are good; however, phone calls and visits may be better. While this may not seem like the most efficient use of your time, efficiency and effectiveness are sometimes mutually exclusive.
A grieving widow’s pain is unique and volatile. What encourages one woman may be painfully unhelpful to another. Grief is like a virus that waxes and wanes with intensity. Emotional mine fields such as these may require intimate knowledge of the bereaved. A close friend might be better suited to visit than a newly hired pastor. Don’t confuse compassion for a church acquaintance with a call to take personal action. If you don’t know the widow well, allow one of her close friends to direct your ministry efforts.
A grieving widow is often physically and emotionally exhausted. Don’t call her late at night or early in the morning. Be patient if she is slow in responding to your acts of kindness. Graciously accept her “no thank you” when she says she’s not up to going to dinner. She isn’t refusing help or harboring bitterness. She may simply need rest.
A grieving widow loves her children. Watching her children suffer is a misery that compounds grief and one in which the body of Christ is uniquely suited to offer comfort.
A grieving widow often feels second (or third) to everyone else.
A grieving widow’s finances may dramatically change after the loss of the primary breadwinner. More than half of elderly widows now living in poverty were not poor before the death of their husbands.
God loves a grieving widow. He does not despise her tears nor shudder when she doubts her faith in the darkness.
Source: un.org | thegospelcoalition.org