A Box I Did Not Choose

When my husband Dave died 6 years ago – the hardest thing for me to get used to was the ‘box marked widow’. I must have filled out 500 forms during the paperwork process, and on every one had to check that box for marital status. Widow. Widow. WIDOW!!! Ugh. This word was (is) hard for me to embrace.

The government had decided this was my label. My bank. My doctor’s office. My kid’s school. My tax returns. Over and over again I was forced to check the box marked widow.

I wanted to scream – this is not me! This is not who I want to be. I want to be wife. Partner. Helpmate. Sister. Daughter. Mother . Friend.

Instead I was in a box. A box I didn’t like. A box I didn’t choose. A box marked ‘widow’. Ugh.

In those early desperate days I asked God for something to hold onto from His word. I opened a devotional to a reading about Psalm 16 and the words literally jumped off the page at me. ‘This is my portion and my cup’ (vs. 5) . Essentially, in today’s language – ‘it is what it is’.

When the miracle doesn’t happen and the doctor’s news is grim and the relationship isn’t restored and you are standing in a cemetery, sometimes it simply ‘is what it is’. But oh, the sweet words of the next verse: ‘He will make the boundaries fall for me in pleasant places…’ In spite of today’s ugly reality, we have His word on it that He alone is charge of the boundaries of our life. Nothing happens to us out of reach of His loving hand.

So then how do we walk through this valley ? The next few verses of Psalm 16 are pretty clear with three ‘I wills’ to guide us; I will always set the Lord before me… I will praise the LORD, who counsels me. And finally, because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Even on difficult days like this early journal entry depicts:

Sometimes the feelings of grief and loneliness are so strong that I feel as though

I am drowning.

The impossibility of this day-to-day reality without Dave

Makes it even hard to breathe.

today it is a never ending frustration with things.

things that break.

things that cost money.

things that can’t be fixed.

things that i am the only one responsible for cleaning and organizing and remembering.

There’s only one grown-up in the house now
and she’s really tired.

mommy, mommy, mommy,

can you? did you? would you?

thoughts of the future spiral ahead

will it be any different

one month

one year

five years from now?

will there be more mommy to go around?

will I finally have gotten a handle on this reality and become organized

and be the mature woman of God I have admired in others?

Will I ever come to grips with the word widow.

And single mother.

And always having leftovers because most recipes are designed to feed a family of four.

And we are no longer that.

God knows.

Tonight there is just me and these words
and His words to me

And when all else fails, and the world is crumbling,

I can stand on His word….

Six years later…I’m still standing!

Psalm 16 ends with this promise:

You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Precious friends – we may never know the answer to life’s hard questions, especially the whys of God’s timing surrounding those we love. But He has promised us His joy on this earth and eternity with Him. My box still says widow , but my Bible says He is with me, and my future is in His hands. I choose to praise Him. I choose to set Him before me. I choose to allow him to fill me with joy in his presence and live out loud as long as I have breath!

Sweet Blessings,

13 replies
  1. Zilvinas Juraska
    Zilvinas Juraska says:

    Hi! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before but after browsing through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely glad I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back frequently!

  2. Priscilla
    Priscilla says:

    I came a widow at the age of 23, I had a 25 month old and a baby on the way (I was 3 months pregnant). I kept wearing my wedding ring, as I did not want people at the grocery store (or where ever I was) to think I was a single mom…or an unwed mom.

    I do not know how I could have survived that valley in my life, if I didn’t have the Lord in my life.

    I was widowed, 14 & 1/2 years ago…I have since married and have been blessed with additional children. I still shed the occasional tear when I think of my first husband and the years we should have had together but death brought that to an end.

    I have been working on a scrapbook for my 1st two children, of their 1st dad (biological dad/my 1st husband) as it is important that they know who their first dad was. I also include memories others have of him, from his family as well as friends.

    I found your site when a friend shared the link on her Facebook page. I’m passing it on to my sister-in-law (my 1st husband’s sister) and her adult children…as her husband passed away 9 months ago, to cancer. I believe they will find comfort here.

  3. Kay Dunlap
    Kay Dunlap says:

    I, too, hate that box. But even worse is to be introduced in a group of couples. I remember shortly after my husband’s death being introduced as an officer of an alumni organization. All the other officers were couples. When my name was announced, I had to bite my tongue to keep from shouting….I’m NOT Divorced. Those people didn’t know me and my story and I felt like it was assumed that I was single b/c of divorce. I was only 43 and there are not many widows that age. I now trust God’s timing, but it surely was rough with grief and empty nest at the same time.

  4. Karin Tunis
    Karin Tunis says:

    The lord brought me here…WOW! to read the words I have said in my head a thousand times since the death of my husband two years ago. Thank you for putting in print you feelings and making these connections. God Bless!

  5. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Oh how I share that feeling about the box marked labeled “widow.” I’m not a widow – I’m still married. In my heart I always will be married to my beloved, sweet husband. It’s only been 8 months, but I know this feeling will not die. I marked that box “married” for 25 years and I want to continue marking that one. God has allowed me to move on and learn to actually enjoy some parts of my lfie now, but every time I have to mark that box, it brings it all back.

  6. ShawnMarie
    ShawnMarie says:

    Thanks for this devotion. I lost my hubby 3 weeks ago and although I accepted what God has allowed I am missing him so. A widow and mother of four (3 tweens and one 5 year old) I have felt the grip of how am I going to get this done, is there enough of me to go around? I know the Lord is with me and I am trying my best to rest in him. Its good to know that others are making it through, its my encouragement.

  7. Lynn
    Lynn says:

    I so understand about that ‘widow’ box! I could hardly stand to check it the first time it appeared and I needed to mark one of ‘those boxes”. I love Psalm 16 and the part of verse 6 that you quoted. Verse 6 finishes by saying “indeed I have a beautiful inheritance”. The Lord Himself is my inheritance and no one or no thing that take that from me!! I too have been widowed for 6 years, my children were adults when their dad died so I wasn’t raising children alone as well as grieving my loss as you were.

    I don’t want “widow” to define me; I am a mother, grandma, sister and friend. Daughter of the King of kings is who I am. Praise the Lord for His strength and power to walk where He has called me.

  8. Dawnie
    Dawnie says:

    My sweet Danita – You blessed my life all those years ago and you continue to bless me today. I am forever thankful for your friendship, your encouragment and love of Christ in your heart. I’ll journey with you ’til Jesus comes for us! Love you so.

  9. julie hendriksen
    julie hendriksen says:

    I am honored to be able to link to this site and be encouraged by your journey, and how you continue to process life’s biggest challenges with courage…giving our Father the glory and walking in faith. Love you sweet friend.

  10. Danita
    Danita says:

    Connie – thank you for sharing that about ‘it is what it is’. I can’t tell you how many times I have said those words (about many things) over the past years. How cool that those words are forever etched in stone in memory of
    your husband’s valiant Jesus centered courage and determination to live out the days he had been given grace-fully! Hugs and Hope – Danita

  11. Neysa Laux
    Neysa Laux says:

    Thanks for letting us be a part of your journey. What an example of love, courage and leadership. God Bless you.

  12. Connie Cook
    Connie Cook says:

    Danita, you are and will forever be someone I have always looked up to. Your inner strength gives me something to strive for in myself.

    You are very much loved.

  13. Connie
    Connie says:

    My husband’s response to his cancer diagnosis in March of 2008 was “it is what it is.” He would use this phrase with good news and smile or with bad news and acceptance. With courage, grace, and prayer he was given more time (eleven months more than the doctors thought). “It is what it is” became our motto and got us through those times and still continues to help me through each day. And what did he want on his tombstone to be remembered by? It is what it is.

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