Golly Gee!

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1 (ESV)

Golly gee, can people just remember to say one standard line to a widow like, “This is hard. I’m here if you need me.”

And can we widows try to remember how hard it is to say the right thing? Maybe even coach people on what to say to a grieving widow.

With ten years since my loss, I look back with a lighter heart at the ways people fumbled, bumbled and stumbled over just what to say to a widow.

Here is my “Golly Gee, they didn’t just say that!” list of the botched approaches:

Good grief approach –
“You poor thing. Bless your heart! Let me take care of you!”

I’m not a poor thing. Give me some credit for not going over the cliff right now.

OMG approach –
“Oh my gosh! That’s so awful! I couldn’t handle that! You must be so strong!”

I gulped and thought, Guess what, sister, we don’t get a choice on what we have to handle, so excuse me for not accepting that compliment. How about God chooses you to be strong instead of me?

Lucky dog approach –
“Wow you’re so lucky. I’d far rather have the insurance payout than my husband sticking around.”

No kidding, this happened! I found myself quietly shunning the woman. I now regret that. She could have used a friend to help her see the good in her married life. She finally left her husband and has regretted her lonely walk ever since.

Lazy husband approach –
“I know exactly how you feel. My husband doesn’t lift a finger at home.”

I reacted, “at least you get to wake up next to the lazy jerk every morning!” Needless to say, the blunt retort didn’t do much to encourage this woman.

You’re young approach –
“don’t worry, you’re young. You’ll find somebody.”

I said nothing and fumed over the comment until I realized she only wanted to encourage and meant absolutely nothing ill by it, just needed a little coaching on what to say.

Get on with it approach –
“Get to work. Don’t sit around and feel sorry for yourself.”

I felt guilty for spinning my wheels in that first year and recalled the conversation every time we bumped into each other. What a mistake! She didn’t even remember it because what she really meant was she felt compassion for me.

Evading approach –
“ “

The person simply stays away. My reaction ranged from not registering their disappearance to being deeply hurt. I now know I wasted too much emotion here. Many AWOL friends either didn’t want to crowd me or had their own emotional issues about death.

Endlessly dedicated approach—
“There’s got to be something I can do. Anything. Just give me a task, now. You don’t have anything? Well, let me follow you around until I figure out a task.”

My reaction to this type of friend was to begin accommodating her need to help. It was sweet at first but soon became a burden for me as I ran out of things to give her and found her “help” to be an albatross around my neck.

Reacting offensively to an offense does nothing to repair the damage. And if you can learn to see the person through the eyes of Christ, you can have grace and respond to them gently as in Proverbs 15:1.

I now try to understand the heart behind the person’s comment and thank people for trying to help. If I’m ever in that place again, I’ll just let people know that it’s okay to just sit quietly with me or say a simple “I’m sorry for your loss.”

Because the truth is, we all can use grace with one another.

Golly gee, Lord,
I’ve learned something here—I will never judge another for trying to say the right thing because God knows I’ve missed the mark many times! I only pray that my lesson can be learned from someone going through these very conversations today. Amen

 


Kit Hinkle is an author and speaker. She was an original writer of A Widow’s Might in 2008, and after four years with that ministry, expanded it and founded A New Season Ministries, Inc. Once the ministry became established, she turned the leadership over, yet continues to contribute articles while she focuses on her finest career as a mother to two high school boys, two boys in college, and a grown son and daughter whom she helped her husband raise before he passed away. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now enjoys walks on the beach with her chocolate lab.  She loves to sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ. It’s an honor to participate in His kingdom.

If you are interested in having our team speak, please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net

Check out more posts by this author at- Kit Hinkle.

You might also like these posts by our team:

Perhaps

Yes! I  Still Cry

Dating a Widow

Christmas is Over: Is a Grinch Still Lurking?

For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me.

Proverbs 25:17 ESV

Are they singing  fal-hoom four way or fah-hume foray?

Each Christmas season as a child I watched the one airing of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, anxiously waiting for the Hoo’s down in Hooville to sing their welcome Christmas song. Then the curious little writer in me would try to make out the words and get them on paper.

The one word in the opening line I settled on is foray.  It seemed to fit with a story like the Grinch. To foray, according to Webster’s dictionary, means to make a raid or brief invasion. That’s exactly what the Grinch was doing, so I envisioned the song-writer secretly putting foray in the opening line just for curious children to unravel the song’s riddle.

It never occurred to me that versions of the Grinch invade our Christmas season each year. But Christmastime,when widows are particularly vulnerable, others who are suffering from the loss of your husband may come to you, as a symbol of their loss, for closure. Dealing with the resulting “foray” into your life can be a daunting task.  I wrote about this in The Ornament Without a Hook.  You can read it here.

Here are some steps I’ve taken.  Perhaps they might help you as well.

G – Go to God for real truth

I try to rise above the fray of attack and simply turn to God’s truth. He’s in control, and He’s strong enough to heal hearts in this situation.

Scripture reference: “For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me (Psalm 31:3 ESV)

R – Rightly or wrongly, you will be judged. Accept it and don’t be afraid

My kids learned from a PBS cartoon called Lil Bill. His grandmother told him to say the meanest thing back to the kid who kept insulting him: “So?”.  When a grinch insults you with something that’s true, answer him or her, “So? Are you going to forgive me or what?”  Sometimes the accusation was put out there just to get a reaction. Use the most powerful response of all, silence.

Scripture reference:  Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12 ESV)

I – Interrupt the Enemy – set the right boundaries

If someone tangles with you, find them resources to help what’s bothering them. For example, soon after my loss, while I struggled with helping myself and four boys through the grief, a beloved family member needed attention and guidance that I simply couldn’t give her. She needed a father-figure mentor like Tom.  I set up a small account and placed the control of the account in this mentor’s hands, letting all involved know that she always needs to go to him for advice before using the funds. His mentorship was invaluable and allowed me space to focus on the minor children.

Scripture reference: Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house, lest he have his fill of you and hate you. (Proverbs 25:17 ESV)

N – No Pride – Look in the mirror and don’t let pride cloud what you see

It’s easy to assume it’s the other person—that a loved one is acting out inappropriately–not you. When a loved one takes our inventory for us and tells us how awful we are, we want to reject it all. Accept that you aren’t perfect. Shroud yourself in the love of Christ to allow yourself to look in the mirror and not be horribly shaken by what you see. Then separate the false accusations from what needs to be owned and handled.

Scripture reference: “Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray.” (Job 6:24 ESV)

C – Consider what you have on your plate

There are seasons in widowhood where you don’t need to tangle with someone who creates chaos. You’re going through loss in the worst way—he was your husband, your best friend.  You may have children to raise alone now or elderly parents to care for alone, or you may have his business affairs to wrap up or take on.  Just getting back on your feet is an ordeal!

When my loss was fresh, I had four little ones tugging at my feet. Older relatives who kept me on my phone had to learn not to overwhelm me.  When someone’s dependency and emotional needs get too large for you to take on along with the responsibilities you’ve been left with, it’s time to recognize you can’t do it all.

Scripture reference: But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. (Job 6:24 ESV)

H – Hallelujah, you can consider it all joy

In the New Testament, James tells us to consider all your struggles joy.  If you’re in a situation where your husband has died and others are mad about what you did with his car or his stocks or any other assets, you feel attacked.  Turn in the Bible when you’ve been wrongly accused. When we are falsely accused, sometimes the best response is gentleness.

Scripture reference: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, (James 1:2 ESV)

Abba Father, would You give my sister enough gumption to kick satan out of her life and forgive those who don’t even realize they are spoiling her holiday season?  Help her grow to know You better day by day.  Amen.

Kit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching. Her longing for walks on the beach with her chocolate lab has led her to Charleston where she’s now starting her new season.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net.
Other articles by this author: anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about Christmas or Friendship?  Here are some articles you might try:

Entering the Holidays by Elizabeth Dyer

Gifts by Erika Graham

Friendship and Loss: Her Perspective by Kit Hinkle

The Ornament Without a Hook

…falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Acts 7:60 (ESV)

As we hung our ornaments on the tree, I studied one of my favorites, a figurine of baby Jesus marked with the shadow of a cross. That ornament always reminds me that even from infancy, Jesus was marked to become a sacrificial lamb.

I chose a dignified position on the tree for my treasure and discovered the hook on the top of this ornament had fallen off. I scrambled through the box and rummaged through my garage for hooks or wires. Finally I laid the ornament on the table.

As the other ornaments one-by-one found their places on the tree, I almost imagined that piece feeling lost and uncertain on the table.

Tom had some of those “ornaments” in his life. People who loved him dearly and had their own stories with him. Each story was a kind of a hook to him.  Sometimes the “hook” that kept them connected with him involved an unresolved problem that caused him struggles with them. Struggles he willingly endured because he loved them, encouraged them, and hoped that time would bring healing between them.

But time wasn’t given.

In the wake of his death, these precious loved ones had double the scars—the loss of Tom and the loss of any opportunity for closure other than in their hearts.  Tom was no longer available to work through whatever needed to be worked through.

And for a while, it seemed  whatever couldn’t be worked out with him was taken up with me. Sometimes the widow becomes the physical representation of the loss, and therefore, a target.

ornament

Are you struggling with misplaced hostilities during the holidays? It’s not easy when you are already struggling to get through the season with grief.  How do you handle it?

I’ve asked this question before while frustrated, and heard the Lord speak His answer in my heart loudly and clearly:

Forgive.

But this season is difficult enough to handle while grieving!

Again–same answer:  Forgive.

But they do it again! Must I be subjected to offense over and over?

Jesus tells us to forgive your brother seventy times seven times.  He forgave his attackers as He was dying on the cross. And if you think He gave Himself as He spoke forgiving words only as an ideal example, think again. Stephen, in the early church, was as human as you or I. And as he was being stoned to death, his last words held compassion for his attackers.  “…falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:6 ESV).

Ask the loved ones around you to remember the tough walk you are on during this season.  Then take extra compassion and care when it comes to dealing with their behaviors.

Forgive and maintain healthy boundaries with those who no longer have your husband to hook their troubles on. Tune in next week when I’ll offer suggestions for setting boundaries and keeping these relations in your life without letting them turn into “grinches” who steal your Christmas.

Lord Father, please remind my dear sisters on this widow journey that when You say Peace to All Men– you meant to all widows as well.  Give her Your love and confidence so that she can identify where to set boundaries and how to be understanding of the grief in those around her who may not be on their best behaviors.  Amen.

Kit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching. Her longing for walks on the beach with her chocolate lab has led her to Charleston where she’s now starting her new season.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about Christmas or Friendship?  Here are some articles you might try:

Friendship and Loss: Her Perspective by Kit Hinkle

Friendships by Erica Graham

Absence Like the Sky

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace” Philippians 1:3-7a ESV

Okay, let me be real with you. I am well. Life and ministry thrive. God has provided a sustainable, flexible career. I get to disciple others, be involved in Kingdom work, and I have deep friendships. My daily needs are met, and my emotions feel stable. I laugh often.

There is much beauty.

But there are moments when still his “absence is like the sky spread over everything,” and missing him is a little more poignant. Certain occasions still create the now familiar heaviness. It’s not the debilitating pain of the early days, but rather a slow, dull ache. It’s an undercurrent of longing that shifts the tide and returns my heart to a place of introspection.

Let me set the scene.

“The past tense of three!”

Laughter erupts at the ridiculous clue. Past tense of three? A shouted answer, a round disc passed, voices intense, and an intermittent beeping creates a fever pitch as it hurtles toward the timer’s end. Groans mix with whoops, and the guys leap from their seats. High fives all around, one would think they won the Super Bowl rather than a round of Catch Phrase.

Laughter comes in rolling wave upon wave. It’s a perfect moment frozen in time. But Jon’s not there; it feels like he should be.

I’m one of the “lucky ones” (though luck is truly a myth) who has always adored her in-laws. I fell in love with Jon’s family immediately. And in death they have still counted me their own. I am so very thankful.

But this time it was hard to be with them. To me his absence was a startling contrast to the laughing family around me. Lies crept in.

“They’re done missing him.”

“I guess we’ve exhausted the storehouse of shared memories.”

“He’s being replaced.”

Without realizing it, I retreated to the safety of my thoughts.

“Ames, are you okay? It seems like this trip has been especially difficult. Sometimes it seems like you hurt more when you’re with us.”

“I do hurt more.”

And given the opportunity to process aloud, my words came in a flood. “It feels like he should be here. When I look at Ben with Holden, I see what Jon would have been like with a son.”

“I’m so excited for another brother to come into the family. (My youngest sister-in-law is headed toward marrying a fantastic guy) “But sometimes I think–‘a new adopted son to replace the old.‘”

“We’re not done missing him. You know there are lies among those thoughts, right?

“Yes.”

“We’re your family. You don’t have to put the walls up.” And then I understood she was right. I had begun to shut them out.

But I need them. And I have a sneaky suspicion that they need me too.

The heaviness lifted. I don’t have deep theological truth to share this time, just simple thoughts. An emotional wall is the opposite of grace.

  • Grace gives permission to handle things differently.
  • Grace remembers the dull aches of others.
  • Grace does not steel itself against hurt.
  • Grace loves and cherishes.
  • Grace does not believe lies.
  • Grace laughs.
  • And grace arrives with open arms.

So as long as they’ll have me, I’ll have them. I’ll keep my heart open. When the missing is more poignant, I won’t shoulder it alone. For grace recalls its family.

“I hold you in my heart.”

thank

Lord, thank you for family. Thank you for people to shoulder the load with me. Father, please meet me in the dull, slow ache. Help me give grace to others. Help me meet them with open arms. 


“Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.” C.S. Lewis.

Ami is a Kindergarten teacher turned Developmental Therapist turned writer. Ami also assists the elders at her local church through counseling and ladies’ ministry. She began writing two weeks after her husband died in January 2013. The ramblings were her honest, raw, thoughts as a 30 year old, childless widow desperately trying to process the tsunami. She felt strongly that she needed to let others see the journey and let God use it to break down stereotypes of Christian grief. Now she writes to equip and encourage. Ami writes for several blogs and is just entering the world of book publishing!

Check out more posts by this author at- https://anewseason.net/author/amiatkins/

For more posts about in laws click here.

Inlaws- not Outlaws

…a man who had died… the only son of his mother, and she was a widow… And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”  

Luke 12:12-13 (ESV)

“I feel like his family doesn’t want me around.”

This is what a precious young widow wrote to us a few weeks ago.

I hope you have a strong positive bond between you and the family of your husband, but if not, take heart  in the fact that you are not alone.

Whether or not your ties to his family are healthy, consider these six tips for helping you gain a new perspective on the family you have married into. I call them my I-N-L-A-W-S.   I hope they are helpful because, even though the marriage lasts “till death do you part”, after his passing, your in-laws are there and grieving, just as you are.  Perhaps you can become the best of allies!

I for It’s normal

It’s very normal and usual for the in-law family to withdraw. I know it’s hurtful at a time when you need the support and love the most. Look at how some of our heroes of the Old Testament mourned over the losses of their children. Naomi lost not only her husband but also two sons. Oh, did she mourn with bitterness, so much so that she wanted Ruth to call her Mara, which meant bitter. (Ruth 1:20 ESV) Jacob, thinking he had lost Joseph, Simeon, and Benjamin reacted with human bitterness. “And Jacob their father said to them, “You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has come against me.” (Genesis 42:36 ESV)

As unfair as it is to you, the reality is that his family is suffering and mourning as well, and our humanness will cause each of us to act out in sinful ways.

N for Not necessarily you

Since they are grieving, more than likely, if you’re feeling a sense of alienation from your in-laws, it has nothing to do with you. Many widows experience this. Every situation is different.

L for Level of connectedness isn’t on or off- it’s a spectrum

Some cases the withdrawal turns into animosity, but not always. Each of the writers on our team have been widowed and have dealt with varying degrees of connectedness (or lack of) with the family of their beloved. Some of us are very close to our husband’s families. For many there is a bit of ambivalence—a wavering between love and withdrawal. There are still just as many who discover open emotional wounds developing between our loved one’s families. Sometimes the source of the rift started long before the loss. Other times the rift began because of the loss. Take an honest look and separate what might be a preexisting wound and what might simply be grief.  If your in-laws are in grief, consider the patience you appreciate with others and try to give it to them where you can.

A for Awareness of their grief can help you bridge the gap

I am fortunate. My husband’s family embraces me. At first there was some silence. Then one of them encouraged me that it was nothing I did. It was grief. In Luke 12 Jesus recognizes the pain of the loss of a son. When you are grieving, it might be hard to put yourself in their shoes.

That made so much sense. I was a reminder of what they lost, but I felt like “that stinks!” I didn’t want to lose them just because they were still grieving. So I made sure I reached out to them by visiting often.

Eventually they came around, and now each time I visit there is joyous reunion.

W for Boundaries, not Walls

Many widows struggle with rifts within their families. Sometimes drawing boundaries allows healing on both sides. But try to remember– healthy boundaries are not walls. Unless family members pose threatening harm, be careful about closing the door on communication. Read more about setting your boundaries lovingly here.

S for Stick close to God

Wherever you land with your in-law relationships, stick close to God. Return whatever treatment you receive with love and grace, constantly remembering it’s the relationship with them long-term that’s important. Everyone is hurting right now. What happens today doesn’t have to be the picture of your rapport with them two years from now.

Father God, reach each sister reading this post right now with Truth You want her to know about her in-laws.  Is she to cling close to them for support or draw boundaries or both?  Help her discern the level of connectedness needed for healthy support that is God-centered.  Amen.

017_HinkleKit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching, and craves more walks through the woods with her chocolate lab.  Her dream is to live on the beach–and Charleston is just calling her!  She knows what it means to be in a new season. She lost her first marriage to divorce when she was very young and lost her loving husband to a heart attack in 2007.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about family relationships?  Here are some articles you might try:

Misunderstood by Rene Zonner

Dear Me, Santa! It’s Those “Dear Ones” by Kit Hinkle