support grieving friend

Four Ways to Support Grieving Friends

In 2008, I had two friends suddenly lose their husbands within a few months of one another. Since we were only in our 40s at the time, this was a real shock and it got me thinking about the reality of life and death. How one moment in time can forever change your life.

Both friends (one a homeschool friend, the other a pastor’s wife) were dependent on the income of their husband. So they were left with little to nothing to support themselves.

 It got me to thinking that except through the grace of God, this could be me. It also led me to realize the plight of many pastor’s wives who had been left with not only a loss of their husband but in many cases,

  • no income
  • no home to live in, (if they lived in a parsonage)
  • and even more: no identity as a pastor’s wife.

This is when God began to work on my heart to support grieving friends, especially the pastor’s widow. I contacted the district church office and came to find out that other than a list of names in the district journal, widows of pastors are basically thrown to the wind. The district office did not even have records of their birthdays.

God spoke to me and called me to begin writing to these ladies. So I picked up some cards of encouragement and began writing notes as I was able to do so. Sometimes I even create my own cards. What a blessing this has become as I have cultivated new friendships not only with these ladies but at times with their children as well.

cards for widows
Cards made by Mandy

I have received many encouraging letters and one day, I received a box in the mail. It was a beautiful Christmas quilt made by one of these precious ladies.


the Widow Coach
#book review

Not long ago, I picked up a little book called The Widow Coach by Joann Filomena. Joann was a widow and as she worked her way through her grief she learned how to move forward. She decided to get certified as a Life Coach for widows. I figured the book might be helpful for me as I try to encourage these women.

Here are a few helpful things to Support Your Grieving Friends

1. Just Be There – no empathy needed.

Holding Space is walking alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judgment, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of any judgment and control. Widows need to know that they can be vulnerable and weak without fear or be judged.

The Widow Coach,

2. Don’t Identify

The moment that we start sharing our own stories we make it about us instead of them. Keep your stories for another time. Just listen and let her talk. That’s what she needs to talk it out.

3. Direct Her Beliefs & Feelings

She may have a lot of feelings and worries. “What am I going to do now?” Help her work through them by asking, “Why?” It is common to attach our feelings to our beliefs, such as I am nothing without my husband so I won’t be able to live beyond today. This is not really true. Help her detach her feelings from wrong thinking.

By asking questions we can help her make a new list of goals. You can help her find her own identity by looking for her own gifts and talents. She probably had goals that she put aside when she got married that can now come to the surface again.

4. Direct Her Thoughts Towards Good Things.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:8-9

Remember, don’t tell her, ask her about good memories to renew good feelings and move away from the sadness. Yes, she needs to grieve and be sad. After all, God created those emotions. But remembering good things is a way to balance the sadness and help her realize that yes one day she will be able to move on.

This little book wasn’t a hard read, but a good reminder of how any of us can support our grieving friends. It actually made me think again about getting some kind of Life Coach certification myself.

Have you ever thought about being a Life Coach?

Mandy Farmer
legacy link-ups
LEGACY LINK UP is live til the end of October

P.S. I recently read Lysa Terkhurst’s book, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way She wrote it during a very dark time in her life. Some may find walking through this study may help those grieving from unimaginable sorrow.

Susannah Spurgeon Legacy

7 Ways Susannah Spurgeon Left a Legacy of Faith

I was given this book by Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

The Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon

Susannah SpurgeonYou have likely heard the saying, “Behind every great man is an even greater woman.”  Susannah Spurgeon is just such a woman. Wife of the infamous preacher, Charles Spurgeon, she was an integral part of his life and ministry.  She was behind him in prayer support but also beside him in ministry.

Even after reading only the introduction and first chapter I wished that this book had been available to me 30 years ago as I was becoming a pastor’s wife. If I had the time all in one sitting, I would have read this book to completion in a day. What a beautiful example of a Christian wife, pastor’s wife or not.

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pastor's Wife

How to Be the Perfect Pastor’s Wife

Becoming a pastor’s wife is a very daunting event for some of us.

I became a pastor’s wife at the age of 28. Unlike most pastors’ wives, I did not meet my husband at college while he prepared for ministry. We didn’t date and plan our lives together to become pastor and wife. I met my husband AFTER he had already been in the pastorate for 14 years.

We were introduced by my own pastor’s wife.

You see, Michael lost his wife and daughter in a car accident. My pastor’s wife decided that he needed a new wife AND that I was her!

In short, she pestered me until I finally agreed to go to her hometown and meet this minister. I figured I would go and she would quit bothering me about it. She did …

Four months later, we heard wedding bells!

As a result,  I had many, many things running through my mind during those short months. Thank the Lord, Charlotte didn’t leave me to my own defenses. She sat me down and gave me a few words of advice to help me transition from laymen into the pastor’s wife.

Charlotte’s advice has been very helpful over the years, so I want to share it with you.

FIRST OF ALL, BE YOURSELF.

It’s easy to get this glorious picture of a wonderful pastor’s wife. All these lofty ideals out there tell us that as a pastor’s wife we need to look and act in a certain way; however, God has already built-in you the perfect pastor’s wife.

You may have a pastor’s wife in your life that you desire to imitate, and it is good to have these aspirations. But those qualities seen in that person are not the same qualities that God has instilled in you. You must use the gifts and talents that God has placed in you.

If you attempt to be a reflection of her, you will live in frustration.  You must only attempt to reflect God’s image. I look up to my pastor’s wife, Charlotte. She is an amazing woman with joy that I have never seen in anyone else. But I can’t exude joyfulness, like Charlotte. I have to allow the characteristics God has given to me to shine through my life.

Possibly, you know a pastor’s wife that is a wonderful speaker who stands up and speaks with eloquence side by side with her husband. But if you are not a speaker, you will find yourself in total frustration if you take this on as an expectation for yourself. Find your own way.

Find your own passion and follow it. It could be that you best compliment your husband by going to work and being a bread-winner. You may find that you are a behind-the-scenes person or a prayer warrior supporting your husband quietly from the rear. Any of these personalities make an awesome pastor’s wife.

The perfect pastor's wife is already created inside you. #pastorswife Click To Tweet

Additionally, don’t let your congregation put their expectations of a pastor’s wife on you. At our first pastorate together, the people told me that the pastor’s wife had always taught the senior adult Sunday School class. Being a children’s worker, this scared me out of my mind. My quick response, “Well, not anymore!”

Also remember, It’s Not All “Eating Bon-Bons Like a Princess”

It’s more like what Forest Gump says,

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.”

Forest Gump

At times, we can get in our heads that certain professions are just smooth riding. All glamour and no nitty-gritty. Every lifestyle has its ups and downs. It’s good and bad. It benefits and disadvantages.

At the outset of ministry, there is great excitement about leading people to Christ and encouraging people to live a life close to God. But then, reality will set in. Tough times will come. And they will come sooner than later.

The scripture records that believers should expect to have trouble. (John 16:33) What I’m driving at is that we need to prepare for the worst and be surprised by the best. Like choosing that piece of chocolate from the box. You may get a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate truffle, or you may get a mouth full of coconut. Be ready for both!

In ministry, be ready for the worst and surprised by the best! #pastorswife Click To Tweet

And Finally, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.

In the end, it’s all small stuff. As in life everywhere, stuff happens. And to put it bluntly, “Get over it!”

Every moment that we are sulking because someone hurt our feelings is a moment that God cannot use us for the kingdom. Click To Tweet

 Trust me on this one, my friend. Someone WILL say something derogatory about your kids, your husband or YOU. Don’t wear your feelings on your sleeve, they will only get crushed.

Consider the source and whether or not there is truth to be found. If there is truth there, accept it and correct it, if possible. If there is no truth, then brush it off. Maybe the person was having a bad day/week/month/year. Most of the time in life, a bully is hiding their own painful truth. Reach out to them in love and see what happens.

In conclusion, just remember that attitude makes all the difference. Meet with God at the beginning of each day. Take Him with you on your journey. He’ll work out the details.

Becoming Perfect In Him,

Mandy