|Principle #8: Grief has launched me into an unfamiliar world of finances, home maintenance, vehicles, and dozens of daily decisions. To help me negotiate this maze, I choose to identify resources and networks that can help me manage daily life.
“So, continue encouraging each other and building each other up, just like you are doing already.” – I Thessalonians 5:11
I woke at 6:30 one morning to the intermittent screeching of my smoke detector. That in and of itself wouldn’t have been so bad, but who installs a smoke detector on a 10 ft. ceiling over a stairwell? Apparently, the builder for these “over 55” townhouses didn’t think through how elderly widows were going to get up there to change the batteries!! After trying ladders of three varying heights and determining that I couldn’t reach the screecher without learning to fly, I called my son. (Thank goodness for sons!) He came over within a few minutes, and being 6’3”, he was able to reach the offender from the mid-range ladder and change the batteries.
Then there was the Sunday morning in mid-July when my AC died during the heat wave of the summer! Or the time I came home to find my entire utility room full of water because the valve in the sprinkler line wasn’t working….and neither was the sump pump! Situations like these cause us to feel like throwing ourselves on the floor and having a personal meltdown! I confess that I had a “moment” when I shouted at Dave that I was glad he was having a wonderful life with Jesus, but I pretty much had a mess down here!! …but I’m sure none of YOU have ever had those!
Over the course of a long-term marriage, a division of labor tends to occur. He takes care of some things; she takes care of some things. He kept my vehicle running, managed the insurance and taxes, shoveled snow, and mowed the lawn. I, on the other hand, shopped, cooked, cleaned, did laundry, fed the dogs, and planted flowers. Meanwhile, both of us worked jobs and raised a family. When half of that team is suddenly removed, the entire load falls on the shoulders of the one who is left. Unfortunately, that one is often ill equipped to handle those particular assignments!
At a time when a widow is already struggling with brain fog (we talked about that a few weeks ago) and is already feeling overwhelmed and inadequate to the task, she suddenly becomes responsible for things she really doesn’t know how to do. A pastor/mentor of mine had a phrase he used constantly: “Staff to your weakness.” My husband put it another way: “When you don’t know what you know, it’s important WHO you know!”
Since Dave went to be with the Lord, I’ve discovered many “what’s” that I don’t know! One of the simplest solutions is to begin to surround yourself with a lot of “who’s” that know how to do your “what’s”!
Take time to sit down and make a list. I know I tell you to make a lot of lists, but this technique is essential to your survival when the brain isn’t retaining what it needs to! Think through each of your friends, family members, neighbors, and business associates. Do they have special abilities in areas where you may need help? Do they own businesses that address a need you may have? Are any of them really good handyman types that would help you with small projects? What grandkids can you bribe to come help you do things like move heavy boxes or pull weeds? Who did your spouse call when he needed to consult with or hire someone? (Hint: look up old statements or check his contact files! Trust me, he won’t mind you digging through his stuff now!)
Another great source of information is all those widow friends. They’ve likely had to face many of the same issues and will have figured out some reliable, trustworthy resources for you. In my neighborhood, when one of us calls the HVAC guy to check the furnace for winter, we let all our friends know so they can schedule him while he’s in the area!! And, yes, we’re starting to use the same plumber! Sometimes your pastor or small group leader can refer you to someone in the congregation or their circles that can help you. The key is to ask for help!
Asking for help from others may be one of the greatest hurdles you face. Be encouraged! Every widow has walked through this, and you are not alone. Remember, too, that your thoughts are very likely not telling you the truth right now. As relationships change, our tendency is to feel that no one really cares about us. Or that no one would want to help us figure out something. We may even feel like we’re incapable of learning these new things!
Nothing is further from the truth! Most people are more than willing to help if you just ask them. Remember when they said, “Call if you need anything?” Granted, sometimes that doesn’t work out so well, but for the most part, they truly are willing to help. Reach out when you feel like isolating.
I came across an interesting scripture verse this morning that addresses these loads that we carry. Psalms 81:6 (NCV) says, “I took the load off their shoulders; I let them put down their baskets.” I was reminded of those wilderness camping trips we used to take with Dave. They involved carrying extremely heavy backpacks over very difficult portage trails. The sense of relief when we reached the end of the trail and dropped those packs on the ground was indescribable! Something in my spirit says it should feel like that when I sense the Lord removing a burden from my shoulders. Learning to trust that He can remove every load from my shoulders and allow me to put down the heavy things is one of the hardest lessons I’ll ever learn. As I release these situations to His care, He will solve every issue and show me the next step to take.
May He bless you with peace in your heart and mind as you allow Him to remove the loads, and as you allow those around you to help you carry the “baskets” in your life!