Unable to afford the expense of a death notice in the paper countless friends are unaware of her loss. Studies also show that when her spouse passes a widow will lose 75 percent of the friends they had as a couple.
For many, the spiral of poverty begins at her husband’s death as she still needs 80% of the income the two had together. However, Social Security benefits are cut up to one-half, with his passing and if he had a pension, oftentimes, it ceases. Yet, living expenses such as utilities, food, medicine, gasoline, taxes, auto and home insurance go up, even in years when there is no cost-of-living increase from Social Security.
His funeral can be financially devastating when there is no life insurance. Nearly a third of single women over age 75 are impoverished, with less than $890 a month to live on.
Sometimes there is not enough money left for food, yet many widows don’t qualify for food stamps.
Medicare doesn’t help with any dental, eye glasses or hearing aid needs she might have. Unable to afford the dentist she may lose a tooth. Struggling to make ends meet, she is on her own to figure out if it is painful enough to spend the money to get it taken care. Frequently gas to church or the doctor is a luxury she can’t afford. A book of postage stamps to pay bills or a small gift for a grandchild’s birthday can be a hardship.
When she married her husband the two became one flesh. Mark 10: 7-8. Half of her is gone, with his passing and she is left with feelings of loss and abandonment.
Alone, facing the obstacles of loneliness, grief, discouragement and poverty, feelings of isolation and rejection by others can make them easy prey for con artists.
Sensing that she isn’t needed or wanted she perceives that she no longer has a purpose, which can lead to depression. This can affect the will to live.
Women live longer on average than men, which means they have a higher chance of someday being the spouse ‘left behind’. According to the U.S. Census Bureau the median age of widowhood, for a first marriage, is 59.4 and half of all women who will become widowed, become so by age 65.
Our widowed are a large segment of society often forgotten because no one can really understand until they go through it. Now living through the pain of their loss several widows have shared that if they’d had any idea how hard it is they certainly would have helped widows before they became one.
A Heart for the Widowed is a grass roots project of Oklahoma American Veterans News and Students Against Drugs and Alcohol. Inspired by a military veteran’s request that surviving spouses not be forgotten we learned that one of the simplest things we can do to honor our Vets is to remember those who stood by them, as they served our country.
Our mission is to assure the widowed, that they are remembered, as a way to give them hope. A Heart for the Widowed remembers widows on Valentine’s Day, a day when they might otherwise now feel left out, as a simple way to celebrate God’s love and the love they had with their spouse. We drafted the State proclamation, signed by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, which is shared at numerous widows events that recognizes Feb 14th as: “A Heart for the Widowed Day“.
Aware that widows find comfort and hope as they reassure another widow that their feelings surrounding their loss are natural, we provide ‘thinking of you’ cards and stamps for widows to send to other widows. Appreciative, both sender and recipient tend to look for ways to reach out to others. Churches benefit when widows, feeling cared for, volunteer.*
Recently, one widow, upon receiving a small monetary gift, used it to purchase a few groceries and immediately shared it with another widow in a similar situation. Genesis 12:2 tells us that as we are blessed, it is God’s will for us to bless others.
Laboring in the fields day after day in order to provide for her widowed mother-in-law and herself, Ruth, a widow in the Bible received a wonderful blessing. It is in giving that we receive -St. Francis of Assisi
* Although not affiliated, we share with widows about Stand in the Gap Widows, a wonderful program which many churches are now using, as a way for widows to meet and fellowship with other widows. Understanding they are not alone deepens one’s faith, provides hope and something to look forward to.
FACEBOOK: A HEART FOR THE WIDOWED
Credit above story: Oklahoma American Veterans News/ Widowed