The Working Widow

Working widow, the title alone creates a heaviness and presents an often scary reality. Perhaps we don’t pack physical bags and head into work each day, but oh do widows work! Death alone creates work—planning a funeral, organizing the chaos, handling business matters, and adjusting to a new normal. We work at grief—a process that takes much longer than wanted or anticipated. We work as widowed parents—responsibly raising fatherless children is hard. We work at life—working to find who we are without our husband. Sometimes we actually have to go back to actual work—keeping finances in line on one income. And all the while, we work on moving forward—it’s not easy but necessary and will happen one small step at a time. The work is all consuming some days and it often feels like giving up would be the easiest option, but we know it’s not. Working widows, be encouraged, you will get across the valley of the shadow of death, you’ll come out a different person, perhaps even better because of the work involved.

When it comes to the physical work, the widow’s paying job, some are blessed with a choice to go or not to go based on the financial provision from their late husband. However, for many others, the loss of income because of death often launches the widow into the working world. Without his income, staying home is no longer an option. This is a frightening place to be although working may prove to be a positive experience.

If you have found yourself at this new crossroad in life, here are some things to consider when heading to work for the first time as a widow:

  1. Perspective matters. Change is not easy especially when it’s unexpected. Take one day at a time as you breathe in the reality that you will need to work. Some days will be harder than others, but a new normal will come.
  2. Pray for God to direct your steps. He knows your skills, talents, and limitations. He knows that you are grieving, and He knows what job will be best for you. He promises to guide you, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
  3. Create a list of jobs that would incorporate your passion, interest, and skills. You may need to think outside of the box. There is a great assortment of jobs out there today many of which can be accomplished from home.
  4. Consider your education. Some jobs require specific levels of training. Perhaps the job of your greatest interest requires more schooling, don’t let this stop you. Set a goal for your aspired future employment, and in the meantime, find a job that will pay your current bills. Some jobs even include education as a benefit, keep an eye out for those!
  5. Let your need of employment known. Friends and family may be willing to create or offer a job position during this time of transition from wife to working widow. Today may not be the time to become the CEO of a company, but rather finding a steady job position that provides food for the table. Your job today is preparation for your career tomorrow!
  6. Prepare a resume. Find someone in your world who would be willing to help you write a resume, tailored to the job you have an interest in.
  7. Knock on doors, lots of doors. God knows you need work. Send your resume to many places of employment. This will provide many opportunities for the right job to surface. Trust that God will open the door that is right for you.
  8. Dress for success! It’s overwhelming to think of purchasing the necessary attire for a new job. You may show up on the first day wearing your funeral garb, maybe not on the outside but on the inside in your heart. You don’t need to purchase an entire wardrobe in the beginning but just a week of clothes needed. Start with classic pieces for a basic ensemble with the plan to add to it over time. If the job requires a uniform, purchase three sets—one to wear today, one to wear tomorrow, and one to wash. If this overwhelms you, bring a friend along and make it something fun instead of a chore!
  9. Develop a manageable routine. Be kind to yourself. Adding a 9-5 job to your life will take energy. Wisely manage your outside interests. It might be necessary to head to bed earlier or include a bit of self-care or solitude on the weekend.
  10. Make the most of this new season. The widow’s world changes regardless, it just does. Leaving the nest to go to work may provide a new community of support you weren’t anticipating. Be open to all that God is leading you through during this crazy season.

You are going to do great! On the hard days remember that you are not alone—God hears you and is so proud of you for taking this intimidating new step. The work of a widow may be hard, but we pray you see beautiful fruits come out of all your labor.