The Importance of Loving from a Distance

James defines pure religion in this way, “to visit the widow and fatherless in their distress…” The word visit has several meanings:

To look upon or after…

  • in order to see how she is
  • in order to help or provide for

In light of today’s crisis and social distancing you might ask how can we fulfill this command to visit the widow? How important is a visit? Can I visit without visiting?

The days and weeks following death are confusing, chaotic, and out of control for the widow. Adding in external stress that comes in so many ways creates the need for a visit. Initially, presence is a present. However, there will come a time or season when loving from a distance is as important as physical presence and might be exactly what she needs.Unless invited in or given previous permission, honoring her need for personal space is a gift. No matter how hard you try, you will not be able to fill the loneliness inside her, but you can touch her without touching her! A card or gift sent through the mail may bless more than another knock on the door. Understand that the grief is a process that takes time. Prepare to walk alongside for the whole journey—knowing your presence will mean different things to her in different seasons!

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” – Galatians 6:9

When Job was going through a great time of loss, his wise friends remained silent and reverent for the first 7 days. But when they did open their mouths, Job was the recipient of a lot of “advice” to the point where he actually cried out, “Miserable comforters are you all!” Dear friend of someone who is grieving, I know it is tempting to fix your friend and take away their pain with well-meaning words of comfort, but it is important to allow God to be the loudest voice during this time. When you feel the urge to speak, make sure you have listened and listened again. Don’t offer a lot of counsel – just say, “I’m sorry,” these words are enough, especially in the beginning.

Meaningful suggestions for sending love from a distance or visit without visiting:

1. Pray for her

Fear is often the widow’s companion while faith should be her closest friend. God promises to be her defender (Psalm 68:5). Pray that she will place her trust in God during distressing times.

2. Call

This is as valuable as a physical visit. Let her know that you care asking if she has a specific need. End your call in prayer.

3. Write a note of encouragement (email and texting counts!)

4. Be intentional

Drop off that package of toilet paper or can of beans. Send an amazon gift card to provide for a specific need or just because. Do unto her as you would want others to do for you if you were in her situation.

5. Remember with intentionality

Set a reminder on your phone to acknowledge the following special days:

Remember her wedding anniversary

  • New pjs or cozy loungewear to replace intimate apparel.
  • New sheets, towels, or bedding are a thoughtful way to freshen up tender areas in the home that remind her of him.
  • Offer a hotel room for a night away, ask if she would like to make it a girls night out!

Remember their birthdays (his, hers, and the children) – Birthdays will be very difficult the first year. The tenderness of his birthday will decrease as the years pass by, but she will always remember.

Ideas to surround her with love on birthdays:

  • Ask: “How did you celebrate his birthday – what was his favorite meal?”
  • Deliver a birthday cake on his birthday or prepare her favorite cake or favorite meal.
  • Ask: “How would you like to spend the day, alone or with friends?”
  • If she has children, take them shopping to buy mom a gift. This activity can be a blessing for the whole family!
  • Assist with or pay for the child’s birthday party.

Remember the anniversary of his death—the Remembrance Day

Remember with them when the seasons change by asking meaningful questions prompting memories of their loved one. This shows you care and are sensitive to tender times. For example, “How did you used to spend the 4th of July with your husband?” It’s okay, in fact it is healthy and normal, if they cry! Prepare a seasonal gift basket letting them know you are thinking of them.

6. Help her establish a Support System