The Widow Grandmom

Single mom – a title I never wanted and even denied by hiding under the disguise of widow-mom. And then…. I became a grandmother—a widow grandmom! Oh, what delight this new season brings! The joy of grandchildren is everything and more than its reputation declares it to be. It truly is grand in every way except perhaps for going it alone.

I had not thought much about that new season as a widow. In fact, I was surprised when grief was experienced in this next chapter. My children gave their deceased daddy a new name just so the absent grandfather would have an identity. Was this denial or a necessary aspect of life after death? Is their daddy really a “Papa” even though he never was before he entered the grave? Hmmm – can a granddad be active in life even though dead? What questions to ponder and realities to experience.

Does grand-mothering as a widow differ from the married grandmother? Oh yes, in the same way it does for women raising children without a husband. You are physically alone and will grandparent different as a widowed single vs. a dynamic duo! With this realization, it is important to keep the grand in grandmom! Why? Because perspective matters!

Even alone, this time of your life has potential to provide some of the best years ever! Oh, how wonderful it is to have children you can “borrow” without the day-to-day parental responsibility. Grandchildren fill your love tank in ways you never imagined! However beware, you may turn into your own mother breaking all the rules without even realizing it just to bless, okay—bribe, your precious one. Spoiling is an important, and sometimes necessary, ingredient to bonding with your grandchildren. Hindsight is always 20/20 and now it makes sense why your mom discovered that a spoonful of sugar helps!

Grandmothering without a partner is more common than single mothering. 35% of the millions of grandparents out there are single. Although common, there are aspects to consider to make it a grand season.

Let’s put the grand in grandmothering as a widow!

  1. God is with you. He refers to himself as a husband to the widow (Isaiah 54:5). Lean on him in this way and look to God as your shepherd (Psalm 23:1).
  2. Place your trust in God, not your children or your grandchildren. Only Jesus can satisfy your deepest need.
  3. Acknowledge that you are one. Being alone creates the need for awareness and creativity. You might not be able to physically care for or entertain young grandchildren as you would have if your husband were there. Plan for special one-on-one moments. Join with another grandmother and plan a grandmother camp together enlisting others to help.
  4. Realize your limitations and plan accordingly. Your age, access to your grandchildren, financial means, and ratio of grandmother to grandchildren need to be thoughtfully considered.
  5. Fight for contentment. Many couples look forward to growing old together, I know I did. The grandparenting years look different but don’t let that be bitter but better. Discover new joys as you direct your focus to growing old with God.

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

  1. Support their parents. It is your children’s turn to be in charge. You may not always agree but encourage rather than compete with their God-given role as parent.
  2. Be intentional about your investment in the next generation. The world is quick to make a platform for influencers yet don’t discount that you are a silent influencer in their lives. Grandma, you are very important! Scripture reminds us that the impact of a grandmother lives beyond her years.

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois.” 2 Timothy 1:5

  1. Give generously. Give your time, money, affirmation, and blessing. If your grandchildren live out of town, adopt a fatherless child, and give this season away.
  2. Build a legacy. A legacy is a “gift that is handed down from one person to another.” My grandson taught me to be prepared to share a “life-child story” when I came to visit—a memory or lesson learned from my childhood. Tell the stories—of your husband, your childhood, and testify of God’s faithfulness through trials and triumphs. Take time to transparently share your walk with God with the little people in your world. They are listening.

“One generation shall commend your works to another and shall declare your mighty acts.” Psalm 145:4

  1. Pray daily, by name, for your children and grandchildren. 

“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children.” (Deuteronomy 4:9)

Lori Apon with her precious “next generation.”