WidowLife Wisdom: 5 Fears of the Widow and How to Help

Experts agree that the top five most stressful life events include:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Divorce
  • Moving
  • Major illness or injury
  • Job loss

When a woman loses her husband by death, divorce, or desertion, she will often experience some of the other leading stressors. Being alone while experiencing these stressful situations will likely cause more stress and fear.

5 reasons widows are afraid and how to help:

  1. Her husband cared for her well.

    For women who have been loved as the Bible teaches, “as Christ loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25), her loss will have many layers. Her husband was her protector, provider, lover, companion, counselor, and often best friend. She worried about little because he took care of her. Now that he is gone, she fears living life without him. 

    How to help: 

    • Share your stories of him with her because they never grow old.
    • Come alongside her in practical ways – helping with her kids, housework, and grocery shopping. 
    • Scriptures to offset her fear: 

      “For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth” (Isaiah 54:5, NASB).

      “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27, NASB).

  1. She has to move for a variety of reasons.

    As often happens, she can no longer afford her home or needs to relocate to be close to family. It is recommended that widows wait one year before making a move or another major change; however, this is not always possible. Leaving her home often means she loses her community, support system, and the comfort of what is familiar to her. She fears that she will experience lonely living for the rest of her life.

    How to help:

    • Love her from a distance by calling and sending cards.
    • Help her with the physical move. Sorting through her husband’s belongings as she packs will be difficult. Moving will be physically, emotionally, and physically exhausting in every way but God is with her wherever she goes.
    • Scriptures to offset her fear: 

      “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, NASB).

      “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand’ (Isaiah 41:10, NASB).

  1. Grief impacts her health. 

    According to the Loomba Foundation, 60% of those who lose a spouse or significant other will experience a serious illness in the 12 months following that loss. Grief fog is the first symptom to set in with emotional numbness and shock. Grieving the loss of a husband may also cause lowered immunity, lack of sleep, fatigue, digestive issues, and the risk of filling the void with unhealthy substance abuse. She fears sickness and dying OR wishes she was the one who experienced death instead.

    How to help:

    • Listen as she shares her struggles with you. Show empathy and do not discount the impact of grief on the physical body.
    • Go with her to doctor’s appointments. Offer to bring a meal or run an errand. 
    • Scriptures to offset her fear: 

      “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:18-19, NASB).

      “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” Deuteronomy 31:8, NASB).

  1. Financial loss is a reality. 

    With death comes the loss of her husband’s job. Many times a widow must enter the workforce for the first time or after decades of not working, which is scary. She fears she won’t have the money to pay her bills or put food on her table.

    How to help:

    • During her transition from wife to widow, especially if she has to return to work, find ways to provide tangible help. Gift cards for food and gas are always appreciated.
    • Connect her with resources and potential job opportunities.
    • Scriptures to offset her fear: 

      “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31, NASB).

      “So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid” (Hebrews 13:6, NASB).

  1. Widow-moms wonder if their children will be okay growing up without an earthly dad. 

    The statistics of fatherless children are daunting. Here are just a few:

    • 70% of America’s adolescent murderers, long-term prisoners, and teenage runaways come from fatherless homes. https://www.fixfamilycourts.com/single-mother-home-statistics/
    • A Johns Hopkins University study found that young teenage white girls living in fatherless homes were 60% more likely to have premarital sex than those living in two-parent homes.

     Single moms fear that their children are doomed to join the ranks of men and women negatively impacted by the loss of a dad.

    How to help:

    • Provide practical assistance. Mentor her children, offer occasional child care, bring a meal, or clean her house.
    • Trust with her in the promise from Psalm 68:5 that God is a Father to the fatherless.
    • Scriptures to offset her fear: 

      As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13).

      “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Psalm 56:3, NASB).

Fear is the enemy of our faith. James tells us that pure religion is to visit the widow and fatherless in their distress (James 1:27). The best gift you can give to a widow who is afraid is your presence. Visit, call, send a note of encouragement, and pray for her.