Reading Miriam Neff’s article, “The Widow’s Might” (Christianity Today, January 2008) brought tears to my eyes. Neff’s husband, whom she married while still a teen, died after 41 years. You can read more about Miriam Neff at her website, Widow Connection.
Miriam Neff tells us that widows are of the fastest growing demographic in the United States. “We are targeted by new home builders and surveyed by designers. We are a lucrative niche for health and beauty products, and financial planners invite us to dinners. It is no wonder the marketers are after us: 800,000 join our ranks every day.”
“Loneliness and solitude are not descriptive enough of the space that becomes the cocoon of the widow.”
Many of us identify with Neff. Recently, when a retired minister died, the email I received gave the address of the daughter and the granddaughter so that condolences could be written but apparently did not even think to give the address of his elderly wife. The wife, now a widow is the one left alone. The rest of the family, of course are grieving. But the widow’s is grieving while also seeing her life changed dramatically.
Studies show that widows lose 75 percent of their friendship network when they lose a spouse.
But, as Miriam Neff points out, we are not invisible to God. There are 103 Scripture passages referencing widows. Widows are close to the heart of God and in James 1:27, we read that God judges others by the way they treat widows.