Many of us know someone in our community who is grieving at this time over the loss of a spouse. We may know parishioners, friends, neighbors, relatives and others who are in mourning. As reported by Vatican News, Pope Francis stated that “widowhood is a particularly difficult experience.” Widows, as well as widowers, may feel lonely and isolated. They may have trouble coping after many years of being at the side of a loving spouse, and sharing a life together.
In the spirit of Pope Francis, we can especially reach out to widows and widowers. As Catholics, and as a faith community, most of us are usually attentive to those who have recently lost a spouse. But as time passes, our attentiveness may wane. We are encouraged to be more aware that people grieve in different ways, and they grieve for different lengths of time. At Saint Brigid, we have a Grief Care Ministry in which widows and widowers meet periodically during the year to discuss how they are coping with life without their spouses.
At Saint Brigid, our widows and widowers are also encouraged to come together as members of our New Beginnings Ministry. The group meets for dinner and fellowship on the first Thursday of each month. They share experiences and memories. In addition, at appropriate times of the year, they attend Mass for their deceased spouses prior to their monthly dinner.
The following “Prayer of Widows and Widowers” may reflect the feelings of many who have lost a spouse:
“Lord Jesus Christ, during Your earthly life You showed compassion to those who had lost a loved one.
Turn your compassionate eyes on me in my sorrow over the loss of my life’s partner.
Fill this emptiness until we are together again in Your heavenly kingdom as a reward for our earthly service.
Help me to cope with my loss by relying on You even more than before.
teach me to adapt to the new conditions of my life and to continue doing Your will.
Enable me to avoid withdrawing from life and make me give myself to others more readily,
so that I may continue to live in Your grace and to do the task that You have laid out for me.
As we reflect on this prayer, we are encouraged to strive to become more sensitive to those widows and widowers who are truly grieving and assist them in their time of healing. Maybe we visit them on a periodic basis, or call them occasionally, or invite them to a Church or community function. What may seem as small gestures by us may be viewed as thoughtful acts of kindness by them. In these and many other ways, as a faith community, we can continue to answer our call to discipleship.