Press "Enter" to skip to content

Let’s Talk About It

By Ferree Hardy, Plain Values

“Oh, I don’t mean to be talking over and over about me,” worried the widow sitting next to me. “I don’t know why I find myself telling you all this.”

I assured her she was fine. “It’s what I do. I let people talk to me. I loved hearing your story.”

“I don’t want to bore anyone or seem prideful. And sometimes when I mention my husband, I see the alarm on their faces,” she continued. “But we made so many memories together, and I still can’t believe he’s gone.”

“Yes, I know. Tell me more…”

Telling the story is something most grieving people do, whether they intend to or not. It just comes out. I smile now, a little embarrassed, when I remember how one of Bruce’s friends called me a month after the funeral. After he asked the innocent question—“So, how are you?”—he got a 45-minute earful! I’m not a talker, but I needed to talk that day.

Have you told your story to anyone yet?

If so, you might feel the need to tell it again. And again. And again. Once is never enough. That’s just the way the healing works. Years ago, when more families lived together with grandparents and grandchildren all under one roof, telling the story came a little more naturally. At least maybe you could tell it to the baby while rocking her to sleep. But now it takes a bit more effort to find a listening ear, especially if you live alone.

There are, however, a variety of ways to tell your story, to let it out. It’s not only by talking. Handmade items, plain and simple arts and crafts, letters, coffee mugs, clothing, shoes, tools, and many other items have stories too, that you can ponder in your heart, pass on to your children, or share with friends.

I offer suggestions and ideas to many widow groups across the country for their get-togethers. They tell me that one of the easiest and most appreciated things to do once a year or so is when everyone brings a small item that reminds them of their husband. Sometimes they try to guess who it belongs to, other times it’s like a “show and tell” from grade school days. A group of widows understands and enjoys this like no one else can.

I’ve been having a small group of widows over to my house for lunch once a month. One of the ladies had lived near Coshocton, Ohio, before she moved back here to South Carolina. She learned to quilt while in Ohio and we all “ooh” and “aaah” when she shows us the latest quilt she’s made from her husband’s shirts. Not only are they beautiful and skillfully crafted, but they are part of her story and her life. We love that she’s willing to show it to us; it’s her gift to us, and we minister to her by listening to her tell about it. 

Talking helps. Showing and sharing also help. There are other ways to tell your story, too. Have you ever tried writing poetry?

I didn’t just hear you say, “I could never write a poem!” did I? That’s what my friend Dottie said when I challenged a Bible study group to write poetry years ago. She was in her 70’s at the time and had been widowed when her sons were little boys. Her many years of wisdom had been silent for too long. She tried it, and once she wrote her first poem, many more followed. Dottie’s gone now, but her poems still touch my heart, and I know she’d tell you that if she could do it, so can you.

Let me reassure you. Poetry doesn’t need to rhyme. Your personal poems don’t need any rules at all. They can be as long, or as short, as you want. Sometimes five words might be all you need. Other times you might write pages.

Poetry captures thoughts, pictures, and emotions; it lays them down in lines, and builds them up like frames to last. After you’ve written a poem, you have something to share with others that might help them heal as much as it’s helped you.

Perhaps your spouse was the poet, or writer, or collector in your family. I still have all my first husband’s hand-written sermons. There are years of pages in a box upstairs. The box is too heavy and impractical for me to hang onto, but it’ll take a house fire or hurricane for me to part with it. I do like the idea a man wrote to me about last summer. His wife had collected many Bible verses, quotes, and sayings, and after she passed, he compiled them into a book. It’s a beautiful book that he blesses others with. He gave me a copy, and I treasure it too.

Journaling is another great way to “talk” about your sorrow, challenges, and memories. A journal or diary is a great listener. It never argues with you; it’s always waiting for you to pour your heart out. You don’t have clean up and look presentable when you want to “talk” to your journal, and it only costs as much as a notebook.

The best thing about a journal is that it helps you understand how far you’ve come. Grieving people often feel like they’re stuck, not moving forward fast enough, or even worse—sliding backwards. But with a journal you can look back and remember what you’ve already faced and ways the Lord has brought you through. Setbacks aren’t so monumental on paper as they may seem in your head.

Talking helps grieving people. Remember that there are a variety of ways to begin the conversation. Of course, there’s actually talking about events and feelings to a trusted friend or family member. Or words might come a little easier with reminders you can show, such as handmade crafts and belongings. There are also written forms of talking such as poetry, journaling, or compiling a book. These can all be beneficial outlets to grieving people. They will bring some comfort, help with adjusting to this new phase of life, and also help those who listen. You are loved, and you are valuable. You have a lot to offer others by sharing your experiences.

This article was published in the April 2019 issue of Plain Values Magazine. If you want the latest stories every month, subscribe to the magazine at As a special thanks, get 10% off your subscription with the code “GAB23”!

To learn more about widowhood, order a copy of Postcards from the Widows’ Path—Gleaning Hope and Purpose from the Book of Ruth. It’s a gentle, biblical guide for widows that has many saying, “This is the best I’ve ever read!” Mail a check for $14.99/copy (paperback, 248 pgs.), along with your address to: Ferree Hardy, 76 Grace Ave., Ticonderoga, NY 12883. Please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery.