The Challenges of Widowhood
Brother William Earl Knight was a faithful Christian and a devoted husband of 34 ½ years. I am comforted that he left a legacy of a good name and that he did his best to lead our home – God’s way. So as I share and reflect on my journey now as a widow, it is not my desire to in any way diminish from my late husband’s “good name” but to share some thoughts and principles learned during the most painful and devastating time of my life.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 700,000 women lose their husbands each year – 245 million around the world. Suddenly facing the reality and the host of challenges of widowhood.
On a beautiful, sunny, late summer’s morning, September 5, 2007, William Earl Knight went to sleep in Jesus. In just a “heart beat,” I went from being a wife to becoming a widow. The first title I chose the second I did not. My life would never be the same again. The days and moments ahead would be the most traumatic and painful days of my life.
Although William had been critically ill for many months, his death came as a shock. At that traumatic moment in his hospital room, after he had taken his flight to Paradise – I recall crying out to his form, “What do I do?” “Tell me what to do!” In my mind, all I knew to be was, “Mrs. Knight” – his wife. I felt as if my heart would also stop on that fateful day.
As the days past, I found myself questioning my existence. Why was William taken, and I, (the weaker vessel) left behind? What was now my purpose in life as a widow? How would I endure this most life – changing event of my life?
On Wednesday morning, September 5, 2007, after my morning devotions and helping to prepare my husband for his day – my “to do list” would consist of running a few errands and some last minute preparations for our moving date – Thursday, September 6, 2007 (the following day). Prior to these plans, because of William’s declining health, we had decided to move to an apartment which would be more accessible and accommodating to the changes we were both facing. The day before, I was given a “walk through” at our new apartment and two sets of keys and a large, bright “Welcome Home” banner adorned the door. All moving arrangements were being finalized and our dear brothers in Christ were set to lend their helping hands.
However, God had spoken, within a few minutes of me leaving the hospital, my “to do list” changed in a way that I didn’t see coming. In a matter of minutes, although “traumatized and numb,” I was faced with making urgent decisions, not as William’s wife and caregiver, but now as his widow and survivor.
There was no time to grieve or to even internalize what had happened. Important papers had to be located – funeral arrangements had to be made – unpacking boxes – looking for pictures of special moment and special memories that was now to be used to celebrate William’s home going. You see, he did move…but I did not move with him. Our Father, God, had other plans. He reminded me that He was in charge and I was not!
In my effort to function and be resilient as I felt others expected me to be, I looked to God’s words for strength and for comfort – and I realized that He was supplying me with all that I needed by surrounding me with an amazing spiritual family who have been my main stay more than I could imagine.
Many of the key challenges that I faced after being widowed, my church family lovingly assisted me to meet them – such as housing – where would I live? You see, I couldn’t move to the apartment due to the age requirement – but many doors were opened to me. I was never homeless, but more sensitive to others who were.
Then there were financial matters – when my husband’s health declined, I quit work to be his fulltime caregiver – I was not working when he passed away. Thankfully, we had life insurance policies that covered his funeral expenses – however to maintain I would need to return to work within a few months. Remember, there was no time to grieve or have a “pity party” – I was challenged to be adaptable and resilient.
As He promised – God provided – doors were opened in His time and in His way – God provided every resource that I needed even a senior advisor right among my spiritual family. Yes, there were still moment of despair and deep loss especially in dealing with Social Security – which was a “reality check” that reminded me that my husband had died and now I’m seeking widow benefits – (which I wouldn’t be guaranteed for six years due to the age qualification rules – but I was continually sustained by God’s provisional care.
Another key challenge for me was the area of health. My husband had supported me through several medical crises and now he needed me to care for him. So my days consisted of me being his voice, and his advocate in his fight to live. Taking care of myself became less important. However, after eighteen months into the grieving process, I was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease which would require immediate intervention and treatment. Another “reality check” for me – you can face more than one giant (at the same time) and God’s amazing grace prevailed!
I am thankful to my Father God for how He prepared me in ways that I did not know and how He went before me and prepared “hearts and hands” on my behalf and opened doors of hope and healing – just for me!
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord which made Heaven and Earth.” (Psalm 121) The words of this Psalm have become my life’s theme as I experience widowhood.
What a wonderful read !!! Thank you.
These words are written by my sister, Mrs Lynette Knight. Never have I read anything that is more powerful in meaning, more profound in description and more passionate in its presentation. Lynette, you are truly a gift from God, and all who have come to know you in this life, are blessed by our spiritual guidance, your lovely voice and above all, your compassionate zeal for life. Brother William was a truly dedicated husband, and a faithful servant of the Lord. But, even now, as he looks down from heaven, I know that Brother William misses his greatest treasure on earth, his lovely, beautiful and talented wife, Mrs. Lynette Knight. So, I join you sister in saying, Rest In Peace, William Knight.
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