CHECKLIST FOR CHURCH MEMBERS
• Make sure that the death of a spouse is recognized during a Sunday morning service. Some churches that make sure a single rose is placed in front of the church for the birth of a baby, do not acknowledge that someone has died. Frequently funerals are held in a church previous attended or at a funeral home and word does not filter through the church. There is nothing more difficult than for a widow/widower to return to church after the death of their spouse and have people inquire where their spouse is or how their spouse is feeling.
• When a spouse dies, typically the church removes their name from the next church directory. Ask the widow/widower if they would like the name left followed by the date of death. This prevents widows/widowers being viewed as a divorced individual in the directory.
• Do not automatically remove the widow/widowers wedding anniversary from church directories. You cannot erase history; their anniversary will always be a remembrance of their marriage.
• Do not refer to widows as "Ms." rather than "Mrs." They proudly
claim the title of "Mrs".
• Never miss an opportunity to greet a widow/widower when you see them. Not knowing what to say frequently causes church members to avoid speaking to widows/widowers for fear of saying the wrong thing. Not saying anything sends a message that you do not care.
• Make sure widows/widowers have somewhere to spend holidays. Do not assume they will be with their extended family.
• Acknowledge widows/widowers birthdays....no one else does.
• Make sure widows/widowers are supported at special church functions. At church pot lucks insure the widow/widower are not sitting alone or just with their children. If the church function is one that recognizes children such as awards ceremonies, have someone sit with the widow/widower and celebrate that with them. They will be feeling an intense loss that their spouse is not there for the occasion.
• Give widow/widowers the opportunity to visit with Godly men and women. Widows miss the leadership of their husband. They long to hear Godly men share from their hearts. Widowers miss the perspective their wives gave them and appreciate hearing other women’s views as well. This can be done in a safe environment with a little forethought.
• Although widows/widowers are now single parents, they did not produce their children alone. They are not the widow/widower's children; the children have two parents, one living and one who has died. Both parents need to be acknowledged.
• Widows/widowers want to hear their spouse's name mentioned from time to time. They want to know someone remembers. This is also true for those widows/widowers who have remarried.
• Provide time for widows/widowers to socialize with other families. Frequently due to their single status others find it awkward to include them.
• Do not stop sending notes of encouragement.
Frequently widowers appreciate help with preparing food. Receiving a home cooked meal from time to time is a real encouragement to them.
• Consider giving small but thoughtful gifts to widows/widowers. It lets them know someone is thinking of them.
• Consider inviting a widow/widower home for Sunday lunch on a frequent basis. Sundays are among the loneliest days for them.
• Illness or medical crisis in the home of a widow/widower can be very difficult. Insure that widows/widowers have someone to call in the event they need help. Many times widows/widowers own medical needs go unmet because they do not have the help they need.
• If widows/widowers are employed, at times they will need help with things such as taking their children to medical appointments. Having to take off work frequently can jeopardize their much needed employment.
• Unexpected batches of fresh baked cookies dropped off at widows/widowers homes is a great encouragement to them.
• Do not leave widows/widowers needs in the hands of a cares and concerns pastor or a grief class. The church body as a whole needs to be caring for widows/widowers.
• Take time to talk and listen to widows/widowers. Talk about their spouse who has died. Call their spouse by name.