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Someone who was widowed, recently asks me for relationship advice and how to move on after they have experienced the death of a husband. I have not personally experienced the death of a husband but I am a mental health professional and have experience in this answer. Before writing this post, I really went into prayer to find the right words of encouragement to women who are widowed due to a death of a husband.
Almost as soon as I prayed the story of Ruth came to my head and from there I got 5 lessons that I know will be valuable to each woman who has lost a husband and needs hope for the future. And here they are.
1. When You’re Widowed Remember We May Not Be Able To Go Back But We Can Go Foward
I know it is very easy to want to go back, go back to something we should have said, did, or that we just wish it was the same as it was. However, no matter how much you want to go back in the past, time moves forward and never backward. And it is so important for us to remember that there is always a forward even though it may not seem hopeful, wonderful, or like anything is in it.
And the longer we stay trapped in the past (something we will never be able to go back to) then we may be willingly allowing ourselves to live in mental torture and not allowing ourselves to fully be in the present or experience life.
When you think of the account of Ruth you have to remember she was traveling to Bethlehem with her mother and law Naomi and her sister in law Orpah. Orpah and Ruth were married to sons of Naomi. These three women found themselves in a very unfortunate situation where all three of their husbands died and they were all widowed.
And in these three women, we have a decision. Naomi was a Jew and wanted to go back to her homeland while Orpha and Ruth were Moabite women.
As the women were traveling Naomi turned to the woman and said
Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband. Ruth 1:8-9
To make a long story short Orpah went back and Ruth went forward. When you think about it why did Orpah and Ruth even leave Moab in the first place if they were from there? I think that it was there an attempt to move forward and not backward.
But yet Orpah chose to go back even though something was calling her to move forward and Ruth chose to move forward even though it hurt. Them moving forward did not mean that they did not love their husband but it just meant that sometimes you have to be ready to take on a new path in life and know that there is no turning back.
And so we know what happened to Ruth and the newness she was able to step in whereas Orpah we have no idea what happen to her other than she decided to stay in the past.
Yes moving forward can be scary, it can be unknown, and we could want to go back to the familiar. But here we have two women Orpah who we never hear from again going back to the past in the land of Moab and Ruth moving forward to the future. Although painful, although uncertain, and also she may have wanted to go back to the familiar she always knew that sometimes the best thing is to just move forward because you do not live in the past anymore.
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people, and your God, my God. Ruth 1:16
I am convinced that this is why Ruth moved forward, she wanted a new change, a new start, and she wanted to be committed to the God that her husband’s family has grown her accustomed to. And oftentimes that is the only choice that there is to make. Move forward with what we know and trust that God will lead us the rest of the way.
Ruth did not know what was in Bethlehem. But she trusted God and she trusted that it was best to move forward and not backward. She understood that moving forward did not mean that she did not love her husband but oftentimes, and at the right time it is the best option.
There is still more life, more adventure, more places to go, and things to do. Yes, we mourn but that does not mean our lives have to stop. There is plenty of life still to lead and the only way to do that is to remember to trust in God and be willing to take that road to the future and not to continue to live in the past. Also check out my video down below for more lessons on Ruth and don’t forget to subscribe to my channel.
2. When Widowed Remember Your Life is Not Over
With that being said it is important that if you are widowed still remember that your life is not over. You may want it to be because your husband is not here but it is not. God still wants you here and as long as God wants you here then there is still something that He wants you to do, experience, and you have to be open to those new experiences. Let’s get back into Ruth.
When Naomi came back to Bethlehem and everyone saw her and came to meet her this is what she said
Don’t call me Naomi, she told them. Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me. Ruth 1:20-21
When you experienced the death of a husband I am sure this is how you feel. You may not feel loved by God, abandoned by God, and you may feel like HOW in the world could God allow this to happen? I have not experienced being a widow but I have lost a loved one (click my blog here) in which a baby in our family had died. So I get it. Why God Why?
And so did Naomi. Naomi, was a widow herself and BOTH her sons had died. Now a life that was so full seemed so empty. She probably felt too old to get married and again too old to have children. And she probably felt that there was no life or joy left to be lived. What as the point?
I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me” even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons Ruth 1:12
To Naomi, it was all done and it was all over and she thought that there was no redemption anywhere. How could there be? Her whole family was GONE. No hope of having children or even grandchildren. But in an instant, everything changed and the impossible was made possible.
Because her daughter and law Ruth married Boaz that was a guardian-redeemer (which meant a redeeming of her family bloodline) and they had a child and she had a grandchild. The life and the hope that she thought was lost with not having anything all of a sudden turned around.
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth. Then Naomi took the child and placed him in her lap, and she became his nurse Ruth 4:13-16
Yes both Ruth and Naomi experienced the death of a husband. But with time, healing comes, and with that healing openness needs to come as well. Open to the possibilities that life has to offer. To the newness to the miracles and to the joy. Because they are possible. From sadness came joy and even though she thought she would never have children, grandchildren, or even a family; God did work it out in the end. Maybe not in the way that Naomi would have thought, but He did work it out. And Naomi was happy.
Her newfound happiness did not mean that she did not love her husband or her children because she did. But both Ruth and Naomi recognized that there was no need for not being open to newfound blessings once the proper healing has occurred. That there was no need to shut down the rest of their life and not be open to a new love, a new family, and new possibilities. And these new possibilities although not what they expected were still blessings. If you are widowed and a single mom then check out my video down below.
3. Moving On After the Death Of A Husband Tip ~ Life Goes On
There is a time to mourn and I think that it is only natural that when you lose a loved one. But it is also important not to stay in that eternal state of mourning because if you do you will surely watch life pass you by. I believe in heaven and I believe that we will see our departed loved ones again. Life here on Earth is a temporary one but if you get caught up in it being a permanent one, then your life will die too. And I am sure if you think of your husband would they really want you to just stop living?
But the world does keep on turning, days continue to turn into night, and the sun will rise and produce another day. We can never forget that no matter what we are going through that life goes on. Take the following Bible verses down below which is a perfect poem for the death of a husband.
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Life has it’s ups and downs and joy and pain. That is what life is about BUT we are never meant to stay in the state of one or the other. Even though we mourn there must still be a time to experience joy as well.
Let’s go back to Ruth:
Once Ruth and Naomi arrived in Bethlehem they realized that they had no men to provide for them. BUT still, Ruth realized that life went on. They could not just sit in the house with no food and no way to provide for themselves because of what had happened to them. They had to eat and to eat that mean Ruth had to work.
After the death of a husband your life may be affected, your money may be affected, you may have to move and unexpected change may come your way. BUT in the end, we do what we can and live life in the best way that we know-how.
Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor. Ruth 2:2
Ruth knew she had to work, Ruth expected to find the favor of someone in some capacity. She just knew that she could not stay in one spot and allow her mourning to take over her. Allow her mourning to make her go without food or money. No, it was not ideal to have two women with no man’s help but they did what they had to do and I feel that when you do that and expect God to meet you He will. Ruth did not know what she would find in the field that day. But she did find favor in the way of Boaz.
Moving on with your life can mean being open to finding love, being open to happiness, being open to trying new things. But it means being open and not allowing your sadness from the death of your husband to become you. There is a time for everything, there is a time to mourn but there is also a time to be happy, experience joy, and see what other opportunities life has to offer and be willing to experience them. Also, check out my video and my blog post on things that you can do alone to find happiness and to meet people.
4. When You Are Widowed Remember ~ Moving On Does Not Mean Forget
When it comes to the death of a husband you may feel guilty every time you laugh, have fun, or go out on the date. Like you are disrespecting your husband but you are not. Yes, we have phases in life but when you choose to be happy after the death of your husband that does not mean that you forget them or that your life with them was not meaningful.
The only thing we know about Ruth and her past relationship was that she was married to a man and did not have any kids. Her first husband may have been the love of her life. He may have been the best thing since sliced bread. She may have loved him a thousand times more than Boaz but still, she was open. And her openness got her a new love and a family. But that does not make her first marriage less significant. Even Noami who was the mother of Ruth’s deceased husband knew this.
Blessed be the man who took notice of you!” Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,” she said. Ruth 2:19
Ruth’s mother in law fostered the relationship between Ruth and Boaz. She was not bitter or resentful that her daughter and law had a man’s attention because she knew that each person deserves to be happy in there own capacity. And just because she decided to marry Boaz, have a family, and be happy. It did not mean she did not love her last husband.
And that life keeps moving and with life, each person deserves their own happiness and choosing to be happy does not mean that you are disrespecting your past relationship. It does not take away from or anything. But if you choose to stay sad, then you are cheating your ownself out of the possibilities that life has to offer. So do not feel guilty for being happy and moving on. Especially with a man that has the traits of Boaz (watch my video down below) and brings happiness in your life.
5. Moving On After the Death Of A Husband Tip ~ God Has a Plan For Your Love Life
After the death of a husband, you may think that your life is going to change and you may even think that it is not meant for you to get married anymore. Or that you will never love again. But never sell yourself short because you can never see what God has planned for you even if you think that the plan is nothing. Just be open. That does not mean force a relationship and it does not mean looking for one if you don’t want to it just means be open.
Why would you go with me? Are there still sons in my womb to become your husbands? Return home, my daughters. Go on, for I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me to have a husband tonight and to bear sons, would you wait for them to grow up? Would you refrain from having husbands? No, my daughters, it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me. Ruth 1:12-13
When Ruth chose to follow Naomi she did not think that new loved to await and that she would get married. It was actually the opposite. She was going to a new land where she was going to be a foreigner AKA the least likely person to be married and she was probably in her 40’s. I am sure that outside women were not the ideal match for men. She may have not even found any friends let alone a man.
I am sure that she expected to be ignored and to have a life that was going to be filled with hard work and struggle. Even once Boaz saw Ruth and began to take notice of her and provide her, Ruth herself was shocked.
At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me foreigner? Ruth 2:10
At times I am sure that even Ruth did not find herself worthy of even being noticed, but even as a widow do not discount yourself or God’s plans for your life. You can have a new love and more importantly, it is okay to love again and even get married again in the future if that is what you want. So don’t be closed off to it.
I know that the death of a husband can be hard but I really do hope that these words gave you encouragement that will help you now and in the future.
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