Finding a Wardrobe That Fits: A Modern Widow’s Unique Journey – Marilyn Nutter
Who hasn’t admired an outfit on a hanger or mannequin and decided to try it on? We head off to a fitting room but after one look in the mirror, couldn’t unbutton and unzip fast enough. Perhaps it was the wrong size, style, or color. Whatever–it wasn’t us.
There’s a familiar Old Testament story about trying on an outfit and discarding it. King Saul gave the shepherd boy David a tunic and armor to equip him to kill the giant, Goliath. As if standing before a fitting room mirror, David realized he couldn’t move in someone else’s oversized and uncomfortable armor “‘I cannot go in these,’ he said to Saul, ‘because I am not used to them.’ So, he took them off.” David opted for his God-given skill, his custom-made slingshot, and smooth stones for the work he had to do. (1 Samuel 17:38-40 NIV).
Some of the best advice I received soon after my husband died, was “grieve in the way that is right for you.” At that time, my brain felt like oatmeal and I could barely write thank you notes, so I didn’t fully understand the wise words from my widowed friend. But as grief evolved into mourning and re-entry into living, I have kept that advice front and center.
Like finding the right size, style, and color clothing, moving from married to single and making decisions about life is hard work. What might look good on someone else, isn’t necessarily for me.
- How and where to spend holidays had a definition and scenario for me that didn’t look like another widow’s plan.
- How to spend money and leisure time were different from my friends’ choices.
- Attending couple’s parties and events fell later on my timetable but earlier on another widow’s calendar.
- Downsizing and moving from a home I shared with my husband was my personal decision, but not remotely part of another widow’s plans.
Like comparing the outfit on a mannequin and our image in the mirror, our widowed status and life is not what we had imagined. The look is not right, the size is wrong, the color is off–made for someone else. Just as David couldn’t fight Goliath wearing Saul’s armor, but wore his own clothing, widows must grieve and move forward in the way that is right for them
Have you watched, wondered, and even read about widows managing their new life? I know women who went on trips two months after their husband died but others who secluded themselves and couldn’t muster courage to attend church. Another had a smile on her face, but tears in her eyes as she tried to attend women’s meetings or go back to work. Some women immediately cleared their husbands’ clothes from their closet; others kept clothes hanging there for months.
Each widow responds and reacts differently to her loss. Why? Loss is personal. We each have unique circumstances, personalities, support systems, finances, health status, and abilities. Like David we wear our custom-made clothing, not someone else’s wardrobe. We know our limits and potential, as well as what appeals to us today. And we know what we’re not ready for yet.
Grief is a giant and as we move in a new life chapter of singleness, God will fit us with the wardrobe we need, not someone else’s idea of what we should do. Let’s not put “one more thing” on ourselves-comparison and others’ expectations-as we move into life. Give yourself permission to grieve and progress in the way that is right for you.
How do you identify with today’s thoughts? As you face personal struggles and giants, what wise and courageous steps can you take today that are right for you?
Bio: Marilyn Nutter became a widow eight years ago while traveling with her husband during the Christmas holiday. She is a member of the Greenville SC MWC chapter. A writer for compilations and online sites, she maintains a website and blog at http:/marilynnutter.com where you can encounter hope and encouragement in unexpected places.