words by: Ferree Hardy
Do you recall what your life was like one year ago today? Where did you live? Who were you living with? How were things going? Has life changed much for you since then?
If you are reading this because you’ve been widowed or are bearing another type of loss, please know that you have my deepest sympathy. I don’t know everything you’ve gone through, and I certainly don’t know exactly how you feel, but I do know that the past year was difficult. I’m glad, though, that we get to change the calendar. As we do so, it’s good to reminisce and evaluate the past and then look ahead to the future. What will a new year hold? What changes will we see and experience this time? Is there anything good to come? Let’s talk!
Where did you live last year?
Last January, I was getting settled into a new house that we’d recently bought. Before that, my husband, Tom, and I had lived in a one-bedroom apartment for eleven months. (Most of our belongings had to go into storage). We had moved from Florence, SC to North Augusta, SC for Tom’s job, and I didn’t know a soul. But then COVID restrictions hit, and I couldn’t even meet anyone! So last January, as I unpacked box after box of stuff that I hadn’t seen for months, I was very relieved and happy to finally have a place to call “Home Sweet Home.”
What changes did you face?
This January, I am shocked to be in yet another new house! If you follow this monthly column, you know that Tom took a different job—a thousand miles to the north of North Augusta! We moved just a few weeks ago, and Christmas was a blur. Life sure changes! As I write this, I almost cringe at the thought of unwanted changes that might happen this year. I need to stay put, in my opinion. The Lord and I will have some conversations about giving me a rest. But as much as I question and wonder, the only place I really want to be is where God wants me.
How about you? What will this next year hold for you? Are you making any plans?
I’m looking forward to continuing to write. I love doing this column and connecting with some of the greatest and kindest people in the world—the readers of Plain Values. I’m so pleased that Rory Feek will be writing here, too. I often get notes from widowers who remind me not to forget them, since I focus more on widows. But Rory is a widower. I’ve never met him, but I followed his blog and read and wept along with him as the life of his beautiful wife, his dearest musical partner, slowly ebbed away from cancer in 2016. Rory’s column won’t be focused on grief like mine is, but I think that having him on our team of writers will add a meaningful perspective for many widowers.
I’m also looking forward to making new friends in my new town, Ticonderoga, New York. It’s Tom’s hometown. His parents have lived there for over sixty years. Tom lived there for over forty years, and then, sadly, his first wife passed away from ovarian cancer. When Tom met and married me two years later, he moved to Ohio, and it seems like we’ve not stopped moving since! Finally, we are ready to settle down and call Ticonderoga home.
Do you have something to look forward to?
Sometimes unwanted change knocks us down. The death of our loved ones can be heart-breaking; it’s like we crumple to the floor and don’t even know what hit us. Moving can uproot and isolate us. Whether we’ve lost a loved one or lost a home, we head into a season of sadness and unwanted change.
To counterbalance unwanted change you’ve experienced, when you hang up your 2022 calendar, look ahead and designate days for some changes that you do want—changes you’ll look forward to with happier anticipation. Write down birthdays and other special occasions you don’t want to forget. Are there things like reunions, vacations, visits to special places, or get-togethers with people in different areas of the country? Circle those dates with a smiley face or sunshine. As I have written in my book, “Life stops for a time, but it will pick up again… The timing is different for each of us, but the point of change is a universal certainty…” Changes happen, but good things can, and do, still happen too.
Perhaps I can help you with your life changes in ways other than beyond this written page. Start planning now to attend “Widow’s Journey” retreat on March 4-6, 2022, at Sandy Cove Ministries in North East, MD. You’ll have a built-in friend there because I will be one of the speakers, and I would love to meet you! For more information, see www.sandycove.org and look up “Widow’s Journey.” Or call 800.234.2683 for rates and information.
I’m also a Christian Life Coach. When people need a change in their life, I can help them discover their strengths and ambitions. I help widows figure out what they really want to do, and from there, we begin to rebuild their life. Some want to work on the foundation of their faith. Others need building blocks for things like organization, relationships, or remarriage. Everyone is different, but it’s an amazing journey. It’s like watching someone step away from the cemetery and step onto a new path. That’s something to look forward to on your 2022 calendar!
What other changes do you face? If you’d like to write and tell me about them, I’d be happy to hear from you. Just use the new address listed at the end of this article. As you take down the old calendar to put up the new, let’s face these changes together.
Ferree Hardy has helped thousands of widows through her book, “Postcards from the Widows’ Path,” small groups, speaking, and personal coaching, but touching one life at a time is what matters most to her. She holds a BA from Moody Bible Institute, and was a pastor’s wife in Ohio for over twenty years before her first husband died. She’s happily remarried now, and her readers know that moving seems to have become a hobby for her. But she also enjoys backyard chickens, aims to read fifty books a year, and loves to bake. Learn more by visiting her blog.