This weekend, our parish celebrates International Widows Day, traditionally celebrated on June 23rd, a day dedicated to becoming more aware of and responsive to the hardships that widows face when their husbands die. In support of these women, we invite the widows of our community to obtain a "flower of hope" as they exit the front door of church. From the earliest times, God has encouraged special solicitude for the needs of widows and orphans. Their unique circumstances make them very vulnerable and, consequently, call for people’s particular care and attention.
Today, widows are often overlooked by society, and sadly, after the loss of their husband, couple friendships are apt to fade. In some cases, widow’s grief is so heavy that others don’t know how to be with them. And, with family members often living a great distance away, close support can be hard to come by. The Sisterhood of Widows website reports that a women's life can quickly go from secure to chaos, and is unmatched for its emptiness and profound sadness when she loses a loved one. A widow can go from living a comfortable life to living in poverty after her spouse dies. Money will be an important factor as a lack of funds will change her future.Here are some notable statistics: 32% of women over the age of 55 are widowed. 80% of widows now living in poverty were not poor before their husbands died. The average age for a woman to be widowed in the U.S. is around 59. According to the National Health Association, 700,000 women become widows each year and will be widowed for an average of 14 years. The latest World Widows Report is filled with information about widowhood around the world, including the U.S. You can access it at: https://www.theloombafoundation.org/our-work/research/world-widows-report. Also, the U.S. Census Bureau provides results from the 2018 American Community Survey that includes U.S. widowhood numbers, 1-Year Estimates, Data Profiles, and selected social characteristics in the United States. You can view this report by visiting: https://data.census.gov/cedsci/table?q=dp02hidePreview%3Dfalse&tid=ACSDP1Y2018.DP02&%20vintage=2018.
I’m so grateful for the special outreach our parish Stephen Ministry offers to people in these kinds of circumstances who desire support during a difficult time in their life. International Widows Day reminds us to look below the surface of the upended lives of the widows around us, and invites us to be good neighbors to them through our friendship and support.
God bless you!
Fr. BobBACK TO LIST