Folding Sheets and 1000 Days of Widowhood by Rev. Sherry Massey

Folding sheets and 1000 days of widowhood.

Last week I was folding my sheets as they came out of the dryer. Using the bed to aid me in this task, my mind was wool gathering and the memory of the first time I folded sheets after my husband Mike, died, floated to the surface. He and I almost always folded sheets together.

He was not at all concerned about crisp folds or a nice finished bundle, as was I; we just enjoyed being together. That day, however, as I touched the sheets, I crumpled to the bed, sobbing.

I had washed his scent from them; it was one more reminder that he was really gone and was not ever coming back. I laid on the bed shrouded in the sheets, crying for what seemed like forever. It was excruciating. As quickly as that memory had materialized, I was drawn back to the present and a smile made its way to my face.

Instead of being overcome by that initial devastating memory, others flooded my mind of Mike and me laughing and just being silly together. My heart was so happy. I thought to myself- “Wow, what a difference time makes!” Time is one small component to healing when you grieve. The passing of time lessens the frequency of being overcome by grief and the acuteness of those episodes. I stopped right then and tried to determine how much time had actually elapsed since Mike died.

Today, July 22, 2017 marks my first 1000 days as a widow.

Pastor Michael Massey – My Mike

Most of us are familiar with the idea of the first 100 days of a new president’s tenure. This phrase was coined in a 1933 radio address by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It actually was in reference to the first 100 days of the newly seated Congress. It soon morphed into an assessment of a sitting president’s first 100 days- what he was able to do, what laws were being passed and a general sense of what his leadership was going to look like.

Roosevelt was the president who was able to accomplish the most during his first 100 days. Taking office in the height of the Depression, with the country battered and looking for guidance, FDR seated his entire cabinet, got 76 bills into law and rolled out his “New Deal” plan to get the country back on its feet . Since that time, every president’s first 100 days have come under scrutiny.

So I have decided to review my first 1000 days……

Honestly, the first several months were a blur.

Mike died very unexpectedly and without warning on October 24, 2014. I stumbled through the holidays that first year and it was January when I really started to get a sense of what my life was going to look like without my best friend of 40 years in it. Suffice it to say- I experienced the good, the bad and the ugly! But, I am standing strong, confident, and excited about the future God has planned for me. Listed below are some of the “accomplishments” from these first 1000 days.

  • Making it through the grocery store without breaking down and actually purchasing something
  • Welcoming the best friends and family in the world to care for me when I was so brokenhearted and they never knew which version of me they were going to get
  • Journaling became a big part of my healing
  • Working my tail off doing counseling, taking Grief Share classes and learning to embrace my grief and walk through it, and learn from it
  • Getting myself to social gatherings and being able to stay
  • Driving solo on long road trips and not feeling lonely
  • Handling small home repairs- thank you YouTube and Google
  • Assembling “some assembly required” furniture with no parts left over
  • Following God’s call on my life and being ordained as a minister of His glorious Gospel
  • Speaking and encouraging people whenever and wherever God opens doors
  • Planning a month’s long missions trip for early 2018
  • Writing, writing, writing

 

My Ordination. I am Rev. Sherry Massey

I would have never chosen what happened to me on that October day in 2014, but it still happened. I’ve now been given the fabulous opportunity to recalibrate the rest of my life.

Psalm 31:15 says “My times are in your hands. Hour by hour, I place my days in your hand.” So that’s my game plan. I don’t really know what is before me, but I am running towards it FULL SPEED, with reckless abandon and trust in God!

In his inaugural address on January 20, 1961, President John Kennedy said this in regards to his platform for America: ” All of this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1000 days, nor in the life of this administration, nor perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin…..”

Can I encourage you to begin today? Wherever you are, whatever you’re facing, you can tum things around and your life can be a wonderful thing- you just have to begin!

Good bye to the first 1000 days and hello to many 1000’s more.

They’re gonna be great!!!

Rev. Sherry Massey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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National Widow’s Day aka National Keeper’s of the Flame Day

Tomorrow is National Widow’s Day! This is insignificant to many, but so significant to millions upon millions who have been, are and continue to be affected. This is significant to each of you here.

You likely know, but for those I have some insights:

  • Did you know that every year, there are about 800,000 widowed?
  • Did you know that in the United States alone there are 14 million Widows and growing, 250 million some worldwide.
  • Did you know the average age of a widow is 59. Shocking isn’t it? Not shocking to many of you!

I was 26 and many I know also so very young, though no matter the age and time, it is always horrible, horrific. I even know many who have been widowed twice!

You are on this page, so many of you know there is very little support for widows and the children affected. Even within the United States, I could not believe there was no protection, help, support when going through this. I wasn’t listed as the beneficiary on the life insurance because we hadn’t known or thought to change it, so young (so I did not receive it – this should automatically go to the spouse!) My name was not on my car title that my husband bought me as a surprise Christmas gift (so I had to pay to change it)! I was taken to court because ownership of my husbands truck was being questioned (unreal right, as we paid for it monthly), that still offered not protection from this even becoming a part of the judicial system! I was told he had health insurance and then found out he did not (though he could have been covered under mine) and so many things that were a nightmare on top of my nightmare. How I held it together at that time, I do not know. I was skin and bone, stressed and lost. Can you relate? Likely you can to some of this.

Many woman face these same things and much much worse, YES worse. I have heard their journey’s, their stories, their hurts and their complete and utter misfortunes…that each has and continues to RISE above.

So, when you know someone widowed, be kind and caring to them because not only are they suffering extreme loss, they can also be up against so many other secondary losses. Families lashing out, societal and friends judgements, support systems going away because grief is not something others have the capacity to handle or process, greed, etc.

One woman I am friends with is fighting for custody of her children with her extended family, I know many others where this has happened as well. She is a great mom, a professional woman, a visibly great woman, a kind woman and this just astounds me that it can even take place…but that is the system and due process unfortunately. Where is the support and protection? Our government needs to step in and show up for the protection and superseding and overruling legislation that should cover a spouse in this instance.

Did you know that in some countries, widows are in effect “thrown away” or chastised because of this misfortune? Sickening. Woman automatically accused of so called killing their spouse, even having nothing to do with their death. Woman being told that they need to be cleansed and so men treat them as prostitutes! It sickens me! It makes me want to take a stand.

So, as we approach this day that may be insignificant to some, consider every day and the struggle that so many are affected by.

Widowhood is a journey, it is not a sentence however and it should not be treated by society as one.

It is a journey of strength, sorrow, gratitude, persistence and a pathway to reach and share our hearts with others who come before and after us. It is a sisterhood, a community of woman rising above challenges and showing others we are not going to take the constraints and bull others place upon us. We get to be exactly who we are, our sentence is keeping the flame alive…sharing our strength and our removal of rose colored glasses and seeing the world in a much clearer way than ever before. Our pain is our beauty and the brokenness that goes with us is beautiful! I carry mine every single day and I am proud of it. I hope you carry yours proudly and show people that there are NO LIMITS! There is not limit to grief and there is not limit to how far you will go!

Support the widows in your life today and everyday with kindness, encouragement and compassion. Tomorrow, tell someone you know that you see them and their struggles and you are proud of all they are doing and coming through…because there are days they have not wanted to come through, but they keep going!

So here is to all of my widow friends! I see you, I hear you and I feel your hearts and your journey! You are all beautiful and so take this day and every day and you own it, all of the sadness but also all of the glory ahead knowing you are on your way!!

I actually coined a new title for widows (since none of us can stand this term) See us for us and as “Keepers of the Flame”.

Here is to all of you amazing ladies and men finding your new and carrying alongside of you a legacy that is meant to burn bright!

“I am a Widow, they say. I like to call us “Keepers of the Flame”, instead. Our light flickers, almost feels like its going to blow out, but it keeps burning. It starts burning stronger and stronger as we navigate through the unknown. We become the keepers of not only our flame, but our loved one, in heavens flame. We keep their flame going through sharing who they are, what they have taught us and their flame keeps us knowing they would want us to keep going. We are the keepers of the flame for the woman and men who came before us and the woman and men who come after us. Our flames together, grow stronger, burn brighter. Together we find a new burning and brightness that we all deserve, are all worthy of. Be a light seeker and start burning your flame so bright others will want what you have, knowledge and wisdom are power.” Tanya Smith, Blogger at A Widows World and President of Addelise Inc.

I hope you all love the image I created for this day. Please share it and make sure to #awidowsworldkeepersoftheflame

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