Jo is a longtime Mission India supporter and volunteers her time at our Grand Rapids office. She sat down with me recently to talk about her own experience of losing a spouse, and to reflect on her compassionate concerns for the plight of India’s widows.
A. My husband, Ray, and I had a son and a daughter. He owned a business in Grand Rapids for 16 years. We found out he had cancer in 1994, not long after he retired. The doctors gave him 12-18 months to live, and he passed away on April 23, 1995. It was three days before his 73rd birthday.
A. It was a big adjustment at first. We were married for 34 years, and death doesn’t sink in right away – sometimes it seemed like Ray was just away for a while. It took a long time. I had to learn to do so many things that Ray had always taken care of – I had to make sure the car got an oil change, and I had to learn to do the finances. It was tough at first. After a while, those things got easier.
A. I had a lot of support from my church, and my family and friends. I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have them coming alongside me.
A. Especially during Ray’s illness, I could feel God beside me. He was there with me every moment since. I have no idea how non-believers go through that kind of loss without God.
A. I just can’t imagine that feeling of rejection. I would have felt so alone, so helpless. I didn’t suffer anything like what these women experience. Your family means everything when there is a death. To have them turn their backs on you…
A. I would have had so much emptiness without the Lord. If I could be there with those women, the first thing I would tell them is about God’s love —family support is so critical, but only God supplies for all your needs.
A. I think it is so wonderful. I am sure that being part of a community like that, and hearing about Jesus — it must make them feel so wanted, and give them a lot of help in their situation. Obviously they feel so empty and alone. This has to give them such strength and hope to get through their situation.
A. It gives me a wonderful feeling to know that in some small way I am helping them. God calls us to care for the widows and the orphans. I never thought about how fortunate I am to have been born in the United States, where women are valued. And I want to share this need with other people here, to make them aware of how these women in India are suffering.
June 23 is International Widow’s Day — an opportunity to raise awareness about the millions of widows in our world who are surviving in poverty and social ostracism. 40 million of these widows live in India.