I recently came across this post suggesting that pastors should encourage stay at home mums to visit elderly widows in their congregation. I found it encouraging. Over the last five years (since we moved to this part of Sydney) I have had the chance to visit Dave's elderly great-aunt, who is a widow and lives locally. There are times when my visits have become quite sporadic and I've felt tempted to stop altogether and tell myself that 'someone else can do it'. However, time and time again, I've been convicted that this is something that is very, very compatible with the stage of life I'm in at the moment. So I found myself agreeing with him.
His reasons why stay at home mums are (generally speaking) in such a good position to visit widows include:
- availability - being at home during the day, when it works best to visit the elderly;
- the fact that kids bless older people - I'm always quite moved by the way the nursing home residents react to my children when I visit Dave's aunt;
- it can be an opportunity for a younger woman to care for an older woman;
- it can be an opportunity for an older woman to instruct and encourage a younger one. (I think the way this happens will depend on the elderly woman - who she is, what her health is like, etc... - but I have found this to be true).
I would also add that I think going into an environment (particularly a nursing home) where there are elderly people is sobering and is good for learning wisdom. It makes the possibility of death feel more real. I also think that the kids have a lot to learn from visiting an older person. They can learn about the past (Dave's aunt was in China as a missionary at the time of the Communist revolution, and in her more cogent days, she shared some amazing stories with them!); they can learn about their family; they can learn how to be polite and respectful to a person who has lived a lot longer than them.
I'd really like to think of a way of doing this more, and visiting more people, and even trying to do it in a more systematic way. I heard of a mothers' group visiting a local nursing home with their young babies a few years ago which I thought was a great idea at the time. Does anyone have any other ideas for ways young mums can encourage each other to care for the widows in our community?