Losing a spouse sets off a grief process that may last for years or forever. If you truly want to help a grieving widow, keep her in mind at times when others might not.
Send Care Packages
Women of all ages can feel overwhelmed and lose sight of self-care after their husband's death. Help your friend or family member feel special with sweet care packages sent at random times throughout the year. Include self-care items like bath salts, lotions, and facial masks to help her relax. Add in journals or small inspirational books with her favorite snacks or drinks. The ideas is to make packages with only her in mind and send them at unexpected times so she'll get that feeling that someone is always thinking of her.
Make a Standing Date Night
After a significant death, many people find it hard to keep up with their old social calendar or don't feel like being around others. Pick a day of the week and ask if it can be a standing "date" for you and your friend. It doesn't matter what you do together, what matters is that you show up. You don't even need to go out -- just be there for the date as scheduled.
Become Pen Pals
Some people have a hard time expressing their feelings in words while others simply don't want to be a burden. Give your friend a place to vent by becoming pen pals. Write her a letter expressing how you feel about the situation and sharing memories of her husband. Ask her to write you back with anything she feels she needs to express.
Share Your Pictures
Although it may be painful for everyone, talking about the deceased is more helpful than acting like they no longer exist. As a family member you may have taken pictures the widow wouldn't have. Go through the pictures you have of her husband or her with him and give them to her in a meaningful way like a scrapbook or collage. Drop them off in person and look through them with her so you can both talk about his life.
Share a Playlist
You likely have a list of songs that pump you up when you're down, help you emote when you need to, or remind you of the deceased. Give your friend the gift of healing through music by creating an emotional playlist that includes songs reminding her of happy, loving, and fond memories. Whenever she listens to this music, your friend will work through her emotions and be reminded of your support.
Pick Up Extras
Everyday activities and tasks can be impossible for a widow to face. Whenever you run an errand or go shopping, pick up a couple extra items for her. Grab an extra roll of paper towels and package of toilet paper when you buy yours and drop them at her house. If you're heading out to grab a coffee and lottery ticket, get her one too. Taking the time to make her everyday feel more manageable can lift her spirits in an instant.
Show Up Unannounced
Well-intentioned friends and family members often feel the need to give space to a woman who has just lost her husband. However, if everyone does this it can leave her feeling even more alone. Despite your own discomfort, show up unannounced at her house on occasion. Bring dinner for her and the kids, ask her to go somewhere with you, or just drop by to say "Hi."
Keep Her In Your Thoughts
Although others may move through grief quicker, a widow is likely to grieve over the course of years. Keep her in mind long after your sadness passes to help her move through hers.