The House FM
I read a brief essay by JILL ENGLISH this week, and after hearing from a number of women with similar experiences, I wanted to share it here:
THE CASSEROLE RULES
“When my husband of 27 years suddenly and unexpectedly left, it was weeks before my large-church-pastors noticed I was missing from Sunday morning services. And even weeks more before someone called to check in.
I can’t blame them. I didn’t reach out. I was busy. I was inhaling and exhaling, managing shame, scrounging for hope, paying bills, and depositing what little emotional reserves I had to care for my devastated daughters, reeling family members, and befuddled friends…
There were so many things I didn’t know about how to go through an unexpected divorce. There is no YouTube video, no manual, no to-do list for how to do it well. Yet, the one thing I did learn is that you won’t get a casserole from church when you’re in the middle of burying a marriage.
I realized this after the fact. A year after my husband left and before the divorce was final, my dear church friend lost her husband to a sudden heart attack.
Here is the thing I learned when Joe died that I hadn’t even thought about when my husband dropped off the face of the earth. There are dozens of casseroles in the church freezer.
When Joe died, the church stepped up big for Sue. She had meals for months while she figured out how to manage the house and budget by herself. She had lawn boys, free electricians, and pro bono mechanics when her cars broke down. She received hundreds of cards from church friends – we watched them overflow her mailbox. Women came to clean her house. Strangers did her laundry and folded her towels. And not one person asked what she could have done differently to avoid Joe’s death or suggested that things would get better because some new man would snatch her up in a second.
I am so glad. I love her and am grateful for each person who stepped in to meet her in her grief and need. One time, she gave me an extra casserole because her freezer was full. It was really tasty and I ate it for days after we wryly talked together about the differences in our experiences of the death of a marriage. We both acknowledged the casserole rules. The church didn’t give divorce casseroles”
And Jill writes this piece without condemnation or judgement. She says, it’s not about her church, but THE church. She says, she never gave this any thought either… until it happened to her. She says, “…maybe the rules are just misunderstood. Maybe, loving our neighbor is a rule that means need is need, and grief is grief, and a casserole is the love of God made real for all who suffer- no matter the cause.”