I was directed to this letter by another young widow in the Drowning Support Network I joined. It’s interesting, though quite lengthy and difficult to read. Placed somewhere between AD 378 and AD 382, it is written to a young widow by St. John Chrysostom. I’ve finally had the urge to slog through it and below are my favorite parts. Amazing how writing can transcend hundreds of years and speak to me now in 2010.
Now if it is not the name of widow which distresses you, but the loss of such a husband I grant you that all the world over among men engaged in secular affairs there have been few like him, so affectionate, so gentle, so humble, so sincere, so understanding, so devout. And certainly if he had altogether perished, and utterly ceased to be, it would be right to be distressed, and sorrowful; but if he has only sailed into the tranquil haven, and taken his journey to Him who is really his king, one ought not to mourn but to rejoice on these accounts. For this death is not death, but only a kind of emigration and translation from the worse to the better, from earth to heaven, from men to angels, and archangels, and Him who is the Lord of angels and archangels.
But perhaps you long to hear your husband’s words, and enjoy the affection which you bestowed upon him, and you yearn for his society, and the glory which you had on his account, and the splendour, and honour, and security, and all these things being gone distress and darken your life. Well! The affection which you be stowed on him you can keep now just as you formerly did.
For such is the power of love, it embraces, and unites, and fastens together not only those who are present, and near, and visible but also those who are far distant; and neither length of time, nor separation in space, nor anything else of that kind can break up and sunder in pieces the affection of the soul. But if you wish to behold him face to face (for this I know is what you specially long for) keep your bed in his honour sacred from the touch of any other man, and do your best to manifest a life like his, and then assuredly you shall depart one day to join the same company with him, not to dwell with him for five years as you did here, nor for 20, or 100, nor for a thousand or twice that number but for infinite and endless ages.
And if you find the trial very unbearable owing to its long duration, it may be that he will visit you by means of visions and converse with you as he was wont to do, and show you the face for which you yearn: let this be your consolation taking the place of letters, though indeed it is far more definite than letters. For in the latter case there are but lines traced with the pen to look upon, but in the former you see the form of his visage, and his gentle smile, his figure and his movements, you hear his speech and recognize the voice which you loved so well.
The complete letter can be found here