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Concerned Carol wrote:

Hi, guys —

My husband and I are both Eucharistic Ministers at our parish. My husband also is a server who works with families in planning Catholic funeral Masses. We are both devout in our faith and do not want to offend anyone. My problematic situation is this:

A woman in our church who has been widowed for five years always (after every Mass) makes a rush to my husband and proceeds to praise and admire him. He stands and patiently endures this, and so do I, however I find this behavior upsetting and inappropriate.

My husband says she will eventually stop. (This has been going on for three years.) We do not want to offend or be rude to her.

  • That said, how do we handle this situation?

She is now into touching his arm and patting his back.

  • What should we do?

Yes, I did go to our parish priest and his advice was chuckles. I guess he thought it was funny.

Please provide some advice.

Respectfully submitted,

Carol

  { How do I handle this constant behavior on my husband from a parish widow and what should I do? }

Bob replied:

Dear Carol,

If it were my guess, I would say she is missing the company of her husband and, in some way, is playing out a desire for a connection to a man in her life, albeit this circumstance borders on being very inappropriate. If you say something, you likely will offend her which is not your goal, so perhaps you can strike up a conversation with her sometime to talk about how she has been doing since her husband's passing. If there are ways she can connect with other women and develop some real intimacy that may help her to fill the void. A women’s group or ministry may be just the thing.

Think of it through the angle of mercy, but ultimately she is responsible for her own wellbeing, not that of you or your husband's. In the meantime, he can be a little more aloof so she doesn't get as much from going to the same well to try and fill herself up.

If all else doesn't work to effect some change over time, your husband will have to say to her something like,

“Mary, I appreciate your outgoing kindness to me, but it often makes me a bit uncomfortable when you single me out for so much attention. I have a special relationship with my wife and I don’t want anything to scandalize that. I hope you understand it in no way diminishes how I think of you.”

Above all pray that the Lord heal her wounds and loss.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

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