Young Widows in the Church: Are they disadvantaged?
A recent tragedy in my stake has renewed my questions about the church’s stance on sealings in the afterlife. Our stake president’s son suddenly died at age 34 leaving a young wife and four small children. I can’t even imagine the pain that this family faces and the months and years ahead of trying to cope with the loss of their son, husband, and father.
Although I’ve never met her, I put myself in the shoes of the young widow. How would I feel if I had just lost my husband? I’m sure her grief and concern for her and her children’s future is overwhelming. Still, I wonder if in a few years will this woman want to remarry? There would be benefits to having a father-figure in the home. I hope that she has the opportunity to find a loving man who will be a good husband and father. However, I wonder if her chances are lower somehow compared to women who have never been married in the temple. Because of her sealing to her deceased husband, she is not on the market eternally, even though she may be available for the next 60 years or so. Perhaps this concept is of very little importance to potential mates, but perhaps it is. The church emphasizes the eternal nature of families so much that men may find it less desirable to marry someone who could not be sealed to them eternally. Therefore, I think that a young widow is potentially disadvantaged in terms of remarriage. Of course, the dynamic is different for a young widower, since men can have multiple wives sealed to them for eternity (although they may feel they are betraying their first wife by marrying again).
A little deeper than just having the opportunity to be sealed to a spouse, is the concern of loving both husbands and having to choose between them in the next life. Perhaps this woman does remarry and spends the next 50 years with a wonderful man. When she dies will she have to decide which one she likes best: the husband she had for the first 10 years or the last 50? Also, as her children (now ages 1-9) grow with a new father, will they be torn in their love for him and their loyalty to their deceased dad? It all seems so difficult to me.
Despite these struggles in my mind, In my heart I know that God gives us these struggles to help us become stronger, and more compassionate. I also believe that heaven is not a place where we will be forced to make the hard choices that we make in this life. However, I fear that our understanding of the afterlife, and it’s emphasis in LDS teachings may prevent some marriages that could be help people now and through eternity. For young LDS widows, their prospects for remarriage may be bleak because of this doctrine.
Does anyone know how church leaders are taught to counsel men who may potentially marry a widow? Are they encouraged or discouraged from marrying without the hope of temple sealing?