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A widower’s inspiring reflection on being the spouse left behind

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Photo courtesy of Henry Cordonnier

Cerith Gardiner - published on 10/02/22

A poignant post on Facebook reveals how Henry Cordonnier was able to view the burden of being a widower in a new light.

Henry Cordonnier is a man of great faith. He has devoted much of his adult life to instructing others in the Catholic faith. And it is thanks to his depth of faith that he has been able to find comfort in the time since his beloved wife of 42-and-a-half years, Ann, passed away from ovarian cancer at the age of 68.

The author, teacher, and father to seven living children, and three who died before their birth, embraced social media in his retirement, and used it as a tool to share his inspiring faith-based thoughts.

I spoke with Cordonnier recently to discuss a post he’d shared on Facebook, and how a perspective he embraced thanks to the Lord has helped him cope with being a widower. His outlook was so refreshing that it garnered a number of likes that shocked the 69-year-old. He kindly agreed to having us share it with you here:

The words ​“I’m happy to take care of it for us, dear!” seem to echo after you read the passage. Love demands constant sacrifice, as Cordonnier points out in his post. It’s how we use our overriding love to cope with the pain of this sacrifice that will help us in the toughest of times.

While the grandfather of 27 — with another due soon — wrote this post to bring comfort to other widows and widowers, it’s also valuable to those feeling overwhelmed in their marriages. When sacrifices are necessary, we need to see the greater picture. If we could learn to see our sacrifices as a gift, and not a burden, then we get to live in a union of love and not resentment.

Cordonnier was shocked to see such a hugely positive response to his post by so many people, but his poignant message is so refreshing that it’s no surprise it proved hugely popular.

As well as the post, the loving husband also shared with me the role he played in Anne’s last months. He retired from a full-time job that he loved in order to give her hospice care at home, for which he is thankful to God:

“We were together through it all and it was a great privilege to help her through it and she was so faithful to the end. She was in a coma for most of the last nine days. Two days before she died the priest gave her the last rites. When he asked her the questions, ‘Do you believe in God the Father Almighty,’ from her coma she answered forcefully, ‘I do.’ She did the same for belief in the Son and belief in the Holy Spirit. Those were the last words she ever spoke.”

The Facebook post is just one example of Cordonnier’s faith-inspired writings. His books, My Gospeland More Gospel have also proved popular with readers. And that’s not all. The family man continues to form others in the faith in his parish, on Zoom, and in talks given in his local restaurant.

It seems God certainly did have a plan for the Cordonnier family. They have lived a life so full of love that it could be used in service to others.

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