Archive of ‘Finding Support’ category

Unique Ways Brief Friendships Can Help with Grief

By Julia Steier

Friendships and Exercise Help with Grief

Friendships can last a lifetime, or sometimes for only a season. This unexpected friendship pulled me from the hell of grief. This little cycling studio in Short Hills, NJ opened up the same month my husband passed away, November 2013. I didn’t know this studio existed until one of the employees, an acquaintance at the time, stopped by my office to say hello.

I met Jordan in September 2013. He had developed a friendship with our university’s baseball coach, and we just so happened to meet one evening. I never gave much thought about fate and coincidences, but Jordan helped open my eyes to it. In the days following George’s passing a lot of people expressed their sorrow and offered me a lot of support. Daily text and facebook messages to see how I was doing. As if I could be doing well after watching my life turn to dust, but then again, how many 28-year-old widows are there milling around?

But as time pressed on, people I was closest to walked on egg shells because I didn’t express sorrow in tears. My tongue was sharp, and my temper was more dangerous than ballistic missiles. Soon, the daily check-ins became bi-weekly, and then transformed into the occasional “hey, I read your blog post, hope you’re okay.”

The fog dissipated over time and the figures in the corner of who I thought was there, turned out to be imaginary. But the ones who stuck around were bulwarks robust enough to weather a carpet bombing. And for that, today I stand stronger than I could’ve ever imagined. As I fractured and the wound ripped back open, they were the ones who brushed my hair and allowed me to believe I’d be okay, eventually. I promised my husband I’d be okay, so that’s what I tried to be: Okay.

It was almost three months after my husband’s death when I ran into Jordan again. He stopped by the university to visit our baseball coach, and I recounted our brief meeting in September. He had just heard about my loss and asked how I was doing. Small talk I had become accustomed to when people learned of George’s passing.

But something was different. He didn’t have the almond shaped eyes of woe. But widow brain doesn’t believe anyone understanding the enormous horror I’ve been through as I watched the one person I love, cherish and adore be consumed alive by cancer. So I brushed Jordan’s condolences off as no big deal.

The next day, he stood at my office door, passing by again to say hello.

And then again a couple of days later.

At first, our greetings were as awkward and dry as you might have with your bank teller before withdrawing money from your account. But our brief encounters transformed into hour long conversations and soon it dawned on me his visits were genuine, and my interactions and conversations were helping me adjust to a life I didn’t want. A new life forced upon me.

One morning he dropped in to tell my assistant coach and me about a new job he started at SoulCycle. We were excited but had no idea what in the world SoulCycle was. But he invited us to visit him at work– oh how the tables turn– but we emphatically agreed.

The Life Changing Invitation
Widow Transformation

Life Changing Invitation

Jordan’s kindness during the worst months of my life assisted in lifting my chin up. Raising my eyes and looking around me to see opportunities, to embrace the uncomfortable situations being a young widow, and forging a new path for me living a healthier and fitter life.

And soon rediscovering the one emotion which kept eluding me: happiness.

He would come to my office a couple of times a week to check in, and we started meeting up after work hours for dinner or drinks. I’d go and visit him at the cycling studio, and we became fast friends. In my grief I was selfish, but as I got to know him more, I realized he was going through a life transition and needed a friend too.

We grieve for different things in this life. When there are significant life changes and immediate disruption our ordinary daily routines, there are flutters of grief. Whether it’s someone going through a divorce, a pets death, or in his case, he had lost his dream job. And SoulCycle was a new career path for him. Though it’s not on the grief spectrum of losing a spouse, it was myopic of me not to wonder what was happening with him.

A lesson I was slow to learn, unfortunately.

I opened up to him about my misery and my longings to vanishing. Which I eventually did, by moving to Alabama and away from all my friends, family and my support system.

He listened and asked me existential questions, but he also wasn’t afraid to push me away. Some days I was too challenging and erratic because of the grief. When I reflect on those months, I didn’t realize what was happening, but today I do.

I barely saw anything beyond the tip of my nose. The grief made me volatile and jaded and I hated my existence, I loathed the sun because it never stopped rising. But at some point, the iciness of the winter in my blood began to warm as our friendship blossomed. And I glistened with strength each time I walked into that cycling studio.

While astride on the bike, I realized I did have a purpose. The bike offered me the courage to start believing in myself again. My life was already well out of the comfort zone, but being on that indoor bike provided me an outlet on how to manage my grief. Plus, my husband’s favorite form of exercise was cycling. In the winter he would do spin classes at New York Sports Club. So when my quads burned, and my calves began to scream, I’d close my eyes and think about him and his battle against cancer

Sore muscles today, stronger body tomorrow, and clearer mind immediately.

Indoor cycling showed me I had a strength I never knew existed. With the turn of the resistance knob, I challenged myself to push on because what was the alternative? I began adopting the mantra “kill or be killed.” Grief won’t kill me.

The nights where I would cry myself to sleep became fewer over time, and the crippling feeling of loneliness when I woke up by myself subsided too. I wasn’t afraid of what this reinvented life had to offer, and as I started climbing out of the depths of grief he regained his too, and we drifted apart.

Some people come into your life for a reason, and sometimes for only a season. He entered mine for a short time but made a lasting impact. My naivety and selfishness during my grief prevented me realizing it. But he was truly a blessing during a very dark time. Without his compassion and friendship, I wouldn’t have discovered my passion for fitness and healthy living. I try to pass along the lessons I learned from my friendship with Jordan to those around me.

That Doggie and The Widow

By Julia Steier

Those nights, the dreadful, pain wincing nights staring up at the vast whiteness of the ceiling listening to the sweet low breaths of my dog Bodie. In the days immediately after my husband George died, I would stay up crying wondering how I didn’t know he was dying. Love is blind, you can trick your mind into imagining something is not real, although everyone around you can see the truth. The rose colored glasses protected me from the barrage of agony so I could stay hopeful and optimistic in his final days and hours. Though I am so angry at myself, I now believe my ignorance allowed for him to transition peacefully.

Bodie felt the emptiness and was grieving too. His favorite thing was to perch atop George’s belly while he laid on the couch. Gazing around and supervising his two bi-pedal housemates. But in his death Bodie would recover to the empty side of the bed to keep me warm and press against my chest to help heal the dead space behind my ribs.

On weekends, George would pull his guitar out and make up songs about Bodie and his infatuation with his squeaky ball. This little critter would wag his tail so hard his back legs barely touched the ground. George even made a Meetup group so Bo could make other terrier friends. This dog really hit the jackpot when he adopted George.

Though, I didn’t realize George was dying, Bodie knew. Bodie begged to stay with him one evening and was being rather contentious about it. I’d pick him up and put him on the bed and he would hop off and run back into the living room to be with his favorite man. I wasn’t in the mood to fight with a 20lb cairn terrier. So lifted him up onto the hospital bed which was the newest addition to our living room set up. He circled around twice then rested his head on George’s knee. I kissed both of them goodnight. The next morning our man was gone and our pack was down to two.

Those days afterwards were brutal, almost like a constant ringing in my ears, but there was no sound to lock into and it became maddening. I felt like a stranger in my apartment, living amongst weapons that cut me so deep but never enough to kill me. Pictures on the walls laughing at me and showing me once upon a time I had it all. Cancer stole George and my life.

Bodie started jumping off the couch or bed and tuck behind the door, whimpering. His high squeals were like a fire alarm. I’d rush over to him, collecting him in my arms and rock him like a baby. Kissing his head while my tears fell on his snout. I’d call my parents or my sister, because the pain was so profound. Never realizing the hour of the day it was. 3am or 8pm, it all seemed the same to me. Time stopped being time, it was just wasted moments where I had to figure out what happens next and spin around the same thought of “why am I still here?”

I didn’t know what to do, but Bodie knew what I needed.

My social worker wrote a note for me to bring my little guy to work to help comfort me. I was coaching lacrosse at a small university in New Jersey. I went back to work a week later because, well, because I didn’t want to stay in the apartment that no longer felt like home. Sitting in the living room where I had to watch my husband die wasn’t exactly my idea of paradise. So I went to work with my most precious cargo, my dog.

Bodie loved going to work. When we went into the office, he’d run laps greeting all the other coaches. He was like a loose piglet at a rodeo, running around and around. Having him with me made days more bearable, and I became more social. I talked to people simply because Bodie would run up to them to say hello. Bodie re-socialized me after the trauma of losing George.

Though, driving to work I battled with mental demons of whether to drive my car off the bridge or not. But looking at my bearded passenger and how eager he was to see all his bi-pedal friends, my fantasies of bridge driving stayed locked in my head. These wonderings were real and consumed my thoughts more often than I would like to admit.

At work, when grief got the best of me I’d take him out for a walk in the forest and he would chase squirrels and other rodent things. One time a ground hog refused to run away and nearly two feet from it, Bodie stopped barreling towards it and ran back to me. The ground hog was fearless and my little guy showed mercy and it made me chuckle. I started developing a routine and Bo gave me a reason to wake up each day.

We moved to an apartment across the street from the school and there we rebuilt our lives. My insomnia was more productive in a safer neighborhood. Those nights staring at the ceiling listening to him breathe, I’d wake him up and take him for a walk. He pounced at the opportunity, regardless of time of day.

Wrangling an excited cairn for a walk is tough, but once the leash was secured he’d grab it by his mouth and walk me instead. In the morning when I had 6a practice, Bodie would be hopping and running in circles ready to make the practice plan and see the players. He adopted all 20 players that season and chased them on the lacrosse field. I couldn’t help but laugh. Bodie helped me realize it was okay laugh.

On weekends, we would walk to grab a cup of coffee at a local shop and the owner allowed me to bring him into the store. He’d lean against my legs as I ordered, like a scared little kid trying to hide behind their mother. The kindness of the owner showed me how to be grateful even on the darkest days.

Parents would stop us on walks to see if their kids could pet him, and Bodie always sat down at my feet, gazing up at me with his big brown eyes while little hands patted him all over and sometimes tugged his ears. He taught me patience and acceptance.

I needed to accept this new life because the old one was never coming back. As many tears I shed, tantrums I threw, nights I stayed up wide awake, my old life vanished. But I can take the lessons from the past and apply them to bettering my new one.

We would go on 3-5 mile walks a day, and our bond became stronger. Even those days where it was pouring rain, he would look at me earnestly and knew leaving the apartment would be best for both of us. Walking wasn’t just for his stimulus and exercise, it gave me the opportunity to look around me. Soon enough, I felt my head lifting a little higher toward the sun and finally allowing the shadows to fall behind.

Bodie trained me to accept the fact life pushes forward and everyday there’s two options:

  1. Hide behind the door whimpering. OR
  1. Grab the leash and take control.

But then one evening while at the dog park, he wandered away from me. When I caught up with him, he had adopted a new man. And that’s when I realized all those painful nights, staring up at the ceiling, barely breathing, it would lead me here. Lead me to finally feeling at home and falling in love.

Triathlon of Grief, Fear then Strength

By Julia Steier

My first race after my husband passed is so vivid. Pulling up to the waterfront, watching the Hudson River lap against the shoreline as my friend and his wife unhooked our bikes from the back of his car.

I can’t believe this is happening.

At day break 10 months and three days earlier I was at my husband’s bedside wiggling my hands underneath his body. Cancer stole him. His final breath escaped him and I was trying to absorb his warmth before he was taken away from me forever. I needed to feel him because time was precious. And when one area became cold I would try to find another warm spot. I held on to his warmth until they took him and that’s when the nightmare commenced. It would be the last morning with him.

I didn’t want this, I didn’t ask for this. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Not to me. How was I supposed to breathe without him? We had our lives to build. And now — and now I’m alone.

At the riverfront, the sky blazed with a magnificent glow as the sun woke up. The thick cool air twisted my stomach and my heart pounded in my throat like a metronome as time pulled closer to the start of the triathlon.

I set up my station alongside other experienced triathloners. They zipped up their wetsuits with their cycling gear underneath. They weren’t going to waste time between moving from swim to biking to running. If you cut down the time between changing, the better your overall time would be. I didn’t own a wetsuit, instead I wore bright purple yoga pants, a sports bra and then threw my swimsuit over the whole thing. It seemed practical to me. But I stood out as inexperienced, and I saw the side stares, shoulder shrugs and heard the whispers. But my friends were there for support and guidance. They believed in me.

But I didn’t know what I was doing.

Everyone could see I didn’t belong there. I was different. I had gone through months of hell preparing for this moment. My limbs twitched with excitement, my palms were sweaty like it was my first date. I was ready.

The race organizer corralled all the participants to the riverfront to jump in and get ready for the start. Some gingerly approached the water, others stretched their shoulders out before slipping in. But me, as if it were a hot humid summer day I leaped into the water. The girl in the bright purple yoga pants, the one without the wetsuit, the girl borrowing a bike that’s too big for her, the girl who doesn’t belong, the girl who’s the third wheel.

I was the girl who lost her way.

The river was colder than what I was anticipating. It felt like someone was pulling apart my ribcage. The sun was hanging low and the reflection on the river was blinding. What am I doing here? I started wading in the water to fight the current. The force of the current was pulling me downward as river water choked me. I tilted my head up, gasping for air, barely staying afloat. It was unforgiving and the current kept tugging at me. The safety rope was within an arms length and I reached for it to keep from drifting away. But my chest continued to feel like it was pulling apart, as if a larger force was filleting me like a fish to rip my guts out. I couldn’t hold on for much longer. Blow the fucking horn, start the goddamn race.

Because I was about to drown.

Like a steam whistle on a training passing by, the race began. I let go with a flurry of other swimmers scratching at my legs and their feet inches from my face. I had to get away from them, I needed to be on my own so I could stretch my stroke in open water. I wanted to be alone so I could find my stride. With every reach and kick, I was one stroke closer to getting through this mile swim before clipping in and lacing up for 31 more.

I did it, I finished and I survived.

On September 28th, 2014 in 2 hours and 58 minutes and 39 seconds, my entire life shifted. I felt unstoppable. I wasn’t just a widow, I became a triathlete.

And it wasn’t supposed to happen.

At least not to me.

I never wanted to be a triathlete.

The hardest situation is watching your entire life fall apart and not being able to stop it or slow it down. All you can do is watch it come undone and see your future engulfed in flames, your dreams vanish, and your purpose and worth disseminated.

And then it’s time to reassemble. Whether you want to or not.

A broken path reveals itself covered in bramble and shards of glass of a life you can no longer return to. It’s a path I didn’t want to travel down, but what other option is there?

Everything has changed. So now it was time to begin to believe I was as strong and brave as others perceive me to be. Even though I knew deep down I’ve been burned alive and was just a shell of a person I used to be. But somewhere between the grief there’s hiccups of pride. I found support in people I never expected and I began to feel a love that was missing. So I continued marching forward on this lonely journey, one mile at a time.

My husband George fought cancer, and as he was fighting he enjoyed life to the fullest. I felt him pushing me to become stronger than I could’ve ever imagined. And that summer when I was on the trails running, zipping along the streets on my bike, pulling myself through the water, I started learning how to appreciate life again. When my body ached, I thought of him and his courage. And to honor him I kept on fighting too.

I embraced the discomfort because how much further outside the comfort zone could I possible get? Through everything I’ve gone through I felt different. And I should— because I am different.

I’ve done 15 total races since September 2014 and this October 2017 I’ll be running my first marathon. I never thought I would be capable of this kind of exertion. But I had to lose everything first, and then rebuild. No physical pain could ever match my emotional trauma. And I accept that. I bear the W and I’ll continue forward and discover inner strength only George knows I have.

What Really Matters Now?

By Wendy Simpson

What really matters?

I’ve asked this a hundred times over the last 3 years since my husband’s diagnosis of cancer.

Before he passed, in the early stages of cancer diagnosis shock, what mattered was fighting it. Our lives were consumed with appointments and treatments and side effects. I didn’t even think of sadness or defeat.  We focused on victory and being warrior strong.  Oh we loved each other and what mattered was fighting the enemy, the big “C”.  Then came the big “T” the word “terminal.”  What mattered shifted to making time slow down, still fighting but the enemy was now… time, and somehow we needed to make every second count.  Life became more and more precious as we had long conversations without words. Then suddenly, there was our last dance and good bye. All that mattered left with my beloved that day. And, for a long time, nothing mattered.

It was in this dark place of death, that I saw what I couldn’t see in the light of life.  I saw how precious and life-giving relationships were.  In the midnight of my loss the lights of frienship and sisterhood stood out more intensely.  It was as if God had placed beautiful night lights along the path I must walk, so that, even in the deepest darkness of my grief I’d see a way through it all.  In the valley of the shadow of death, I was not alone.

So… what matters now?

I am asking that question again… it’s been 2 and half years since my beloved husband and I had our last dance and I saw him into heaven.  I’d have to say, along with the beautiful relationships God’s given me, I’d add…  purpose to what matters.  We do not find purpose alone.  Purpose is in the moment you reach out into the stories and lives of sisters and friends.  It’s looking into their eyes and seeing their heart.  When someone took the time to look into my eyes, see my heart and hear my grief… I mattered.  And… when I mattered… I had purpose…  and meant something to someone.

It’s when I realized that God gave me life so I could speak life into someone else that this journey mattered.  It’s when I could stand in the gap for someone hurting and pray for them that I found the ache of my grief lessen.  It still aches terribly, but I have hope, that one day it will soften.

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A special note to our Hope Widow Sisters on National Widows Day

By Chasity Williams

 

We want to send a special shout out to honor all our Hope widow sisters today, on National Widows Day. We appreciate you and are very proud of your resilience in the face of extreme tragic circumstances. We always want to validate your emotions, feelings and thoughts as they matter. You matter.

Nothing prepares you for widowhood!! It’s a committee that no one wants to be a part of. No instructions, no reference guide, no rules. We are left to pick up the pieces and find out how to get through and survive. Most days, weeks, months, even down to the second that’s all you can do. To us, the word ‘widow’ means: Hope, Strength, Warrior, Resilient, Faith, Overcomer, Determination, and growing your soul and self to new and greater heights than you ever imagined.

As widows ourselves, we know something stunning and magnificent can happen after time; emerging from a devastating loss or tragedy, then transforming and changing, like a caterpillar into a butterfly. It’s not right away, not even soon, but we promise you will see the light in the darkness eventually. There is no time limit, but you will go from surviving to thriving. One of the hardest parts is the acceptance, acknowledgement of the loss and the future that was to be, and then surrendering to it. Knowing you will never get ‘over it’, but learn a better way to ‘get through it’. Remember, you have to feel to heal.

So, as beautiful, flawed, and broken you feel, battle scars, wounds and all, to hell and back … the beautiful, messy, chaotic life that is now yours, just breathe — take ownership of all of it- It is ENOUGH. YOU are ENOUGH. You can DO IT! Our Hope sisters are here for each other. A sisterhood of us who relate, understand, listen and care. Grief and heartbreak of losing a loved one is an unspoken language, until it happens to you no one on the outside will truly understand. Our Hope Sisters are some of the strongest and most beautiful people we have ever met.

Our Hope Sisters continue to inspire and encourage us daily. We want to tell you how much we care for you, how strong you are and that you can do the tough things! Hang on to your anchor, because Healing Happens.

You are enough. You are strong. You are brave. You are beautiful. You are amazing….. We believe in YOU.

“Pain is real, but so is Hope.”

In Hope,
Chasity Williams, Khadija Ali and Maureen Bobo
Hope for Widows Foundation Directors

We’re Partnering With The Mighty!

By khadija ali

themightyhopeforwidows-2016-facebookimage

We’re thrilled to announce a new partnership that will bring our resources in front of The Mighty http://themighty.com/ wide-reaching readership. We will now have a growing home page https://themighty.com/partner/hopeforwidowsfoundation/ on The Mighty and appear on many stories on the site.

The Mighty is a story-based health community focused on improving the livesof people facing disease, disorder, mental illness and disability. More than half of Americans are facing serious health conditions or medical issues. They want more than information. They want to be inspired. The Mighty publishes real stories about real people facing real challenges.

Here’s an example of the kind of stories on The Mighty: What Nobody Tells You About Self-Care: https://themighty.com/…/self-care-how-to-take-care-of-your…

We’re dedicated to helping people with mental illness https://themighty.com/category/mental-illness and grief https://themighty.com/?s=grief in their lives. With this partnership, we’ll be able to help even more people.

We encourage you to submit a story http://themighty.com/submit-a-story/ to The Mighty and make your voice heard.

Sincerely,
Hope For Widows Directors

We relate. We understand. We care. We listen.

 

 

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R E S P E C T Find Out What It Means To Me

By Cathy Nelson

The past few weeks I have been pondering the meaning of the word respect. It seems that a fair amount of posts on social media are written about this subject. In fact, the last post I read said, “Once you lose my respect, it’s gone. I will never respect you again.”

Once, after I had spent a few months in my new widowhood, someone said to me, “If you do that, I will lose all respect for you.” Looking back, I have come to realize what that person was actually saying to me was, “If you do that, you will be going against what I want you to do, and I will be upset because I no longer have any control over you.”

What does a statement like that have to do with respect? Nothing! Moreover, it wasn’t even about me but rather about the person saying it.

In truth, it’s a statement of control, and it asserts something to the effect of: “I do not approve of your choice, and I am using the threat of losing my respect in order to control you so you make the choice I think you ought to make!”

Anyone who embraces the concept of respect would never hold respect over someone’s head as a form of manipulation or control!

I am learning more and more that respect is not something you win or lose, earn or take away, or something you can hold over someone’s head. Respect is something you either have or do not, and it all begins with you. Making a choice based on someone holding the concept of respect over your head means you have no respect for yourself, so you attempt to gain it through others. I know that the more I do that, the more I feel something missing inside of me – that being respect for myself.

Respect is not a defiance of others either. It’s simply a form of honoring yourself and recognizing that, even as a widow, you’re still alive – that you still have worth and your life has purpose and meaning AND that you respect yourself enough to pursue your dreams – even if others don’t believe this to be true. When I respect myself, I automatically respect others.

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My Wake Up Call

By Cathy Nelson

Before my husband Ray died, I used to “go along, to get along.” In fact, I think I spent my life trying to please others. For example, I would do or say whatever I thought would make someone else’s life better or easier. If I took on the blame, or let someone else take the credit, I was making the ultimate sacrifice, which I believed would enable others to love and accept me.

My wake-up call came at the funeral home on the day I was to view my husband’s body for the last time. It was to be just me, my daughter, my son-in-law and my grandson. This moment in my mind was to be shared only with them. It was my desire that the four of us would have a very private, personal few moments together. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

An outsider decided to make his presence more important than my wishes. This person stayed in the room and took over tender conversations that I alone wanted to have with my grandson. Additionally, this person gave answers to questions not asked and offered prayers without invitation.

I stood in shocked silence while letting this all take place because I did not want to disappoint anyone. After all, even in that moment, everyone else’s feelings were more important than mine … I thought! After all, I was a people-pleaser. Hmm… does the word doormat come to mind?

A few days after the funeral home experience, I just woke up. It was like I had been sleeping my whole life. I became determined that I would never ever again allow someone to rob me of my power.

Speaking up for myself at times has not been easy. I must admit, as I master this new skill, I have made some mistakes. However, it is a skill worth learning, so I will keep trying because loving myself is what gives me the power to love others.

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Inner Wisdom

By Cathy Nelson

imageDuring my life, I have often sought permission from others to go ahead and do what my heart was telling me. This habit hasn’t always served me well.

Consequently, today I want to suggest the following to my widow sisters. Give yourself permission to:

~ forget the stages of grief and grieve in the manner that suits you the best;
~ love yourself;
~ pay attention to yourself;
~ put yourself and your needs first;
~ run away;
~ ignore those who do not understand;
~ let go of old friends who judge you;
~ find new friends who do understand you;
~ laugh and laugh and then laugh some more;
~ cry whenever and wherever you want;
~ never forget;
~ sell your house and move;
~ redecorate your house;
~ begin dating at the time which is comfortable for you;
~ go back to school;
~ quit your job and find a new one;
~ lose weight;
~ begin to exercise;
~ welcome your new life;
~ let go of the guilt including berating yourself with “would of, could of, and should of”;
~ ignore what others are telling you to do and listen to your own intuition

It’s okay; it’s okay; it’s all okay!!!

Whatever it is YOU desire. – go for it. Please know that you don’t need my permission or anyone else’s permission to follow your heart! My widow sisters, your life is yours to live as you see fit and don’t let anyone tell you differently!!!!

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City Of Widows

By Cathy Nelson

Even before I became a widow, I was fascinated with Vrindavan, India, which is also known as the City of Widows. This is a city to which the shunned widows of India are sent by their family members. Here, these widows are reduced to poverty and roam the streets begging for their food. These once cherished mothers, daughters and sisters are forced to wear white, shave their heads, cannot wear jewelry, shunned by their own children and family members, and even their shadows are considered bad luck. In other words, simply by the act of becoming a widow, these women also lose all of their social rights.

About two months after my husband died, I became filled with an intense desire to travel to the City of Widows. I felt the pull of sisterhood, and I just wanted to walk with them for a little while to, perhaps, feel their pain alongside of them. I never got to go – at least, not yet.

Sometimes, we widows also feel shunned by our families and friends. We feel left out, and, often, it seems as if our whole identity evaporates with the loss of our husbands. Like our widow sisters in India, I have even felt that my shadow is considered bad luck by some.

So, what is left for us? Something really great – lots of hopes, dreams, and even miracles. Despite what losses we’ve experienced, we always retain the power to change our own lives and, thus, create our futures. We are free to live without self-imposed restrictions. If we choose to, we can go back to school; travel; lose weight; date; re-marry; create loving extended family relationships; forgive; practice kindness; and a million more things.

Our pain can become our fuel to create our life. I know it’s not the life we planned, but it IS the life we get to have. So we might as well embrace it with the most enthusiasm and joy that you can muster!

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