I’ve learned so many things since Seth passed away, and one thing that I’ve learned is that being a widow is a sisterhood. It’s a bond that is created instantly with any widow you meet. It’s a club that no one ever wants to join, yet here you are, part of the club, carrying this unwanted title, living this unwanted life. I’ve found that when you become part of a club you never wanted to join, you immediately bond with anyone who is carrying this unwanted title and is part of the same unwanted club. I feel fortunate to have learned this early in my journey.
Two months after Seth passed away, I hesitantly made the decision to join a ‘young widows’ support group. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Wasn’t sure if I really wanted to go, and wasn’t sure what age a ‘young widow’ really should be. Being 42 at the time, I didn’t know if I was young or old, I just knew I needed to talk to other people who had joined this terrible, unwanted club. As I walked into my first meeting, I found myself feeling so angry. Not sad, not nervous, but spitting mad. I walked into the building and kept thinking, “This is so stupid. You shouldn’t have to be here. This shouldn’t be your life. You shouldn’t be going to any meeting that has the word ‘widow’ in it. This is going to be awful.”
As I walked into the room, and saw about 10 other lovely, broken, beautiful people, my fellow widows (and a few widowers), sitting around the table, looking sad, nervous, and just as shocked (and maybe as mad) as I was to be there, I told myself to give it a chance. As I sat there for the 90-minute session, I told my story of loss through my sobs, and I saw others sobbing, too. Shedding tears not only for me, but for themselves and their tremendous loss. For the fact that we were sitting around a table telling these terrible stories, and that they actually had happened to us. As I listened to each and every one of their stories we all shed tears, shared smiles at beautiful moments with their dear lost husbands, I found an overwhelming sense of compassion, comfort and connection with these incredible human beings.
I found within those 90-minutes that nothing quite compares to surrounding yourself with others who know exactly how you are feeling, who have experienced the same profound loss, who can grieve with you, and who have experienced every up and down, ever tear, every laugh. While we may be in this crappy unwanted club, we were in it together and shared the exact same emotions, thoughts and feelings. I felt a strong connection with each of them just after that first session. By the end of the 6th week, we all shared a deep connection and love for one another. Sisters in grief. Sisters in hope for the future and for healing.
Recently, I had the awesome opportunity to join 45 widows to focus on taking care of ourselves, while leaning into our faith and our purpose, as we have all experienced the most unimaginable tragedy, yet still have hope to keep living and making something good out of our unimaginable tragedies. It was so comforting to be surrounded by brave, strong women who are fighting to see the light each and every day. Women who all shared the same feelings, who didn’t make uncomfortable comments, who didn’t shy away from asking about your husband and your loss. Woman who, regardless of their age, or how or when their husband died, are still grieving, yet they are getting up and going to work, taking care of their kids, keeping the household running, caring for others, sharing their story and inspiring hope. Women who can cry together, laugh together and support and cheer one another along.
So, my message to you my brave and strong fellow widows, my sisters in hope, is to know that we walk this journey together. You have a community of 245 million women around this earth who are carrying the same unwanted title, the same grief, the same story of overwhelming loss. Even on the days when we feel the most alone, which, believe me, is more days than not, always remember you are not alone.
We are still here, with a life to live, and a purpose to fulfill. To make our husbands proud, with everything we do. Don’t forget the great power of community, whether it is with a support group, a church group, a new group of widow friends, or on-line support, always know you are not alone. I know that this pain will never truly heal. We will always have the aching hole in our hearts, and will learn to live with it, but we can carry this title with hope, and keep living our lives the way our husbands would want. Keep making them proud and keep living the great adventures that life has in store for us.