Since losing my husband earlier this year, I have become closer online with other widows. Old friends from my New York days and several friends in Los Angeles have been an unexpected comfort. They have known the pain, and by their example, I see a glimmer of light. I receive comments like "Thank you for sharing what is a new frontier." Another kindly remark was: "I will assure you that the intensity of the pain will diminish, although you will always miss him. Take care of yourself, and grieve in your own time; don't let ANYONE tell you when you SHOULD be doing." Sheryl Sandberg recently posted her gratitude at Thanksgiving to friends and family for their support and how it has helped her heal. I also appreciate the many strangers who have reached out and shared their stories of tragedy, resilience, and rebirth.
After my first blog on The Huffington Post another woman wrote: "Your blog 'Demoted to Lunch' is the perfect way to describe what I have been experiencing as a widow. This is beautifully written and relatable on so many levels. Thank you so much for this post, I feel comfort knowing I'm not the only one that feels this way." Another friend who lost her husband at a very young age wisely advised: "somehow life gradually becomes bearable and even sweet again. But big events, an unexpected song, or a wedding or Bar Mitzvah will kill you every time ... It's the ones you can't anticipate though that are devastating and the first holiday, anniversary without the one you love just have to be gotten through. You're doing it and then eventually you've gotten through the first of these things, and you learn how to protect yourself emotionally from some obligations that maybe you should occasionally just not fulfill." This is the widow connection. We need to heal through telling our stories and sharing our grief with others who are experiencing this journey.
Not all widows are as kind. One woman sends me emails that put me into a complete funk. She lost her husband several years ago and tells me it doesn't get better. I ask her if a group helped and she tells me it does but it is ending. I ask her about finding another group and then I pull back and realize I am taking care of her. The one thing I need to do is take care of me! I can't be listening to people who pull me down. I have to grieve in my own way, on my own time. That is progress in itself.
My dear friend says I should take this as a challenge. She is wise and right. She tells me I am naturally competitive and I should use this trait to prove others wrong. I like her positive outlook and I like that I can be my own person. I will defy others and heal on my own terms, in my own way, and on my own timetable.
I am hoping I can one day find some healing in this journey of grief. I am clearly ready for a group. Wouldn't it be nice if all the men looked like James Garner and all the women looked like Camilla Parker Bowles? I could use that kind of support. A girl can dream can't she? In truth, I think I would welcome the exchange of a group in a safe setting to be with others who are experiencing the same loss.