A Becoming Me Without You Blog
By Jeanie Stirling
Although widowhood is often invisible, it is all around us. Widows are the fastest growing demographic in the United States. 70% of all married women will become widowed, experiencing the physical, mental, emotional, and social impact of such a huge loss. During the time Rachael and I have been producing this blog, we’ve talked about the many ways we and other contributors have been processing loss. It is our hope that the various articles have been informative, helping each of you gain more understanding about the many facets of grief.
Despite the fact that so many (in fact all of us) will experience loss and grief, as people of our culture, we know little about it, find it very uncomfortable to talk about, and are generally hesitant to enter into the grief of another. We, who are in the middle of it, are often met with platitudes, unsolicited advice about how to get over it, or avoidance.
As widows, we often feel very isolated while we grieve the loss of many things – big things and small, everyday things that once included someone else. These unwitnessed moments of grief that no one else thinks about can knock us off our feet. The other day I was listening to some
new music and realized that Al would never hear it or enjoy it with me. Bam! A new wave of grief came over me. Or the book I read that I would have told him all about, but will never have the opportunity to share it with him. Small things you say, but when all piled together with the major aspects of our loss, it can feel overwhelming.
It was several years after Al died before I found Modern Widows Club online. I immediately saw that the topics being discussed were addressing many of the things I was experiencing. As the months went by I continued to be encouraged by what I was reading and felt much less alone, knowing that my experience was actually shared by so many others who were also making their way through the maze of loss and grief. I attended one of their national events in 2022 and felt very seen. Each of us could look with admiration and respect at the other widows in the room knowing what it cost for each of us to be there. Knowing that every one of us was experiencing similar things produced an acceptance that I hadn’t felt before in my widowhood journey. I walked away from that event with hope, purpose, and several very good new friends.
Ashley Nelson has written that: “In grief we are constantly rewriting the story of our lives. The death of your person is having a main character die. The entire story changes, and the ending you planned, the one you believed to have known, is no longer a viable option. Pages of the life you knew were ripped out, and reimagining a new story isn’t easy.” But that’s where friends who have the courage to come close and organizations like Modern Widows Club can help us begin writing the new chapters of our story.
Modern Widows Club is an international, all faiths organization committed to helping widows transform their grief into a positive, purposeful future while embracing their strength and courage to move forward with life. Friends and even family members from those first chapters of our life tend to fall away as the weeks, months, and years of widowhood progress. Having opportunities to make new friends and experience new things is life-giving.
I commented after the national MWC event that others there in the hotel would never have thought to identify us as widows. There was a vibrancy and aliveness to the group, along with the average age being 52, that completely broke down the stereotypical image of a widow. Was it a false vibrancy and aliveness? No. It was there because we could relax in our common experience and realize that there was still much good ahead for us in the still-to-be-written chapters of our lives.
We have called this blog “Becoming Me, Without You.” It is a process. Never linear, as in “checking off the boxes and now we’re done with grief,” but a convoluted route of many ups and downs, ins and outs. We will never be done with it. It becomes part of who we are as we move forward. Both Al and Larry would be proud of who Rachael and I are becoming as we embrace new possibilities. With a little help from our friends, old and new, we can keep moving ahead and hopefully help you become more comfortable with grief.
Modern Widows Club is a valuable resource to share with others.