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Building Community After Loss

It was three years of medical treatment before Bob passed.  “I was relieved when he was finally gone and out of his misery.  I, however, have a new misery.”

Maggie found Moving Forward at the persistent urging of a relative. Early in her grief, she is quiet in some discussions and active in others.  She watches the other women with great intensity as if trying to figure out what makes them tick.

Maggie reported that she is lucky she has several groups of friends who are attentive and inclusive.  The couples’ friends are a tight-knit group of lifetime friends who give her loving support.  It’s sometimes difficult for her to be reminded of what she’s missing. 

Her long-standing women’s golf league friends are well connected and thoughtful.  However, they are all busy with their own family lives of husbands and children outside of golf and lunch. 

Holidays and Sundays are her hardest times when women are busy with family events.

Maggie’s conclusion is she also needs a group of single women friends who are available for activity and companionship.  She wants to be in a circle that’s growing with new people and new ideas. 

“It would be pretty easy to nestle in my existing world and think I’m lucky.”  I need to learn so much.  I thank my cousin for nagging me to come.  This group can expose me to new thinking, share new experiences and cheer me on.  It warms me to think I may be doing this for others.”

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My Husband and I Weren’t Soulmates

People would like to think of the widow grieving from the loss of her soulmate. My story is not so happy but is likely more realistic for many women.

My husband and I  weren’t soulmates.

In fact, we teetered on the brink of divorce for the last ten years of our married life and pretty much lived parallel lives in the same household for the children.

We had actually decided to divorce when he was diagnosed and quickly died of cancer. My children are early adults under 30.  They are conflicted about our unstable married relationship.  They grieve for the loss of their father, resent that we had a toxic undercurrent to our household., are angry at me that I couldn’t make it better.

I am dealing with loss at many, many levels.

This group of women let me know that I am not the only one to have lived a complicated life.  They empathize without judgement in ways that my family and married friends cannot.

It’s a safe place where I am heard, nurtured.  I can relax.  These women help me focus on the future and are showing me the way.  That’s where I’m headed….and I appreciate their help.

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Your Wisters are Here to Help

During her first winter alone, Barbara went to visit her sister and husband in California for several weeks.  Knowing she was returning, I emailed her to ask about her trip.

She promptly emailed back that the trip was a good boost but she caught a bug on the plane and was miserable.  “I am dragging myself out the door for groceries.  There’s nothing here!”

“Wait!  I will get you comfort food, leave it on your doorstep, ring the doorbell and run!  You might be contagious!”  Too late!  She was gone.

At our next Moving Forward gathering, I asked about her illness.  She recounted the story. She was really sick but she didn’t want to be a bother.  She is saving her neighbour goodwill capital when something really important comes up. 

Another member of our group listened intently with a frown.  “I live near you.  If that ever happens again, you WILL call me.  I know what it’s like to be sick and home alone.  It’s horrible. I know this struggle and I can do this when it’s needed.  Pinky promise!” 

There is indeed a Wisterhood….Widow sisters connected by understanding..

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What a Team

Veronica and her husband built a small professional practice. He was the skill implementor and she was the administrator.  They shared and enjoyed all aspects of their chosen work.

It was purposeful and contributing, intellectually stimulating, emotionally gratifying, financial rewarding (enough), flexible for their family life.  Now in their 60s with children grown, the plan was to slowly ease back over time, reduce the number of days each week, take increasing weeks of sabbatical and travel.

Then he was diagnosed with cancer…and the treatment did not work.

Veronica describes this as the trifecta of loss.  She lost her life partner, her work, her vision of the future.  She realized her social life revolved around their clients, other professionals, parents of their children’s friends.  In living her good life, she did not have a circle of friends independent of work and family. 

AND she knew she needed to find circles that will help her create a new life from scratch.

She wandered into Moving Forward, our prelude to a Modern Widows Club chapter in Rochester from a MeetUp announcement. “ I know I need to be proactive, no matter how hard.”

“I appreciate the forward-looking focus of the monthly discussions.  I view women attending as like-minded sisters.  They are different ages and stages but they know the struggle.” 

After a few sessions, I appreciate the warm welcome, the forward-thinking topics and the different perspectives.  These women help me think! I need this group. “

At the end of one gathering, Veronica beamed at our growing band of women.  “I don’t know you all very well yet, but I will be hugging you soon!”