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The Wandering Widow

Observations, Tips and Reckless Truth Telling on the Road Through Grief

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The Unwelcome Committee

A Grief Recovery Project Post

If one lights a fire for others, one will brighten one’s own way. 

                                           ~Nichiren


A few months after losing Dan I had someone chastise me for spending so much time with other widows.  They berated me and argued that I should be spending time with “normal” non-grieving people.  I was still in a very vulnerable place, and couldn’t even find the words to tell her to f@#$ off. What the hell did she know? She’d never lost anyone. These fellow grief survivors were my new tribe of widow warriors, and there was no way I was going to let them go just because someone else thought it was morbid. She couldn’t understand that they were the lifeline I needed most.

Connecting with these other W’s became part of my GRP.  I communicated with them through chats, blogs, and other groups. One of these groups has coined the term “the unwelcome committee,” which is aptly named. What is it? It’s the group of “seasoned” W’s who reach out to new W’s. We unwelcome you to the W Club, because we wish you didn’t qualify to be here. Hell, we wish WE didn’t qualify to be here. But we extend a lifeline because we remember what it was like to feel so alone, in shock, in pain, and without anyone who truly understood. We call. We message. We blog. We show up. We enfold you into our tribe, where no explanations or apologies are ever needed, and where love and support are unconditional.


Honestly, just learning you exist is a gut punch to a lot of us. Our grief muscle memory kicks in, and we instantly flash back to the early days of our own grief storm.  I can remember being such a raw wound I couldn’t think straight.  Back then another widow reached out to me. She knew that I wouldn’t answer the phone or respond to a message, so she showed up at my front door. (For the record, we already knew each other, so this wasn’t a random stranger showing up at my house).  She’d lost both her dad and her husband in a very short time frame, just like me.  Out of all the people that tried to get through to me, Julie was the only person that was able to because my heart recognized that she KNEW and UNDERSTOOD what I was feeling. Not sure that I’d describe it as widow street cred, but she’d walked the same streets of this new hell, so I guess it could be.

So when I get the news that another woman has joined the W Club, I give myself time to deal with the tightening in my belly and my chest and allow the grief wave to crash over me.  I cry for both of us. I cry for the loves we lost. And then I brace myself to extend a hand and unwelcome her to this new reality.

XOXO,

The Wandering Widow

This F@#$%d Up Club

People like to say life is a bitch. I think that’s because they’ve never had a front row seat to death.  If life is a bitch, death is the psycho ex that torments you in ways you never imagined possible.

I like to hike. I’m not especially good at it, but I enjoy it.  Last year I blindly signed up for a “hike” of Idaho’s tallest mountain.  I didn’t know anything about it, but it was a fundraiser for a cause I’m passionate about.  It was horrible…40% grade, ugly shale covered path, and my fibromyalgia screaming at me all the way up.  I very quickly fell behind our group.  It wasn’t long before I couldn’t see anyone ahead of us. (My lovely husband and friend never left my side).  Periodically I’d catch a glimpse far ahead of someone from our group.  It was both reassuring that I was on the right path, and disheartening to realize how far behind I was and how there was no end in sight.

Bringing up the rear.

That “hike” has become a metaphor for the horrible climb I’m on right now. Only this time I didn’t volunteer. Like everyone else in this f@#$%d up club, I was kidnapped and put on a forced march. Unprepared, hauling all the wrong gear and trying to stay alive.  Every now and again I can see others, my mentors in widowhood, up ahead.  They give me comfort in knowing I’m still on the path and that there is something ahead.  They help me understand that I’m not alone on this really crappy ugly trail.  They call back to me to encourage me to keep going.  And when I’m about to go over the edge, those beautiful women are there to reach out and help me find my footing.

I can’t imagine going through this alone.  And while each of us carries our pain differently, sometimes sharing that pain with others helps us get through our own.   I don’t know where I’d be without them. My beautiful Michelle who lost her love decades ago, leaving her a young widow and single mom, who only just remarried.  My beautiful Susanne who lost her love two years ago to the same horrible disease that stole Dan from me. And my Double Whammy Widow Club mentor, my beautiful Julie, who is just a few months ahead of me and also dealing with the profound loss of both husband and father so close together.  And since this club keeps forcing women to join, I know that all too soon I’ll be the one up the path looking back to encourage our newest member to keep going.

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