So, a couple of things happened this past weekend that are relevant to loss, and life in the aftermath of loss. The first thing is that on Friday evening, I hosted a comedy show. It was a fund-raiser for a local non-profit here in Gardner, MA called “Alyssa’s Place Peer Recovery Center.” They deal in all types of addiction recovery, and it was started by the parents of a local girl named Alyssa who tragically died after losing her battle with addiction. My husband Nick does a lot of volunteer work there, and he had the brilliant idea that we do a comedy show as a fund-raiser for the programs at this organization. So I got some local comics together, and did some comedy myself to open the show, and then introduced each next comic to the stage. We had a fantastic turn-out for this show, almost 100 people, and even the local town Mayor showed up and said a few words. There was some small town press in the local paper as well. And when I looked out into the audience, I noticed that about 10 of the people in the crowd were those friends I have made in the widowed community. Some from Soaring Spirits and the Regional Group that Allison and I co-lead together, (Allison herself was there to support me), some from another local group that I co-lead with my widower friend Bernie, and one widow who is also a Veteran who I met at a mentor program I belong to called Homefront Strong.
Seeing all of these widowed friends there in the crowd, friends I have made because I continue to open my heart and expand my world after loss, it made me feel so happy and so lucky to have built these friendships out of the awful thing that happened to us all. The terrible, horrific thing that we have in common -our partner/spouse has died, and we are trying like hell to figure out life in the after.
The second thing that happened this weekend was that we had our twice per month Regional Soaring Spirits Widowed Group meetup. Lately the meetups have been very small, maybe due to the time of year and people having other stuff going on, or maybe because the weather is getting nicer in New England and people want to be outdoors or have plans with their families and such. Who knows why. But yesterday, it was just me and Allison, and two other women that have both become friends to us through this group. Allison and I had planned to show one of Michele’s Keynote Addresses using the libraries projector screen and my laptop (we meet at a library once per month and have a private room with refreshments and such). But, technology is a thing, it wouldn’t work, and then the organic conversation that often happens in these groups started to happen instead. We ended up having a really important and cathartic conversation about trauma, grief, triggers, and all of our personal experiences with the very sudden deaths of our husbands. It just so happened that the four of us in that room had all lost our person in a very sudden way, and so maybe the technology was not meant to work that day, so that we could help one another instead, through some incredibly hard things. Michele often says “we can do hard things”, and she is right. And isnt it even more powerful and amazing, knowing that we can do hard things together, in our seperate alone-ness of widowhood? As isolating as widowhood can be and feel, it can be equally as comforting and validating to know and be around our widowed friends, who “get it”, and who we can laugh with and go through a whole box of tissues crying with, all in the same hour.
In the rebuilding of our worlds post-loss, these widowed friendships have become so dear to me and so very important. They not only help get us through the grief, but they are there for the LIFE we are living today, and all of the things that happen in that life, that only another widowed person can understand. WE support one another, we are there for each other, and we know what it is to feel the complex emotions of this loss – forever. Grief sucks, but carrying it and living with it is so much better, when you have found your tribe of friends to help you through it.