Becoming a Club Member

Discussions on Grief

Without my permission, against my will, I became a member of a club called the “Widow’s Club.” At the same time, I was given admission to another club, The Single Person’s Club. I had never been a member of either. There’s nothing wrong with the second one.

Everything was wrong with the first one, or so I thought.

Immediately after my husband’s death, I knew my life had changed in a sudden and horrible way. I really wasn’t thinking about being a widow. That didn’t hit me until a couple of months later when I had to complete some paperwork. You know – the kind with your date of birth, gender, etc. For the first time in my life, I had to check a box titled “Widow” instead of “Married.” That was the official moment of membership.

It made me angry. It made me cry. I was still wearing my ring and I was still married. He might not be with me at the moment, but I was still married to him. My heart was his! I rejected the word and the thought. I had been with him since I was sixteen for heaven’s sake! Though everything had changed, that had not. I was still and always would be his wife. I checked the box on the paper.

Mental Checkboxes

I didn’t check the box mentally. That took much longer. Whenever a major change happens in our lives, it might take longer for the mental and emotional adjustments than for the physical ones. Also, it depends on whether the change was welcome or unwelcome. Last year, I made a huge change in my life – I remarried and moved. It was welcome and much easier to adjust to.

When I became a member of the Widow’s Club, I was quite adamant with God as to my opinion of it. I hated it; didn’t want it; didn’t ask for it; and, wanted it to go away. At the time I became a widow, I was first in a line of four other women in my church who lost their husbands. Four months after Don died, a younger man passed away from Glioblastoma, brain cancer. Three months after that a close friend passed from Pancreatic cancer. Then another from Glioblastoma and then one from suicide. A year later, another from Glioblastoma.

There were three Widows in our church in one year and one close friend. Five widows. We would often hug and nod at each other, knowing the pain. We talked and sometimes we were just silent. All the new members of the Club were miserable. Though the reason was horrible, we became friends and remain so even though I have remarried. We have each made the gradual adjustments and being in the club with someone else made it slightly easier to bear at times.

The Pain of a Word

Having married at age sixteen and remaining married until I was 65, I had never been single. Doing a few things alone is ok. Doing everything alone wasn’t. Yet, I also adjusted to being single and doing things with other single women. Before Don died, I had friends and did things with other women but I wasn’t ‘single’ and I wasn’t a ‘widow.’ It was different. Everything was. There was not one thing in my life that had not changed in some way, including me.

Eventually, of course, even the mind and the emotions come around. However, it is not without a great deal of focus and work. I could have remained miserable had I wanted to. I didn’t. Wanting my old life back but also wanting to be happy again, I chose being happy again. It took concentrated effort and a will to keep grief from swallowing me.

Grief and Grieving

Grief is huge and dark. At times it almost felt like a tangible thing. The inner pain was certainly tangible. It was if you could almost reach out and touch its blackness. I had to decide to tell it to go away. I wasn’t telling the grieving to go away, but I did make a decision that grief, that thing, would not be a permanent part of my life and it would never be allowed to consume me. The work of grieving is a process. Grief, as a thing, can become a state of being. At first, I had no choice. The anguish was overwhelming. But I regained my footing and realized I must begin to walk on the path that was now in front of me.

The grief and loss of my first husband will always be with me and I will always love him. I didn’t understand how I could ever be truly happy again without him, but I do now. I still miss him and think of him. And, I’m still a member of the Widow’s club because I will always be his widow, just not such a broken one.

Helping Each Other

I try to help other Widows when I can. Not by telling them what to do or how to feel. Just by acknowledging the pain. Just by caring. Just by saying – you’re ok. As club members, you owe that to each other, want to do it for each other. You want to give the gifts of compassion and empathy and hope. You want to be the light that reminds them they can make it through. I didn’t think I could live or love again but I do and I am grateful.

Regardless of the reason, once you are a member of a club, a camaraderie forms and is permanent. It’s a sisterhood, affinity, companionship. The club forms around the common bond whether the cause is something good or something horrible. I think the horrible ones are more lasting.

The purpose of the club is important. The combined purpose is see each other through something, moving forward, while acknowledging the tremendous difficulty and pain of doing so. Some club members only care about the name of the club. Not so with the Widow’s Club. We care about each other and wish we did not have a name.

A Proud Member of the Widow’s Club

Now, I see the Widow’s Club from a different side. I’m grateful for it. While I wish none of it had ever happened, it did. Out of it, I have found some of the most beautiful things in my life. I’ve said before that there are treasures of pure gold in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. The Widow’s Club is one. We all share the knowledge of the most profound sorrow and healing. Chaos turned to peace. Loss turned into a gift. Now and till I leave this earth, I will be a member and glad of it.

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