Widowers are included in the club as well. I’m in my fifties, and I tend to know more women than men who are close to my age that I count as part of the widows club.
No one wants to be in the widows club, of course. If you are closer to 80 though, it isn’t a surprise if you have membership. I consider myself a young widow–but there are widows much younger than me. I can’t imagine what life is like for the younger widows, especially if they have small children.
The widows club can be a source of great comfort when you meet other women who had traveled that road.
My mom and grandma were part of the widows club. My mom is still living. Based on their ages and their experiences–I might end up being part of the widows club for a decade or two.
In the aftermath of my husband’s death I went through a profound period of grieving and depression. Privately many tears were shed. Tears while driving. Tears in the work bathroom. Tears in the parking lot. My thoughts were irrational at times. I paid a few bills late. Sometimes I went to bed really really early. I didn’t exercise and my eating habits were poor. Really poor. I’m ashamed to admit I wore dirty clothes a few times because I had nothing clean to wear. I never wore dirty underwear–though I had to resort to wearing my least favorite pair of underwear in the drawer. Let me tell you wearing dirty socks is the absolute worst. I think my feet are still mad at me for putting them through that. Doing laundry seemed like a Herculean task in those days. My brain and body could not muddle through all the necessary steps.
Grief can be a funny thing. It takes over your brain and makes it hard to focus on the everyday tasks of life. In my mind, it told me to go to bed early and sleep a lot so I wouldn’t have to think. Of course that isn’t effective in the long run—you wake up the next day with no food or clean clothes.
Whatever I did though, I tried not to let my frustration turn to visible anger. Or at the very least I tried not to be angry in front of my young adult children. After my father died, my mother developed a streak of anger that hasn’t completely faded. She was angry at people who still had their partners. This anger was especially directed at my husband’s parents–and a couple of her neighbors. She was angry at the neighbors. She was angry with various politicians. While she never used the word victim–she always painted herself as being wronged by others. Eventually my mom’s anger would be directed at me—and we developed a very difficult relationship. My mother of course was not responsible for anything that happened in our relationship. She laid all the blame with me.
Actually my mom had that streak of anger before my father died—but once he died I noticed new layers of her personality that had always been there but somehow I linked them to the sometimes difficult reality of being married to my father.
My husband has been gone for over a year. I think there is some point where you have to renegotiate your life and get back to creating a new one. Grieving can only be an excuse for poor behavior(like wearing dirty socks or lashing out at everyone) for so long.
I have a coworker whose husband has been gone for 10 years. To paraphrase what she says, is that the loss of her husband is an excuse for missing work frequently, and barely functioning at work or in her everyday life. I don’t want to be at that level of functioning 10 years out.
Some day I will be at the 10 year point. It is up to me to continue to rebuild my life in the aftermath. Obviously that includes exercise and eating well to get to that 10 year point. Sometimes when you feel the worst is when you don’t want to exercise. When you are in your fifties your body knows when you have missed your walks or weight workout. Some situations leave me easily overwhelmed and I will tell myself I don’t want to exercise.
I have to remind myself everyday that I am the captain of my ship. On the days that I don’t give myself that reminder–sometimes things don’t go well. Grief and depression can no longer steer the ship–they will always be there of course–but mostly in the background–without the power to steer my life in a negative way.