Surviving Spouse is a label you get from the Social Security Administration. This label sounds like an award. But to those of us who wear it, we would rather have our spouse back than receive a monthly check. No amount of monetary support replaces the loss of a future together.
Only Parent. That is a label I ran across recently. My guess it was created to distinguish Widows/Widowers raising children. I will admit that this label is one I have used. While divorce is difficult on children and there are many contentious parent/child relationships, losing a parent to death is different. Parenting as an only parent is different. While there are times it seems easier, because I don’t have to consult with anyone on my parenting decisions. The flip side is probably more difficult. I have no one to consult with; my decisions on how to raise my son are mine alone. So I bear the worry alone, wondering if I am doing a good job. Wondering how badly I might be messing him up.
In November of this year, it will be 10 years since I lost my husband Farell to cancer. This anniversary is significant to me because this year Farell will have been gone longer than the 9 years we were married. My life without him is now longer than my marriage to him. I was a widow at 40. So at some point I knew that my time without Farell would grow longer than my time with him.
I was watching a show recently and two widows were speaking to each other, one very young and one much older. The older widow said something that really resonated with me. She said as a widow you are in a long term relationship with grief. I do feel that way. Being a widow, a surviving spouse, an only parent will also be a part of who I am. But they aren’t the only parts. I know it is possible to find joy again.
Recently, CPS started a group for widows and widowers. They are coming up with their own name because like me, they aren’t really fond of that label. What excites me most about this group is that it isn’t your traditional support group. We have a facilitator. She is a widow herself, so she does understand the grief of losing a spouse. But this group is different in that it is a place for widows and widowers to come together, get together for coffee or dinner or maybe see a movie together. It is a safe environment to start making a new life for themselves, but never forgetting their old life. Grief is a complicated thing and is best understood by those who have experienced it. I am excited for this group to begin to experience joy in their lives. Everyone deserves to regain joy.
If you would like more information on this group, please contact our office at 419-423-0286 and ask for our Patient Guide, Joanne Reinhart.
Wishing you all a joyful week! – Carol