Tuesday, April 8, 2014
One of my online friends posted a challenge on a Facebook private board this week that got me thinking...
It was "describe yourself in three words without using the words 'wife' or 'mother'" (it's not a widow group, so the majority of the group are married).
And one response brought to mind widows I knew prior to my own widowhood.
Her identified that her whole identity was tied up in her husband and children, and she couldn't answer the question. She was trying to figure out if this was a good thing or a bad thing.
And my immediate reaction, based on my life story, was it's a bad thing.
The amazing older women I saw widowed before I even married all had strong, loving marriages, and a fair smattering of joy and issues with adult children.
Yes they struggled, and still struggle, with grief.
But watching from a distance I saw that being widowed was survivable, and must have tucked it away somewhere. I saw that the common thing between them all was none had lost their identity in their marriages.
What I saw from my then vantage point was they were able to adapt to their enforced life without their husbands because they had interests & communities they were engaged with alongside their marriages which helped them have a strong sense of who they were as individuals, as well as their partnership.
It's something I actively sought to maintain through Ian and I's courtship and marriage - and I encouraged with Ian (even though I would not engage at all with some of his interests, they were part of what made Ian "Ian").
And something I've maintained since. Plus it gave me the knowledge and confidence to seek out sites like widow's voice, a face to face peer support group and to take the risk of going back to school rather than work for the next little while.
If a humongous thing like a husband dying isn't going to stop these women, nothing will.
And I'm not going to let it, either (but I may just step off to the side for a breather every now and then).