How Young Widows and Widowers Can Cope and Heal
New Horizon Press/1994
Although Linda Feinberg is not a widow, she is not only a social worker but the founder and former director of an organization for young widowed people under the age of 50. Her book is based on her own research and experience counseling young widows and widowers drawing from their real-life experiences.
“There are many ironies when somebody dies. The person you need most to help you through this experience is the person who died. Just at the time you need support the most, those around you think you should be all better. You spend your whole adult life living for Fridays, but after somebody dies, you spend your whole life living for Mondays.”
Some of the topics Linda discusses include how grief is different for men, it matters how the person died, six kinds of guilt, fear and justifiable paranoia, suicidal feelings, returning to work, rings, difficult times/holidays, if you are pregnant, visits to the cemetery, etc.
She shares how most widowed people would like to skip life from November 23 through February 15 and even discusses how the changing of the seasons affect them.
“Let’s analyze a holiday in terms of what it means to a widowed person. Valentine’s Day is the romantic holiday of the year. Valentine’s Day for a widow means no one to buy that special card for; no one to buy that special card for you; there is no one to celebrate the day with, not even a reason to celebrate. No special kiss, no one to make love with, no one to buy you candy, no perfume, and forget jewelry. Who is going to say you look beautiful? The observation that everyone else seems to be thrilled about Valentine’s Day may make you feel you are no longer a part of the human race. No wonder one young widow said, ‘I wish I had a gun so I could shoot down all the Valentine cards on display in the stores.’ …….it becomes shockingly apparent that the loss of a spouse is infinite.”
Feinberg gives some advantages of joining a support group:
1. Gives you permission for intimacy in your conversation
2. Lessens the feelings of isolation
3. Ability to make new friends to help fill the void in your life
4. Learn how to improve your communication skills
5. Forces you to set aside time to think and grieve with people who genuinely understand what you are going through
6. Allows you to discuss your husband or wife openly serving as a mini-memorial service to your spouse
7. Aids you in overcoming your denial of the death
8. You will be applauded for your accomplishments
For someone who has not lost a spouse, Linda does a great job of saying what needs to be said. I am thankful to her for her willingness to spend time with those widows and widowers who are grieving in order to not only get an understanding of what they are experiencing in their grief journey, but to help them through that time in their lives.