None of us enters into our marriages planning to become a widow. Which is undoubtedly why so few of us Boomer women are prepared to assume to mantle of bereaved (former) wife.
Sadly, the situation of being totally unprepared for widowhood is not a new one. It probably goes back to the dark ages.
But for my own personal experiences, I still distinctly remember how unprepared my grandmother was when my grandfather died back in 1970, after 50 years of marriage. She was not only an emotional basket case - but she was totally unprepared to live life on her own.
Though she'd actually attended college, a rarity for women born in the late 1800s, I soon learned from my flabbergasted mother that my grandmother had never PERSONALLY paid a bill, balanced a checkbook or - apparently - given any thought to having to handle a life where she had to deal with finances.
Which led to her doing making some financial mistakes that most of us today would think are really silly.
Sadly, almost 50 years later, this is still happening. This is especially heart-wrenching because the grief of sudden widowhood is certainly the most stressful of the major stressors
in our lives. (Giving birth, marriage or even taking on a new job or home buying, for example, are also recognized as major life stressors -- but widowhood tops that list.) Which is why we need to spend a bit of time to think about how we might handle widowhood now, before it unexpectedly becomes a reality on our lives.
Undoubtedly, as our very own Copygal (Alanna Parke Kvale) and NABBW member Melinda Richardz Lyons write in their respective books about unexpectedly becoming a widow, should we become widowed we will not be trailblazers - as Copygirl says in her Introduction, over 13 million people in the US have become widowed -- and 11 million of these people are women.So let's begin here by making sure you are aware of their books:
Alanna Parke Kvale is the author of " Widowhood is Not Funny
: A Guidebook for the New Widow." While her book originated in hardcover, Alanna tells us it was recently made available is paperback and Kindle versions as well.
Melinda Richardz Lyons published " Crossing the Minefield: One Widow's Journey
," in 2011. She tells us she also wrote her book after her husband's sudden death, in hopes that her experiences on the road to recovery could be an example to others.
She proudly reports that it is now part of the bereavement programs and grief library collections in 30 states including the esteemed MD Anderson Cancer Center Patient Library.
A few years later, Melinda also addressed the sudden widowhood issue from a fictional standpoint, writing " Heir to a Secret
," a novel for Baby Boomer women. In it, she uses many of her personal widowhood experiences to craft a moving - and entertaining - story about Addison Cameron, a suddenly widowed Boomer, who lives through the shock of her husband's sudden death - and then learns how to rebuild her life, with the help of widowed friends.
While I am not technically a widow, as I had been divorced from my first husband for several years before he died, I did have to live though many of the typical widow experiences, such as helping my grade school age children cope with their father's sudden death -- and help them to manage both the funeral experience and learn how to put the pieces of their lives back together so that they could move forward. I wish that I had had the experience of reading Alanna and Melinda's books before that happened. It would have made the pain and grieving experience a lot less stressful and lonely.
Please check out their books - and possibly start talking within your families about how each of you want your death to be handled, as well as where crucial family documents are filed, etc.
My husband was totally unaware until recently that I would prefer for my grieving family to hold a celebration of life party rather than a funeral for me. And that I want to be cremated. Please feel free to share here any experiences have you had with unexpected family deaths. Especially if you believe there is anything we can learn from them.