Widower to Widower with Fred Colby
If you are going to survive this hell-on-earth experience and if you want to heal, you are going to have to grow as a father, brother, son, friend, and community member. If you retreat from the world to stew in your grief and anger, that is likely where you will remain. While this retreat is often normal during the first deep grieving months, it may be a sign of complicated grief if it continues beyond a year or so.
We each must find our unique healing path out of grief. My journey will not be the same as yours. But I offer the following as an example of a healing path:
A little over four years ago, I started to attend our area hospice’s monthly co-ed grief group meetings. I could not help but notice that the women usually outnumbered me by a factor of around eight to one. While I found some solace in these groups at first, I felt constrained in terms of what I was comfortable talking about in front of widows. After a few meetings, I approached the hospice about starting a men’s group.
Last week I co-facilitated the 48th meeting of the Men’s Grief Group, which I co-founded precisely four years ago. The attendance at our meetings grew steadily from around 4 – 5 attendees up to a monthly average of 15. Attendees range from first-timers to old-timers. Ages vary from the late ’40s to the late 80’s. Almost all are widowers, with a smattering of those who lost a child, sibling, or parent.
Through the years, we have helped to save lives, and we often helped men to pull themselves out of the pit of grief. Their expressions of gratitude are a balm for my grief wounds. In short, my efforts to help others has helped me to heal much more quickly than I would have without these activities.
Other widowers, I know personally have:
- Started and built up the Widowers Support Network, which has provided thousands of widowers with a members-only site where they can provide mutual support for each other.
- Joined nonprofit volunteer groups and boards of directors to help others in their community.
- Founded and nurtured the National Widower’s Organization, which provides all kinds of resources for widowers.
- Provided free trips from Fort Collins to Laramie, Wyoming, for veterans who need to visit the Veterans Hospital.
- Helped to start grief groups at various churches and nonprofits.
And there are so many other ways of giving back. Some widowers are left with young children to raise, aging, and ill parents to care for, as well as friends or siblings to help. There is no end to the number of ways we can help others, and through that activity, heal ourselves.
When I think of my wife today, I know that if she is aware of what I am doing with my life now, that she would be so proud and happy for me. I have found a way to become a better person in large part because of her and all that she instilled into me.
So, this holiday season, no matter your faith and no matter your history, take the time to think about how you can make a difference going forward. How can you become an even better person, a person your wife would be proud of and love even more than before?
Blessings to all of you this holiday season.
Fred Colby is the author of Widower to Widower, which can be found on Amazon.com. You can find Fred’s column appearing here on WSN-MO every other Tuesday. Widower to Widower is available through your local bookstore, my website, and Amazon. Buy Widower to Widower through Amazon. (If living in Canada go to Widower to Widower – Amazon-Canada) See Testimonies and Reviews of Widower to Widower. Website: Fred Colby, Author