The Widow Lady: Turning Lemons into Lemonade

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Lori, the young widow from Chicago, lost her husband suddenly four months earlier. Another woman who had heard about Craig asked her to help Lori. The first time the two widows spoke the conversation lasted two hours.

"When it happens suddenly without warning it so much crazier because you don't get to say goodbye. You don't get to say how do I do certain things, where are certain things located. You don't get to talk about the funeral service or the memorial or the cremation. You don't get to find out what your loved one wants for their final wishes," Craig said.

"You're just by yourself just trying to cope and tell yourself to get out of bed every day and to remember to eat and to take care of things that you have to take care of. And this is what this woman was doing she was just surviving and just in shock and didn't know what to do with herself," Craig remembered.

The two widows have remained friends and are planning a meeting. One thing they had in common was that neither had children. "I've heard a lot of widowed people say if it weren't for my children I don't know what I would've done because they gave me a reason to get out of bed and function every day. But for those of us who don't have that it's really hard," Craig said. "There's nothing other than your own mind telling you you must get up and you must take care of things to make that happen."

Craig remembered her own most painful feelings, loneliness and insecurity. "Loneliness is the worst. That is by far the absolute worst. That's something that I hear across the board from widows and widowers alike is just the intense loneliness.

After the loneliness, widows worry about coping. "The first feeling that I remember experiencing early on was insecurity. I don't feel safe anymore, and that's very, very common," she said.

And then there is the anxiety. "Because you can't see your future and you are instantly aware that the future that you did see is gone when your spouse dies. You feel lost. You really don't know what to do with yourself," Craig said.

The approaching holiday season is especially bad for widows who haven't yet fully adjusted to their situations. "The holidays are really the worst time because the birthdays and anniversaries are difficult but those are days you just have on your own. When you have the holidays, everywhere you look there are couples together and they're holding hands and they're being affectionate with one another and they're buying gifts for each other and the holidays are about family and friends," Craig said.

"And when your family is upset and you don't have that family unit like you once did you feel very lost and very sad and that's why there are suicides that oftentimes occur in conjunction with the holidays because the sadness is just too much to handle."

There are some things friends can do to help widows. "Widows just need to be remembered. We so feel that we are forgotten. We're a forgotten part of society. And any type of recognition really works," Craig said.

"Definitely give them a call. Just being remembered means so much. And I tell everybody to please ask the widow, especially during the holidays, to be part of your celebrations."

Craig noted that widows usually won't reach out to friends for help. It works best if the friends offer the help first. For younger widows it may be an offer to babysit children. For older widows, a ride to the doctor's office or help around the house.

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