Craig believes helping other has also helped her. "I think that a lot of my own healing has come from giving back to others," she said. Craig believes there is a stigma attached to being a widow. "People oftentimes react to widowhood as if it is a contagious disease."
If you're married, there's a 50/50 chance you'll be widowed some day. Exact numbers of widows are hard to come by because statistical surveys usually are a few years old. It's generally believed there are almost 15 million widowed people in the United States. About 11 million are women. The reasons there are so many more widows than widowers are that men usually die sooner after widowhood and widowers are quicker to remarry.
Craig believes support groups can be very helpful for widows. "You get a really strong feeling early on that you shouldn't cry in front of people, you should cry in private. So you cry in your car, you cry in the shower, you cry yourself to bed at night," she said.
"And when you go to a support group it's a safe place where you are allowed to cry. You see others crying and you're able to share with other people and you don't feel quite so alone because you understand there are others who are in your same situation."
Six years after losing her husband, it's still hard for Craig. "It's still difficult in many ways and I often times don't really feel a part of something," she said.
"I think the hardest part for me has been making decisions on my own. A spouse is a great bounce board and a spouse is the only person who has a vested interest in every single decision you make," Craig believes. "And when you are faced with making them on your own, you question am I doing the right thing? And you just have to sometimes draw straws. You just have to trust your instincts and to go with it. But it's extremely difficult."
One thing Craig feels is very important in the healing process is for widows to do something they may have felt very apprehensive about in the past. "First of all widows have to step outside of their comfort zone to try things that they've never tried before. And we all know how powerful women are. I believe that widows are the most powerful group of women because we have had to stretch our abilities," she said.
For Craig, going outside the comfort zone meant dealing with the animals that were making a home in her attic. "I have caught six possums and four raccoons since 2010 and that's something I would never have imagined possible because I've always been afraid of insects and I would run 100 miles from a grasshopper or a cricket or a worm," she recounted.
For some widows, the idea of dating again could be akin to facing a wild animal. "The apprehension of thinking do I date again? Is there hope to find love again? Am I just stuck in this place waiting to die? That's it for me. Some people bury themselves in their careers others just focus on their children," she said.
Many widows have to find new friends. "I talk to widows all the time who say we used to go out with friends, we used to have a group that we would hang out with. And now the group doesn't invite me anymore. And what's sad is that even if you do go you don't really feel the same being part of it, you feel like a fifth wheel," Craig said.