What does a Widow Look Like?

widows.jpgToday I met up with a couple of my dear widowed friends who I'm working with on a project to support widowed people.  

During our discussions, we spoke about how we will need some photographs of widowed people to use in our materials and started brainstorming how we can depict widowedhood - and in particular, a widowed community - with images.  

We started banding around the predictable and stereotypical images that would first come to mind when you think of grief and the death of a spouse...  
- people crying, maybe even being comforted, with a pile of used tissues scattered around them
- sad people dressed in dark clothes
- a person, looking glum and forlorn, while others around them are doing ok...

Unfortunately, I have definitely been this stereotypical widowed person countless times since my husband died.  Some days I still am.  But today, more than two and a half years on, these images don't reflect the widow I am today. 

I am a widow who laughs as well as cries, who loves as well as grieves and who celebrates life and makes the most of the fact that I'm still here, despite the pain I carry because my husband isn't.  

We ended up having a good laugh about the 'image of a widow' and decided that as a community, these are not the photos that reflect who we are. 

When I think of the word 'widow' today, in particularly, my widowed community, I think of people with deep compassion who genuinely care for others.  I think of roaring laughter, acceptance, understanding and a sense of freedom that comes with spending time around people who don't make me feel like I'm different or broken.  I think of how I've been inspired to try new things, push the boundaries of my comfort zone and open my heart to life again. 

It makes me sad to think about where I might be today if I didn't find my widowed community.  I would have stumbled through somehow, I guess, but I'm so thankful that rather than stumble, I found friends to walk beside me and help carry me over the roughest patches.  

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