Last weekend, I was honoured to be invited to speak at the AGM of WAY Widowed and Young – a wonderful charity that supports anyone under the age of 50 who has lost a spouse or partner.*
(Here I am below, attempting to look intellectual.)
*more fun than it sounds. No, really.
It’s not the first time I’ve done a public reading from the book, but arguably, if I was going to be slain by a crowd, it was this one: 100 widdas and widdawers, all of whom had been through their own personal versions of spouse-loss hell, all of whom were in the unique (and entirely unenviable position) of having a real insight into the issues raised in my book. The passage I read was about disposal of ashes, coffin choices and thrifty funeral directors named Dennis. I worried that they might not see the funny side.
(Fortunately, they did. In fact, for a bunch of bereaveds, we spent an indecent amount of time belly-laughing.)
Coffins, ashes and Dennis’ economic advice aside, the central message of my talk at the AGM was about the act of writing itself. I had been asked to consider how writing helped me after losing Mark.
Thoughts turned from my beloved husband to my beloved computer keyboard – the keyboard into which I had pounded grief, rage, loneliness -the keyboard who, like every good friend, had responded by listening and offering me space and a conduit for reflection.
I concluded how I felt about writing and grief with the following:
Writing helped me to examine my grief, to express it in a way that I couldn’t manage with the spoken word.
Writing allowed friends and family to see how I was doing, without them having to bring out the platitudes.
Writing the blog turned into writing the book, which turned into a sort of therapy all of its own.
Writing saved me in ways that guides to grieving never could. I highly recommend it.
Fellow WAY member and BACP-registered counsellor Nicki Walker and I are now running Writing Grief, an expressive writing course for those dealing with loss. It is fully-funded through the generous support of Tyneside Mind and the Linden Family Trust. Visit us here for further information.
18 thoughts on “Widowed and young. More fun than it sounds.”
Writing and in particular blogging are not just a great release for the emotions following the loss of a partner but also the ideal opportunity to meet someone suffering a similar loss so you don’t feel so isolated.Though many people are kind when you lose someone you often feel they don’t know exactly how you feel and you long to speak to someone who does.
I hope your course goes well, you can be sure it will be well attended.Well done Tyneside Mind and the Linden Family Trust for funding it.
xxx Huge Hugs xxx
Hear hear David. I think I may quote you tomorrow on the course if I may? Huge hugs to you too XX
Well you got me into blogging and that was an achievement in itself! Still going with blog and poem every week and writing short stories. Even thinking about entering competitions soon. Thanks Lucie you’re a star! Best Regards xx
Aww hello lovely to hear from you and to hear that you are still going strong with the writing! Yes, you must enter competitions, it’s the first step…hoping all well xx
Hello Lucie ,
I have just finished your great book and I just want to say thank you for writing it. Your book, The Iceberg and Grief is the thing with feathers are stand out publications in the 7 months of my bereavement reading. My solemate died in October and I am battling through understanding my new status as a 42 year old widow and single mum to my five year old son. I will miss reading it, thanks again x
Hi Cora – thanks so much for the lovely feedback on the book and for taking the time to make contact. I’m so sorry to read of your circumstances, but hope the book has helped somewhat in making sense of this new life. You describe it as a battle, which is a good word…I can attest that it does get easier to deal with…but I have accepted that I’m always going to be battling to some degree. The price of love, I guess. Take care of yourself in the months to come. Lucie x
Hi Lucie, I was one of that tough crowd at the AGM in Liverpool and I was sorry that I didn’t get the opportunity after the reading to thank you in person because, 14 months into my own journey through bereavement, your book is one of the very few that I have actually read, cover to cover during this period. Ironically I have though produced a book of my own, due out in May, based on my blog on surviving suicide and widowhood. So I can clearly attest to the therapeutic power of writing and the connections that it enables you to make with so many others on the same path. I am sure that it is only through writing and WAY that I have managed to get to this point still standing. I hope that the writing course is a success – a few months ago on the WAY forums we were discussing the value of just such a thing. Perhaps in time something similar might be offered elsewhere in the country too.
Hi Gary, Thanks so much for this, shame we didn’t get to say hello at the AGM. Good luck with your book, writing certainly saved me. Nicki and I are now thinking about ways to extend the course nationally, will keep WAY posted – perhaps you could come and talk about how writing helped you too? Very best, Lucie xx
Hi Lucie, I’d certainly be happy to help in any way that I can. Do feel free to drop me a line or contact me via my blog if there is anything I can do.
Not a young widow (well, not not by calendar standards lol) but definitely a member of the club no one wants to join. And I totally agree that writing, while it doesn’t change anything, sure helps sort out the mucked up emotions and messed up mind. It appears I’m also across the pond but I love your writing and wish you tons of luck with the course. Had started my blog so it’s baby steps for me….Everything good on your continuing journey! xoxo
Hey there – thanks so much for this lovely warm message. Writing is such good therapy, glad it’s helping you too! Just keep putting one foot in front of the other…in solidarity, Lucie x
Hello, My Dear Lucie, it’s been quite a while but I have thought of you often and held you close to my heart, as always. It’s incredible to me that Hugh died 3 years ago, and though I have come a long way in my grief, it’s still such a rough ride. I have gone from having an entire week of peace, of joy, of acceptance then hit the skids of some of the worst sadness, seeing very little point in living. Sometimes I wish for the earlier times of grief when I could cry the long, ugly cry – on the floor, sobbing with snot and the sound of inhuman wailing. but nope – I cannot cry even though I want so desperately to do so, to have some measure of relief. What’s up with THAT? It really pisses me off! And since I cannot ID the trigger, and am feeling just as lost and broken I feel my only recourse is to just surrender (i.e. sleep as much as possible – blech). I’ve recently entertained the notion that I’ve become acquainted with from other widows that I may be experiencing “the in between” time. Good god, I wish I could understand what the fuck THAT means – yeah, yeah – probably a milestone of some sort of transition – but what does one DO??? And “transition” to WHAT? I see a marvelous grief therapist once a week, I am part of a writers’ workshop, “Writing to Heal”, I’ve done yoga, Reiki, healing touch, gone through a 9 week seminar for self empowerment, and am currently in the midst of an 8 week program of learning many modes of meditation. (by the way – you may recall that I have 2 kinds of cancer, and I am happy to report I am in remission with both – but guess what?! Cancer pales stupidly and meaningless compared to being a widow!) So dear, wonderful Lucie, can you shed any light upon this most wretched segment of grieving – the “in between” time?
I am so glad you have had such a successful run on your marvelous book, and that you have been able to share all of what you endured with the death of your sweet, darling Mark. Sending love and many warm hugs….Karen
Wow Karen, so lovely to hear from you, though sad to hear of your current battle with the grief demon. You sound as if you are doing a lot to help yourself, which is great – Hugh would proud of you.
Interesting notion, the ‘in-between phase’ – the most helpful analogy I have heard recently is taken from a book, the name of which I forget but will post when I get it. It is basically viewing grief as being in three parts – life before the loss, then we step into a waiting room when we lose our loved one, and beyond the waiting room, a new life. Some people remain in the waiting room, but commonly people step a toe out into the new life, then a foot, then a full leg etc – this process of tentative immersion is a dance between the waiting room and the new life and can go on for years…some people never come out of the waiting room, but I truly feel you are doing so, even if you run back when things get too much. I hope I have described this clearly. I’ll find the book and let you read it yourself.
But really, I’m as clueless as you, dear Karen. Fumbling along like the rest…
Sending so much love. Lucie xx
UPDATE! The book is called Second Firsts and a wonderful widow friend recommended it to me. X
Oh, Lucie – thank you so much both for your kind and very helpful reply as well as posting the name of the book you recommended. I think the dance and the waiting room analogies are the most spot on – so glad to have that take on this most harrowing and bewildering period. Sending you oceans of warm hugs and so much love to you, Dear Lucie. xox
Very inspirational. Your cousin told me about your story, I am just trying to ‘get down with the kids’ and start a blog about mine. (Not as traumatic as yours but my fiancé finished with me 6 weeks before the wedding). I want to help others going through any situation. I could only ever imagine what you have gone through and think you are a blessing to all the people you help. I am looking forward to following your blog xx
Thank you so much! Good luck with the blog, I’m sure it will help a lot of people. I hope it brings you comfort too. X
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences through your blog! Eoghan from https://www.yeshomebuyers.com