The Ladies

Dinner out with the ladies was, as usual, healing.  There is nothing like meeting with people who are in the same type of condition as you are.  The conversation was a little stilted at first, we seemed to be skirting around why we meet.  Fact is, under any other circumstances we would never have met, we are a diverse group with little in common.  But we did, because of death and loss, and because of our need to find some sort of light to guide us out of the darkness.

Consequently, our fluffy conversations don’t flow.  We can’t talk with ease about the little stuff because we don’t share the same values or priorities.  So we met and tried small talk but it just fell into silence until someone commented on a milestone or accomplishment and we slid into harmony again.  Then the chatter began.  I think at this point this is when we advance this specific friendship.  Like the friends you make at work, you have work in common; and the friends you make at the hockey arena when you’re watching your kids play hockey – you have hockey and kids in common.  We have deceased husbands, it may sound ghoulish, but it isn’t.  We have a common loss.  Talking about it helps.

For me, I usually have specific questions I want to ask.  I need to normalize the things I am experiencing, thinking or feeling.  And these meetings help, for the most part I leave feeling relieved.  I get the chance to ask, ‘am I odd, or has anyone else noticed …’ and ending that question with whatever is bothering me.  I may not get the response I want, but I definitely do get feedback that is informed, practical and sympathetic.

Looking back, it was a good thing all those months ago attending that grief group.  The strangers that I met there have now become an important part of my safety net, and I hope that they feel the same way about me.

Breaking bread not breaking down

Dinner out with the grief group ladies again last night.  Nice meal and no shortage of conversation.  It ended with us all reflecting on where we were in life through no choice we had individually made.  The reality is that we have started to come out the other side.  Friends and family around each of us has too.  But, and that word was accompanied by a heavy sigh, those around us, particularly those in our circle of friends, have yet to travel this path.

i was pretty much the first in my social group to have a spouse die.  Oh sure, we all have lost parents by now, but spouses – no.  Likewise for my lady friends.  We talked about that, and how arbitrary life is.  Then one in the group made the observation that once you can wrap your mind around the fact that you are really and truly alone, then there are occasions when you are okay with not having to consult, worry or limit your actions or activities because of other commitments.  But more bluntly – if I wanted to go to bingo every night there is no one to stop me.  This can be a good thing and a bad thing, no?  (And, for the record, I don’t go to bingo every night!)

Let’s face it, it is hard to find an upside when you have lost the love of your life, but you have to look for something.  For us, the four of us that met for dinner, we all appreciate the fact that we had good relationships that endured.  We had spouses that left us in a position to have a decent quality of life.  We have family and friends that stepped up to the plate and helped fill the void. Things that are important and that many others will never have.

We booked our next meal out for mid-September and I think we even identified a theme:  what difficulties we faced and how we coped, and can that information benefit others.  We could talk about that, or we may just talk about the Olympics.  It’s something to look forward to.