I don’t recall there being any grief resources beyond the middle school guidance counselor when my mother died when I was 12, so I have been pleasantly surprised by the richness of resources available to me in dealing with my husband’s death. I’ve found that not only are there good resources available on grief in general, there are many on specific flavors of grief, such as losing a partner, losing a parent, losing a child, and miscarriage.
In case it would benefit others, here are some that I have found very helpful.
- Personal connections. When my dog walker heard that my husband had died, she offered to put me in touch with a friend of hers who is about my age and was widowed three years ago. I texted the woman and we immediately became friends. I appreciate being able to talk to another widow who, like me, lost their partner relatively young, and also has a teenager at home. When the first conversation you have with someone is about one of the worst things that ever happened to you, you tend to bond pretty quickly.
- Facebook groups. My new widowed friend told me about a few Facebook groups for widows she belongs to and cautioned me about a few other Facebook groups for widows. It turns out there are many, many Facebook groups for widows, with many different angles: groups for religious widows, non-religious widows, widows in Colorado and other specific locations, widows who like to travel, young widows, widows with young children, widows curious about dating but not ready yet, widows ready to date, widows of color, widows who lost partners to suicide, and more. Of course, there are the occasional trolls in some groups (thus the warning from my new friend about a few of the groups that seem to attract more than their fair share of trolls), but I suspect the widow groups are more susceptible to trolls than other grief groups might be because of gendered norms around women’s behavior (for example, a widowed woman is a cheating whore if she ever dates or has sex after her partner dies).
- Websites and Blogs. A google search of “widow support” turns up the usual millions of website hits, and you can do searches for other types of bereavement by typing in the type of loss you experienced and the word “support” (loss of parent support, loss to suicide support, etc.). Some of the websites I’ve found particularly useful are Megan Devine’s Refuge in Grief, End of Life University blog (and podcast) and Cake. I also came across this website with tons of resources for folks who have lost a child or a pregnancy.
- Trips. There are organized trips, conferences, and cruises specifically for widowed people! I am seriously considering attending Camp Widow in March, a three-day conference by and for widowed folks. Several folks I met at a widows’ picnic (see details below) had been to Camp Widow in the past and they all had rave reviews; several had gone multiple times. There are raft trips for grieving folks and cruises for widows.
- Groups that meet in person. The funeral home I went through to have my husband cremated also recommended a local organization that hosts both in person and online support groups; I suspect you could call any reputable local funeral home to get information on grief groups in your area. I’ve heard from other widows that hospice organizations also can direct folks to local grief support groups. Through the Camp Widow website, I learned about an international organization for widows that has a local chapter. I contacted the local chapter and learned that there was an upcoming widows’ picnic, which I attended. And despite whatever image pops into your head when you imagine a widows’ picnic, this event was full of laughter and four-letter words, which to my mind, are two key ingredients for a good time.
- Online support groups. I went to the meetup website and did a search on widows in Denver and found all sorts of online events. Similar searches using terms like “lost a parent” turned up many options.
- Podcasts and Ted Talks. A friend recommended the podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking, and I second the recommendation. Folks at the widows picnic told me about two good ones for adults who have lost a parent: Dead Parents Podcast and Dead Parent Club. If you search Ted Talks for “grief,” you’ll find over 200; I’m working my way through the talks on this list.
- Workshops. A friend just told me about these online workshops for processing grief through writing.
- Journals. I’ve previously mentioned a grief journal that ended up being thrown across the room; don’t get that one. I highly recommend Megan Devine’s How to Carry What Can’t Be Fixed, which is flexible enough to be useful to folks who have lost a partner, parent, child, or someone else, and uses writing but also sketching, collage, and other creative activities.
What I’ve mentioned here is just a taste of the many wonderful grief resources available right now, and while I have found the particular resources I’ve mentioned helpful, they may not be the right ones for you, and that’s ok, because there are many, many others out there. My point is that you don’t need to be completely alone in your grief.