Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Looking for Answers


I've been looking for sources, particularly weekly newsletters, for widows that are Christian based. Actually, there don't seem to be any. Why is that? Are we less important than a drug addict, an alcoholic, a paralyzed person? Do we have no need for spiritual encouragement? Is our situation of so little concern that it is considered a waste to provide such items? Are they so few of us that it is deemed low priority?

It astounds me to find that this appears to be a common problem. Go look at your favorite support website, whether Christian or not. Come back and tell me how many articles or newsletters you find there that deal with the death of a spouse or other loved one. This is begging the question but I'm willing to bet it is slim to none.

You can google "grief newsletters" and you will find lots of items on grief. But not a single one of the major Christian based sites such as Bible Gateway, Christianity Today and several others has anything remotely resembling these carried any newsletters or devotionals. I know because I looked.

The print industry has mass quantities of books on grief. But I can tell you quite honestly that during the first year and a half, reading is nearly impossible. You can't think. You can barely remember how to put a meal together. Focusing on novel length, self-help manuals is not possible for most people going through this. Planning a strategy to combat the horrible effects of grief are equivalent to scaling Mt Everest. You will eventually get to the summit but the road is through hell. Reading for content is not something most of us can do.

For some reason the items I found on Google that seemed helpful at first glance were in little known, under advertised, and obscure sites solely about grief. They come with many titles and in many guises, some barely related to the healing process. One was called "Creative Funeral Ideas" and the banner was . . . festive. I was totally put off by the flippant sound of that. Why would you need creative funeral ideas? How far in advance do you need to plan such an event? Funeral homes have funeral directors but this title alone would indicate that one would need something far more talented than a simple funeral director, sort of like a wedding planner. It made me angry.

There seems to be a huge number of blogs by widows now. I'm no longer doing something unique, apparently. I read a few and found it odd to read my feelings scattered over the internet, written by strangers. After reading a few, I wondered again why anyone would read about my experience. It is so depressing... particularly if you are on the same train.

This morning I was reading the comments on one such blog and found it surprising how much everyone sounds the same. The stories related were like echos, differing only slightly because of the shape of the lives in which they resonate. All had a similar complaint. There is no support, no resources readily accessible to widows in their cities. Their friends seem to have deserted them. Churches don't see them.

Don't get me wrong, major and some mid-sized cities do have support groups but most groups are geared to seniors. I was 53 when Jerry died. I would have been very uncomfortable in a group of over 60 widows I think. And there seems to be a huge number of young widows, below age 50. We're at war, remember. One place stated that there are over 13,000,000 widowed person in the United States and of these, 11,000,000 are women. The men tend to remarry. Probably younger women.

So with that in mind you would think resources would be fairly prevalent. I suppose the increase in blogs is a defense mechanism we've taken on ourselves because we are dissatisfied with the lack of an effective and inexpensive support system. I mean, consider the cost of counselors, books, and seminars for all kinds of problems. It is an industry. Widowhood is not a mental illness but it can lead to them. It isn't a physical aliment but it can lead to them. There are treatments for the symptoms, just as any other disease, but no cure. Yet, there are very few places one can go for help. Most of them cost something.

I was fortunate to have health insurance that covered a grief counselor. I suspect it was pretty much a waste of money as I don't feel a lot better than I did before. You go because you hope there is a cure. There isn't. You go because you're afraid of monsters only to discover they have no defense against them. There is no armor, no shield, no weapon that will repel them. You simply fight bare fisted and hope you are left standing at the end or at the very least that you can crawl off the field and live to tell it.

Overall, I'm unimpressed with my search for resources. I am not hopeful or comforted. I wonder how the other 10,999,999 feel?



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