being newly widowed


Here is the oddest thing about the closing of ye olde widda board for me, personally.

When the board closed, the alumni site at Facebook cranked up the invites/adds to its page. A group that was fairly dormant. And I was added.

Okay, the fact that I was added is not odd. I did make friends in my time at the YWBB. Yes, I did. Don’t look so incredulous. A few anyway. So my inclusion in the round-up as Rome fell isn’t all that a weird thing.

The strange part is how nonchalantly I have been included in the conversations and happenings.

As I mentioned in another post, it’s just like a high school reunion where the most popular girl in the class, the one that married the star of the state championship basketball team, was a cheerleader and never gave more than a withering glance of disdain to you, is suddenly all smiles, hugs and

“Oh my gawd! you look GREAT! I am SO glad you are here.”

Alright, not that exactly, but creepily close.

Rob just chuckles.

“Back with your besties from the board, eh?”

I had no besties at the board.

In fact, the few YWBB members who I count among my friends are folks I met at the board but got to know via our widow blogging. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be friends.

Like most of my friendships – virtual and in real life – I grew on them slowly because I am something for which the taste for needs to be acquired and that takes time. Instant friendships have never happened for me. Ever. Except maybe Rob.

And I tend to develop friendships with people that no one would ever suspect me of being friends with.

As I recently told a very conservative political Twitter acquaintance (who follows me only because I confound her definition of a “liberal”),

“I have an open mind, a preferences for people who can pry theirs wide a bit too, and enjoy a healthy give/take debate. And snark is good too.”

Of course, I paraphrased into 140 characters.

Yes, I can be brief, but I don’t enjoy it.

So, where did I begin? Right, wagons circling.

Old board members do nothing well at all if not circle up. The founders should have remembered this if going quietly into the good night was their aim. (And they’d do well to remember it in the future if the rebrand of Soaring Spirits includes YWBB terminology, stories or ideas stolen from threads. Yeah, stolen. Really hope I am wrong about this.)

They posted a terse and uninformative message when they locked all the forums, which effectively threw the lurkers under the bus and sent the newbies, who generally have few contacts inside the board (forget about outside) in grief spins I don’t want to think about.

But if they thought this was going to satisfy the GenNext widdas, who really founded the current incarnation of the board, they’d apparently been away too long.

After the shock and the scramble to contact, add, send out the word and help – as much as possible – support the YWBB survivors as they hastily set up a new forum at Widda, the questions came.

What happened? Why so suddenly? What will happen to the thousands of pages of posts? The history. The stories? The resources? The friendships?

OMG! How will people find each other again!

All good questions and – as per usual – the founders were reluctant to come down off the mountain to deal with any of it.

My history with the founders is slight but contentious.

I took them to task about the cyber-bullying, and their non-to-tepid at best responses on a few occasions, and the few who bothered to reply to me were condescending when they weren’t just dismissive.

So while the others were willing to give a benefit of the doubt, I suspected that the founders probably had motivations that were more about them than the widow board or the members because that’s how it’s mostly been since they stopped actively needing it.

Is that judgmental?

Yes.

But I am just as harsh a critic of widowed folk who spring board their tragedies into careers that milk the vulnerability of grieving folk.

While the YWBB founders may have simply walked away after having picked up their lives, at least they didn’t sell hoodies and mugs with logos and pretend that somehow this was good works. And, thank the goddess, they avoided the Oprahfication of being widowed into a 12 step program where slapping on the stilettos, working out and attending weekend seminars to work that grief will land you in the valley of the happy widow dolls again.

Eventually the idea – a good one – took root among the alumnae of kicking in cash to maintain the board as an archive.

Posting agitation ensued to the point that one of the founders agreed to talk with the others, but the ultimate answer was still “no”. Closing down the YWBB was just a “business decision” that made the most sense.

Nothing personal, ya’ll.

A kind of dismissive, sucks to be you but I’ve moved on and what do you people want from me after fifteen years?

Still, the circling efforts and the fact that I was included (granted that some of the others probably didn’t/still don’t know who the fuck I was on the board) made me reconsider the nature of the board and whether or not I could really participate in the start up of the new one.

I am nine years out. Married again for nearly eight years.

I am not grieving anymore. Even the odd memories don’t knock me off course.

Although, I hate the fact that I cry easily now. I never did pre-dead husband and don’t like that I have lost my ability to be like a stone in the face of manipulating commercials, songs and YouTube videos.

Oh, I blame it on the approach of menopause, but it was widowhood that reduced me to this female cliché.

I have participated in these early days of Widda. I post. I share. I try to let people know that nine years out is a good place. It gets better.

But I haven’t totally hated the reunion. It’s good to see how far I have come in stark terms and how the people behind the aliases have done the same.

The furor is dying down now. The YWBB goes dark this coming Friday and now that the shock has passed and the posts are being archived on hundreds of different hard-drives, most of these people will go back to their lives. Just like people do after high school reunions.


For what it is worth, the YWBB has closed up shop. widda

If you are currently a member, you have until March 20th to log in and contact anyone who might be on your personal message list, and you might be able to use the search function to track down any old posts you want to save (just take screen shots – it’s easiest) or contact anyone you haven’t connected with on other social media outlets.

Thanks to some quick thinking by a marvelous widdas named Jezzy (Jess) and Justin, a new board is already up and running and you can access it via this link.

If you are an oldtimer from the board days or someone whose recently been directed to the site and haven’t been able to register – think about signing up. The more the merrier. There are also YWBB groups (think high school reunion type stuff) on Facebook. They are closed groups but I don’t think anyone is being denied entry. They added me after all. And you don’t get more grief heretic than me.

I won’t comment on the decision to shut ye old widda board down without warning beyond saying, I would have handled it differently (but I would have done a lot of things there differently).

And the ye olde widda board founders are directing folks to Soaring Spirits, which while they’ve done good things, is a bit too commercial for my tastes. If you like your grief Life Time for Women movie style or 5 step self-help to happiness again though – it will be right up your alley. It’s very “fix it” oriented and has a plethora of “been there/done that” semi-celebs (yes, there’s a hierarchy in the widow world – that’s life after all) to sell you a book or moderate a conference that will set you right again.

In the meantime, if you are recently (or not so) widowed and just  looking for a place to go to vent, to cry, to share with people who “get it”, check out the new place. It seems like a nice place. You won’t be alone because you are not alone. There are people out here on the wide web who’ve been where you are and can – if nothing else – listen. And being heard is a lot.


nunhead cemetary

Image via Wikipedia

Mark was one of the first people I met when I joined the Des Moines Jaycees back December of 1997. He was one of the happiest, most optimistic people I have ever known. He always had a smile and a hug for you. His wife Leslie was also quite energetic though while Mark used smiles and charm to steer people, she was more like the little bulldozer that could. Still, they were one of the couples that Will and I often socialized with in our early days together and after we were married.

 

I think I have seen Mark twice since Will’s illness and death. The last time was at one of the first social functions I forced myself attend last year. He was still all smiles but there were no hugs. As cheery as he is, widows make everyone uncomfortable and I remember taking a bit of perverse pleasure in that because the only other time I saw him was with Leslie at Will’s visitation.

 

They were social friends. I shouldn’t have been angry about their desertion. Much closer friends and family were far more noticeable in their absence, but in the early days, you don’t see fine distinction through the red haze.

 

Mark found Leslie yesterday afternoon in their home. She had gone home from work with chest pains and when he called to check up on her, and gotten no answer, he went home to make sure she was all right.

 

She was just a few years younger than I am, I think. Her little boy is about two years older than my daughter. She was someone I knew who drove me a bit crazy on occasion and made poor Will completely nuts when they both served on the Jaycee board together and during the Haunted House the year Will was the chairman.

 

Mark is a widower now. A single father. And no matter how many family members and friends attend him for the next little while, he is alone.