As a divorcee, I was under the naive impression that women who were widowed didn’t suffer the way divorced women did. After all, the person responsible for some of my pain was still walking around, often causing me more pain. At least, as a widow, there was some closure. But after reading Elaine Williams moving and courageous account of her “life after loss” (subtitle of her book), I revised my thinking completely.
Author Williams gives us a detailed account the last year before the death of her husband, Joseph, from cancer. Elaine spent those months of her husband’s life taking care of him, while also caring for her three sons: 11, 18, and 19. As she says in her opening chapter, she “wanted to cry at the injustice of becoming a widow at 47 years of age.”
From the first sentence in her book: “My heart felt ripped out, a feeling I never experienced before,” I was totally engrossed in Elaine’s valiant journey into widowhood and beyond. Even though I could not identify with the early part of the book, because the end of my marriage was totally different, Elaine nevertheless kept my interest page after page. However, she does talk about delving into alternative medicine (which I support) for her husband, and I admire her willingness to try whatever she thought might work. One of the results of her husband’s death is her interest in alternative health measures.
Later on in the book, she writes on page 128: “Twenty years of marriage is a long time, but eventually the memories came without the pain.” She ventured out into the world of dating, something she had not experienced in decades. Here is where I related more closely to Elaine’s situation of being on her own again after so many years of marriage. Or as she sincerely states: “I had been with Joseph a long time, and then suddenly I am dating and all the rules have changed. I’m not sure I ever really knew the rules” (p. 95).
During the three or four years after Joseph’s death, she struggled raising her boys and noted that her views on child rearing changed. She now allows them their independence, letting them make their own mistakes, but admits this has been very hard for her to do. (I also have three children and my youngest was 11 when we separated, so I could identify with her thoughts on children.)
At the beginning and end of her chapters are little thoughts or poems in italics that are quite touching. Here’s just one example:
The pain of loss is real
but the loss of self is even worse.
Being true to yourself is the way home
even when you don’t know how to get there.
This is a beautiful book: sad, happy, inspirational, and lovely. Instead of being negative, Elaine is stronger as a result of her experiences after her husband’s untimely death. At the end of the book, she notes that she has become at peace with herself and still feels very lucky, despite what has happened in her life. She feels “fully equipped to handle whatever appears.”
I love Elaine Williams’ courage, her attitude, her take on life, and her words. The book is published by On Wings Press and costs $13.95. Ask for it at your bookstore or online, or go to www.onwingspress.com. Whether you are divorced, still married, or a widow, her book is uplifting and shows how the human spirit can rise to almost any occasion.