Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Who are "baby widows"?

 Baby widows, trying to find humor in "deer widows weekend"
I tell you - we have dark senses of humor!
(Post Publishing Note: I wrote this over a year ago and it has had well over a thousand page views, people who, like yourself, or someone you know searched for "baby" or "young widow" please don't feel as isolated and scared as you do. You are not alone.)

I identify myself as a baby widow.
Well probably because I made up the term.
But the story is simple...

The day after I received the horrible call I sat at a computer and tried to search "whats next?"
Mr Google didn't seem to know what I meant.
I tried searching for "young widow", hoping to find direction.
Instead I was horrified -
a "young widow" is one who loses their spouse before age 50.

EXCUSE ME! I am 25! 
I turn 26 next week, 
tomorrow is our 2 year wedding anniversary, 
what do you mean 50? 
My parents aren't even 50!

What does that make me -
a baby widow?

Yes, a baby widow.

I sent a text to my cousin
(married the same day, widowed one year earlier)
What are we - baby widows?!
She replied back that she still didn't know what we were,
But she was sorry I joined her ranks
"Baby Widow" fit as well as anything else.

So who is a baby widow?
Someone whose heart was broken before it was even fully developed.
A baby widow lost her future before she had even begun to live it.
A baby widow cries about the children she never got to have,
the legacy that has been lost, the connection severed.

Mike's 27th birthday - taken by my first "baby widow sister"
Baby widows cry next to grave sites,
and onlookers carefully ask if you are visiting your parents.

Baby widows get "hit on" when they transition their wedding ring to the other hand -
young lustful men sense the opportunity and assume divorce.
But baby widows are cunning, and a little bit spiteful of innocence -
they quietly savor the shock of putting a cocky gent in his place with words like:
"dead husband", "widow" or "cemetery".
Even better if you can sneak "autopsy", "cancer", "corpse" or "suicide" in there,
but those opportunities are harder to come by.

Baby widows become crusaders.
Their youth and feelings of powerlessness revolt against the sadness
they can't allow this world to push them so far down.
They rise back up
with a vengance they fight for anything they can:
better FMLA coverage, cancer screenings, suicide prevention, MS treatment, widow's support.

They tirelessly support each other.
There is nothing more important to a baby widow -
than the well being of another baby widow.
It is why we show up with bottles of wine to "help" clean out garages.
Why we hold each other while we sob about the sale of a house.
We offer to pick up each other's kids from ballet -
because we know the betrayal of the heart that comes from one more family member not getting why we don't "have it all together yet". 

A baby widow is isolated.
Not because she necessarily wants to be,
but at an age when your friends are either partying hard, or having their second planned child
who could possibly relate?

Friends have barely begun to lose grandparents,
and a few unfortunate ones have lost parent(s)
You start identifying those friends who "get it".
Those whom you don't have to tire yourself out
by trying to put on your "public face".
Death eyes I called it.
Those who had looked death in the eyes,
and were daring to continue living. 

Baby widow hear thoughtless things:
"you're pretty, you'll be remarried soon"
"at least you didn't have kids"
"this is all for the best"
"haven't you moved on yet"

The worst is when its from your own family.
The ones who supported you and celebrated at your wedding,
now barely 3 years later, struggle to look you in the eye
as you prepare your husband's grave for its one year memorial.
They wonder why you return.
Why you wipe the dirt, leaves and snow away.
Why you swear at his parents every time you come here.
Why can't you just let it go?
When in your heart you can't let go the one thing you were supposed to do
as his wife, was to ensure he was cremated - and scattered.
You curse his family every time the snow is deep, it means they haven't visited.
The cold hard earth that they interned him in.
Now he's lonely, not free on the breath of the plateau.
My pseudo ceremony with fake fire-pit ashes, but real tears.

A baby widow fights these feelings of inadequacy
as she begins to put her life back together.
She tries to date, but finds the pedestal hard to see around. 
As is the glaring fact that she has already failed.
He died! How much worse of a wife can you find?
Who would possibly want to stand where a dead man stood.

But baby widows are nothing if not resilient.
Baby widows love as if there is nothing left in their souls.
They wake up and find the sunshine -
or put on a record and find some within their own smile that sneaks out.
Baby widows are a miraculous breed of impassioned, dedicated, beautiful souls.

They will always get back up.
They will even have the strength to give in,
to look inside,
to examine how to do it better.
They will always find a way through.

Baby widows inspire me.

PS. If you like this post - please consider following me (available to the upper left)


Carly said...

so very well-said. i was 26 when my husband died. he was 27. i was pregnant with our first. we'd been married 2.5 years, together for 8. keep on truckin', sister. i'm approaching 3 years and i'm moving forward again. the path isn't always clear (in fact, it's almost never clear), and it's very difficult, but surviving that nightmare has given me the strength to keep moving and find my way, and even to love again, although that certainly isn't a requirement. :)

Jess said...

Thank you so much for commenting Carly. I too am now 2.5 years out. Life is infinitely better, and love too. I love to hear about others who are also "truckin along", makes my heart happier.

Mitch said...

This is great. I lost my wife of 5 years when I was 27. I struggled to survive the first year. Started making a life for myself some time in the middle of the 2nd year and have now remarried and love the life I have now. I'm 32 now. Though I still find myself some days dwelling on what might have been.

Jess said...

Mitch, I think we all dwell sometimes. Or just remember the lives we had planned and wonder how they veered so far off the track we expected. I am glad that you too have found a new normal and a new love - we all deserve that. 20's is far too young to give up <3

Anonymous said...

"But baby widows are nothing if not resilient.
Baby widows love as if there is nothing left in their souls.
They wake up and find the sunshine -
or put on a record and find some within their own smile that sneaks out.
Baby widows are a miraculous breed of impassioned, dedicated, beautiful souls.

They will always get back up.
They will even have the strength to give in,
to look inside,
to examine how to do it better.
They will always find a way through.

Baby widows inspire me." I love you closing paragraphs! The way you define a baby widow and I love the term. I called myself a young widow, but you are correct in the definition which is younger than 50. I was 30 when my husband was killed and I too have felt many of the things you describe in your post. Much of it made me laugh when I thought of myself in many of those situations. I too love life and find as much passion in each day as I can! Samantha

Jess said...

Thank you Samantha. I am excited to work together in the blogiverse! It is refreshing to hear all of these widows who truly love their life, in spite of the tragedies that have scarred their pasts.

elysoteric said...

Thank you for writing this. You've written my life. I'm 27 and lost my husband to suicide nearly 3 months ago. It helps to know I'm not alone. I've read a lot of your posts tonight, and I'm so grateful that you've written them. It takes courage.

Jess said...

You are so not alone darling. I appreciate your kind words, and i hope you find comfort in knowing you are not alone. I wish we were the only ones, but we're not. The good news is that you can find friendship & support. You too are courageous, reaching out & finding inspiration. Don't give up, your future is so worth it.

LindsayH618 said...

Thank you for this, it really did put some words to feelings that I'm not yet able to describe. I lost my boyfriend (husband) suddenly from what, we don't know yet, almost 10 weeks ago. I hope one day I can be where you are.

Jess said...

I have been where you are. Sitting, waiting & wondering. It was 4 months before we had any answers. I'm so sorry. Hang in there, you will get on more solid ground.

Jenny So said...

I was 9 years older than you were when I lost my husband last year. Forever 34...I loved this post...thank you thank you. In a world where my circumstance feels completley was wonderful to read this tonight.

Jess said...

Jenny, thank you for your comment. You are so not alone - I am glad you found some peace and comfort on one of the cold & lonely nights. Peace & love to you!

Kirsten Sangder said...

I totally understand this. Someone shared this on a widow page on Facebook. My husband was killed 2 weeks after my 20th birthday, and when my daughter was 9 months old. She's 4 now, and I'm 23. Life gets better, not easier, but more manageable!

Heaven said...

I was 25 when my husband of almost 7 years died. Very good blog!

Janine said...

Great post. I wasn't 25 when my husband died 5 years ago, but I recognize many of the things you write about because I experienced them, too. In truth, "baby widows" and not-so-baby widows aren't so very far apart. Thanks for visiting my blog and giving me yours. I'll be reading more!

Jess said...

Kristen - I'm interested to know which site shared it...just out of curiosity. I totally agree with what you said about life getting manageable and better with time.
Heaven - Big hugs to you. Its a rough road huh?!
Janine - I'm glad we met through blog-hop. I think the widow experience is very similar regardless of your situation. But I also know that the widow experience is isolating regardless of your situation - thats why I try to write from where I can relate and give voice to the scared.

choosing grace said...

I love the term and yes, young doesn't quite cut it for the age! You write beautifully!

Joy said...

This was posted to my Facebook group for very young widows today. I was widowed at age 26 and this is so spot on! I'm trudging back through the rest of your blog. Keep on keeping on.

Jess said...

Sending you love. I hope you find friendship and commission if not comfort on this page.

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