Monday, February 04, 2013
Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman
Becky Aikman's husband died when he was still in his forties. After twenty years of marriage, she lost her husband, her best friend, and her lover all at one time. How do you go on? Aikman even went to a support group offering information on "Moving Forward After Loss". She was ready to move forward, ready to go on with life, but the widows and widower in the group were there to relive the past, not to go on. When she was kicked out of the group, she decided she wanted to find widows with the same hope she had. She wanted to move forward, and wanted to be happy again.
It took some time, but Aikman found five other women, widows. The youngest was 39; the oldest was 57. Although they were hesitant, they agreed to her suggestion that they meet once a month, on Saturdays, to share life. As one of the women said, she was now "Totally fearless. Because the worst thing that could happen has already happened."
Aikman doesn't sugarcoat loss and grief. In fact, the book is composed of alternating chapters, some focusing on Aikman's own loss and process of grief and recovery, some discussing the study of grief, which has been confused with the process of death, and some chapters focusing on the women themselves, their individual experiences, and their processes of coping and moving on. Early on, she says of the women who would become friends, "All the women...were in the process of remaking, reinventing, and rethinking who they were and how they lived and where they lived and what they did and who they cared about and who cared about them." The six women were all different, all in different stages of their lives and their grieving, but widowhood united them, and it also gave them strength.
Saturday Night Widows is a courageous book that points out that widows are still women who crave friendship and laughter and love. Just because they lost a husband doesn't mean they lost the chance to live life to the fullest. Aikman found five women who shared the determination to move on. They shared tears and confidences and laughter over the course of the year, and they found their own strength and gift for life. Aikman's account might come as a surprise to many, who expect widows to still be in Victorian mourning for life. But, for those of us who lost husbands young, Aikman's book serves as a reminder and encouragement. There is life after death. We just have to continue to enjoy the world, and seek out the people and experiences that help us continue to live.
My personal note? Thank you to everyone in the last two years who has made me laugh. There is laughter and joy out there, and I'm grateful every day for those of you who share that with me.
Becky Aikman's website is www.beckyaikman.com
Saturday Night Widows: The Adventures of Six Friends Remaking Their Lives by Becky Aikman. Crown. 2013. ISBN 9780307590435 (hardcover), 337p.
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