Widowed in Self Help (WISH) is a Liverpool based group that gives that support to people who have lost a partner and don’t know where to turn to. The group meets every second Tuesday at Lane’s Privateer Inn for two hours, starting at 6 p.m.
One thing anyone will find at the group is that it is diverse. From mid-20’s up to senior citizens come to the group to share their stories, get advice or just lend an ear to someone else.
For some the pain is recent. Others have lost someone years ago, but still find it difficult to cope.
“It takes everyone a different amount of time to move on,” says one member of the group.
The benefits of the group are many, according to the members. The support is important, but it also is a place where friendships are made
It’s also a place where you can share your experiences without someone telling you to get over it or move on. Losing a spouse is different than losing a parent or friend, says members of the group. The spouse was someone they shared so much of their life with, but after they are gone it creates a void in their lives.
“Although friends and family try to understand, these people actually know what is going on.”
Topics of conversation can be broad, during the meetings as well. During one meeting the group talked about the importance of getting out of the house. It can be as simple as going for a walk, or going out to have fun bowling or going to the movies. It can then drift into the small things that trigger memories and emotions, such as wallet or an anniversary.
Susan Levy started the group after losing her husband Murray five years ago. Levy says after he died she didn’t know where to turn or who to talk to.
“The grief that I was experiencing, I didn’t know what to do with it,” she says.
Though there was a grief support group on the South Shore, the group met in Lunenburg. With working full time, she says there wasn’t any way to make the meeting. Figuring she was not the only one who was struggling to deal with losing a spouse, she decided to start a group of her own in Liverpool.
Levy took a workshop in Kentville, which taught her how to run a meeting, tools they can use to support others, and scenarios they might come across.
“We’re not certified councillors, but they gave us things to recognize,” she says.
For example, if someone’s grief was moving them to suicidal thoughts, they were taught how to recognize the signs and who to call.
Once the group started four years ago, it did not take long for it to grow. People can drift in and out of the group, but the important thing is that the group is there if someone is struggling with the death of their spouse and needs a place to turn to.
There is no cost to go to the meetings, with the room provided for free by Lane’s Privateer Inn. Costs for materials and refreshments is covered by a grant from the Queens Community Health Board. Having the meetings at no cost was important, says Levy, because of all the struggles someone who was widowed faces.
“You’re bills don’t split in two. You still have all the same bills, all the same things to do around the home.”
Anyone new who comes to the meeting is given a package of information, including a book called Understanding Grief, as well as a workbook based on the book to help them along.
They also get a little package with a short poem called Found Pennies, that contains a penny to get them started. The poem is about how pennies are tossed from heaven for the person to find to know someone is thinking about them. Though it seems like a simple thing, all of the members have stories about how when they were feeling blue they came across a penny in their travels and how it lifted them up.
The meetings are loosely structured, though they do discuss specific topics or have guest speakers. However Levy says they found the most beneficial part of the group was just having a place to talk.
“Talking through our problems, and what we were going through, helped more than going through the book,” says Levy.
With Christmas coming up Levy says their discussions will turn to coping with the holidays, which can be one of the more difficult times of year to deal with.
For more information, contact Susan Levy at 354-4649. The next meeting takes place on Nov. 8 at 6 p.m.