Joined By Loss

There are programs available to deal with the bereavement process when a loved one dies, but there is a time when a widow or widower is ready to move on socially, too … maybe not to date again, but to go to lunch, a show, out for dinner or a movie, shopping or just chatting on the phone.

Barb Catterall and Christa Hornstrom – both widows – are ready to move on socially, and they are inviting other widows and widowers who are ready for socialization to join them.

The two attended two separate grief support workshops conducted locally by Hospice of Warren County after Barb’s husband died (in March 2013) and Christa’s husband died (in January 2012), and Hospice bereavement coordinator Vonnie Radecki noticed similarities in the two women, their backgrounds especially, and introduced them thinking they might be helpful one to the other.

Barb and Christa became fast friends.

“She’s cheered me up so many times,” Barb said of Christa. Most recently, Christa was there with a cheerful card when Barb was distraught about having her pet cat euthenized.

“It just seemed like all the losses came together,” Barb remembered.

Vonnie explained how very therapeutic relationships like this can be.

It’s surprising “when we are suffering we are very focused on our sadness, our needs, and it’s a surprise to find out someone else is dealing with the same” emotions and worries, Vonnie explained.

“Life is changed forever. This is a new kind of beginning,” she added.

Many widows and widowers are on their own after the death of a loved one. Everyday habits are changed, like cooking and eating meals.

Christa has children nearby and cooks regularly, but Barb doesn’t cook. “It’s not worth the trouble,” she said.

“If we feel this way,” Barb said, “there might be some other people who feel the same way,” she explained, adding that it is even more difficult to make connections with others who are in the same situation since we live in a rural area.

There is a certain isolation to being alone after being part of a couple, the ladies agreed.

“It’s like people don’t know you anymore,” Christa explained.

Vonnie added that there are others in the area who are “experiencing the same kind of isolation.”

“People who haven’t gone through these losses,” Barb added, ” … it’s difficult to understand. They don’t know what to say.”

Since the death of their husbands, both Christa and Barb have changed their perspectives, saying they want to feel purpose in their lives again and connect with others.

Barb said she was always “fussy cleaning my house. Michael (her deceased husband) always said, ‘It can wait. Finish it tomorrow.’ He was right. It can wait.”

Now, both want to start having fun again, and they want to help others have fun, too.

“We are shutting ourselves away,” Barb said. “If it wasn’t for Christa, I’d just hide away. But, we both want to be vital.”

They will meet for the first time – and all interested persons are invited to join them – at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 21, at Perkins Restaurant on Ludlow Street in Warren. The gathering will be casual, and the group will decide on future activities and possibly a name for the group. All widows and widowers are invited, no matter how long they have been alone.

The group will focus on social events and having fun most of all. This is not a bereavement group or a dating service, Christa and Barb agreed.

“This won’t be a therapy group,” Barb explained. But, it will be helpful to be with people who have suffered a loss, people who understand.

“It’s like a three-legged chair,” Barb said. “We’re a bit wobbly.”

We’ll be helping others while helping ourselves at the same time,” Barb added. “There are people out there who want to do something and don’t want to do it by themselves.”

For more information or to sign up to attend on Aug. 21, call Hospice of Warren County at 723-2455.