Yesterday I had lunch with the Almanah Women. For my non-Guilford Park readers- it’s the widow’s support group. But let’s face it, who likes the term widow? When this group was formed years ago, they decided to use the Hebrew word for widow, almanah.
We had a lovely lunch with lively conversation and good food, but for me that was just the surface. I ended up sitting close to two of the newest members of the group- the two women there who have lost their husbands in the last few months- and I was blessed by their presence.
I have grieved before- people and things that I have loved dearly and lost. But I’m only 33 years old. I haven’t lived as long as some of these women were married. I don’t know what it’s like to wake up after 30, 40, 50 or more years with a person, and then have them so suddenly, abruptly gone.
It doesn’t matter how long the illness, how much life had already been displaced, how prepared a person can be- nothing changes the finality of death. Belief in life everlasting, in the church triumphant surely takes some of the sting off of death, but it doesn’t give you someone to go to the grocery store with, or someone to say goodnight to before you turn out the lights.
My companions at lunch were very honest about how they are feeling and doing right now. The newer widows shared what it feels like each day to wake up and have to go through the day by themselves. The other women in the group chimed in with their support and deep understanding, and to a person remarked at how much solace the Almanah women provide.
I am thankful for the Almanah group: for the women who venture out bravely in the midst of grief, for the women whose experiences can provide balm to hurting places, for the gentleness with which they hold one another during tough times, for the healing of laughter and conversation, for knowing that they are not alone.
This is a group where membership comes at a high price, and it makes the bonds that form that much stronger. It also makes the weight of grief that might lighter.