GRIEF isn't linear, it doesn't fit into a timeframe and it's different for everyone.
These are all ideas covered by Mackay author Deb Rae in her new book 'Getting There: Grief to Peace for Young Widows'.
The book is her story, but also a resource, using simple language with strategies and suggested actions that readers can apply to their life.
Deb became a widow at 36 when she lost her husband Stuart Rae. In an attempt to make sense of the feeling "that she was going crazy", Deb started writing down her feelings.
How are you feeling now that your book has launched?
I'm really excited. It's been a 10-year journey... with a lot of stops and starts along the way.So it's really a dream come true. There has been so much support; it's wonderful to see that people are really ready and willing to talk about grief.
Was it always your intention to help others out of what you had experienced?
There are four reasons I wrote the book. One because it helped me to process what I was feeling .Two, because I suspected there were other young women who felt the same way.
If I could share my story they could connect with someone and feel understood. That's a big thing because you feel so isolated. Thirdly, what was happening for me was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I didn't know how to express that.. So I wrote it down.
The last reason is about the way we deal with grief as a community. There are unspoken expectations, after the funeral... life goes back to normal ... That did not happen. It was a rollercoaster. The book is very much about 'Grief takes as long as it takes and it's a very individual journey'.
Can you explain your life before the accident?
We loved to travel, but we didn't want to be tourists anymore. We decided to teach English all over the world indefinitely. So we sold our home, our car, quit our jobs, and headed off.
We'd been in Poland for about five months when Stu headed out with his indoor soccer team. It was the first time that we'd been separated.
I said 'go, enjoy yourself.' He was hit by a car on a pedestrian crossing walking home that night. He died in hospital the next day.
I came back to Mackay for the funeral, went back to Poland and finished the teaching contract.
Once the funeral is over, everyone thinks, 'now you move on', what were those first few months like?
I thought that too. I was a quite an independent person. It took more than two weeks to have the funeral . Then I just thought 'just hang out, get through these two or three weeks and then I can get on with my life'. But the morning after the funeral I was like; he's not going to come back. I just walked around in a stupor for a while.
You helped found Wattle (Women Acting Together Through Loss and Empowerment) for other young widows, tell me a little about that.
I didn't know any other young women who were widows. No-one knew what to say to me. My sister introduced me to a woman she works with who was a young widow. I talked with her and I thought 'Aah, I understand you'. I found some other women... and we decided to start the WATTLE group.
Do you think there is a difference in being a widow young, rather than in your 70s or 80s?
I do think there is in that you have different expectations for your life. As a young woman I grieved for all of the things that Stuart and I never did. I had to rebuild a life. For an older woman, the are grieving because they've had 30 years with someone, they've got different routines together and a life together and different expectations of what will happen after that as well. The grief; the pain and the experiences you have are very similar, it's just different circumstances that they are built around.
Do you ever move on?
I don't think so . Our life together shaped who I am. There is some level of grief for along time, but it's not as overpowering. I think it's about how do you accept that that person was part of your life and they stay part of you. You create a life where that is till within you and you accept it and you continue your life.
How do you support someone who is grieving?
You really don't need to say anything. You just need to be there and listen.
The book is available at Let the Children Play toy store on Victoria St, or at http://www.debrae.com.au
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