Not-so-hot, Not-particularly-young Widows Club?
July 30, 2020 5:19 PM   Subscribe

I think my dad could use an online support group for the recently widowed. The only one I know of doesn't seem exactly right for him. What else is out there?

My mom died recently, and my father is now a widower. Throughout my mother's illness, my father has posted pretty much daily on CaringBridge, which is a blogging site that people use to keep their friends and family updated about the progress of someone's illness. His posts were pretty emotionally revealing, to the point where my siblings and I sometimes felt like he was oversharing. It has occurred to me that he was using the CaringBridge site to process his impending grief, and that's been really helpful to him. I suggested to him that, now that he doesn't need to use the CaringBridge site to update people on my mother's illness, he might benefit from keeping a journal. He told me that he agrees that he was using the CaringBridge site to process things, but part of what was useful about it was having people witness and understand what he was going through. That has made me think that he could benefit from some sort of text-based, online support group for people who are recently widowed. I think this might work better than an in-person or Zoom support group, although I'll look into those, too. He seems to benefit specifically from the act of writing and sharing his writing. Unfortunately, the only text-based online support group that I know of is the Hot Young Widows Club, which doesn't seem exactly right for him. Is there something similar for people who are not young widows? (My father is in his mid-70s, and he and my mother were married for about 55 years.) My father is a very secular Jew and is a little bit allergic to spirituality, so I'm looking for something that isn't explicitly Christian or super religious.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious to Human Relations (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Often the grief groups aren't a perfect fit, age-wise or situation-wise, but the participants do all share the loss part so that's usually enough of a common ground. I think you shouldn't assume text-based is what he needs, though. I would give him some Zoom options, as seeing people and talking to people can add a lot to the process. A lot of the groups are organized by which year of loss you are in, i.e., first year, second year, etc. A close friend had a good experience with a group that also had an individual counseling option for either before or after the group session. Even though these would initially be Zoom sessions, you should probably try to find ones in his immediate area so that once the pandemic has passed, he could continue to attend, but in person.
posted by clone boulevard at 5:31 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]

Have you reached out to where your mother recieved care to see if they have any bereavement groups? Hospitals generally have connections or run groups of their own. Unfortunately they generally aren't well advertised but they are out there.
posted by AlexiaSky at 7:37 PM on July 30

Is your dad on Facebook? I know, I know, it’s awful. But there are tons of caretaker and bereavement groups on Facebook.
posted by mskyle at 5:31 AM on July 31

If there is a nonprofit or foundation associated with whatever illness your mother died of, they might have a directory of groups like this or be able to recommend something. Similarly, if she was in hospice, ask the hospice people.
posted by juliapangolin at 7:58 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]

Check in with the hospital social worker to see what is available and nearby.

Also, since he seems to get a lot out of writing, could he pick up a class that has writing as a foundation? Often colleges have non-credit options for writing, including journaling. Another option: the nearby Office of Aging may have moved some of their activities online, which may include writing-to-preserve-family-memories.
posted by childofTethys at 11:11 AM on July 31

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