Becky Aikman just wanted a little hope and solace when she attended her first grief support group. Having lost her husband, Bernie, to cancer had not frozen her in place, after all. She had been able to remarry and was now a stepmother to a young girl. The grief support group, populated by women decades older than her, led by a stickler obsessed by the stages of grief, and held in an industrial space, was not Becky’s idea of support. She ended up being kicked out of the group. Well, asked not to return. Which is the same as being kicked out, really. Saturday Night Widows is the story of how Becky comes together with a group of other widows and gets the support and love she needs.
Becky manages to connect with five other widows who were themselves in different stages of learning how to cope without a spouse. Some of the women had difficult relationships with their spouses, while other had happy unions. A couple had children. Some were further down the road of recovery than others. But, each one of them comes together as part of a group they end up calling “The Blossoms”. They connect through different activities, such as a cooking class, shopping for lingerie, and visiting museums. These connections help the widows navigate how to respond to the well-intentioned friends in their lives, the reentry into dating, and the eventuality of moving on (whatever that may look like).
One of the best things about this book was the information about grieving that was presented. I particularly enjoyed learning that the “stages of grief” are actually stages based on research of people who are dying themselves, rather than experiencing the loss of a loved one. This research was presented in a fascinating, rather than dry and boring way. Through the other experiences of the widows, there was also information about grieving through art and how women grieve in other cultures.
The comic relief came in the navigation of new relationships. How exactly do you start a relationship that might (gasp!) include sex when you had been with the same person for 30 years? Or a person that you were still in love with when he died? Not all of these relationships worked out, but I did learn more about widowhood than I ever thought I would. The book was not depressing at all—more fascinating and empowering.
I did tire of the whole “have new experiences to overcome grief” theme, but overall, I found this book fascinating and entertaining. It’s not for everyone, though. While grief is treated respectfully, the more overarching theme is more the power of women. In addition, these are some well-heeled women. No everyone can go on a trip to Morocco as their culmination of a year of grief support meetings. But, if you are looking to learn a bit more while taking a journey with a group of widely different women, Saturday Night Widows is the book for you.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Regina
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