ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The three Albuquerque authors of the book “Wonder Widows” assert they are neither grief counselors nor are they psychologists. The authors – Trish Comer, Peggy Langenwalter and Jennifer Cox-Horak. – are savvy, resilient women, widows themselves. And they’ve collaborated in writing a book to empower grieving widows to overcome what the authors describe as “the silence and isolation of widowhood.”
The book is applicable to all widows. It also tries to enlighten supportive friends and family about what the authors’ journeys look like “through our eyes and hearts.” That way, the authors say, family and friends “can understand that the real journey begins after the flowers they’ve lovingly sent wither and dry, the cards stop coming in the mail and the casseroles are tucked in the freezer for later use once the appetite returns.”
The book’s ability to empower derives from a blend of elements – clearly stated and deeply felt explanations of topics, the compactness of those topics and a welcoming, conversational writing style. It’s as if the authors are chatting with readers over coffee.
The book’s main sections are an introduction, 18 short chapters, an epilogue and four appendices. The introduction states that the authors simply “want to share how we are learning to thrive in this new world as we process our grief.” They believe it’s important to share their experiences.
The chapters’ titles and subtitles preface the authors’ reflections and remembrances.
Chapter One, for example, is titled “Did You Feel It Coming?” It’s about “interesting intuitions, premonitions or conversations” that the authors may have had before the death or approaching illness of their husbands.
Chapter Six is titled “I Miss You!” The comments derive from the authors’ thoughts about what they miss most about their late husbands. As Comer wrote in the chapter, “I held out right up to the end of Bob’s life that he would come back and be whole again. Every night I would pray for that miracle, and every day I would anticipate it happening …” Langenwalter wrote eight pages of her thoughts on what she missed of her late husband: “I miss having a confidant. … I miss Dan’s generosity. I miss holding his hand. I miss making Dan laugh. I miss hearing his laughter …”
Cox-Horak wrote that she still wears some of her late husband’s clothes as she had when he was alive: “They smell just like he did.”
Among other chapter topics are dealing with “brain fog” caused by grief, making a conscious decision to move from “our space” to “my space,” and confronting milestones at the first-year anniversary of their spouse’s passing.
In a chapter on “Support System,” Cox-Horak tells of the many people who helped her, including the midwife Barb Pepper. “It is because of Barb’s amazing heart and soul that Charlie Anne didn’t die and that Chuck died peacefully,” she writes.
Cox-Horak was pregnant with their daughter Charlie Anne when her husband died. Their son Hayden was 4 years old at the time of his father’s death.
Langenwalter says that when the three met to talk about themselves and their situations it was like having their own support group.
The website wonderwidows.com will include podcasts on various subjects pertaining to widowhood and the book.
Book of the week review