Black Widow Chronicles, Conferences

International Widows’ Day and BritMumsLive!

Ben Brooks Dutton It Is Not raining book and BritMumsLive 2014

Who knew that every 23 June is International Widows’ Day? Not me. And if I were not a widow, my filters, like yours probably, would not have caught onto that fact.

I didn’t really read any further as to what this day entails. Perhaps there’s cake and funeral music to end proceedings at around midnight? Perhaps I’ll find the strength and less sarcastic nature next year to read through any special agenda I should be following.

I know, that sounded bitter, snarky and ungrateful. Here someone has put on a day for me and I can’t even find the good grace to say ‘thank you.’

It comes hard because I’m not grateful, not thankful and don’t want to be part of a group I feel ill equipped for. Stupidly(?) I feel that all the other widows and widowers have earned their membership cards, but that I am somehow exempt and not yet qualified to join them. That to join means I have fully accepted that I have been left alone and adrift by my best friend.

And best friends don’t do that, so that can’t be my reality.

Just as I can’t read books about bereavement. Of all the feats I have managed and hurdles I have jumped since Bronnie’s death, reading about being left is not one of them.

So understood the charming and insightful Benjamin Brooks-Dutton, a young widower and fellow speaker at this weekend’s superb national blogging conference (BritMumsLive! 2014) and author of It’s Not Raining Daddy, It’s Happy.’ A sad and hopeful story of a father building an unplanned life for himself and young son following the tragic death of his wife who was hit by a car.

Oh, the cool water relief of talking with Ben without explanation, apology or front in a coffee shop away from the conference. No persona, no snark, no defensive witticisms – a break from making other people feel okay about our loss.

I also felt no need to politely pretend I could read the book Ben had authored and kindly offered me. I accepted the kindness for my daughter who copes better when reading her experience, but not me. Not yet. Maybe never.

And I have been trying to work out the pattern of what I can, can’t, won’t and refuse to do in bereavement. How I can talk with the bereaved comfortably, but cannot join or feel part of any group bannering bereavement.

What does it mean where I can find comfort and feel safe in the company of the bereaved, but cannot feel that safety in numbers when grouped in a room or between the pages of a book?

Could it be because that group would laugh at a widow who doesn’t yet believe she is one of their number? That actually my Bronnie will come back and we will sit down and discuss this awful thing. This awful thing where I thought he had died.

There is, however, a group of people I must thank. The BritMumsLive! 2014 audience who kindly watched and waited for me have ‘a moment’ while on stage addressing them. The moment they witnessed my realisation that my path had led me to talk to them because this awful thing had happened.

My husband…my best friend had died.

The Black Widow