Widow Support Group

Everyday a wife, who may be your sister, mother, daughter, aunt, friend, or yourself, encounters the sudden reality that their loved one is no longer with them. This can happen in an instant or over a period of time, such as when their spouse is diagnosed with dementia and the disease progresses until the final reality of death. No two experiences are the same, and not all experiences are from a “happily married ever after” situation.

As someone who was widowed over five years ago, I needed to be with others who experienced the loss of their spouse. Attending a widow support group, whether widowed recently or years ago, is an opportunity to receive the support and care of others with shared experiences and also support those in your group.

I realized other widows felt the same desire, and I felt compelled to develop a local Widows Support Group at Prospect United Methodist Church. The pastor was supportive, and with the help of our church secretary, Nancy Yow, I developed a trifold brochure to place in physician offices, funeral homes, and churches.

The Prospect United Methodist Widows Support Group has now been meeting for three years. Attendance varies each month, and we have even had several people attend from other churches. After every meeting, we always go to Cracker Barrel for lunch together. Being with these ladies is very rewarding for me, and working with Fran Schandel, who will jump in and help me out, is also a great experience for me.

The ongoing challenges my widow support group faces are how to reach the widows of the community and how to identify their needs. And when needs are identified, how can they be met, and who will meet them?

Then rose another question: what about those widows who are homebound? This challenge was presented to the Widow Support Group at Prospect United Methodist Church, and several members of the group volunteered to get in touch with and visit these ladies. One need other than transportation is alleviating social isolation. Even if a widow has financial means but is socially isolated, this can lead to depression, even clinical depression. There is so much to be done about this aspect of widowhood.

I am very interested in helping widows find a sense of community with those who are going through or have gone through the loss of their spouse. Our last meeting was in March at Prospect United Methodist Church located at 1549 Prospect Road, Lawrenceville, GA 30043. Normally, we meet on the second Thursday of every month from 10:30-12:00pm. Until we are able to safely meet again, we have been phoning one another and checking in every so often which has been good.

Annie Copeland

As a graduate of Georgia State University with a geriatric specialty and a graduate of the Georgia State University Gerontology Center in 1992, Annie has always cared and advocated for older adults. She has advocated at the Georgia State Capitol and currently serves on the ARC Advisory Committee on Aging.