Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Online support group...

I get a lot of requests for local support groups. Boy, I wish I could compile a list like this, but it's just a time-consuming task. I tell people that they should look through their local churches, or hospitals or even the funeral home to find out if there is one by them. But this week, I was asked why I don't have a chat room. I did at one point -- for those who visited my main site -- www.youngwidowsandwidowers.com. Unfortunately, it didn't go the way I planned it to go and without getting into the gory details, I decided to shut it down. So I recommend that if you need to chat with someone, visit www.youngwidow.org, and tell them I sent you.

Why is this a good site? I highly recommend an in person support system (therapist, doctor, support group) but I vividly remember waking up at 2 a.m. one night for the first time wanting to talk to someone or write something out. I wanted an answer NOW. I wanted someone to tell me it was going to be okay NOW. Not two weeks from now when I had my next appointment, but NOW. And I really meant NOW. LOL. So I found some online message boards -- I didn't want to talk real time to someone. I just wanted to post and wait for answers. I posted how I was feeling and within 15 minutes (at 2 a.m.!) I had someone respond to me and that felt good. I didn't wake anyone up with a frantic phone call in the middle of the night that I couldn't take it anymore.

Not every site has people that are going to write you back in 15 minutes, but you'll get a quicker response than waiting two weeks for your next appointment. Of course you can't use the site as professional therapy. Think of it as talking to a friend who's been there. Who understands. Friends used to tell me, "why didn't you call me?" and although I did at times, there were times when what I was feeling they would not understand. I had to talk to someone who was my age(ish) and was suddenly a single mom and widow. My happily-married friend wasn't going to get it and would only be able to say "i'm sorry" or "i'm here if you want to talk." Those are great things, but I wanted someone who would UNDERSTAND and be able to say "yeah, I feel those things too." These online sites were a lifesaver for me.

I know the women who started www.youngwidow.org and I'm sure they won't be upset if I posted their "about us" section here...please visit them. Please use them for those 2 a.m. times or for those times you can't reach a friend or a doctor or just for whatever. You really are NOT alone. Anyway, here is their about us section -- good people, huh?

Lauren Raynor Weiss launched the initial YoungWidow.org website and associated bulletin board on September 11, 2001 after months of conceiving its format. She was 30 years old and 6 months pregnant when her late husband died from a sudden asthma attack in December 1999. Suddenly she was no longer with her mate of twelve years, she was a widow. She found the lack of existing literature, Internet resources and support groups for people of her age frustrating since a 30-year old cannot relate to a support group for seniors. There was no formal young widow support group in her area, but there was an existing group of widows in the New York area between the ages of 28 and 45 that she was introduced to, and in that group she found striking similarities in their experiences as young widows. The strength and hope that she found in this network of other young widows was the inspiration for this website. Lauren has a daughter from her marrage to her late husband. She is remarried and has another daughter.

Carol Young helped to administer and nurture the YoungWidow.org website and bulletin board in their early days before the organization of Young Widow - Chapter Two. Her husband of fourteen years died suddenly in 1998 and Carol found herself widowed at age 42 with three daughters under the age of thirteen. She is a trained grief facilitator at the Bereavement Center of Westchester.

The decision to formally organize as a non-profit corporation and to seek tax-exempt status grew out of a get-together in New York City in January 2003 of young widows and widowers from across the country who had become friends on the website's bulletin board. Knowing how much the opportunity to connect online with other young widows and widowers meant to them, they were committed to the goal of ensuring the continued existence of the YoungWidow.org website and the YWBB into the future.

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