A Tribute to Blogger Sue Larrison
The year my husband died I started following a blog called “Widows Speak Up” by Sue Larrison. Sue launched the blog four years after her husband, Lane, died suddenly of a heart attack.
Sue’s pithy two- or three-paragraph reflections about what life was like after losing the great love of her life attracted thousands of followers over the next several years. Her posts always ended with a question or prompt that engaged the reader and elicited responses numbering in the hundreds. It was one of the best blogs I’ve ever read.
Though she had worked in marketing communications for 40 years, Sue didn’t seem to care about how successful and potentially lucrative her blog had become. She cared about communicating her experiences as a widow truthfully, and about her sisterhood of widows. As her readership grew from a handful to thousands, Sue remained Sue: welcoming, straightforward, and disarmingly honest. Her lack of pretense and disinterest in monetizing the blog made it that much more beloved in an age of AdWords, Patreon, and Search Engine Optimization.
From Sue’s widow community, I learned that all widows are not created equal. We were a self-selected group who had, like her, enjoyed enviable marriages to our best friends. Equally yoked for decades to peers with whom we shouldered life’s burdens and celebrated life’s joys, we were devastated when our husbands died.
Nobody suffers more than the survivor of a happy marriage. We had forged companionable, caring, successful partnerships with our spouses and remained romantically, sexually, and intellectually attracted to them. With the salves of insight and patience, we had dressed and healed disabling childhood wounds and, in effect, re-parented one another. We raised children. We stuck together day after day, crisis after crisis, love after love. Then suddenly—in spite of our best-laid plans for golden years when we could finally relax, have more fun, and travel together—suddenly, our companion died.
The two-income family became a single-income household. The family business failed. The house had to be sold, children enrolled in new schools. Women who worked alongside their husbands or who worked at home, were suddenly faced with the necessity of establishing new careers mid-life or in their 50s, 60s, and even 70s. Some received no life insurance or insufficient insurance for covering financial deficits, and had to accept whatever jobs they could find.
We widows handled all this during the year following the death of the one person we loved most and knew best in the world, the selfsame person who loved and knew us best.
Here’s what Sue had to say about the realities of widowhood:
Monday, April 11, 2011
I don’t know about you …
But I think that:
Time will not heal this wound.
If crying makes you feel better, do it.
Dating is awkward.
Life goes on but will never be as much fun.
Getting old without him stinks.
Finding a new direction in life is very difficult.
Feeling sorry for myself comes with the territory.
Laughing every day about something is mandatory.
Until you lose a husband you can’t begin to understand the pain.
Learning to live for yourself takes practice.
Widows are strong women who keep going even when they don’t want to.