Wives, Widows, and Wishes

I’m sure you’ve seen the articles, ads, reviews, and press for The Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman, a memoir about six young women who were in mourning and started getting together to support one another and became friends. Then came a book.

Hey, I wrote a book about widows too. In case anyone was wondering.

The thing is, and it’s a weird thing to say, and I haven’t read the book, and I don’t wish death and loss on anyone ever, but these women had a label and situation that inspired the sympathy, empathy, compassion and camaraderie they needed and deserved. They were able to find others like themselves.

In my real life, my ex-husband died, and like my main character Evie, I found myself to be an ex-wife with a dead ex-husband.

Try finding a support group for that.

For me, in real life, divorce support groups never worked, either before or after my ex’s death.  I was not your everyday divorced mom. I worked at home and got along with my ex who happened to actually fulfill his duties as a father.  And by the time I divorced, I was no longer angry or bitter.  Annoyed at times, perhaps, but otherwise, fine and even at times, dandy.

I’ve had people tell me I was lucky my ex died. Yeah, my tolerance was, and remains, pretty low for people who say things like that to me. Insensitive is the nice word for what they are.  It’s clear that unless there are horrible extenuating circumstances, your kids are better off with their other parent in their lives. Even if he or she is riddled with faults, as all exes are. And it isn’t lost on me that if you have an ex, you are one.

Widowhood support groups certainly didn’t work for me after my ex died. I didn’t even qualify for those. And for that, I’m grateful. I don’t always believe thing happen for a reason, but I’m pretty sure that the reason I survived years of a craptastic marriage and thrived in the aftermath of divorce, was so that I would be rock solid when my kids needed me most, and forever after.

I think the interest in books about horribly sad, sometimes inspiring situations, most likely what Saturday Night Widows is like, is so that people can read and experience without actually, you know, experiencing anything at all.  They learn, wonder, put themselves in the places of the people or the characters. If the writer did his or her job, readers get a true sense of emotion and situation, whether the book is fiction or fact.

I think the people who’ve already read The Glass Wives have enjoyed it because they get to tread into a situation they can’t imagine for themselves. Heck, I wrote it, and although the springboard for the novel lies in truth, I wouldn’t have wanted to live out some of the details of Evie’s life either. I think that’s what made it so much fun to write.  It’s true, I wish I had a freezer full of cookies like Evie always does. I wish I would meet a Jewish George Clooney (how I imagine a character in the book, ha!). I wish I worked in a snazzy gift shop because it sounds like fun.  I wish my two best friends lived right next door to me, one on each side.

But really, I wish my ex was alive so that I had to come up with a whole different idea for a novel.

That being said, I’m wondering…are books about widows the new, um, black?

Jeez, I hope so.

Have you read the advance praise for The Glass Wives? You can do so here

19 thoughts on “Wives, Widows, and Wishes

  1. Amy, this is a wonderfully honest, thoughtful post. I have an ex who also happens to be my good friend and a terrific dad. Despite being in a happy second marriage, I can’t imagine losing him–or trying to help my kids grieve him, either. I’m so amazed by how resilient you are. I also think it’s incredibly important that these kinds of complicated family relationships make it into novels, to show people how many different ways there are to be loving and kind rather than vengeful and angry. Kudos, girlfriend!

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  2. Amy, I fit into an odd support group genre as well: women who tried to leave their husbands but whose husbands killed themselves first. The only group I could find that seemed relevant was Al-Anon, and with my husband’s manipulations at an end, I was a quick study. My characters became my ongoing support group, and the fictional construct the vehicle of my healing. To find empathy I needed to write a story in which I (a cock-eyed optimist) could somehow relate to a desire to self-destruct, and then bring my character to a more hopeful ending. Sounds like the writing of your novel was a healing journey, as was mine. Best wishes for your book launch and may it bring great meaning to the challenges you’ve faced.

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    • I’m so sorry for your loss, Kathryn, and glad you found your way.

      I actually found the writing of my novel to be fun because it took me away from reality instead of inside it most of the time, exploring kinds of people, events, situations that I didn’t have in my real life. I do know that real life fueled the emotions in the book, and being able to manipulate people and outcomes is truly a joy.

      Lots of good luck to you with your upcoming book! I hope you’ll come back when it launches and share your story with us at WFW!

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  3. I’ve got a thing for widows. (OK, that probably didn’t sound quite right.)

    But I’ve always been drawn to widows in literature and how they are portrayed – from the medieval/Renaissance texts I read in college to the modern novels I’ve found in recent years (Lolly’s Winston’s “Good Grief”, Barbara Claypole White’s “The Unfinished Garden”). My own debut revolves around a widow and her young daughter – she juggles bereavement and Mommy & Me groups as she tries to make sense of their loss – perhaps books about widows are indeed the new black, as you so cleverly put it.

    When I first read your blurb last year, Amy – I thought, “that’s a great hook”, not realizing you were versed in the sad truth of it. While we all know that truth can be stranger (and sadder) than fiction, I am glad you have found a way to channel the feelings and, as you noted, escape from the reality of it. I am really looking forward to finally reading all about the Glass Wives.

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  4. Hi Amy,

    I published a book in 2011, MacCullough’s Women, about a young widow whose husband leaves a lot of unanswered questions behind. In desperation, she turns to her his ex-wife to find the answers. Widows do seem to be the new black. I suppose it is something many women can relate to and, by the stats, most will experience. Women usually outlive their husbands.

    Like you, I hold my own widow card having lost my first husband very suddenly at the age of 35. I look forward to reading your book.

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  5. What a sensitive and real post. Makes me really curious to read about where you went with your tragic springboard. I’m sure all stories start with the personal and flower out. And would never wish anything upon my ex!

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