Sunday Post 74: The Dead Wives Club

Posted by Danny

Every third Monday of the month for the past 18 months, I’ve driven to Chapel Hill, NC.  I’m a NC State man, I’m not going over there to support the Heels.  That’s actually where I meet with The Dead Wives Club.  That’s not our actual name; however, it probably best describes the group.

Two UNC psychiatrists were bored and looking for something to study.  I’m not sure how they landed on us.  I think they ran across one of the dudes in the group not long after his wife had passed.  I imagine the conversation went like this:

Doc 1:  “How ya’ holding up?”

Widower Dude:  “Not so well.”

Doc 1 to Doc 2:  “Interesting.  Let’s study this.”

Doc 2:  “Got anything better?”

Doc 1:  “Nah.  Not really.”

Doc 2:  “OK.”

And that was the beginning. 

There are about 8 of us in the group.  All under 50, all with kids still in the house, all who lost our wives to cancer around the same time.  We gather in an office building – we eat, we share. 

The first year, we cried – a lot – one of the few safe places I’ve found where men cry in front of other men and it’s fine.  We all know each other’s pain and for us, tears are NOT a sign of weakness.

We’ve shared about our kids.  We’ve talked about guilt.  We each, at varying times, removed our wedding rings.  And we found that the lonely nights and the empty bed were difficult for us all. 

I really don’t think that we have that much in common.  We’ve only seen each other 18 times in our entire lives.  And yet, in a way, we know more about each other than we know about most of the people we run across on a daily basis. 

How is that possible?  I believe we can walk into the room and sense exactly what the other is feeling.  It doesn’t really take words.  It’s in the eyes.

Over our time together, we’ve seen great progress.  We’ve moved from discussions on dealing with our incredible losses to discussion about (no, not yet). 

I didn’t think I was a support group kind of guy.  I’m probably not.  But there has been something incredibly comforting about this oddly matched group of men. 

I’m not sure how long we’ll meet.  We each will move forward and perhaps outgrow the need.  But walking into a room of young dads who lost their wives to the same damn disease has been one leg of my healing journey.  And I’m thankful for that.

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  1. Elizabeth Erenz

     /  June 13, 2012

    Dear Danny,
    I have no idea how your blog came up on my screen toinght. Accidently at best. I couldn’t help but start to read what you wrote and I found myself 12 years old again at my moms funeral. She died from cancer of the uterus. She had 7 children, 6 of which were still living at home. It was a really difficult period and I know my dad didn’t do so well with everything. For what it’s worth, you are doing one hell of a job with those girls. If there is any advise I could give to you, it would be to get them some counseling. After 33 years, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her or the fact that she is not here. It’s hard as hell and you and your girls will never be the same. But you can count your blessings as you mentinoned that you do. I always say, it could be a lot worse. And, it’s ok to cry too.
    Gods speed,

    • Danny Tanner

       /  June 14, 2012

      Interesting perspective. I’ve heard from several women who lost their mothers that it actually became harder as they got older. We done some grief counseling but not a ton – some of us more than others. I’ll take your advice and give that more urgent thought. Thank you for the suggestion.


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