When I heard that the author of “Saturday Night Widows” had been kicked out of a grief support group, I knew it was a book I wanted to read. Though not as young a widow as Becky Aikman (she was in her 40s when widowed and I was in my early 50s) I’d discovered that I inevitably fell through the cracks at the grief support groups I’d attended. I was usually at least 15 years younger than anyone else in the room and always the only one who still had young children at home.
I liked that Aikman didn’t want to wallow in self-pity and sadness but instead, find ways to move on with her life. I will never forget my first grief support meeting where I was horrified as I listened to the woman next to me sobbing while she claimed that the second year after her husband’s death was worse than the first. Was this the future I had to look forward to?
I was delighted that the author formed her own support group of five other widows, ages 39 to 57, with the only requirement to join seeming to be a desire to move forward in a new life without a spouse. Well, that, and an ability to pay for what would entail some very expensive and extravagant adventures. While the intent was to enjoy monthly activities, close bonds of friendship were formed in the ensuing heartfelt conversations that erupted during meetings. No topic was off-limits and I envied the camaraderie of these women who shared the common bond of knowing what it was to lose a spouse. As close as I am to my sisters, they cannot know that pain.
When the topic turned to sex, I found myself liking both the author and the book a little less. It wasn’t because of the topic itself, but in how it was addressed. Call me old-fashioned, but I was disappointed that out of six widows, not one considered remaining chaste until remarriage. The fact that I chose the word “chaste” might be indicative of my own Christian-based sense of morality. The few men the author chose to interview provided even more shock-value to this reader; three of them hadn’t waited even four months to bed another woman after their wife’s death. The one (brave) man who tentatively interrupted the conversation with “I wouldn’t do that,” was evidently of no interest to the author, who glossed over his comment and concluded that she and her widow friends had much more sexual integrity than the widowers she’d broached the subject with.
If you’re looking for an uplifting book about “widows who just want to have fun,” then this is the book for you. If it’s spiritual inspiration you’re searching for, you’ll want to check the shelf at your local Christian bookstore instead.
REVIEWER: Mary Potter Kenyon is an author from Manchester, where she lives with three of her eight children. She is widely published in magazines, newspapers and anthologies, including five Chicken Soup books. She conducts writing and couponing workshops. Her book, “Coupon Crazy: The Science, the Savings, and the Stories Behind America’s Extreme Obsession” will be released by Familius Publishing in August.
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