I have joined the club, no one wants to join. Widow...I am a widow. Sometimes on official forms there is no check box...married, separated, divorced...what am I? No check box for me.
Two years ago, my husband of more than 20 years died as a result of surgical error. Yeah, the nightmare of dropping him off for same day outpatient surgery and burying him four days later. A self employed psychologist widowed at 54.
I desperately clung to the notion that life would go on, that a new normal would be established, but yet, the question always remained, how would I accomplish that?
My late husband took care of everything mechanical...cars, house, washing machine. Despite the fact that he, too, was a psychologist, he prided himself in being a jack of all trades. I benefitted from that when he was alive and paid for it dearly after he died.
I was 54 years old had never filed income taxes, didn't know how to operate the furnace, wouldn't recognize a wrench from a screwdriver. Finances? Well, yeah, that was something else he managed. I was in the dark.
So,suddenly husband dead, me left on almost two acres of rural country living with an elderly german shepard, a calico cat "Miss Diva" (and yes, that fits) I was alone. Completely alone for the first time in forever.
My three daughters were awesome, one even stayed in town to support mom emotionally, putting her own career on hold just to make sure "mom" was okay.
It seemed that every week something horrific happened: i fell on the slate floor and required 25 stitches in my head, the furnace went out, the german shepard had to be put down, the house flooded when pipes froze, toliets backed up, the well stopped pumping, umm, let's see, what else. It was a year of one disaster after another.
The topper, of course, was the eve of the year anniversary. All the girls came home and we planned a Gratitude bar-b-que for friends in our community who had aided me thru this transition. We expected about 50 people. As the girls and I gathered around the dining room table reminicing about our year we heard a cracking sound...yes, the kitchen cabinets LITERALLY fell of the wall. Jess, my oldest, instructed us to get jacks from the garage to prop up the cabinets and then suggested we call Dave, our savior that year, to come and reattach the cabinets before the party.
"NO" the cabinets would stay propped up on the jacks because all of the guests would recognize what an appropriate metaphor those cabinets were. The year had been one of one disaster after another. The cabinets were a fitting "ending."
What got me through? A strange underlying faith...even though I announced to my minister and friend, "I am an atheist." My prayer for that year and for ever was not about outcome...my prayer was simple:
"Give me strength to manage whatever comes my way."
My other mantra was "Rob died, I didn't."
So, now over two years out my life has changed dramatically. I have left my psychology practice of 20 years and am retooling as a life coach. I am in the process of starting a new business, Phoenix Rising Coaching, a business designed to provide life coaching to people in transition who want to thrive following change.
My social circle has expanded and contracted. Some special people have fallen away, but other new people have entered my life. I run a wonderful women's group, Happiness Boot Camp. I am busily studying ways to coach people in the area of positive psychology. I have a new wonderful companion who loves me deeply and has accepted me warts and all.
I believe I am a living testiment that joining the club that no one wants to join really doesn't have to be a death sentence. In fact, in some ways, this club provided me with the opportunity to rise above the ashes of despair and soar.

Author's Bio: 

Beth has been a practicing psychologist for twenty years. Following the tragic death of her husband, she and her three daughters have refused to "give up or give in" and are all working on building lives that are rich and full and complete.
Beth has left her work as a traditional psychologist and is establishing Phoenix Rises Coaching to aid people who are facing life challenges and want to learn how to grow by using positive psychology as a foundation.
Like Beth, her three daughters are thriving and realizing that indeed with help and support one can emerge from what feels like a life shattering event, stronger then ever.