In death, as he was in life, Shirley Bey’s husband remains her only source of support.
But, 13 years after his death, she feels the need to branch out, to shed the relentless loneliness of widowhood.
She hopes that by starting a new group for widows and widowers, she can help herself as well as others who have walked in her shoes.
“It has been 13 years since the loss of my husband to cancer. I have most things under control but the most difficult thing is that I am still very alone,” said Bey, who has no children, and no close siblings.
Since her husband’s death, she has adjusted “quite reasonably” financially and to being on her own.
The marriage had plenty of challenges, not least of which was her husband’s alcoholism. Leaving was never an option and then, after he overcame his addiction, “I loved him more and more and had the greatest bond ever. He is my only support, even when he is gone.”
As the days following his death merged into weeks, months and years, Bey became increasingly disappointed with the attitude of family and friends towards her widowhood.
Ironically, becoming independent was isolating, and the comments of well-meaning friends sometimes left her cold.
“Because no one wants to open up or be close, it’s hard to start a relationship at this time,” she said.
Losing a life partner can be traumatic, she said.
“This is a very scary time for anyone widowed, and has been for me,” she said.
“I am fortunate that I did not go into a depression which I saw coming. I made sure that I looked after myself in the best possible way and kept thinking good thoughts about myself.”
She says that after 13 years, she’s learning to be more assertive.
She recently attended a grief counseling group where she found the support she had needed for all those years.
“Now I feel a sense of relief and am able to move forward and have my life back. I feel more complete.”
Bey has managed to restore her social life and expand her support network, thanks in part to the weekly chats with other widows who meet every Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in the Mocha Room Cafe, 20300 Fraser Hwy.
Although the group started out for widows only, Bey said she welcomes widowers as well so that they, too, may benefit from support and conversation over a cup of coffee.
Bey can be reached at 604 510-2610.