I came across a great article on being a young widow today. (The Widow of Downton Abbey). I am also looking forward to seeing this episode of Downton Abbey so it caught my eye. The author points out some important issues that young widows commonly face today and I thought it was great to see someone writing about them.
“A widow is rarely allowed to be a lead character. More typically, she is a helpmate on the sidelines, an object of pity, a grateful recipient of the protagonist’s generosity or, worse, an object of scorn. She’s not considered major character material because she’s pegged as someone with no desires of her own, no future, no plans for change, and therefore no potential for a heroic journey. Why would anyone waste an episode on her story?”-Widow Of ‘Downton Abbey’ Article
I have learned to dismiss the stereotypes that still hold to widows in our culture the hard way, by actually experiencing it. I remember being so lost and not knowing what to do in the early days following Tyler’s passing. It was easier to conform at first since I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. I eventually realized that I wasn’t really living, just existing and just trying to do what others were comfortable with me doing. Not only did it feel wrong, I didn’t see a point in wasting my life like that.
And yes, some people really do have a problem with that.
I struggled with that for a long time, but eventually I became strong enough to stand on my own. Lord knows Tyler didn’t let anyone tell him what he should be doing! It helped to think of him when I was really having a hard time with the fact that not everyone from our life was going to be in the life I would have to build alone. I soon learned that life is a lot easier once you have the right people in it and those that don’t come with you into your new life make things really difficult because they aren’t supposed to be there. I learned that sometimes you just have to agree to disagree, let them head down their path and continue making your own trail. And most importantly, stop worrying about how others think you should be living your life! Have confidence in yourself and your decisions. Yes, you might make mistakes, but so does everyone else! You can’t let fear be your driving motivation or it will take you places that you don’t want to go.
I was lucky to have found widow role models like Taryn Davis of the The American Widow Project to look to who didn’t just buck the stereotypes, but went on to thrive and enjoy life while making a huge impact helping other military widows do the same. When I saw that the light went off and I thought “YES!”. There was no more uncertainty or just knowing what I didn’t want. I gained confidence and started to go after what I wanted. I will always be grateful for that.
My experience of loss is a significant source of motivation for me today and I like to say I am living for two! And I know Tyler wouldn’t be satisfied with the ordinary. I aim to experience all I can, achieve all I can, and help others all I can. I don’t just want to exist, I want to LIVE as much as possible.
“So here’s to Lady Mary taking up aviation, or wildlife photography, or a lover. Maybe she can demonstrate that a widow, facing an uncertain future and a need to remake herself, need not choose between the poles of lady and tramp. Neither maudlin nor wanton, but real, a widow can be a vigorous, noble and complex heroine in art and in life.”
I hope to demonstrate the same with my journey.
Never Give Up, Chelsey Stimson