Senior Center session encourages widows to find their voice

Dr. Teri Crane leads the discussion at the SCV Senior Center's "Widows: Finding Your Voice" workshop on Oct. 12, 2017. Gina Ender/The Signal
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The SCV Senior Center launched their Empowering Senior Women workshop series on Thursday to equip Santa Clarita’s female seniors with support and knowledge to live happy and healthy lives.

Funded by a community grant from the Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley, the three-part series started with session to help women who are grieving entitled “Widows: Finding Your Voice.”

“We’re here to support you and you’re here to support each other,” Senior Center Director of Volunteers, Recreation and Education Robin Clough said.

The presentation focused on becoming a widow, being a widow and finding one’s voice, presented by Dr. Teri Crane, a licensed marriage and family therapist, writer and widow.

Crane emphasized the importance of recognizing that there is more to a widow than her former marital status, but not to deny that part of herself that used to be a wife.

As each of the women used to be joyful babies or spunky teenagers, they used to be loving wives and that will always be within them, she said.

“Becoming a widow is a change in your identity that you didn’t choose,” Crane said. “You were part of the identity of wife.”

When she was married, Crane said she identified herself as an individual within a couple as “Bruce and Teri.” She still honors her husband by telling stories about him and following through with plans they made together before he died.

It is important to identify oneself in other ways, the women discussed, such as mother, friend, pet owner, reader or moviegoer.

Despite overwhelming grief, it is critical for women to know they are strong enough to be sad but still carry on, she said. It is possible to be upset and go to the market or feel lonely and go to Disneyland, she cited as examples.

Tommie Ward shares her story at the SCV Senior Center’s “Widows: Finding Your Voice” workshop on Oct. 12, 2017. Gina Ender/The Signal

The stages of grief are not linear and are not a list to go through because feelings of denial, anger, depression and acceptance will reoccur, according to Crane.

Crane assured the women that they are not at fault for the death, the death will not affect every area of their life and the aftershock will not last forever.

It is important to find healthy ways to grieve, whether that be feeling sorry for oneself for a specific amount of time each day, writing in a journal or joining a group, Crane said.

Though, she assured the attendees that everyone’s grieving process is unique and it is important to respond to oneself with kindness as they would treat a friend having the same experience.

Senior Center volunteer Louise Pinsky said attending the event showed her she was on the right track since becoming a widow.

“I got reassurance that I’m okay,” Pinsky said. “I’m going to keep going in the direction I’m going.”

The Senior Center will hold their next workshops in the series called “Slow Down the Clock and Embrace the Moment: Secrets to Aging Well” on Nov. 9 and “Purpose and Productivity as a Senior Woman” on Dec. 5, both from 2 to 3:30 p.m.

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