SANDPOINT — Widows Helping Widows is a little-known group in the community that acts as a networking support for those who have lost their spouses.
“Widows very often feel that they don’t have a way to get connected with other widows, because we all have the common denominator of having to start our lives over independently,” said Widows Helping Widows founder Vivian Kirkwood.
Kirkwood started the group three years ago, about a year after losing her husband. After the initial grieving stage, Kirkwood said she looked around for a local widow group to network with, but could not find one.
After one of Paul Grave’s Geezer Forums one day in 2016, Kirkwood asked him if he knew of any such groups in the community, which he did not. However, their conversation was overheard by Ellen Weissman, executive director of Sandpoint Area Seniors, Inc., who immediately offered to help Kirkwood out with the use of the senior center as a meeting place.
“I just had a desire to see a group in the community and, if I had to start one, then so be it,” Kirkwood said.
Kirkwood began to recruit members to meet at SASi once a month. There is no particular format for the meetings, she said, just interaction between widows, to form friendships and share thoughts, ideas and resources to make life easier.
“It’s a means of meeting each other and helping each other with issues, maybe sharing names of plumbers or contractors,” Kirkwood said. “It’s an interactive group, essentially — shared ideas are the basic foundation of it.”
It is not a grief support group for newly widowed individuals, as nobody in the group is trained to help those in the first stages of grief, Kirkwood said.
As some of the widows are no longer able to attend the meetings due to health issues, the group has started to decrease in size, Kirkwood said. There are four to five people who attend regularly each month, so Kirkwood said they are encouraging widows in the community to join them at the meetings.
The meetings are held on the last Monday of each month, unless it is a holiday. The next meeting starts at 10 a.m. on Sept. 30 at SASi, 820 Main St., Sandpoint. Kirkwood said the group typically stays for lunch at the senior center, which starts at 11:30 a.m. There is a suggested donation of $4 for anyone over the age of 60, and a charge of $8 for those under 60. Reservations should be made ahead of time for those planning on staying to eat. For information or reservations, call SASi at 208-263-6860.
Mary Malone can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.