Support group helps young widows, widowers with grief

A new support group is helping younger widows and widowers. Many of the challenges faced by younger people are different from those of older people, says Marny Williams-Balodis, the group’s leader and a volunteer with Bereaved Families of Ontario-Midwestern Region.

KITCHENER, Ont. — A new support group is helping younger widows and widowers.

Many of the challenges faced by younger people are different from those of older people, says Marny Williams-Balodis, the group’s leader and a volunteer with Bereaved Families of Ontario-Midwestern Region.

Often, they have young children or teenagers, are working full-time, or have lost their sole income earner. They’re learning to cook or use the lawnmower. As single parents, they’re also helping their children grieve.

The first LEGACY group started in February with six families. Meeting over a 10-week period, it’s one of several support groups offered by this area’s Bereaved Families of Ontario. LEGACY stands for Learning to Embrace Grief and Care for the Young.

The new support group is filling a need in the area, says Rose Greensides, co-executive director of the not-for-profit charity.

The LEGACY support group is helping families acknowledge their grief and move beyond it. It’s one of several peer-to-peer grief support groups offered by the charity.

“I used to call it (grief) my 24-hour, seven-day-a-week job. It’s everywhere you go in the early stages,” said Williams-Balodis, 37, who lived in Calgary when her husband died in 2002, six weeks after he was diagnosed with cancer. She was turning 30, with a three-month-old baby and a son, three.

At first, “I wanted to stuff my head under the pillow and not come up,” she said. But you can’t, particularly if you have children.

“It is a journey,” she said. “It is not a straight path. You have to make a decision. You have to choose to heal.”

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