The title of Catherine Tidd's new book suggests she is a mediocre widow.
Don't believe it for one second.
Catherine Tidd is quite the opposite. Catherine Tidd is in fact a courageous, smart and very funny woman in search of herself and an entirely different life while raising three young children after the death of her beloved husband, Brad, in a tragic motorcycle accident in 2007.
Her book is refreshing and down-to-earth and is full of painful and funny personal insights about what happened to her after the death of her spouse: the hospital, the funeral, her in-laws, the whole crazy upside down aspect of picking yourself up and putting yourself back together. As a widow myself, I truly understand the tightrope walk of processing grief, raising a child, working a full-time job all the while trying to figure out what the hell is going to happen next in this so-called uncharted territory called a new life.
Putting those intensely private and sometimes heartbreaking experiences down on paper for others to consider and understand is a difficult task but not for Catherine Tidd. She has written an amazing book that I couldn't put down and I would recommend to anyone whether they have lost a spouse or not because she is straightforward yet humorous (my husband is dead and Keith Richards is alive?) about how her new life unfolded in the months and years following her husband's death.
Many times while reading, "Confessions of A Mediocre Widow Or, How I Lost My Husband And My Sanity," I found myself putting the book down and saying out loud, "Yes! That's exactly right Catherine. Yes! You nailed what it feels like at that particular stage of grief."
I have to reveal that I was familiar with Catherine's sense of humor before I read her book. Her uplifting blog, "Widow Chick," (www.widowchick.blogspot.com) was the first blog about grief that I discovered online. Right away I loved the name of her blog and read every post, sometimes laughing at the things she vented about and sometimes shaking my head in agreement with her about the emotional push and pull of navigating single parenting, anniversaries, birthdays, and the dating scene.
But her new book is chock full of more Catherine and it has given her the time and space to expand on how loss affects you and those who care about you and to really dig deep into a discussion of life on your own as a widow with children, a subject that tends to make most people feel very uncomfortable.
Here is how Catherine explains what she wanted to have happen to her in the midst of dealing with her overwhelming grief: "I wanted to walk into a padded room and throw the grocery list, the bills, the back-to-school forms, the insurance paperwork, just chuck 'em at a wall over and over until the paper was crumpled and soft. I wanted to scream until my throat was raw. I wanted to kick at those padded walls until my legs were sore. I wanted to pull an Office Space and take a baseball bat to every appliance in my house that had the nerve not to work properly. And sometimes I wanted to take my emotions out on an innocent teddy bear."
Catherine also writes about using retail therapy as a way of coping with the loneliness and isolation following her husband's sudden death. She would buy tons of stuff, decide to keep one thing and then return the rest the next day. This didn't make her very popular with the salespeople and her therapy went on for months until she got fixated on a new purchase: a Mazda RX8. As in a car that doesn't have a back seat, is low to the ground and not child friendly at all. I loved that she did this even though it was extravagant.
Here in Catherine's words are why the Mazda RX8 was such a necessary, yet temporary, purchase: "For a while, that car was the best therapy I could have had. It was where I could go and just pretend for a minute that my life was not actually happening. I could drive around and forget for seconds at a time that I had three kids at home who were in the throes of toddlerhood. I felt empowered that I had bought that car completely on my own. I would listen to music I liked, turning it up so loud that it would almost drown out the thoughts in my head. And the tinted windows would show nothing at a stoplight if I just needed to sit there and cry for a minute."
Even though Catherine spent her 11th wedding anniversary planning her husband's funeral, she found the inner strength to move her life forward and "Confessions of A Mediocre Widow" is a candid book about the reality of becoming a widow and where the exhausting, emotional adjustments took her and her family.
The bottom line, Catherine writes, is the ability to become self-aware and realize that it doesn't matter whether other people understand your journey or not. You will find the way that is best for you. It may be a slow process but inner peace can come if you accept what your life is today. She states a core truth about being a widow when she writes that there comes a point in every widow's journey when she has to make peace with the death of her loved one "and finally accept that, yes, this has happened to her. Most of the widows who seem to all of a sudden turn a corner have one thing in common: they stopped fighting widowhood and started to work with it."
Thank you Catherine Tidd for sharing your heartfelt story in this beauty of a book, "Confessions of A Mediocre Widow." You made me feel as though we were friends in this widow journey and I know your new book will help many others (widows or not) understand that you have to put yourself out there and live life with as much love as you can find.
"Confessions of A Mediocre Widow" will be available in retail stores on Tuesday, January 7, 2014. Copies can be ordered on Amazon.com at this link:
or at Barnes & Noble at this link: