I’ve known these women of true beauty for many years. I never thought to put them in a category together. They come from different backgrounds, different political camps, possibly different religions. They are different ages and have all experienced different kinds of loss. At first when I was making this revelation, I thought it was only the grief club that brought these women together in my mind, their similarities uncanny. I then went on to expand my mental search to women that I knew that experienced other kinds of deep loss. The end of a marriage, a walk through cancer and chemotherapy and other such great and deep losses, besides the loss of a child, (the recent club I was told I now belong to but never asked to join, pay an initiation fee, or any other of the nonsense that goes along with this macabre sorority.)
I have always had a diverse group of women around me. I have my spoon in many pots so to speak. I have my church women, the ones that have cleaned my shower and hav cooked my family food when I could even get myself in the shower. I have my academic group of women that rallied around and supported me in the workplace while I was gone, where I once prided myself on evidence based research, but now struggle to bring myself back to the reality of it all. I have my mom’s group, the women I have raised my children with, that we have discussed everything from breast feeding to colleges, community outreach, recycling, and how to raise decent humans.
In these diverse groups I always navigated towards these women. It’s not because I intuitively knew I would be joining their specific club, I honestly never put these women together in a category until now. For the men reading this, I don’t mean to be exclusive. It is just what I have been around, as the nursing industry, PTA, and my church group seems to be dominated by women.
I noticed this change about myself recently, but in truth, I’ve always had some of these characteristics to begin with, but now they seem more amplified. With great loss comes the reality that trivial details in life are not important. The way you load the dishwasher, the only B out of four years of high school, the outfits I wear, the makeup I do or do not choose to wear, the gossip that was said in the locker room, the attractiveness of an actor, the car I drive and well, you get the point.
As I noticed this change in myself, I also noticed the women around me that shared these similar characteristics. These women turned out to be the women that related to my process right away. This is not to say other people in my life were not supportive and wonderful, but these were the people who have experienced a deep hurt and are scarred in some permanent way. These women knew instantly the club I had just joined. They didn’t shrug when I chopped 13 inches off my hair. They didn’t say things to me like, “she’s in a better place,” or “time will heal.” Even if they believed or knew these things to be true, they didn’t say them to me.
I started considering and grouping these women in my mind. Out of the 350 people who came to the memorial and have been circling in and out of my daily life, either on social media, with letters or actually people I see on a regular basic, it became clear these women are different. They are beautiful. They are raw and honest. They are blunt and direct. They are the people I had gravitated towards naturally like a leaf following the current downstream all my life. They are the women that shy away from gossip and drama. They are alway no-nonsense and to the point. I now know why. It isn’t important to learn the latest gossip, there is no time or need for drama. The small things, the silly things that hang us up in life, are not important. It was like these women have seen something no one else has seen, maybe a glimpse of heaven if you will. They had visited that other world and found nothing to be as important as the ones you love, everything else will eventually be lost.
None of these women are obsessed in what they wear and none of these women wear a ton of makeup of seem to be caught up with vanity. The interesting thing of it is, I actually find all of them beautiful. They have a natural beauty that doesn’t seem to need contour or Botox. They don’t do fad diets or expensive memberships at clubs or focus on the latest trends of anything it seems. The more I thought of it, they seemed to focus on other people and the needs of those around them.
These women I am thinking of have lost their infants, their school age child, their brother or sister, their husband, their adult child, or their middle-aged child. Their world has been rocked in some unimaginable way and I am thankful for their beauty. I am thankful for their raw honesty and their ability to use that gift of loss, if I can dare call it a gift, to help others and allow the hurting to lean on them during their own journey down a very lonely road to the initiation to a club they never wanted to join. If you know one of these women, take a minute to appreciate their natural beauty and acknowledge their intense and sometimes brutal truths.