Losing a spouse is unexpected, since you see yourself growing old with this person. Dr. Heidi Horsley talks to Stephanie Groepper, a military widow. She’s a psychology student and the founder of Washington Warrior Widows, a non-profit for widows and widowers in Washington State. Groepper’s daughter is seven years old, and was only four months old when her partner died. In the military, it’s the loss of both a spouse and a lifestyle. As part of the military, it can be a sudden loss of your community. You’re given one year to move off base if you live in military housing.
Children are ripped from their home, schools, and community. Groepper encourages other military widows to keep your head up and actively reach out. Military widows are in the shadows, but out there in full force. There are others who will empathize with you. Head to the Washington Warrior Widows’ website or Facebook page to instantly connect with fellow widows and widowers, and to get insight on support networks close to you.
When Hoping for the Best Fails
Being married to someone in the military comes with an innate risk. Still, nobody thinks such a heartbreaking loss will actually happen to them. You may assume there will be plenty of support from your military community, but that’s not always the case. Many times, widows and widowers need to be the ones actively seeking support. It’s out there, but it can take some work.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask a trusted friend or family member to research support resources for you. This can be especially helpful if you have children. It’s a lot to take on yourself, especially if you’ll be moving far from the base where you’re located. Know that you’re not alone, and that help is available.