You’re not alone if you’ve lost your spouse
■ By Mark Lentine / Contributed
“I noticed that, when my husband died, friends began to drop off. Some felt awkward not knowing whether they should invite me, and I believe some just felt so sad for me, they didn’t know what to do so they stopped calling.” This profound statement came from Susan Beauchene, President of the Widowed Persons Activities Club (WPAC).
The loss of a spouse can not only bring grief, but a loss of confidence as well. “I know I was very shy,” said Anna Beth Moore. “I just wanted to sit there against the wall at the first couple meetings and have no one talk to me, talk to no one and just be alone.” Moore, who is First Vice President and head of Membership, added, “Our motto is, ‘We are the new beginning…we offer friendship and companionship.’”
While the group offers friendship and companionship, both women are quick to point out that the group is not designed as a bereavement group. “…we here are more aimed at getting widows and widowers back out into the world again.” Both women note that those who’ve lost spouses are suddenly faced with things that may seem mundane to married couples, but that can be a source of pain for those who suddenly find themselves alone after decades of marriage.
“For some people it’s as simple as not wanting to eat alone. Some people used to have a favorite night out with their spouse, such as dinner or a movie, and it just doesn’t feel the same if you’re not sharing it with someone. This gives you a chance to share your life with others who have experienced the very same things that you’re experiencing,” added Moore.
“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” -Havelock Ellis
While there have been some romances that have grown out of the group, which again both women stress that is not their goal; “We don’t promote anything more than friendship, but if a romance comes of the get-togethers, that’s fine with us. But that’s not our mission,” said Moore.
The group began after its parent group, the Widowed Persons Association of California, disbanded in 2008. “We wanted to keep the initials WPAC, and so we adopted our new name,” said President Beauchene.
The group offers an impressive array of activities such as breakfast at the Early Bird Cafe on the first Wednesday of every month, with a second breakfast added by the group at a meeting place which varies from month to month. Then there’s the monthly “Chat and Chew,” which entails bowling, movie nights, cards and games at Anna Beth Moore’s mobile home clubhouse area. They even have lunch or dinner at Emilio’s Restaurant on the third Thursday of every month. “We also have a once-a-month day trip, usually to the Regal Theater, but it varies,” said Beauchene.
“The ages in the group range from the early 60s to the early 90s, so we try and vary the activities to keep everyone happy. Along with regular activities, we try and have an additional two or three new things every month,” said Moore, adding “Our success stems from the gathering and friendship of people of like minds and shared experiences.”
Both women know all too well how tough life can be for those who suddenly find themselves alone, and lonely.
The group sends a free newsletter to all who are interested. Vice President and Membership Coordinator Anna Beth Moore can be reached at (951) 658-8657 and the meetings are held every Thursday at the Simpson Center, 305 E. Devonshire Avenue in Hemet.