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Author Becky Aikman To Speak At PWPL

Widow shares new approach to processing grief 

“When I was in my 40’s and my husband died,” said Becky Aikman, author of “Saturday Night Widows: The Adventures of Six Friends Remaking Their Lives” (Random House, 2013), “I was painfully aware of how ill-prepared I was to deal with it. There are a lot of misconceptions and clichés. I was suddenly slapped with the connotation of ‘widow’, and expected to be perpetually sad. So, I decided to become more informed.”

Aikman’s background as a journalist for the Bergen Record, BusinessWeek and New York Newsday led her to investigate grief and recovery. She learned that scientists have only recently begun to study these topics, and that most of the conceptions are entirely off base. Scientists have found that people have natural resilience and the ability to become happy again.

“The five stages of grief are baloney,” Aikman said. “There is no such thing.”

Aikman found that going to a support group can reinforce unhappiness because you are surrounded by people with the same unhappiness. In fact, she was kicked out of her widow support group for bringing up the topic of being happy again.

So Aikman decided to create a new kind of group for widows. She joined with five other women, ages 39 to 59, who had also lost a spouse. Together, these women went through a process of rebuilding and rediscovering. In her book, Aikman tells the story of what the group did together, as well as the individual stories of the women over the course of the first year.

“Life is short and we have the ability to bounce back,” Aikman said. She learned that it is vitally important to have friendship and laughter in your life. In fact, people with a good sense of humor tend to return to a normal life more quickly. “My book follows our year of adventures,” she said. “There is a lot of humor in it, and it’s pretty juicy in parts.”

Since its release in January, Aikman’s book has received wide-ranging attention in the national media, from the Katie Couric Show to CBS This Morning, to O magazine. She has heard from many people who understand what she went through. “In general, widows love the pieces because they are finally seeing themselves in a way that is realistic,” she said.

On August 13, at 7:30 p.m., Aikman will discuss her book and a take questions at the Port Washington Public Library. The book will be available for purchase and signing, and refreshments will be served. For more information, go to www.pwpl.org or call 883-4400.