On beautiful Lake Michigan in Illinois, Chicago is among the largest cities in the U.S. known for its picturesque skyline, expansive museums and cultural institutions, world-class theatre, sports and art, and a multitude of culinary delights ranging from deep-dish pizza to the ever-famous Chicago-style hot dog. Approximately 30 miles West of the city’s center lies Wheaton, Illinois, home to Wheaton College, the Billy Graham Center, Chicago Gulf Club, DuPage County Fairgrounds, the Illinois Prairie Path, the famous Belushi brothers, and now the Greater Chicagoland MWC Chapter guided by leader, Natalie R. and her wonderful friends and co-leaders, Maureen L. and Eileen T.
MWC Greater Chicagoland Chapter gets together on the second Thursday of each month in a relaxed and comfortable environment. It is in this community of friendship that we learn we are not alone and that we can “live for today, while honoring yesterday.” In the words of Leo Buscaglia, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
We welcome you to join us as we strive to live by these words and make a difference to all who choose to walk with us!
Meet our Leaders
Chapter Lead – Natalie R.
Born and raised in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, her college years took me to DePaul University where, at the age of 19, she met the man who was soon to become the center of her life. In November of 1987, Dan and Natalie were married. Four years later, they joyously welcomed the arrival of Lauren, and by 1993, they moved their growing family to the lovely suburb of Wheaton. It was here that they welcomed two additional bundles of joy: Richie and Dana. Together, Dan and Natalie raised their three children to love life and cherish the gift of each new day.
On April 27, 2011, Dan’s 49th birthday, he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer that had metastasized to the liver. After a 15-month courageous, determined and often awe-inspiring fight, he lost his battle on July 10, 2012. The world as Natalie knew changed forever. She doesn’t remember much about that first year. All she cared about was being as present as she could for her three beautiful children. And crying – She does remember crying – a lot. Ever so slowly, the mental fog lifted, the tears became fewer (although they still creep up on her at the strangest times), and her need to find a purpose to this new life of mine grew. She have always been a faith-filled person, and began to search for an answer to a question that just wouldn’t leave me alone: “If God chose me to experience this world of widowhood, what does He want me to do with it?” Surely, it can’t be for naught. And so the “google” search began, and Natalie stumbled upon a website called Modern Widows Club. It made me realize that she was not alone. And so she “officially” joined the group and began to really learn about the organization. Natalie came to love and respect what she saw and decided to reach out to Carolyn with the possibility of starting a chapter in Chicago. She then reached out to two of her dearest friends, Eileen and Maureen, who had walked the walk of widowhood with her.
None of them chose this journey, but the gift of everlasting friendship they received because of it was truly that: a gift! They signed on to become co-leaders and after much paperwork, many conversations, a road trip and months of contemplating, The Greater Chicagoland MWC Chapter was born!
They have certainly had their share of stumbles since Firouz, Tom and Dan left their sides. But they have learned that life is not so much about what challenges come their way as it is about how they choose to face the challenges that they were given. The choices they make, the gifts that they give, the mistakes that they learn from – these are what matter on this journey called life. And so, the ladies continue to take one day at a time and one moment in each day because life is for living. They choose to stay strong, live strong, keep the faith, and welcome YOU to join them.
Together, let’s turn the page and write the next chapter in our lives!
Chapter Co-Leader – Maureen L.
Maureen’s husband, Tom, was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 41, and lost his battle in September 2013. They had two beautiful children, a daughter Katie, and a son Michael, who were both young when he passed. It was devastating news to hear at their young ages. Tom was strong and never gave up hope. Tom and Maureen had many good years together he was a wonderful father and husband. He set such a good example for their children.
During the first year, Maureen felt like she was on autopilot, just trying to take care of her son daughter while her own heart was aching. She knew that she had to be strong for her children and set a good example for them. Maureen was fortunate to have a supportive family and friends, but what really helped her was support from her friend, Natalie. She had lost her husband a year prior, and was there when Maureen needed a shoulder to cry on or just listen. Maureen also had the support of Eileen, who had lost her husband prior to Natalie.
The second year, Maureen felt that she needed to try to figure out how to move forward and find a purpose. Natalie had researched the Modern Widows Club and asked Maureen and Eileen to help her lead a new chapter. Researching a little herself, Maureen realized what a great community that Carolyn had built and wanted to be a part of it. She wanted to help other widows move forward in life because she knew how hard it is to lose her best friend, love of her life, and partner.
Chapter Co-Leader – Eileen T.
Eileen lost her husband to glioblastoma brain cancer in June of 2009. They have one daughter, Mary, who is 22 and is the light of Eileen’s life.
Eileen came upon Modern Widows Club group when her and friend Natalie, became so much closer under tragic circumstances. They had always been involved in the community together their daughters became friends through show choir throughout middle school and high school. When Eileen’s husband Firouz fell ill, it was only seven weeks from diagnosis until his death. Throughout that time, Natalie and her family were by Eileen’s side. Her daughter even lived with Natalie while Firouz and Eileen traveled from hospital to hospital for treatment. She can never thank Natalie enough for her goodness to her family.
A few years after Firouz died, Natalie’s husband Dan was diagnosed with cancer. Once again, their families were intertwined by a horrible situation. Mary looked at Dan as another father figure, and Natalie’s children, as her siblings. When Maureen, who was also a show choir mom, experienced the same tragedy losing her husband following Dan’s passing. This unfortunate situation once again intertwines the three families together.
Natalie, Maureen, and Eileen know that they are not the only women struggling with this chapter in their lives, and they want to create an environment for like-minded individuals to support one another. Losing a husband is something one cannot understand unless they experience it themselves. Natalie, Maureen, and Eileen, along with our children, have a forever bond that can never be broken.