Thoughts of a Widow Advocate
There’s nothing more joyful than being in love, and there’s nothing more traumatic and painful than losing that same person and being left suddenly alone.
That’s where a nonprofit such as Modern Widows Club brings value to individuals, community and society at large.
There are two phenomenons that happen to widows that friends, family, co-workers and bosses do not realize when it comes to women and widowhood. They are invisibly crushing for millions of widows and their families every year.
1) There is a enormous gap in the system as it exists today. A half built bridge that leaves these women vulnerable unknowingly.
2) It’s the multiple secondary losses that leave her grasping for air or even drowning in widowhood.
You would think that nearly 14 million U.S. widows (2015 Global World Widows Report) would have a bigger voice in their inner circles, media and society, but they don’t. Sixty-six percent of those widows are over 65 years of age, but thirty-four percent are under 65 years of age and represent a growing group of women who want to be heard. According to the 2011 U.S. Census Bureau, the average age of a widow in the U.S. is 59. Women most often outlive men on an average of 15 years longer than their partners; on top of this, 80% of women die unmarried and 80% of men die married.
The most devastating part about these statistics is that fact that 49% of these 14 million widows earn less than $25K a year and of those, 720,000+ live in extreme poverty as if living in areas of Africa or India. A large number of these women were not living in poverty before becoming widowed. It is the stage of widowhood coupled with the enormous secondary losses that are the fast track to poverty for this struggling women.
Why is this? Is there a lack of life insurance?
Is it a lack of proper wills?
Aside from the legal and financial aspect of widowhood, their very health is in jeopardy from the very beginning. Losing a spouse is 100 stress points in itself, the number one cause of the top stressor according to the Homes & Rahe social readjustment stress scale. Add in all the other secondary losses and a widow will find herself topping 200-300 points quickly. In this range, the scale indicated a high chance for future serious illness. Becoming seriously ill is constantly on the mind of the surviving parent, and the last thing children need to happen for the only living adult leading families.
What’s the solution?
People who need people. People like you.
Our mission statement is “We serve to empower women in widowhood, build resilience and make a positive difference in the world.”
We do this in three effective ways:
1) Connect and Unify: Those face to face conversations that happen at local social hours at our national chapters bring community and role models into our widows lives.
2) Mentor and Lead: We uplift widow leaders who want to give back and give them a supportive platform to easily do that in their local communities.
3) Social Awareness and PR: We partner with others who care about widow causes and issues from the UN to you reading this.
If every widow was gifted with a mentor upon losing their spouse, we’d begin to see real change in their struggle and experience.
The system as it stands now makes it a very difficult journey for ladies. Not only are they grieving, they feel misunderstood and voiceless. When something is misunderstood, it is often underserved.
You shouldn’t have to lose all your insurance, credit, home, support system, status in society, friends and opportunity because your partner suddenly dies. But that domino effect is what every widow faces every day.
We’re either going to recognize the need to build this bridge or we’re going to let these ladies nearly or completely drown.
I know too much now. I can’t let these women on earth drown before my eyes like I almost did.
We all have the opportunity to improve this together and rally along with each success story.
– Stories such as the widow and orphan project we are doing in Nashville, TN Oct. 29, 2016
– Events such as our annual widow-to-widow gift exchange in December
– Moments such as our sky lantern launch for Valentine’s Day where anyone can add their late spouses name
I know too much now to go backwards. Too much. So, I use my voice for these voiceless women. I am a widow advocate.
These are our mothers, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, nieces, daughters, associates, neighbors, friends and family. They put on a mask to live in a world that needs to feel comfortable in their discomfort.
All I can say is I hope you will take a minute and think about any widow in your life and gain a new perspective for respect towards them and become a part of the solution to uplift their tremendous need for belonging, trust and opportunity to live more alive and with purpose. Thank you.