Widow Causes & Fundraisers: Why?
Over three years ago, I found myself inviting 2 widows into my home to mentor, find community and share our stories. Since that time, over 400 widows have crossed the threshold of my doorstep and I’ve mentored thousands online. It was a simple enough idea and powerful. We’d meet once a month and be involved in each other life… come what may. None of us quite knew what would unfold or how our lives would play out from that point onward. But, we were all open to the possibilities and we were open to shoulder the struggle together.
This was the beginning of Modern Widows Club: A club of women who had lost their spouses living and facing a modern world…. come what may. Mind you, MWC (as we call it) was a club none of us wanted to join in our life-time. We are like every other woman who falls in love and believes the end will never come. “Not us” is what most women think and yet, statistics show us that 70% of all married women in the United States will become a widow in their lifetime. It’s a matter of time and women need to be educated on this.
Joining the MWC is optional, but joining widowhood is not. For the 30% of married women who die before their partners, we sort of wish we had your luck, but unfortunately, that is not our reality. And facing our new reality is a big part of why Modern Widows Club exists. Facing anything this catastrophic and life altering requires community. Shouldering the struggle is the only way I’ve found through it. Doing it alone in a vacuum and isolation has its own consequences. I’ve been there, done that. I’ve seen thousands of widows do the same. It breaks my heart. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Death is an eye opener. It is final. Our husbands are not coming back as awfully true as that is. The love we shared still exists despite the fact their physical body is gone from this earth. The drowning, the emotions, the total crisis, the longing, the tears and excruciating chest pain that we experience is universal. Grief speaks an unspoken language that we all understand without any words shared. It’s communicated through the look in our eyes, the hugs we share and the steadiness in our listening skills. As a widow, you know you’ve crossed over into an unknown dimension and in that space that I will call the ‘grief circle’, I hope and pray you find someone who will take your hand and guide you in these dark days.
What I’ve learned in the last 15 years as a woman who has experienced widowhood, as well as, raised daughters into adulthood, ran my own business and in my spare time (ha) launched the nonprofit Modern Widows Club, is that if I am to thrive vs. simply survive, I needed to:
- Go on a crusade to #FindMyTribe: Find others who understand this unique journey, which is often riddled with great challenges.
- Then, when I find that tribe, learn from the ‘Best of the Best’. When I say ‘Best of the Best’, I mean the most loving, grace filled, vulnerable, open hearted, compassionate, courageous, mindful, positive, loving, non-judgemental, patient, faithful and giving widows on this big earth of ours. True mentors and teachers.
- Then, after being a student under their ‘Best of the Best’ wings, to build my own resilience up to the point of feeling strong enough individually to pay it forward; to move forward and reach back to others.
That’s where I am today.
I have been the mentee, the mentor and now, the teacher and advocate for widows.
I broke out of the shackles of the ‘grief circle‘. I grieved from every cell of my body while in that circle. I felt it. I was the best widow doing widowhood on earth; moving with it and eventually, thanking it for keeping me loved and safe within that circle. But the moment came for me to whisper, “It is time to say goodbye my friend”. I envisioned and dared to believe in a life for myself that included unlimited love and extraordinary happiness every day of the days I did have to live. This meant getting out of grief therapy, grief support, grief chat rooms, grief share, grief circles, grief meetups, grief anything. I took my hope and ran.
I ran and I ran fast because my soul felt the freedom and it was liberating. The fear, the excitement….all energy that propelled me forward. Like Forrest Gump…I had no idea where I was headed, I just felt like run-ning. I didn’t know where I was run-ning to exactly, but that didn’t stop me. And then one day, just like that, I stopped run-ning. I took a moment of pause to look around and see that my run-ning had resonated with so many others. I wasn’t alone like I thought in my minds-eye, I had entered a new dimension.
I had found my new tribe. Another tribe of widows who were not only surviving, they were thriving on every level of life. They too, chipped through the ‘grief cycle’ of imprisonment and broke free, thanked it for its lesson and protection, then bid it goodbye and turned around toward a ‘New Me’ life in all its wonder. They too, realized the merry go round must end at some point and it was time to get off, they had a choice to make. Get back on the ride or turn in the other direction and run…fast. To make a break away with all the hope they could hold and trust that life would open up to them. These women were moving forward and giving back on new levels that I had never known seen before! They were one in a million.
This group of widows was thriving on intentional living, mentoring, leading and reclaiming life. They were passionate, brave, daring, unapologetic, creative, wise and visionary. They became my new sisterhood. We call each other ‘wisters’ (widow + sister). None of us wanted this life, but we were grateful for each other.
Together, we started to learn more about the widows in the world, we gained knowledge and facts such as:
- Globally there are 245 million widows caring for 585 million children
- In the U.S., we have 12 million widows. In 2016, one million women will become #OneMillionWidows
- Very few services, programs or communities enable and empower widows, they are the most underserved population of women on earth. In 3rd world countries, they are treated inhumanely.
- In the U.S., 49.7% of widows fall below the poverty line, struggling to earn more than $25,000/yr. and yet, other widows make due or even gain enormous financial wealth from inheritance via parents and spouses, but all face a new financial accountability and responsibility.
- Everyone in society thinks ‘someone else’ is concerned and caring of widows, yet from our own research and experience; families, civic and religious organizations miss the mark on ‘doing something’ to serve in empowering widows. Not enough is done to understand what a widow genuinely needs short and long term to be resilient, confident and independent. Widows are very misunderstood, the invisible among us, therefore, the underserved.
- Because widowhood is the ONLY life event that receives a full 100% on the Holmes & Rahe Social Readjustment Scale (divorce, 73%), widows are high risk for illness exactly at a time when they lose many supportive benefits connected to their spouse.
- Secondary losses for widows are loss of health, home, credit, jobs, insurance, friendships, security and a confidant.
After learning all of this, we decided to ‘Do Something’. Like the Helen Keller quote that hangs in my guest bathroom, “I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
We are doing something and that something involves talking the talk and walking the walk in this widowhood journey. We are in unchartered territory on a modern crusade as widow warriors. I say this in the most practical sense.
Widows need champions to admire and to pave the way for the journey ahead with courage and conviction. And to do so with wisdom, kindness and an armor of truth because this is not an easy journey by any means. Raising awareness means living by example and choosing life by example, too.
This is why we fundraise for widow causes at Modern Widows Club. It is a case of simple cause and effect. This cause matters and the effects of this cause matter to humanity. Widows’ lives matters. It matters that our community of grievers not only survive but thrive. We are in new territory. Widows are lifting up other widows while widows are in the process of rising up themselves. We hope society will join us, so we may move forwad to give back into society once again in our own unique way. Full restoration. This is the life cycle of an empowered widow, a thriving human being who has overcome unspeakable pain and hardship.
I imagine a world of #OneMillionWidows who are these empowered widows. I imagine a world full of widows mentoring widows and building communities with that specific focus. Widow mentoring isn’t a modern idea. All one needs to do is read about Naomi and Ruth in the Bible to see the historic significance and the everlasting impact. We’re grassroots, we’re a start-up with humble beginnings, but so was Esther and an uncountable amount of heroic women and men in history.
However, widow mentoring needs to become a modern crusade that includes widows and those who know not of this experience. It will take a whole army of people caring about the plight of widows in the world to bring about positive change. It is the warrior widows who will lead us into this hike up to the mountaintop by choosing new life after death has visited our door and it is God who will provide the messengers and visions to get us there.
I am now a vision keeper for this dream. I now know that I am one, but I am not alone. I am one in a million and one in a million of widows. I’m better, not bitter. I’m purposeful and this life cycle has meaning for me and for every widow to come. And they will come.
A new widow, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, said “Kick the sh*t out of Option B.”
A seasoned widow, Carolyn Moor, MWC COO, says “Lets kick the sh*t out of Option B for ourselves & millions of other widows along the way.”
It’s not enough to do it only for ourselves. We are on a modern crusade to make sure the distance of suffering is shortened in any way possible for the millions and millions of women who will find themselves right where we are today as a widow.
The odds are against us, but losing this battle is not an option. Sure there will be naysayers and obstacles, but we have lost too much to turn back now. Victory will be ours. Let’s join forces and raise our united voices for widow causes in the name of love. An unstoppable crusade of empowered warrior widows who have made it through hell and are still standing.
It all started when a few widows deciding to shoulder the struggle together. Now, we are inviting you to be one of those one millionth shoulders and one millionth circles linked in purpose. Will you join me and Modern Widows Club to stand united shouldering the struggle and weight for so many underserved widows? Please support our #OneMillionWidows awareness and fundraiser campaign at Indiegogo in a way that moves you. Stand where you wish to stand, but stand united with us. We need your help! https://igg.me/at/1MWidow
Every widow deserves a community, mentors, leaders and advocates that value and love her while she is reclaiming and rediscovering her life as a woman in the world of widowhood. This is what their loved ones would want for them. Let’s make it possible. Do Something.