Archive of ‘Giving Back’ category

First Annual Widows of Hope 5K event a huge success! Thank you!

By Chasity Williams

Hope for Widows Foundation would like to thank all of our Summer 2017 participants and donors, who helped in making the First Annual Widows of Hope 5k event a huge success!!!! We even had the kids and furkids join in on the fun! It is so much appreciated and words cannot express the love and gratitude we have for each of you.

Also, a special heartfelt shout out of partnership and support from Kerry Phillips, Founder of Young, Widowed and Dating. This event would not be the success it was without her!

The following are awesome #WidowsofHope5k photos from some our particpants we we received! Great job, everyone!

You rock!!!

Hope for Widows Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and relies solely on volunteers to run the organization, moderate discussions and provide other assets that have been and continue to be so helpful for so many of our women in our Hope Sister community. Thank you for investing in our organization and in the widows we serve. The gracious donations will be supporting our Hope Sisters by the way of initiatives, programs, giveaways, helping families directly, events, website optimization and so much more! You are contributing to their healing process so that they can re-engage in life much easier. Thank you for your trust in us!!

We will continue to update you throughout the year with program announcements and special events. We have so much on the horizon as we continue to grow and evolve. We are just getting started!!!

If you are interested in staying up to date with future Hope For Widows Foundation events, partnerships, announcement’s and much more sign up on our mailing list here: Hope For Widows Foundation Mailing List 

Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, our Public Facebook Page and/or Twitter.

In Hope,
Hope For Widows Foundation Directors, Board Members and Advisory Board Members
We relate. We understand. We listen. We care.

 

Hope For Widows Honors International Widows Day

By Tanya Smith


June 23rd is recognized as International Widow’s Day. Hope for Widows is honoring all widows worldwide each and every single day.

This day significant to widows, but also the children who have lost. Hope for Widows Foundation is committed to change and bringing awareness to the real issues of widowhood. Issues affecting even the unaffected, indirectly. They include poverty, starvation, prostitution, hate crimes, rape, depression, targeting of widows, anxiety, suicide and more. Widowhood is a large contributor to these and many more social trajectories.

“In some cultures, the death of a husband has meant exile, vulnerability, and abuse. But bereaved women are beginning to fight back.” – as quoted by Cynthia Gorney, National Geographic 

Every day is widow’s day to a widow. There is not one day that passes, that the day is not observed by a widow’s heart and mind.

I have immersed myself from my own experience as a young widow – found within the depths of my own soul the feelings and misfortunes, the rebuilding and growth, the effervescence of emerging as new hope and life re-births you and molds you into your afterglow. The timing always unclear, the pace different for each person, and the memory and loss etched into your being FOREVER, walking alongside you – EVERY single day.

I have listened to the stories of the women who have shared – have bore their heart out, have struggled with many things, carry the weight of many things. Each story, tragic and sad, each underlying tone filled with despair, but also a hunger and a want for more. A newfound admiration and purpose, calling to them in this life. Many wandering and navigating without navigation. Many trying to find direction, looking for some kind of hope – an answer and even a sign. I feel a pride in knowing them, though the life events that brought us together are misfortune – we have fortune with each other.

“When the United Nations in 2011 designated June 23 as International Widows’ Day, the official explanation was a somber one: that in many cultures widows are so vulnerable—to abusive traditions, to poverty, to the aftermath of the wars that killed their husbands—that widowhood itself must be regarded as a potential human rights calamity.” – National Geographic, Cynthia Gorney

Life moves forward for widows, but I can tell you “Life does not just go on” in the free way others may believe. You don’t just get over it. Loss changes a person forever, stays with a person forever.

At the heart of widowed woman is bravery, courage, strength, compassion, understanding and a want to be understood. Even as a tear trickles down and the hurt envelopes, they wear a warriors face, an openness in their eyes that they now understand life in a way that they hope many do not ever know and at times their understanding fleets them as the reality is just to encompassing, to understand.

They wear a warrior’s smile – you will see this smile in the video composed.

I started this article thinking, “I wonder who the very first widow in this world was?” I wonder how she felt? I wonder if she was embraced or thrown away? I wonder how loss changed her? Did she stay in her grief, or did she step into this new way of life, finding joy and hope? Did she even have a choice in what happened next for her, or did society choose? All of these questions swirling through my brain, wanting to do her and all of you justice, give justice! Thinking about this, I think of the thousands of your faces that I have come to share my own journey with. Faces, flipping through my mind, each face as significant as the next. Do you even know, how often you come into my mind, are in my prayers, and walk with me through my days? How I wish I could help each of you, how Hope for Widows Foundation is a place for us to come together in this way.

Imagine being the first. For all of my widow sisters and brothers, you did feel you were the first, didn’t you? I know I did. I went on a search, a hunt to find others who specifically went through the similar events as I did being so young and having a spouse die from a bee sting reaction. I still have yet to find another with the same exact situation, though I have found more than I could have ever imagined with different stories of loss and the feelings shared and understood. No other understanding I could have garnered from someone who hadn’t lost a spouse.

I often think of and relate that thought to one of my favorite childhood movies. The Last Unicorn.

I am the only Unicorn there is? The Last? That cannot be. Why would I be the last? What do men know? Because they have seen no unicorns for a while does not mean we have all vanished. We do not vanish. There has never been a time without unicorns. We live forever! We are as old as the sky, old as the moon! We can be hunted, trapped; we can even be killed if we leave our forests, but we do not vanish. Am I truly the last?”

This line holds so much truth, so much impact, and power. There is injustice in widowhood and most of that comes from society and secondary losses suffered that you least would have expected.

What I share will shock some. It has shocked me and left me minimizing my very own loss and the circumstances. I know my loss and no others loss should EVER be minimized and that each is SIGNIFICANT, however what I have learned has truly opened my eyes.

As I started connecting with women worldwide, I learned of many truths, many injustices. They leave me in tears, leave me needing to act, do something, anything to share their lives, their stories, to make an impact, to be the difference, to give support!

Just do something!!

That something is exactly what we at Hope for Widows Foundation are doing. You can help, just as we are helping.

At the end of this article I ask you to leave a comment and enter this hashtag #donate. You will be able to sign up and send an amount that you would like to contribute to our International Support effort. I donated $100.00 and this is how it helped.

My $100 donated, bought this amount of food for the orphans at the Dagoretti Childrens Home. My friend and widow sister Dianah sent me the itemized receipt without me even asking or needing this, she sent me a video of the children dancing and singing their thanks. It beyond moved me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope for Widows Foundation was able to help with school fees for an entire year for three children with the $130 donated.

“Hope for Widows Foundation has made many connections to women within the United States and Internationally. Our heart is with every widow and every woman or man who has lost their loved one. On this day and every single day, we see all of you and are here!” – Hope for Widows Foundation

Our International Hope Sisters Spotlight

Kenya

Dianah Wanjiku Kamande from Come Together Widows and Orphans.

Dianah is dear to my heart and you will soon know why. She was widowed in 2013. Today she is 35 and has accomplished much in her serving of widows and orphans.

A mother of two beautiful girls and such an example to them. She became a widow as a result of domestic violence when her husband of ten years came home and had planned to kill her and her daughters. when his attempts failed he turned the knife on himself.

Her injuries were life threatening. She had urgent head surgery and was fitted with 5 plastic nerves in her cranium. She also had hand surgery and was fitted with multiple metal plates because he had broken her left hand. She underwent breast surgery because he had pierced her right breast.

This is how selfless Dianah is – though it was a terribly tough time for her, it was at that time that she realized so many of her visitors in the hospital were widows and survivors of past cases of violence. As a survivor on her hospital bed she went through widow abuse. Her in-laws accused here of her husbands death. She was insulted and called a prostitute. While in the hospital her property and household items were taken. She quickly took action by enlisting her brother’s help. Turning to Google she began to check if the constitution of Kenya provided rights for her as a widow. She wondered if this was even clearly defined and what rights as a survivor of violence would be offered to her. Unfortunately there was nothing. This amazing woman sat on her hospital bed, requesting a notebook and a pen and she started drafting a widows bill.

After she was discharged she invited widows into her home, instead of them coming 15 as requested they came 25. Word spread fast. The second meeting hosted 66 widows. The third 337, the fourth over 750. Dianah rolled up her sleeves and started getting the exact number of widows in the country of Kenya. Widows are absent in statistics worldwide; the National Bureau of Statistics does not collect this data. Astounding right? She went further and contacted the morgues and started getting both private and public numbers of married men who passed every day and she reached out to these woman. She began gaining exposure in the media and soon the organization she registered on September 14, 2013 exponentially grew to 1.4 Million Widows by June 23, 2016, also known as International Widows Day.

Philippines

Philippine Hope Sister, Micah Juarbal

Micah is 29 years old and the mother of one daughter. At the age of 27 her journey of widowhood started. Her husband worked as a government employee in a nearby city. They were together but because of financial problems they decided that it would be best for her and her daughter to live with Micah’s parents temporarily. She continued herstudies for their daughters future.

Their wedding anniversary was April 14th. She expressed she would miss him so much to which he replied, “missing someone is normal, we need to sacrifice for our future”. The next day, her husband sent her and their daughter to be with her family.  On April 16th her husband went back to work. He would call them everyday. On April 18 at about 11:13 p.m. someone called her and she thought it was him, but when the lady spoke, Micah was shocked to hear her husband was in an emergency room, he had been hit by a car while on his motorcycle. Micah immediately got on a bus. When she arrived to the ER, she saw her husband lying in bed and having a seizure because of the head trauma.

She wanted to break down, but she couldn’t. After five hours passed when he should have had an immediate head operation, (it took this time because she had to find money and seek help from his friends), they landed in a public hospital because the private hospital wanted a downpayment before they would do the operation. On April 21st at exactly 8:35 while holding her four year olds hand,  his pulse rate dropped and that was when the doctor told them he was gone. The pain was excruciating. She wanted to go with him but needed to care for her daughter. She has continued her studies in college and is now in her third year. Her daughter in grade 2. Micah shares that she doesn’t like to be called a widow because for her and like so many others, she still is married to her husband. Where she lives, it is in a state of martial law because of ISIS existence. Everyday is horrible she explains. There are a lot of soldiers killed and she can’t imagine the wives waiting for their husbands to come home in a coffin.  She is focused on her studies as a way to honor not only herself, but her husband as this was his dream for her.

Amess Nthala

Amess shared with Hope for Widows Foundation that she had been praying and fasting for God to direct her and her group to our foundation.

She is a widow advocate and has worked with her church coming up with ideas to offer support to widows. They are planning a fundraiser at the church so that widows can start their own businesses.

Amess was married in 2004 right after graduating from high school. She suffered abuse from her stepmother and married young to leave home. This unplanned marriage was God sent. The man she called her husband brought love and comfort to her life. She gave birth to her first-born son Trust, that same year. In 2007 she gave birth to a baby girl named Mildred. This was the year when her husband felt a calling to become a pastor. I encouraged him to apply and he did. He was asked to interview. There was a rule that when going to the ministry interviews you need to take your spouse. Amess accompanied her husband as a witness. After the interviews they were surprised that they took both of them to go and study theology. Amess had never thought of studying or teaching Theology in her life. It was very difficult for her to accept at that time, she didn’t know God’s plan or purpose for her life.

Even still, her husband encouraged her. One of the interviewers told her husband that he saw something so unique in Amess. She became pregnant and was allowed to continue her studies. That year she welcomed a baby boy and he was named Joshua! Her husband was earning a certificate in Theology while she was earning a Diploma in theology. In the second year of her course she did well and qualified to be enrolled for a degree program. Her husband was very happy for her. She started the degree program in September of 2010 and then in November her husband fell ill. He was diagnosed with liver cancer; the prognosis grim being told he only had three months left to live. On March 22nd he died. Amess was distraught and at a crossroads not knowing what to do. She felt like quitting, but chose perseverance and graduated with her Degree in Theology in 2012.

She put in the work and excelled. The school asked her to help them teach Greek and Hebrew but on a voluntary basis. This arrangement suited her because the school helped her through her education and she felt it only right, that she give back. She was faced however with raising three children to take care of, so it became a burden to her financially. At that same time she had a friend talk to her about an orphanage. They called her to help on the spiritual side and administration. She went to help in 2013 and would still go to the Theological college to teach up until 2015. Up to she is still working as a volunteer at the orphanage without a signed contract. They are not able to offer a salary, but give her an allowance. She continues to have a serving heart while trusting in Gods plan and provision for her and her family. Her experience is one of trust and hope. She continues to serve in the hopes that she will be able to use what she has learned, sharing it with others and earning money to be able to support her family.

National geographic recently issued an article in the February 2017 issue. In this article it highlights the brutality of woman being disowned, thrown away, made to leave the life they know, raped, forced into prostitution, forced to drink the blood of their husband and sleep with a family member to cleanse them. This excerpt cited from National Geographic’s article in the February issue.

India (this information shared by National Geographic)

“There is a place called “The City of Widows”. The widows wake very early as one large vat of tea is made. They must get in line to have a ration of that and rice if they are one of the lucky ones for the day. The numbers are not reported but it is said there may be 10,000 widowed woman in this city.

They crowd the temples singing devotional songs, which are chanted all day long by the impoverished widows. They do this to earn hot meals, maybe a nighttime sleeping mat.

They live in shelters too, and in shared rental rooms, and under roadside tarps when no indoor accommodation will admit them. Vrindavan is about 100 miles south of Delhi, but the widows come here from all over India, particularly the state of West Bengal, where allegiance to Krishna is intense. Sometimes they arrive accompanied by gurus they trust. Sometimes their relatives bring them, depositing the family widow in an ashram or on a street corner and driving away.

Even relatives who don’t literally drive a widow from the family home can make it plain every day that her role among them has ended, that a widow in India, is forever burdened by the misfortune of having outlived her husband, is “physically alive but socially dead,” in the words of Delhi psychologist Vasantha Patri, who has written about the plight of India’s widows” – Cynthia Gorney, National Geographic

Uganda

When a spouse dies the term used is widow inheritance. You would generally think this means what is left to the widow who has lost her spouse. It has much different meaning unfortunately. This means that the in-laws illegally seizing all her inherited property as their own. The in laws also take her as a sex partner or wife for the relative of their choosing.

International Widows Day Background

International Widows Day (IWD) is a global day of focus for effective action to raise awareness and help widows and their children around the world. In 2015, there were an estimated 259 million widows and 585 million children in the world affected by widowhood, together with their family members the number is well over a billion people. For more information on the Loomba Foundation visit http://theloombafoundation.org/international-widows-day/

The Loomba Foundation put together a report in 2015 that details the research they performed to gather information on the number of widows per country. I have used Esri’s ArcGIS for Office solution to create an interactive map on my A Widows World blog that allows you to visualize this data worldwide.

Although, this is not 2017 data, this is the most current information I was able to gather. I credit the Loomba organization for their research, adopting this day, and the care and support they offer to recognize widows worldwide.

I encourage widows out there to live, take chances and go after the things that matter. Don’t stay in your sorrow and grief, honor your loved one lost and yourself by living a life that would make them smile and be proud. We all deserve that.

HOW OTHERS CAN HELP – visit the Hope for Widows Facebook page, comment using the hashtag #donate and you will be able to register and select an amount to donate. All money collected will be used to support our international hope sisters.

Article approved to be Cited from National Geographic:

For Widows, Life After Loss, by Cynthia Gorney, Photographs by Amy Toensing

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/02/global-images-of-widows-india-bosnia-uganda-discrimination-exile/

Tanya Smith, Hope for Widows Advisory Board Member, A Widows World Blogger & Owner of Addelise Inc.

About Hope For Widows Foundation

Hope for Widows is a national support system for, and developed by, widowed women. We help connect new widows with other widows to offer peer-to-peer support and other resources. By pairing new widows with women who have been where they are now, we help make connections that begin the healing process. Through our peer support, resource section, initiatives and conferences we support widows through the entire grieving process.

What Really Matters Now?

By Wendy Simpson

What really matters?

I’ve asked this a hundred times over the last 3 years since my husband’s diagnosis of cancer.

Before he passed, in the early stages of cancer diagnosis shock, what mattered was fighting it. Our lives were consumed with appointments and treatments and side effects. I didn’t even think of sadness or defeat.  We focused on victory and being warrior strong.  Oh we loved each other and what mattered was fighting the enemy, the big “C”.  Then came the big “T” the word “terminal.”  What mattered shifted to making time slow down, still fighting but the enemy was now… time, and somehow we needed to make every second count.  Life became more and more precious as we had long conversations without words. Then suddenly, there was our last dance and good bye. All that mattered left with my beloved that day. And, for a long time, nothing mattered.

It was in this dark place of death, that I saw what I couldn’t see in the light of life.  I saw how precious and life-giving relationships were.  In the midnight of my loss the lights of frienship and sisterhood stood out more intensely.  It was as if God had placed beautiful night lights along the path I must walk, so that, even in the deepest darkness of my grief I’d see a way through it all.  In the valley of the shadow of death, I was not alone.

So… what matters now?

I am asking that question again… it’s been 2 and half years since my beloved husband and I had our last dance and I saw him into heaven.  I’d have to say, along with the beautiful relationships God’s given me, I’d add…  purpose to what matters.  We do not find purpose alone.  Purpose is in the moment you reach out into the stories and lives of sisters and friends.  It’s looking into their eyes and seeing their heart.  When someone took the time to look into my eyes, see my heart and hear my grief… I mattered.  And… when I mattered… I had purpose…  and meant something to someone.

It’s when I realized that God gave me life so I could speak life into someone else that this journey mattered.  It’s when I could stand in the gap for someone hurting and pray for them that I found the ache of my grief lessen.  It still aches terribly, but I have hope, that one day it will soften.

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Service

By Cathy Nelson

 

I love the widows who attend my church. They fill the back pew at Sunday morning worship service. I never thought about them much before I became a widow. They were just there: the little old ladies who lived alone, who remained faithful to God and served in the church. Then I became one of them – not by choice, but rather by default. They welcomed me; they put their arms around me; they cried with me; they understood my pain and my loss as only another widow could.

Right after Ray died, while still in a daze, I left the hospital, and returned to my home. I pulled into my garage, and realized I was ALONE. I got out of my car and walked over to Ray’s car –the car he restored and loved, the car we had taken on so many road trips. Since his illness, it had remained un-driven in our garage. I put my arms around that little sports car and cried while I hugged it.

After a while, I finally gathered enough strength to enter my home. All was as WE had left it, Ray and I. His shoes were still by his chair, his hat was on the dresser. I felt overwhelmed!

The phone rang; I did not want to answer it. Something inside of me said, pick up the phone, it’s OK. I picked up the phone and said, “Hello.” A familiar voice said, “Cathy, Cathy, are you OK? I was just sitting here, and I felt I should call and check on you.” Then this 92 year old widow, from my church, began to comfort me with her words of compassion and understanding.

My grief at times has been all consuming, even overwhelming at times. However, through it all, I recognized the hand of my God in my life. I am grateful that my God watched over me by inspiring a widow angel to be my shelter in a storm.

As she reached out to me, I felt a sense of hope and possibility. This woman was also a widow and one who could relate to my pain, although I also felt a sense of peace and joy about her! Her husband had passed, and she was still alive and, in that moment of service, giving me a sense of hope for peace and joy! My husband had passed and I am still alive!!!
I am grateful for the empathy that comes from my fellow widows. I am especially grateful for the widows who attend my church. I love these women who take the time to care and support each other. Their example of being at peace and their sense of happiness became my inspiration.
Perhaps our pain and loss can be alleviated by service to one another. Service just might be one of the secrets to moving forward.

 

 

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Focus On Love

By Cathy Nelson

We as widows know all too well that life can be cut short, dreams don’t always work out how we thought they would, and tomorrow never does come. For this reason I have decided to focus on love in 2015, instead of making New Years Resolutions.

Before Ray died I believed I knew what love looked like, meaning there were rules for love. Rules for what we do or do not do, say and even for what we are supposed to think and believe, if we are to be considered a loving person. Now, I believe there are no preconceived rules of love. Love looks very different through my widow eyes. Love has no set of preconceived rules. Rather love is in the moment, guiding us in each moment as to what to do, say, think, believe, etc.! Love is an infinite concept that I used to confine to a finite with my set of rules about what I thought love is. Since being a widow I have said no out of love, I have lovingly left toxic friendships, I have been willing to teach life lessons from love, and I have stopped being a doormat.

By focusing on love this year, I hope to learn what it is to Be Love. Love is the foundation for forgiveness, joy, and hope. By Being love, I can have it all.image

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Looking For Graditude

By Cathy Nelson

 

Thanksgiving was my late husband’s favorite holiday. He used to say: “I love Thanksgiving because there is no pressure to buy gifts.” He loved to just focus on family, good food and gratitude.

Gratitude is the most important part of Thanksgiving. As I look back upon my widow journey, I am filled with gratitude for the many miracles that transpired as I cared for my ill and dying husband.

My late husband Ray was flown by helicopter to Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, California. His lungs were starting to fail, so he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit on what’s called a C-Pap machine, which helped him to breathe.

I rushed to be with him. I checked into a hotel and started the vigil of being by his side. Two weeks passed, and I decided I no longer wanted to pay hotel fees. I was determined to sleep in the waiting room lobby outside the ICU and just park my car in the hospital parking lot and move it every few hours so I would not get a ticket.

I had spent the last few years during Ray’s many hospitalizations sleeping next to him on cots, sleeping in chairs, or just sitting up all night helping to care for him. One time, I had even slept in the nurse’s conference room on top of a table. So being kicked out of the ICU at 10:00 every night … it seemed like a logical thing to just go to the waiting room and sleep in a chair until 8:00am when I would be allowed back into Ray’s room.

The only person with whom I shared my plan was my daughter during a phone conversation. On that same day, as I sat with my husband, a social worker came to his room. She informed me that an apartment had opened up in the family housing for $35.00 per night. This apartment was a safe place for a women who was alone; parking was provided; and it was within walking distance to the hospital. If I needed to go to the hospital in the middle of the night, a security guard would be available to transport me. This apartment was also big enough for my family to come and stay.

I think of this, and my heart fills with gratitude. My God knew my needs, loved me and provided for me. I never even asked Him. I am so thankful for His watchful eye. I count this experience as a miracle.

Have you had similar experiences? I would be surprised if you did not! Even in the pain of our loss, we can find gratitude!

 

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Hand of God

By Cathy Nelson

I love the widows who attend my church. They fill the back pew at Sunday morning worship service. I never thought about them much before I became a widow. They were just there: the little old ladies who lived alone, who remained faithful to God and served in the church. Then I became one of them – not by choice, but rather by default. They welcomed me; they put their arms around me; they cried with me; they understood my pain and my loss as only another widow could.

Right after Ray died, while still in a daze, I left the hospital, and returned to my home. I pulled into my garage, and realized I was ALONE. I got out of my car and walked over to Ray’s car –the car he restored and loved, the car we had taken on so many road trips. Since his illness, it had remained un-driven in the garage. I put my arms around that little sports car and cried while I hugged it.

After a while, I finally gathered enough strength to enter my home. All was as WE had left it, Ray and I. His shoes were still by his chair, his hat was on the dresser. I felt overwhelmed!

The phone rang; I did not want to answer it. Something inside of me said, pick up the phone, it’s OK. I picked up the phone and said, “Hello.” A familiar voice said, “Cathy, Cathy, are you OK? I was just sitting here, and I felt I should call and check on you.” Then this 92 year old widow, from my church, began to comfort me with her words of compassion and understanding.

My grief at times has been all consuming, even overwhelming at times. However, through it all, I recognized the hand of my God in my life. I am grateful that my God watched over me by inspiring a widow angel to be my shelter in a storm.

As she reached out to me, I felt a sense of hope and possibility. This woman was also a widow and one who could relate to my pain, although I also felt a sense of peace and joy about her! Her husband had passed, and she was still alive and, in that moment of service, giving me a sense of hope for peace and joy! My husband had passed and I am still alive!!
I am grateful for the empathy that comes from my fellow widows. I am especially grateful for the widows who attend my church. I love these women who take the time to care and support each other. Their example of being at peace and their sense of happiness became my inspiration.
Perhaps our pain and loss can be alleviated by service to one another. Service just might be one of the secrets to moving forward.

 

 

 

 

 

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Receive. 10/16/14

By Karen McCandless

One of the most difficult lessons in being a widow has been becoming comfortable receiving service from others. I have written about this before, but tonight I was shown two new reasons why this is so important.

A dear friend (yes, S, you are dear to me) spoke at a women’s conference I attended this evening. She is a hospice chaplain and talked about how we who are living can: 1. Prepare to be at peace when we die and 2. Be able to live life to its fullest right now. One of the three things she mentioned was being able to receive service and not feel guilty about it. It is okay not to be “useful” to others. It is okay to let others help you. I had never looked at receiving service from those two perspectives before.

Before my husband’s strokes and death, I had a really hard time receiving service from others. As my mother would say, “We kill our own snakes.” If I could do something without injuring myself or others, by golly, I would try. While I did not view receiving help as a sign of weakness, I just didn’t want to bother anyone. Saturday marks two years since my husband’s strokes that would lead to his death ten days later. Two years ago, I started receiving countless acts of service. I learned it was okay to be a “bother” (I really wasn’t. I think.) to others.

I remember one thing another good friend said to me: “After a while, the offers of service are going to diminish, but not the desire to serve you. You need to ask others to help as you need it.” Being able to set pride and my own snake killing aside has made me a more humble person, one who is living life to its fullest. I am so grateful for those who are helping me do that.

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Giving and Receiving: Two Sides of the Same Coin

By Ellen Gerst

The following is a sentiment I often hear from your fellow widows:

“One of our biggest challenges is to endure pain without being one to the people around us.”

If you have always been regarded as the “strong one” in your crowd, it’s hard to feel so needy. Not only might you feel that you’ve imposed one too many times on friends, you may even feel you’re imposing on whom you believe yourself to be.

I suggest that you let go of labels. Weak or strong – it really doesn’t matter, and you can even be both at the same time.

For example, you may regard yourself as weak while, at the same time, others may be looking at you and thinking that you are so brave.

The greater point is that the wheel of life is always turning, and it’s okay to be needy or greedy when help is offered to you during a difficult time ….  that is with the proviso that you offer your hand to someone else in need when you are feeling more able to do so.

give receive 82014

These moments of giving and receiving – really a constant give and take that reflects the natural duality of the universe – is what creates and keeps balance in the world.

How Are You Responding To Your Loss?

By Ellen Gerst

5 Ways To Respond to Loss

 

 

Dr. Susan A. Berger is a clinical social worker, a specialist in the field of grief and loss, and the author of “The Five Ways We Grieve.” She defines five types or ways that different people respond to a major loss, as follows:

 

 

1. NOMAD: This category includes those who have not yet resolved their grief and don’t often understand how their loss has affected their lives.

2. MEMORIALIST:  This category includes those who are committed to preserving the memory of their loved ones by creating concrete memorials and rituals to honor them.

3. NORMALIZER: This category includes those who are committed to re-creating a sense of family and community.

4. ACTIVIST: This category includes those who focus on helping other people who are dealing with the same disease or issues that caused their loved one’s death.

5. SEEKER:  This category includes those who adopt religious, philosophical, or spiritual beliefs to create meaning in their lives

Do you see yourself fitting into one of these categories? If so, which one? Can you share how this is helping you to cope with your grief?

I’ll go first. At the inception of my grief, I don’t know if I could have categorized myself clearly as one or the other, although now I’m heavy on the activist. As I mourned, I completed activities that fell under the categories of a memorialist, normalizer, activist and a seeker.

  • As a memorialist, I established the anniversary of my late husband’s death as a time when my sons and I came together and celebrated his life and the accomplishments we all made since he left. After 19 years, we continue this tradition.
  • As a normalizer, I worked hard to restore the feeling of safety to the lives of my sons after the upheaval of their father’s death.
  • As an activist, I began writing, speaking and coaching in the field of grief and loss. I’m a big believer in being greedy and taking all the help you need when tragedy hits … but, only with the proviso that once you’re on solid ground, you turn around and help the next person on the path you once walked. It’s my own little way of repairing the world.
  • As a seeker, I certainly questioned all I knew about life and death. This set me on new paths I had yet to explore and I became immersed in the study of spirituality. I went on to co-author a book on spiritual principles with an intuitive therapist, as well as write my own books on this subject.
  • The only category under which I did NOT fall was that of a nomad. I worked long and hard on resolving my grief, which enabled me to build a new life upon the foundation of the love I once knew. I honor my late husband by continuing to do what he cannot: live and love.

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