Archive of ‘Inspiration’ category
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!
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!!!
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Hope For Widows Foundation Directors, Board Members and Advisory Board Members
We relate. We understand. We listen. We care.
Friendships can last a lifetime, or sometimes for only a season. This unexpected friendship pulled me from the hell of grief. This little cycling studio in Short Hills, NJ opened up the same month my husband passed away, November 2013. I didn’t know this studio existed until one of the employees, an acquaintance at the time, stopped by my office to say hello.
I met Jordan in September 2013. He had developed a friendship with our university’s baseball coach, and we just so happened to meet one evening. I never gave much thought about fate and coincidences, but Jordan helped open my eyes to it. In the days following George’s passing a lot of people expressed their sorrow and offered me a lot of support. Daily text and facebook messages to see how I was doing. As if I could be doing well after watching my life turn to dust, but then again, how many 28-year-old widows are there milling around?
But as time pressed on, people I was closest to walked on egg shells because I didn’t express sorrow in tears. My tongue was sharp, and my temper was more dangerous than ballistic missiles. Soon, the daily check-ins became bi-weekly, and then transformed into the occasional “hey, I read your blog post, hope you’re okay.”
The fog dissipated over time and the figures in the corner of who I thought was there, turned out to be imaginary. But the ones who stuck around were bulwarks robust enough to weather a carpet bombing. And for that, today I stand stronger than I could’ve ever imagined. As I fractured and the wound ripped back open, they were the ones who brushed my hair and allowed me to believe I’d be okay, eventually. I promised my husband I’d be okay, so that’s what I tried to be: Okay.
It was almost three months after my husband’s death when I ran into Jordan again. He stopped by the university to visit our baseball coach, and I recounted our brief meeting in September. He had just heard about my loss and asked how I was doing. Small talk I had become accustomed to when people learned of George’s passing.
But something was different. He didn’t have the almond shaped eyes of woe. But widow brain doesn’t believe anyone understanding the enormous horror I’ve been through as I watched the one person I love, cherish and adore be consumed alive by cancer. So I brushed Jordan’s condolences off as no big deal.
The next day, he stood at my office door, passing by again to say hello.
And then again a couple of days later.
At first, our greetings were as awkward and dry as you might have with your bank teller before withdrawing money from your account. But our brief encounters transformed into hour long conversations and soon it dawned on me his visits were genuine, and my interactions and conversations were helping me adjust to a life I didn’t want. A new life forced upon me.
One morning he dropped in to tell my assistant coach and me about a new job he started at SoulCycle. We were excited but had no idea what in the world SoulCycle was. But he invited us to visit him at work– oh how the tables turn– but we emphatically agreed.
The Life Changing Invitation
Jordan’s kindness during the worst months of my life assisted in lifting my chin up. Raising my eyes and looking around me to see opportunities, to embrace the uncomfortable situations being a young widow, and forging a new path for me living a healthier and fitter life.
And soon rediscovering the one emotion which kept eluding me: happiness.
He would come to my office a couple of times a week to check in, and we started meeting up after work hours for dinner or drinks. I’d go and visit him at the cycling studio, and we became fast friends. In my grief I was selfish, but as I got to know him more, I realized he was going through a life transition and needed a friend too.
We grieve for different things in this life. When there are significant life changes and immediate disruption our ordinary daily routines, there are flutters of grief. Whether it’s someone going through a divorce, a pets death, or in his case, he had lost his dream job. And SoulCycle was a new career path for him. Though it’s not on the grief spectrum of losing a spouse, it was myopic of me not to wonder what was happening with him.
A lesson I was slow to learn, unfortunately.
I opened up to him about my misery and my longings to vanishing. Which I eventually did, by moving to Alabama and away from all my friends, family and my support system.
He listened and asked me existential questions, but he also wasn’t afraid to push me away. Some days I was too challenging and erratic because of the grief. When I reflect on those months, I didn’t realize what was happening, but today I do.
I barely saw anything beyond the tip of my nose. The grief made me volatile and jaded and I hated my existence, I loathed the sun because it never stopped rising. But at some point, the iciness of the winter in my blood began to warm as our friendship blossomed. And I glistened with strength each time I walked into that cycling studio.
While astride on the bike, I realized I did have a purpose. The bike offered me the courage to start believing in myself again. My life was already well out of the comfort zone, but being on that indoor bike provided me an outlet on how to manage my grief. Plus, my husband’s favorite form of exercise was cycling. In the winter he would do spin classes at New York Sports Club. So when my quads burned, and my calves began to scream, I’d close my eyes and think about him and his battle against cancer
Sore muscles today, stronger body tomorrow, and clearer mind immediately.
Indoor cycling showed me I had a strength I never knew existed. With the turn of the resistance knob, I challenged myself to push on because what was the alternative? I began adopting the mantra “kill or be killed.” Grief won’t kill me.
The nights where I would cry myself to sleep became fewer over time, and the crippling feeling of loneliness when I woke up by myself subsided too. I wasn’t afraid of what this reinvented life had to offer, and as I started climbing out of the depths of grief he regained his too, and we drifted apart.
Some people come into your life for a reason, and sometimes for only a season. He entered mine for a short time but made a lasting impact. My naivety and selfishness during my grief prevented me realizing it. But he was truly a blessing during a very dark time. Without his compassion and friendship, I wouldn’t have discovered my passion for fitness and healthy living. I try to pass along the lessons I learned from my friendship with Jordan to those around me.
The man i didn’t want – A Widow’s Love Story
January 2008 in the heart of the winter, that is when he came into my life – the man I didn’t want. My heart frozen in time, hardened like the ice that cascaded and seemed to cover everything around me. If I am being honest, I wasn’t alive, I didn’t want, nor did I appreciate being alive at that time. Destruction had never been my thing – until it became my thing. How much could I hurt myself, so that I would just feel something? Looking back is hard, but it is also what saved me from me. My world felt much like what you would expect of being stuck in purgatory, or was I the one that died and this was my hell?
This man now standing before me and I with my widow heart say, “I am not looking for anything, I don’t want anything.” I had nothing to give. This man that I was very clearly saying my truth right away to, and yet he still spoke these words, “I want something, I want a girlfriend, I want you”. How could he know so quickly?
A smugness, I had never known until widowhood hardened my once soft and open heart, came over me in these days. I told him he couldn’t call me right away, that it would seem too eager. His hand touching my arm, recalling a meeting a couple weeks prior, in a completely different town close to an hour away. A chance encounter with a man I barely knew, just having been introduced by my first husbands mutual friend. I no longer believed in fate, but I couldn’t cheat my own mind by thinking – this is interesting. His lips on my lips and then I walked away. If I continued to walk away, no one could hurt me – ever again.
September 2006. My first husband left in September. How could he have left me here like that? I know he didn’t want to, he couldn’t have known and neither I – but how did this happen? I must have looked so vacant, frail stepping into the coroners office to get Johns death certificate. Somehow holding that paper, it outraged me. Why did I need this stupid piece of paper to certify that my husband was dead. Standing in front of the desk, I asked, “Have you ever seen this happen before? Do you know anyone else that has died from a bee sting?.” I am not sure what I was hoping for with this exchange or what I needed to hear him say, but when he told me “NO”, looking blankly into my eyes – it shattered me again.
I had done everything the way I was supposed to. Small town midwest girl meets local boy, they become best friends, she saved herself for this man, waited for the one, put herself through college, landed a good job, they marry, start building a life, making plans, are getting ready to dig the foundation for their new home and instead of breaking ground to create the dreams we worked so hard for – the ground was broken and my husband was now in a wooden box while his heart and organs were on a jet getting ready to save several others. I was left behind once again, by a man in my life that I loved.
Trusting my heart to another man was never going to happen again! I can’t believe people would actually say to me, “you are young, you will likely marry again” when the dirt hadn’t even settled and my mind wouldn’t give me rest. The nights now closed in on me, sleep, I never knew you could live with so little sleep.
Two weeks into January 2008, the man I didn’t want called. I said “you waited long enough”. He said, “you told me I couldn’t call you right away – want to go out tonight”? I couldn’t. I had created several online dating profiles and I had a date already scheduled. I hated this whole dating scene but for some reason profiling others seemed to pass the time – I kept waiting and wishing my husbands profile or someone who looked like him might just pop up…some of the crazy rationale that went through my maddened mind at that time.
We hung up after saying we would plan something soon. I’m not sure why, but I couldn’t seem to get this man off my mind. I kept pushing him aside. There was something intriguing there. I hadn’t felt like this, I kept pushing him aside. I go on my scheduled date that I was trying to be polite by not canceling, and I just couldn’t connect. I kept thinking about the man I didn’t want. Something came over me, maybe it was the knowing of how precious a minute was, the thought of wasting it on something that wasn’t right. I excused myself to the restroom and I called the man I didn’t want. I said ” hey, my plans are changing, still want to meet up”? He was out with friends, but would call me a little later.
So, I end the night early with my date and met up with two of my best friends. We go out and then I receive a text from the man I didn’t want. It is now after 11 and he is in bed. I say meet me and my friends at the Junction for some food. Never having had been forward in my life, this took me back to the time I had actually ran up to my first husbands truck window when he was leaving a party and said, “So, when are we going to go out”? The man I didn’t want, said how about another time and I think, rationally that was reasonable. Though there was nothing rationale in my life these days. Then he messages me, he is on his way. Some type of thrilling feeling came over me, what the heck was this? As he walked in my heart just did something. I felt the nervous, excitement, flutters. So handsome, kind, funny and he had some edge. We left and he came home with me. We talked all night and just talked. He made me laugh and this man I didn’t want started to become a man I knew I needed more with.
September of 2009, he took a month that is hard for me, and made it into a new beginning. I became his wife on one of the most beautiful days. In the middle of a garden this photo was captured of a butterfly landing right next to us.
I walked down the isle toward my future, taking with me my first husband and a piece of my first wedding gown clinging the flowers that budded above it. I was being married to this man by my childhood pastor and given away by my stepdad who is a constant reminder of how men can show up and stay in your lives. I can hardly believe this man I didn’t want broke down walls in my heart I never knew would be opened, he holds me up when I feel broken again, he forgives me for my crazy antics and he loves me through all of the ups and downs of our life. He makes me flipping mad at times, but I know I also return the sentiment. He reminds me that not everything in life is perfect, but being together and appreciating the times we share and the life we are living and figuring out, means everything.
It is not easy, marriage number one, but then marrying a widow, that is in my opinion a whole new level of navigation. My once soft and penetrable heart, had hardened and a defense and coping mechanism was put in it’s place. A new level of awareness of just how short life is brought up two defenses:
1. I know how short life is, so I am going to live it, show it, and not hold back.
2. I know how short life is, so I don’t want to hurt again, lose again, fear for what I now know to be so true and so I am going to keep a close hold of my heart so that that type of hurt will never find me. (SO unfair to myself and others)
This man, kept showing me he was up for the challenge and we took on this new life together. I had to meet him where he was meeting me. I couldn’t cheat myself anymore. We were put on this earth to love, to cherish and to forgive and forgive ourselves and allow love to come in. Hurts of this life will come but it’s on us to see that we deserve grace, joy, happiness. We get to make mistakes, but instead of holding on to failures we get to release them as part of the journey of finding ourselves through and amidst chaos.
We welcomed two beautiful, vibrant littles into our world, both in October.
We were living the life, the picture. People from the outside saw two successful individuals, a budding family. We were running, he with his business and I growing to the top of the executive ladder and jet setting away. We stopped making time for what mattered – isn’t it funny how we continue to take things for granted in life? He resented me and I resented him. He felt like, I didn’t need him. This conversation came up so often, it became old. I had to stop myself though at a time and sit in those words. He was right. I’m thankful we caught ourselves. I had become so independent. I had learned that I could do life on my own, I had closed off places in my heart for fear of being hurt. I had closed off places of myself to even myself because, it was just too hard to go there. When I almost gave up on us, he asked me to give us another chance. I did and I also knew that I had to meet him where he was opening his heart to meet me. We were both imperfect beings and thankfully still willing to be in it together.
We both showed up and put us at the top. He showed me all over again all of the reasons I needed to stay, he loved me the way I needed to be loved, I loved him the way he needed to be loved. He recently at a dinner with close friends, said, he had become an angry person and he was so thankful I gave us the chance we deserved. I willingly said, I am so thankful for us and that I also put in the work to give us the chance we deserved.
Nothing in this life is perfect. Standing in our kitchen a couple months back, I said “hey babe, I love you” he said “I love you too”. I said, “but I haven’t always” and we both laughed, knowing just what that actually meant. Appreciating this moment and the sweetness and honesty of it. It makes me smile to see that no matter what happens in this life you can go through very treacherous seasons, but if you decide to open your awareness, your heart and you unravel the pieces that you try so hard to keep together – that unraveling reveals true beauty that is just waiting to come out.
Eight years we will be married this year and it really blows my mind how fast our time has gone. I am thankful for this man I didn’t want and just how much I truly need him.
Suzie sharing some of the stretching she has gone through in being a widow
“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)
The qualities of honey make a beautiful word picture here. Honey is a natural antibacterial poured over burns and wounds it protects from infection and promotes healing. It is a preservative, poured over some foods it makes them last longer. And honey never spoils, archeologists have discovered honeycomb in Egyptian pyramids that is perfectly edible. This being said, it makes sense that honey and the kindness of words, were compared in this beautiful proverb.
As I searched for words to share here I realized how precious words are, how like rare treasures they can become life-giving. But misused, words can be used as a sharp blade… hurting, causing discouragement and even devastating the heart.
It’s my hope to encourage. I’ve always been sensitive to words, both the ones I hear and the ones I use. I’ve found it a challenge to encourage others as I feel I have so little left in me to share. I believed for so long that loss drained me of anything pleasant or sweet. But that was a lie. I am learning I may not have much…. but I have words and words are powerful.
Widow sisters, our journeys are personal. Each one is so unique. I could never claim to know your pain or understand your steps. But the ache of a widow in all her agony and all she’s lost… that is universal no matter the circumstances that brought us here.
I have hope, though it’s not something tangible I can grasp ahold of or savor yet. I have faith the God I’ve come to love and lean upon as my rock will never leave me… though that faith is as tiny as a mustard seed at times. I have joy, yes joy, in the journey’s pain… joy is not a momentary happiness it’s a life-long sense of knowing I am not alone, that I am loved and that my tears are not wasted or unseen. I have to struggle and battle and fight for this joy though.
As widows we are keenly aware of words that unfeeling, ignorant or even well-meaning people have said to us. The pain and wounding of such words have lead us to believe few people really care or want to understand. I pray that you’d know words of the honeycomb. May they be a healing balm, protecting you from the infection of fear, doubt and lies. That you hear encouragement and experience healing tears and know beautiful friendships where the honeycomb is real. May there be honey poured over the discouraging words and may the sweeter memories of your beloved husbands be preserved. Remember beautiful encouraging words will never spoil. They will always remain, to be discovered by others as sweet as the day they were delivered.
I have received many sweet words from my hope sisters here. It’s been a hard and lonely, journey, at times. But those sweet words remain in my heart on the hardest days. God’s used them to heal hurts and protect from unhealthy grieving steps that could have infected my journey. Bless you all as you take the steps of your journey and share words of kind encouragement and the ache of your stories.
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