Archive of ‘Inspiration’ category

A Letter to My Father

By Christina Saunders

I have battled with losing my father since the age of 6. At 43 I finally worked up enough courage to share how losing him infected my life. I want to share a letter that I wrote him once I finished writing my book ” A Little Girl Broken.” I spent my life just going through the motions not realizing that the root went back to losing my daddy and not dealing with it. Not having him placed this void in my life and it was slowing killing me inside. Now understand this I am not over his death but I am able to navigate through life and live a happy and healthy life. And writing this letter was a way for me to finally move on and know that I am okay. As a child I always thought is he thinking about me? I wonder what he would say if he was here? I encourage others to write a letter/letters to their father and share where they are in this moment.

Daddy’s Little Girl

Dear Daddy,

There have been so many times that I wished you were here with me. So much that I missed out on  you showing me in this life. So much that you have missed out on seeing as I grew into a woman. As a little girl I never thought that one day you would be gone. I thought my daddy would always be there. I know that you didn’t want to leave me that was not the plan but here we are. No amount of words can express the pain that it caused me in this life. The words that you were gone and would never come back still has a sting to it right now today.

I didn’t have you here to show me how a man should love me. Honestly that missing relationship caused me to not understand how to have a relationship with God. I was so disconnected from feelings of love that I was stuck looking for it. I didn’t understand that I had value because it wasn’t something that I was taught. So I searched for that thing that I was missing in other men. That thing called LOVE left a big void inside of me. Not realizing that the void was getting larger every time I gave myself to someone who couldn’t love me the way I needed or deserved.

But this is what I want you to know that God sent a wonderful man to show me how a father should love his daughter. He lovely placed me into his hands to grow me. Not just in the area of fatherly love but in all areas of my life. He taught me so much in my time with him and his family. He showed me how to be in relationship with God. That was the most important lesson he could have ever taught me. The result of that was me learning how to love myself and let go of the hurt from the past. I’m thankful to you for giving me life. Please know that I am okay because I am finally walking in healing. I love and miss you daily.

Your loving daughter,

Angel

Wonder Widow

By Michelle Miller

I first realized I had superpowers about two months after my husband’s death. I was out of state at a birthday party for a good friend whose other friends only knew me from a distance. Last they had seen me was years ago with my (alive) husband and our two children at a wedding.

Word spread quickly through the party that day that I was now widowed to (gasp!) suicide, after a party go-er casually asked me, “So where’s John at this weekend?” and I responded with, “In an urn in his parents living room…that’s where bad husbands who shoot themselves have to go.”

And gradually as the whispers and stares begin to increase (along with the vodka in my fruit punch), I felt a cold sensation ascend my body. I was morphing into: Wonder Widow, and my first super power was the cloak of invisibility. I think I even sprouted a cape…an invisible one of course.

No one could see me once they heard I was widowed, let alone talk to me and they liked it this way. I did not.

I proceeded to get drunk and talk to my reflection in the bathroom mirror every fifteen minutes or so for the remainder of that party. I don’t remember what I said to drunk Michelle, but I do remember feeling small that entire weekend and completely inhibited by my invisibility. I wanted so badly to be normal; to have normal conversations with The Norms (Norms:normal people living normal, non-traumatized lives), but I was no longer normal. I was Wonder Widow, able to repel humans and become invisible in two sentences or less!

As widowhood dragged on, the next superpower that was brought to my attention was flying; which wasn’t nearly as graceful or cool as it sounds because when Wonder Widow flies, she’s basically just catching air as she falls from the bar stool to the sticky, old-beer floor.

Worthless invisible cape.

Years went by with my superpowers overpowering me until I discovered the superpower that changed everything: My Super Strength.

It started slowly at first with the discovery that my ability to become invisible could be a good thing. The Norms didn’t want me around? Well good, I don’t want to be around them either! I began to use my super strength to take my power back as I dropped the widow bomb in conversations as early as possible with strangers to gauge if they were a Norm or a Cray (Cray: crazy, traumatized people with dark senses of humor). The Norms would thankfully make me invisible and the Cray’s would laugh at my dead husband jokes.

If I could use my widow super powers to weed out The Norms and create bonds with The Crays, what else could I do?

I could fly. Eloquently this time.

I realized this last Tuesday when I was flying down the Pacific Coast Highway with the windows rolled down and Courtney Love blaring on my car stereo. Courtney Love always makes me think of flying off of bar stools. Try as I might though, I could not recall the last instance in which I flew off a bar stool. As of late, I had been too busy soaring above my drunken depression and looking down at the buildings of my past traumas that seemed so very surmountable to me now. It was 78 degrees, not a cloud in sight, and the smell of the ocean intoxicated me. As I thought to myself, “I still can’t believe I get to live by the beach,” my cape not only became visible, but also became covered in glitter.

On that Tuesday, I was an eloquently flying Wonder Widow on a secret Wonder Widow mission.

The mission? Gumballs. Yes, I Wonder Widow, was following a guy around San Diego county who is selling me his Gum Ball machines. I really want to make a “ball” joke right now, but I wont because I am a fucking lady.

Why was I buying some guy’s gumball machines? Because widowhood is fucking weird, that’s why! Five years ago I was living in a tiny little desert town that no one has ever heard of, working a 9-5 with dreams of going to seminary and growing old with my husband. Now I am living in San Diego with my best friend, five kids, a dwarf bunny and a beta fish that has icks disease, with dreams of owning five-hundred gumball machines so that I never have to go back to working a 9-5 again.

If that’s not flying eloquently, I don’t know what the hell is.

Widowhood takes. It doesn’t care if you are down so low that you are buried; it will kick you anyway. It doesn’t care about your open wounds; it will salt them. Widowhood will take your power from you, and any power you do have, it will use it against you.

The power you once had over your emotions? Gone. The power you once had over how people perceived you? Gone. The power you once had to say no to that cocktail at 8am? Gone.

But once widowhood has beaten you down, broken you beyond recognition and unmercifully buried you under twenty-five tons of shit, you will be presented with a choice. You can go deeper, stay where you are at, or put on your damn cape and fly.

Living through widowhood means that you have been forced to hold your head up high among the whispers and stares. It means you have tied your toddlers shoes while crying. Widowhood means you have felt the physical weight of his old shirt at night as you sleep in it and you still kept right on breathing. Widowhood means you have carried his burdens and yours and possibly those of your children every damn day since you heard the words, “I’m sorry ma’am, he’s gone.”

Widowhood though, also means you have super strength. It’s there whether you have taped into it or not. Over time, you will have muscles the size of the universe that have been built over sleepless nights, and screams, and tears, and a necessity to survive. Flex them  my little Wonder Widows! Thrive.

If She Were My Widow (In honor of National Widows Day)

By John Polo

Michelle,

It’s National Widows Day.

May 3rd.

I know you don’t pay a lot of attention to these type of things.

But I also know you heard.

I see you cry. Every single day.

It hurts me still.

I wish there was another way.

You know I fought so hard.

With all of my might.

I didn’t want to stop.

You and your daughter.

Both worth the fight.

My body was tired.

My mind so weak.

I had to stop fighting Michelle.

There was no cure to seek.

I want you to know, that you were always the one.

My love for you never went away.

It still hasn’t.

It never will.

By the way, the baby we lost.

I have him.

Yes. A son.

He looks just like you.

Thank goodness for that.

Although he has my cheeks.

Nice and fat.

I know you feel alone.

You’re sad and scared.

You cry out to God angrily, and ask him why I could not be spared.

The answers you are looking for, won’t come to you now.

Just know that eventually, you will see why, and you will see how.

I want you to know that I was there at hospice.

Through the sleep, I saw.

What you did for me.

The tears

The love.

That was pure.

That was raw.

I heard the eulogy that you read to me.

Yes, I listened.

Yes, I saw.

I love you so much.

I always will.

You are my soul mate.

Past, future and still.

You can do this Michelle.

You are stronger than you know.

Happiness. Not survival.

That should be the goal.

Our love is more than that world.

It is soul to soul.

Copyright 2017 John Polo

 

A special note to our Hope Widow Sisters on National Widows Day

By Chasity Williams

 

We want to send a special shout out to honor all our Hope widow sisters today, on National Widows Day. We appreciate you and are very proud of your resilience in the face of extreme tragic circumstances. We always want to validate your emotions, feelings and thoughts as they matter. You matter.

Nothing prepares you for widowhood!! It’s a committee that no one wants to be a part of. No instructions, no reference guide, no rules. We are left to pick up the pieces and find out how to get through and survive. Most days, weeks, months, even down to the second that’s all you can do. To us, the word ‘widow’ means: Hope, Strength, Warrior, Resilient, Faith, Overcomer, Determination, and growing your soul and self to new and greater heights than you ever imagined.

As widows ourselves, we know something stunning and magnificent can happen after time; emerging from a devastating loss or tragedy, then transforming and changing, like a caterpillar into a butterfly. It’s not right away, not even soon, but we promise you will see the light in the darkness eventually. There is no time limit, but you will go from surviving to thriving. One of the hardest parts is the acceptance, acknowledgement of the loss and the future that was to be, and then surrendering to it. Knowing you will never get ‘over it’, but learn a better way to ‘get through it’. Remember, you have to feel to heal.

So, as beautiful, flawed, and broken you feel, battle scars, wounds and all, to hell and back … the beautiful, messy, chaotic life that is now yours, just breathe — take ownership of all of it- It is ENOUGH. YOU are ENOUGH. You can DO IT! Our Hope sisters are here for each other. A sisterhood of us who relate, understand, listen and care. Grief and heartbreak of losing a loved one is an unspoken language, until it happens to you no one on the outside will truly understand. Our Hope Sisters are some of the strongest and most beautiful people we have ever met.

Our Hope Sisters continue to inspire and encourage us daily. We want to tell you how much we care for you, how strong you are and that you can do the tough things! Hang on to your anchor, because Healing Happens.

You are enough. You are strong. You are brave. You are beautiful. You are amazing….. We believe in YOU.

“Pain is real, but so is Hope.”

In Hope,
Chasity Williams, Khadija Ali and Maureen Bobo
Hope for Widows Foundation Directors

A Widow’s Reflection on Weddings and Dating

By Sabra Robinson

I finally did it. I attended a wedding. And … it was magical!

I wrote a blog last year during the holidays about my issue with attending weddings. Attending weddings for me was non-existent. My fear was powerful…until now.

I’ve documented my experience below as a follow-up to my article: An African-American Widow’s Battle with Holiday Wedding Invites: Is Your Struggle Real, Too?

I hope this encourages someone as much as I enjoyed writing it.

The Wedding ‘Date’

It’s hard to put into words how I was feeling on this day. It was Saturday, April 15, 2017. I was invited by a friend, my date, who is also considered one of the “fab five friends” of the groom. He had mentioned the wedding of his best friend in prior conversation and I inquired more. He was excited to go and I was excited for him. He took my excitement as an open invitation to probe. He asked.

I said yes…

For some reason, I knew it was the right moment, season, and time to attend my first wedding in five years since the death of my husband. I was in route to meet my date but I was late. Not intentionally, well maybe – well maybe not. I think deep down I was just a bit nervous. (I did stop on the way to grab a McDonald’s coffee, though). I was almost 30 minutes late meeting him at our meeting place prior to traveling to the wedding. He didn’t say anything when I arrived; he was cordial … and quiet. :-). He was a gentleman.

We walked into the wedding together. We weren’t late but the majority of guests had already arrived. Now mind you, we had to walk FACING the audience to get to our seats.

Lord, why me?!

It was in a gorgeous restaurant setting called Cafe Luna. The restaurant was closed just for the big day and it was well worth it. My date made introductions and I was very nervous. He asked if I was OK. I questioned him why. He said because I was twirling my fingers. I had not noticed.

Nervous?
No.
Anxious for it to be over?
Yes!

The Ceremony

It was a small and intimate wedding, no more than fifty guests. The ceremony itself lasted about 30 minutes. To my surprise, a portion of the wedding vows read by the pastor were also included in an inscription I had engraved on their wedding gift (I nominated myself to be the one to obtain the gift – I had to, with my date’s feedback, of course). As I sat there listening to the scriptures and readings of the pastor, the couple was engaged in eye to eye contact. Their love for one another was apparent.

It was a 1 Corinthians 13 kinda day.

David & Tracey Cook

Guests were cheerful, the food was tasty and the music, well let’s say it was a language that was rhythmic and performative. It was a harmonious language familiar to club dwellers of the Chicago, Detroit, DMV, New York and New Jersey belts amplified by legendary DJs such as Frankie Knuckles, Larry Levan and Baltimore’s own, the late Reggie Reg and a newbie to the scene years later (but gone too soon), DJ K-Swift. House music was the talk of the table and the tables were turning, I mean…the table I sat at consisted of fans of this urban electronic music who boasted about their younger years of club-hopping, attending Rutgers and family life. Feeling comfortable at this point, I spoke up. Besides, I knew the topics all too well. My guard was finally down and I endorsed myself to consume the ambiance of love, laughter, and liveliness of the special event.

Grief was not allowed nor was it welcomed.

I looked over at my date’s face and I saw a widower undefined by the event but defined by the harmony, love, and legacy of his fab-five brothers. It was a feeling I envied but understood.

Plus One

My date was such a gentleman that day and who was very much respected by his ‘fab five’ friends. As I sit here typing this, I cringe at the fact that I’m about to open up about my personal life at such detailed level. I’ve never done this before but I feel the need to. Why? Because there are others like me, in my position who are going through the emotional rollercoaster of attending weddings and dating while widowed. He was a special kind of date. Why?

Because … he’s a widower.

This was also his first wedding since his wife’s transition three years ago.

#DatingAWidower

I struggled with writing this portion but it so happened that a great article was posted in one of the Facebook widow forums that I co-manage, Black and Widowed: A Unique Journey. The article, Why Widows And Widowers Should Only Date Each Other, garnered much attention from widows and widowers in the group. Many provide their individual variations of their experiences, concerns, and expressions of how they view dating as a widow or widower:

I still find myself saying ‘we’ or ‘us’
I find it interesting dating divorced women. She talked about her ex-husband all the time
When I’m asked about my late wife I was told, ‘Oh, you’re still thinking about your late wife?’
As a widow with a 10-year-old, I’m clueless
I equate dating with a drunk guy on the dance floor
What’s the definition of dating?
I can’t recall what my husband and I did while dating. We met, fell in love and we were never apart … so, I have no idea.

Their replies are valid. Their concerns are understandable and their fears are relatable. I’ve been there. I’ve dated but they just couldn’t relate, until I met a widower.

My Hourglass

Well, there you have it; an hourglass reflection of what it’s been like for me on this journey. I’ve reached a milestone and I’m good now. I’ve even attended a wedding video viewing party just this past weekend! Yes, it was one of the weddings I skipped last year but the viewing party was even better! Although this type of event is new for me (never had one when I got married twenty-eight years ago), it was well worth the invite.

Talk to Me

Have you dated a widower or widow? What’s your experience attending weddings? Are you ready to date again?I’m curious to know so please chime in with your story. Do tell!

 

*Stay tuned for part 2, A Widow’s Continued Reflection on Weddings, Dating And Beyond

Read more of my writings over at blackwomenwidows.com

A Diamond Under a Shrouded Veil

By Wendy Simpson

As my husband was dying, he and I never talked of his dying of cancer… never said good bye and never lived like death was something to give into. Oh yes, there were moments of agony and defeat and doubt, but never a formal goodbye or giving up. It was the most difficult, beautiful thing that has ever happened to me. Indescribable….

I may never have said good bye.. but I remember when he went to sleep… I knew, in my heart he may never wake. I whispered in his ear, Jesus loved him and that it was okay to stop battling and rest. I was shocked, he actually said “I know,”… he’d been so still for so long, but from the depths of who he was, he spoke. I asked him what Jesus was telling him, as I truly longed for assurances of heaven and for peace in these last moments together. He said, “Jesus is telling me lots of things.” That was the last thing he said on this earth. The strange thing was… with all the people in the room, no one else heard it but me.

I wondered if it was real… but it was the enemy, he had entered my thoughts was trying to steal from me this one last precious treasure. A treasure that I had begun to discovered within myself, because of my beloved husband. It was a gift from God through the humility and honesty of my beloved that I saw, underneath this rough stone, there was a diamond inside of me, though veiled and shrouded. Chris would have said it was formed over these many years of living in the pressures of the heat and fire; living in the adversity of this world; living in the tremendous challenges of death’s dark corners.

My beloved husband saw my value under all the rubble I was buried under, the protective veil I wore and the shroud I covered myself with. He gifted me with His love… not perfect love, but unconditional love, together we moved from beyond the fires of Hell, this world can burn us with. The day he spoke his last words… my grey, stony, outer layer cracked. His words ushered me in to see a glimpse of heaven… and through that deep painful crack… something began to sparkle and shine. The rubble and veil and shroud, could not hide the discovery of this light. I believe my husband saw it, and knew what I wouldn’t begin to understand for sometime. Chris was faithfully used by God, helping me leave the fire kilns at the outskirts of Hell…. to see heaven was real, sharing it’s brilliance with me… so that the light of it would shine from the crack in my stony, protective places. I knew that he was going to live again, free of his cancer ravaged body. My husband death changed my life.

A facet this treasure revealed was… my value. Under all that this world can pile upon us, and bury us under… there is a diamond of great value inside us all. Though shrouded by a veil of pain and loss… it still… should not be hidden. For my beloved husband and the great love of my Savior, I will go forward and allow the outer layer to be painfully and patiently removed.

I pray, in time, that the stone gray shroud of a widow’s painful loss, will reveal more facets… and that I may shine, someday, for the one who gave them as a gift to counter the darkness and reveal the beauty that has been hiding there waiting. Just waiting for the Great Bridegroom of my heart, the one whom my beloved husband stands beside today, to lift the veil that has hidden the diamond facets of my face. And… in lifting this veil, I will know… truly know, God is my husband, the Lover of my soul, the giver and provider of all I have and the redeemer of my broken heart.

Hope sisters, please remember you are of value, precious and treasured. There is more inside you then you know.

The Cancer Survivor, Redefined

By John Polo

In December of 2016 I was added to the National Cancer Survivor’s Day Foundation Speakers Bureau.

I was pretty excited when I found out the news.

I had written the foundation a few months prior and had submitted my application, but had not heard back.  I had assumed they were not interested.

After all, my blog is entitled, ‘Better Not Bitter Widower’.  How can a widower speak about cancer survivorship?

My wife didn’t survive.

It got me to thinking:  What exactly does it mean to be a cancer survivor?

Is one a survivor if they are living with the disease?

Do successful surgeries make one a cancer survivor?

How about effective chemotherapy?  Or radiation? Or immunotherapy?

Clean scans?  Is that what defines a survivor of this wretched disease?

Well, yes.  Any of the items stated above would indeed classify one as a cancer survivor.

By typical standards

I suppose I am atypical.

Most, would say that my wife is not a cancer survivor.

I would say, they are wrong.

My wife IS a Cancer Survivor.

Cancer may have taken her life, but the fight is not null and void.

Her fight, her bravery, her strength, her grace.

Her smile.

Her very being.

The beauty that was her soul.

Cancer did not take these things from my wife.

My wife may no longer be here.

Cancer may have forced her Home.

But, my wife survived cancer.

Michelle survived cancer because of how she fought.  Brave as could be.

Michelle survived cancer because of how she lived. Full of love.

Michelle survived cancer because of how she smiled. Genuinely, and up until the very end.

Michelle survived cancer because of the memories and enduring legacy that she leaves behind. She will never be forgotten.

The typical definition of a cancer survivor is preferred, obviously.  I hope that successful surgeries, effective therapies and clean scans become more of the norm.

I hope that one day, they will find a cure.

Until then, know this:  Once a cancer warrior, always a cancer warrior.  Once a cancer survivor, always a cancer survivor.  That rank, it can never be taken away.

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The “Chapter 2” Myth

By Kerry Phillips

I can’t remember when I heard the phrase “Chapter 2” for the first time. I believe it was on a Facebook page dedicated to supporting the widowed community. A widow lamented that she’d never find another man to love her the way she’d been loved by her hubby. Her “Chapter 2” hadn’t yet arrived.

I’ve been guilty myself of referring to new love as “Chapter 2”. But who says “Chapter 2” has to be a mate? What if you’re perfectly content with never dating again? Don’t you get another chapter?

I believe that you are your own “Chapter 2”. Heck, you may even be on “Chapter 4 or 5”. As a wise widow pointed out, she had a life before she met her spouse and therefore her book was well underway by the time they met.

Our life is a series of pages and chapters. The chapters occur whether or not we have a partner. Our “Chapter 2” is what we make of it.

If you’ve been wanting a career change but were too busy caring for your ailing husband to consider going back to school, why not make enrolling in college your “Chapter 2”? You traveled with your spouse but stopped once he passed away…book that flight, pack your bags and fill the pages of your “Chapter 2” with passport stamps.

Too often we believe that we can’t be happy again because we haven’t met our “Chapter 2”. That’s simply not true. Though a new love can help your heart heal, for the most part, you have to put in the work required to get to a place of healing on your own – before dating.

Part of that healing is getting to know yourself, figuring out your interests; learning what brings you joy. Typically, we go from caring for our spouse and kids to just caring for the kids. We neglect ourselves and even more so when we lose a spouse. We throw ourselves into raising our children in an attempt to overcompensate for their having lost a parent.

While our children absolutely need extra-special attention to navigate the difficult road ahead, I dare you to pour some of this attentiveness into self-care. Stop putting yourself last. Discover the person you’ve become post-loss. I guarantee she isn’t the person you were when you met your husband. Get to know her…her likes, her dreams, her desires, her goals and her plans for future.

I’ve found many widows are now no-nonsense, fiercely independent women. A few have even said they don’t think their late spouses would have even dated them as they are now, let alone married them. That’s why it’s so important for you to get to know who you are post-loss.

Happiness comes from within. A new love story isn’t synonymous with happiness. If you haven’t taken the time to write on your own pages then why expect a partner to do it for you? You have to live and embrace life. Do things that bring you happiness. Adopt a child. Quit your job. Buy your dream car.

Whatever it is, make it count! You are your own “Chapter 2”. You don’t have to wait for anyone or anything to begin writing the rest of your story. And, if your current chapter isn’t going the way you’d like, you have the power to change it. You’ve already been through so much. You deserve all the happiness your heart desires. Be your “Chapter 2”!

Why we talk about them

By John Polo

For all those who talk about their late loved one.  For all those who talk about their loss.

This is why we talk about them.

**Hint:  It is NOT for attention**

We talk about them because we love them.  In life, and in death.

We talk about them because they are still a part of us.  And always will be.

We talk about them because the love we shared and the loss we endured have shaped us into the person we are today.

We talk about them because we find it therapeutic. For our minds, for our hearts and for our souls.

We talk about them because it helps us, and we hope it will help others.

We talk about them because the memories make us happy.  And we need to feel that.

We talk about them because the memories make us sad.  And we need to feel that.

We talk about them because we want the world to know the struggle.

Of cancer.  Of suicide.  Of drug addiction. Of heart disease. Of sudden death.  Of terminal illness.

The struggle of loss.

We talk about them because we want you to appreciate what you have.  Because in hindsight, we realize we didn’t.

We talk about them because they are still ours.  And we are still theirs.

We talk about them because in the day to day grind that is life, we sometimes feel them drifting away.  And we know that talking about them will make us feel closer to them today.

We talk about them because we want to.

We talk about them because we need to.

And yes, sometimes, we talk about them because nobody else is.

It is now our responsibility to carry on their legacies.

We talk about them because we take that responsibility very seriously.

When Michelle was sick and dying, she would often tell me of her fears that everyone would forget  her.  That she would become a distant memory.  That nobody would speak of her anymore.  That it would be like she never existed.

Nope.  Not going to happen.  Not on my watch.  Not now.  Not ever.

We talk about them because we won’t let them be forgotten.

© Copyright 2017 John Polo

You can find John’s blog at http://www.betternotbitterwidower.com and his FB by searching Better Not Bitter Widower

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