The short answer is YES. We do.  Just like National Widow’s Day, it’s not something you hear about until it affects you. I wish that would change. Grief awareness is desperately needed in our society.  If the nature of grief was given more of a voice, the grieving would feel so much less alone and more supported by everyone.

I know that I would.

National Grief Awareness Day is August 30, which is one day after my husband’s Angelversary…so all I can think of is…boy, am I aware of my grief.

This year will make it five years. Five years since I heard him call me honey. Five years since I kissed his warm, handsome face and held his hand in mine. I couldn’t be more aware of how I feel about August 30. 

The problem is…I seem to be the only one aware of this now.

It has been five years after all. Why am I still talking about it? And him?

I don’t want to forget his face, or how he sounds. I always want to remember his touch. His fighting attitude. His protectiveness. His love for his family. I don’t want to forget how he treated me like his Queen. I never want to forget my King. Being able to talk about him keeps all of that alive for me.

Being a widow is an aspect of my life now. So I talk about it. Many of my friends are widows. So we talk about it too.

Someone I care about very much asked me why I talk about being a widow and missing Tony so much. This person even going so far to say I was “wallowing” in my grief and pain. That talking about it was unnecessary and completely detrimental to me. Because I talk about “it” so much, I appeared to her to be “stuck.”

Talk.. about it…so much?

Say what now? 

Over the years I’ve educated myself about grief to better understand my own feelings. Like most widows coping with the loss of their loves, I thought I was losing my mind. I was so sad, then angry, then depressed, then bitter. No one seemed to understand me anymore.  People backed away from me which amplified the emotions I was already feeling. Others who had been there for me had had enough of my expressions of pain and refused to acknowledge it.


So I had to do something and begin to heal myself.


I have put together a pretty extensive library of books on grief, grieving, and widowhood, and even though they differ in approaches to coping and rebuilding a shattered life in some cases, every single book said the same thing: talking and sharing helps the heart shift towards healing. 


What does that naysayer think counselors and support groups are for? Sitting around drinking coffee and filing our nails? Okay, sure that happens too, but counselors and grief support groups are there for you to talk about your pain and your loss.  


There are even weekend gatherings every year, such as Soaring Spirits’ Camp Widow and the Modern Widows Club’s Widow Empowerment Event.


It was even suggested that I write about my grief and widowhood. Writing allows me to keep my memories alive too while sharing my life with other widows. Others can read what I write and understand what I feel. Hope for Widows Foundation Blog gives me and other widows a chance to share and give perspectives on life after a loss.

But in spite of all the evidence I had found for myself, to be told that talking about it was bad, even wrong…made me doubt myself. Once again.

Was I losing my mind? Am I wallowing?

Thankfully, I belong to several  Facebook widow groups too, including our very own Hope for Widows Secret Group. So I spoke my pain and fear to them, my widow tribe. 

My tribe…my beautiful widow tribe, immediately jumped to my defense…

“Hell yes, you’re wallowing! So are we!”

“You’re entitled to wallow! You loved that man like crazy!”

“She said that like it’s a bad thing!”

“Tell us about it. We get it!”

“We’re listening!”

“Do you, sis! Do You!!!

“Unless they live it, they don’t know!”

“We are here for you whenever you need it.”

Love my tribe. Thank Heaven for my tribe. Because of them, I am not alone and I am not always lonely. 

Being able to express myself with other widows has saved my life, to be honest. My critic may say I spend too much time on Facebook, posting about Tony and or talk too much about him and being a widow. But Facebook and my groups are where I’m heard and understood. Couple those with my books, writing, and the gatherings I attend, I can continue healing and growing stronger. Because even though it has been five years, I still miss Tony and I still hurt without him.

For me, this is why we need National Grief Awareness Day. To let people know we are ALWAYS aware, even if they are not.



Cheryl Barnes was born in Atlanta, Georgia and after several moves with her family, settled in Indianapolis, Indiana. She attended college at Indiana University Bloomington, majoring in Public and Environmental Affairs Management. While she attended college, she laid eyes on Martin “Tony” Barnes and was completely lost. They became inseparable and were married on December 24th, 1991. After five years of marriage, their first son, Malcolm, was born on New Year’s Eve, 1991. After Tony obtained his Master’s Degree in Social Work, the family moved to Orlando, Florida. Tony worked as a counselor, while Cheryl got her dream job working at Walt Disney World. Two years later, their second son, Miles, was born in July 2004. Cheryl left Disney and took a job in accounting at a property management company. Everything seemed to be going well for the family and Cheryl made plans to attend nursing school. However, in July 2011, Tony was diagnosed with end stage renal failure caused by lupus. For the next three years, Cheryl cared for her husband while taking care of the boys and working. Tony’s health deteriorated as a result of several complications until he passed away on August 29, 2014. Thus began her new journey as a widow and solo parent.
Cheryl was devastated at the loss of her beloved Tony, but continued to work and care for their sons as she had before. As a way to work through her grief, she started writing, at first, only for herself. But, being encouraged by others, she began publishing her blog, “Widowness and Light.” Along with writing and being involved with several widows groups on Facebook while raising her boys, she works as a training bookkeeper at an association management company.
She plans to go back to school and obtain a Master’s in Social Work so that she can help other widowed persons cope with their losses. She is also working on a book about her grief journey.
Her hobbies are reading, attending Orlando Magic games, yoga, going to the beach, and just chilling with her boys.
Additionally, she is also the founder of Black and Widowed: A Unique Journey, a Private Facebook group and a contributing author of the book, Widowed But Not Wounded: The Hustle and Flow of 13 Resilient Black Widowed Women.
You can also reach Cheryl through her public Facebook page, Widowness and Light, which is based on her widowed journey.