Living Wide is choosing to maximize the width of your life because we have no control over the length. The concept of Living Wide was founded by Gregory Todd Jones after he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2016. Living Wide is an organization dedicated to helping people live with joy, hope, meaning, and purpose in spite of profound uncertainty.
I first heard the term Living Wide when I watched last weeks episode of American Ninja Warrior. My husband and I loved this show because the participants not only compete and overcome many obstacles to become strong and agile, but they always support and encourage their competitors. There are always many heartwarming stories of triumph over tragedies or overcoming seemingly impossible circumstances. Living Wide is designed to inspire hope and galvanize courage when life throws curveballs that threaten to wipe you out.
Christopher Harding Jones is a 17-year-old from Georgia who came to compete on American Ninja Warrior’s obstacle course in honor of his dad, Gregory. His dad was his coach to train him to be a Ninja Warrior by building him obstacle courses at home before lung cancer took his life. The Living Wide Ninja brought honor to both his dad and his whole family when he became the first qualifier of the season and hit that buzzer. You can watch the clip of his great run here. My heart was so touched by this young man’s courage and love for his dad.
As I thought about his story, I realized this concept could be applied to widows. It’s from a different angle, because while we are profoundly impacted by the loss of our husband, we are not necessarily facing a life-threatening illness ourselves. However, the impact of our loss puts us at a 30% elevated risk of death in the first 6 months after we lose our spouse. It’s also been determined 60% of those who lose a spouse or significant other will experience a serious illness within 12 months.
Another reality many widows encounter is a profound change in our identity, as well as significant social, economic and emotional challenges that may impact our life and lifestyle as we knew it. Widows are vulnerable on many levels. How we handle all this change, how much support we have, and how adequate our support system is, will all impact how successfully we negotiate the transition we are forced to face.
Our personal attitude about life is another intensely important component. We have the opportunity to embrace life and live wide. When we choose to live “Widow Wide” we make a conscious effort to believe we can take control of our future… because the truth is no one knows how long we will live. We can choose to fill our days spending time with the people we love. Look for the things in this life that will give experiences to bring joy. Choose activities we care about and set goals to help us live with purpose. Find an opportunity to give to someone else in need, possibly a sister widow.
We have a deeper understanding of how fleeting and fragile life is. Most of us planned to have much longer with our beloved husband. Whether he was taken suddenly or battling illness, we probably almost all thought we would have more time. I know I did.
I encourage each of you to embrace life. I know it’s not easy. Choose to keep pressing forward. Set meaningful goals. Take as long as you need to, but whatever you do… keep moving. Let’s make living “Widow Wide” a movement of hope… a movement of success. This is the dawning of Your future! God bless you.