My widow journey began on August 29, 2014.  This means I’m closing in on eight years as a widow.

What a thought.  On the one hand, I’m eight years past the initial hurt I felt when he died. Healing has been slow, but deliberate and steady since then. On the other hand, I’m eight years out from hearing my sweetheart’s voice, kissing his handsome face, seeing him fight to stay with us, and ultimately witnessing his last breath.

I don’t know how I feel about either of those things happening to me.

But, and this is very important to me…

It feels as though people have completely forgotten that I am a widow. 

I do know how I feel about that. 

I don’t know why I am surprised at this. I really shouldn’t be.  So few acknowledged that I was a widow a week after Tony died. People practically ran the other direction and avoided any conversation about Tony. 

When it’s fresh, when that horrible thing happened, when you’re attending a funeral, offering condolences, bringing over covered dishes and wiping away the tears from the widow’s face…it is very hard to forget about.  It’s right there in your face…the loss, the pain, the disbelief, all of it.

I get it. It’s hard to talk about  and no one wants to make Widow Barnes cry. As if these people saying words could single handedly do that. The hole in my heart causes the tears, not hearing my love’s name out loud.

But as time passes and the pain is less obviously on the widow’s face, people tend to at first gloss over it…then “forget.”

Eventually, it is as though it never happened.

**deep breath**

It did happen though. Some days it is like it was yesterday and my soul cries out for him like it did that day. Some days I feel every minute that has passed since then and wondered how I made it this far. Other days, I marvel at how I kept it moving in spite of it all.

I’ll say it again. It did happen. Why does it feel as though everyone forgotten about it? You don’t forget to eat, shower or take your cell phone everywhere you go.  Why is this such an easy thing for others to forget?

I understand that death is a very difficult subject. It always was for me, before. But not acknowledging the day and the loss can be just as painful as the loss is.  I will tell you that it hurts me when no one seems to remember my Tony.  

Perhaps saying that it was forgotten is a bit harsh.  But that is how it feels. My sweetheart’s birthday is still his birthday to me. Our wedding anniversary will always be our anniversary. The day he died will always be “that” day. Eight years later, the special days in our lives are barely, if ever,  acknowledged. That is what hurts the most about this. I want to talk about him because that’s what keeps him alive for me and others who love him. Having to watch someone’s eyes glaze over and literally hearing that “I don’t want to hear this AGAIN” switch flip is just as hurtful .

Don’t do that. We can see that plain as day. 

So, for National Widow’s Day -please remember us: call, text or email your widow friend:

Send her some flowers

Take her shopping

Bring her a meal, have one delivered or take her out.

Go to the cemetery with her

Give hugs

Be quiet and listen

Say their love’s name. Then say it again. We love that.

Many of us would give anything for someone to listen to us just talk, or sit with us in the silence of remembering.

Doing these things will show her know that YOU remember too. 

To my widow sisters, I have not forgotten you and what happened to all of us. I never will, no matter where and when you are in your journey. I can promise you that.

**Have you heard about Hope for Widows Foundation’s annual Restoring Hope & Peace Grant program? It was established by the organization in 2019 to help widowed women offset financial challenges as they navigate their healing journey. You can find out details, timeline and the history of this grant here: All widows based in U.S. and Canada are encouraged to apply. Applications are now open on National Widows Day, May 3, 2023. For additional questions feel free to email **




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.