Hope for Widows is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. We are guided by the board of directors who create initiatives and make decisions for the good of our community. We also are guided by the many woman who are actively involved, sharing their story, thoughts, ideas and messages with our community. Message us if you are interested in getting involved.
Hope for Widows Named #1 Blog ranked out of 50 in the United States, 2 years in a row. (2019 and 2020)
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 single 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 is also a Board Member for Black Women Widowed Empowered.
Her hobbies are reading, attending Orlando Magic games, yoga, going to the beach, and just chilling with her boys.
Danielle Thompson was born in New York, and moved to North Carolina in 2009 with her husband and two boys. After an incredible job offer for her husband Jerry, they packed up their boys and relocated to California in the summer of 2015. In 2016 around Thanksgiving, her husband Jerry became sick where they found out very quickly that he had a late stage rare liver cancer. Jerry’s battle was short and he passed away in February of 2017. Danielle quickly moved back to North Carolina with her boys who are now 18 and 9 to grieve and heal. Part of her grieving is to share her journey to all that will hear, in hope that it will help someone going through the same thing. Danielle started her own blog called the This Widow Life early on and shared on social media to friends and family who encouraged her to keep writing. Danielle has met many other widows along her journey so far through her blog, social media groups, and local support groups. Danielle found hearing similar stories, encouraging and leaning on each other is vital on this path.
Along with blogging, Danielle has a background in accounting and is currently a licensed Real Estate agent.
Eileen Clarke is an average everyday woman whose life was torn apart on November 2, 2017 with the
sudden loss of her husband Patrick (Pat).
She is now in the process of taking a journey that she never asked for but must take nonetheless. Her hope that in sharing her journey she may be able to help other woman as she embarks on her own unplanned journey of grief and rebuilding.
Katherine Billings Palmer
On August 13, 2017, I lost the love of my life. Rick Palmer and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary one month before he died at age 63 of complications from treatments for small cell lung cancer. He was my partner and soulmate, the love I had been looking for and finally found at age 40.
Rick was a talented writer and web designer and, in 2002, we began our own web and print design business. We worked together building the business and enjoyed traveling, writing, and playing together. Our dream was to spend our golden years together doing more of the same, but in the ten months from diagnosis to death, that dream shattered.
After Rick’s death, I quickly realized that the enormity of his loss was too much for me to handle on my own, so I began grief therapy. I also began writing through my grief in a journal of feelings, thoughts, memories, and poetry. As I navigate my new life alone, I share my journey and my efforts towards creating my “new normal” on my personal blog: The Writing Widow. I’m also on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Carla always knew she would be a widow but didn’t have any idea how it would actually feel. When Carla met her late husband Jared, he was waiting for a lung transplant due to Cystic Fibrosis, a chronic disease affecting the lungs and pancreas. So she knew that most likely someday she would say goodbye to her husband. But she never dreamt it would be exactly one week before their 14th wedding anniversary. In August 2014, Jared was diagnosed with a rare bacterial infection in his transplanted lung and was expected to survive at least 6 months if not a year. Instead, he died just 6 weeks later. And in the blink of an eye, Carla became a solo mom to their 10-year-old son. And even though her life was forever marked before and after, she was determined to live life to the fullest because her husband would expect no less.
She founded Breathing for Jared, a Foundation to provide college scholarships to those suffering from lung disease in honor of her late husband. Became a supporter of the CF Foundation and Donate Life. And discovered that writing out her emotions and fears on her blog Transplant Wife and Widow helped her to process her grief
Carla recently remarried and is now blending a family with her new husband, bonus daughter, and son.
There were many things Brittany anticipated being in her life, but becoming a widow at the age of 29 certainly was not on the list. They were just in the early stages of life together- married for 2 1/2 years with a beautiful 10 month old son, and buying their second home. And then it happened; unexpectedly and very suddenly her world was cruelly and swiftly ripped apart on November 19, 2015. Since her husband’s passing, Brittany has been left to pick up the pieces of this shambled life for herself and her son. It isn’t something she does gracefully everyday by any means, but it’s a constant work in progress.
For Brittany, writing and sharing her story have been one of the very few cathartic endeavors she has embarked on. Words and emotions are powerful and if hers reaches and touches just one person, it’s worth the fear of being vulnerable.
When she is not chasing her now 3 year old around, she is a Radiation Therapist, working on her Masters of Health Informatics, an outdoor enthusiast, lover of books, and also a blog contributor at cutemomblog.com. Life is anything but slow paced for her. Maybe that’s part of her journey, or perhaps it’s self induced- she hasn’t decided yet, but she does know she will continue to carry on for not only for her son, but herself as well.
Sue Leathers is an English teacher and mother of two adult daughters. She lost her husband in October 2017 to a sudden massive heart attack, which sent her on a journey to rediscover herself and a direction for her life. She has found solace in reading of other widows’ experiences and in writing of her own journey, and hopes to help other widows not feel alone.
Sue can be found on Instagram: @susanjanie
Kelly’s widow journey began in 2011 when she was 27. Her late husband passed away from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. Kelly’s re-entry into life has been difficult, but her relationship with God, being diagnosed with PTSD and her passion for music, dance and science have greatly helped her get back on her feet. Kelly is currently preparing for graduate school and volunteers as an endometriosis educator for the Endometriosis Foundation of America.
Kelly has so much she looks forward to sharing with you and she hopes that you may find something in her writing that will bring hope to your own journey, help you through the tough days, and show you that happiness can be found in the midst of grief.
You can follow her on Instagram at @kellcann
Elda Marcelynas lost her husband Jim, on March 2, 2017. He was driving home from work when a dead tree fell on his truck. To say their world was shattered in an understatement. Their daughter was 6 and their son had just turned 4 a few days prior. She is forever grateful to their families, friends, and continued grief therapy for pulling them out of the deepest, darkest, hole that almost buried them. It is a journey that continues every day.
Elda has never been much of a writer, more of a reader. And mostly for diversion (historical romantic novels), nothing serious. Her husband would joke that she could get lost in a book for hours. It was the truth. But the joy of reading went out the window, along with many things she/they used to enjoy. What she has realized, is that if she had known what the future held when she met Jim, she would still have chosen him. Again and again. Elda hopes that by sharing her journey of grief, that it may help just one person. And allow others to understand and be more compassionate to the obstacles that are faced by an only parent. Elda started a blog a year after Jim died: The Club I did not choose where you can read more at: https://theclubididnotchoose.blog/
You can also find her on Instagram: @eldamarcelynas
Celi Olson is a busy, single, working mom of two, who loves to write. Her world turned upside down when she became a widow on June 29, 2017 when her husband took his life. Words, journaling, writing, poems all became huge tools of comfort and healing through her journey. Through her faith in God, family, friends, support groups and therapy she has learned a lot and grown. Celi has come to the point of wanting to share her experiences and what she is going through, and hopes it helps even one person or helps someone not feel alone, then it will be worth it.
Dena’s life was forever changed on June 25, 2018, when she became suddenly redefined as a widow. A title she never thought she would have, or not have for at least another 40 years or more. Her healthy 43-year-old
husband suddenly and unexpectedly passed away, leaving her shocked, heart shattered and left, at age 41, to raise their precious 5-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter without him. Since gaining this new title, she is continually trying to figure out how to live this new life, and has leaned into her faith, has focused on being brave, and has taken head on all of the challenges she is now faced with in this new life. Dena is here to share her story as she is living it and to be honest and raw, providing insight into the life of a sudden widow with a full-time career and two young children. Dena learned the importance of what she has gained through living a life well lived with her beloved spouse, and she has been writing what is on her mind and in her heart, everything from the pain of losing a spouse suddenly, to focusing on gratefulness and being brave in this journey. She hopes to give others insight into what this journey looks like and provide thoughts on how she is managing through it all. And hopefully inspire some of her hope sister’s along the way.
You can read more and follow her on Instagram @suddenlyredefined or on her Facebook page Suddenly Redefined.
Northern Virginia has been Jennifer Carstens’ home since she was a teenager. She met John when she was working at the D.E.A. Headquarters in Arlington, VA, during the summer when she was in college. Honestly, it was love at first sight for both of them. He had a way about him that made her feel like everything was going to be okay. They were married 4 years later and lived happily for the next 21 years. While their lives were not
flawless, they were close to perfection. Their daughter had just turned 16 when tragedy struck on March
11, 2017. John was healthy and happy, but suffered a massive brain stem hemorrhagic stroke. Much to
their horror, he slipped into a coma, and would never wake again. He was 49-years young. Their daughter
is now 18 and they are still piecing together their ‘new normal.
Jennifer believes he would be proud of the ways they are moving forward. They continue to seek peace and healing through humor, love, and sometimes tears.
Laurie King is so excited to be sharing her thoughts and lessons she has learned on this journey of widowhood. She met her husband in 2004 and they began our family shortly after. They had two daughters 14 months apart and 5 years later had their son. While she was pregnant with her son, her husband was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer and they lost him 18 months later.
She is a school counselor in the Philadelphia School District and has a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology.
They currently live in Philadelphia and the kids are now 9, 13 and 14. She spends her free time with family and friends and recently bought a houseboat down in North Wildwood.
Laurie is thankful to share her story! She says, ‘We all know this is the one club, we that we didn’t have to belong to. Thank you for allowing me to share.’
Dawn’s life was forever altered on December 6, 2018 when she got the call that her husband, Jeffrey, had passed away at his work. She quickly learned that Jeff died from a gunshot wound, and detectives determined that it was self-inflicted. Dawn still struggles to wrap her brain around that fact. She will tell you that most days she doesn’t think about that part of it at all. Her husband is gone. The manner in which he died ultimately doesn’t matter. Gone is gone. He will forever be 46.
Jeff and Dawn started out as friends in the Fall of 1997. They started to date in January of
1999. On September 3rd, 2000, in front of a beautiful lake, Jeff asked Dawn to be his wife, lover and friend for the rest of his life. She excitedly accepted, and on June 30th, 2001, they
became husband and wife. Together, Jeff and Dawn had 3 children…Ali, Josh & Meghan. During the majority of their 17 years of marriage, Dawn was a housewife and Jeff ran a fencing company. The kind of fencing that keeps children and animals contained. Not the kind of fencing that uses a sword.
Dawn currently works as a secretary in the special education department of a school district. She has a degree in Elementary Education, and she loves being able to provide support to teachers and staff. In her free time, she can usually be found spending time with family and friends. Reading has been her passion since she was just a little girl, but since Jeff passed, she has found it hard to focus on reading. While that is a negative change that has happened on her journey, one positive change is that she has been writing more. She tries to openly share on her personal blog, Dawning Light, with the hopes that it will help even just one other person.
For years, Dawn has been passionate about spreading joy to those around her. She continues to be that way, and now she is very purposeful about trying to focus on the positive things even during a horrible situation. She moves forward on this journey with her mind focused on continuing to honor Jeffrey, as well as trying to raise their three wonderful children in a way that will make him proud. Her hope is to live a life that will allow her to see Jeff in Heaven. She wants to see his smile again and feel his arms around her. Of course, that will be after she hopefully hears her Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
Tanya Christians met her soul mate during her final year of university in Spring 1999. Although she was only 21 at the time it didn’t take long to know that this guy was the one. Chad Christians was charismatic, adventurous, confident, gorgeous and incredibly kind. He was a talented athlete who made everyone feel better the minute he entered a room. Deeply loved by everyone who knew him, Tanya always felt incredibly blessed that he chose her. Chad had a 2-year-old son when Tanya met him so once they moved in together in 2001, Tanya became a part time step mom. They were married July 2004 and then had 3 children together; a daughter in 2006, a son in 2007 and a second daughter in 2010. They built a beautiful life together in a close-knit acreage community.
Chad was a successful business owner and Tanya happily gave up teaching to stay home and raise their kids. They were incredibly happy.
In 2015, Tanya returned to work as a teacher, first part time because their youngest was in kindergarten and then full time when she was in grade one. It was June of this year that everything shattered. The life Tanya thanked God for several times a week came crashing down. Chad had been having severe back pain which led to his gall bladder being removed. After that surgery, Chad’s intense back pain was still more than he could stand. He had
been seeking medical attention for his pain since February but it wasn’t until June 11th, 2017 that the answer to the pain was found. A moment forever etched into Tanya’s mind. Chad had terminal, stage 4 gall bladder cancer. Despite being told the odds, Chad fought this cancer with everything he had, even seeking private treatment out of country, but it was just too aggressive. To everyone’s devastation Chad passed away 3.5 months later at the age of 41. When Chad moved into the different hospitals, shortly after diagnosis, Tanya moved in with him. She was by his side every moment as his health started deteriorating very quickly. Tanya’s strong faith in God gave her peace and hope during this horrendous time. She started a small, private blog telling her story during the endless hours of living in a hospital. Reading other widows blogs during this time gave her hope as well that possibly she could figure out how to live without her beloved Chad.
Chad passed away September 19th, 2017 at the age of 41. Tanya still lives on their small acreage, is working full time as a grade 6 teacher, has three kids in sports and activities and tries to stay connected to her community.
Tanya hopes sharing her story of how she is choosing to build a life where she and her kids thrive, despite her devastation, will give others hope too. How being intentional with her healing, taking steps of self care, adventures with and without her kids, staying connected to those who love them and a deep faith in God is helping them all to live a whole-hearted chapter 2 of their lives.
You can find Tanya on Instagram @christianstanya and her personal blog www.seekingthelightca.wordpress.com
Sue Entner met her husband online, in a single parent chat room group. They communicated for almost a year before Tim flew to meet her in person in December 1999. Once they met, they knew they were inseparable and Sue moved from Florida to Iowa in early 2000 with her young daughter. Tim and Sue were married in September 2002. Sue was well aware of the various medical issues her husband had endured and one of them was knowing he could need a 2nd kidney transplant. It was a private joke between them, with Sue always saying, I have a spare, so you can have one of mine. In February 2004, they got the news that indeed Tim needed a 2nd kidney transplant. They held out hope for a miracle and they got it – in the form of a match between Sue and Tim. In June 2004, they underwent the kidney transplant and it looked like his health was going to take a healthy turn.
Unfortunately Type 1 diabetes does not discriminate and Tim continued with complications from that. Not only diabetes, but because of some of the anti-rejection medications that he was on, he developed various skin cancers. They battled this together, through radiation and surgery and a second surgery when the cancer came back 8 months later. Together through it all, they raised their daughter, whom Tim had adopted and enjoyed life with Tim’s son also. They ran a successful business together and Sue also maintained a job first as a language interpreter for the local hospital, then as the office administrator for a local business. Life seemed to be going
well, watching the children grow and welcoming grandchildren into the family.
2017 became the year that everything would change. In March 2017, Sue’s father passed away from a sudden cardiac arrest. In August of that same year, Tim’s father passed away from complications of a broken hip. And as if that weren’t enough to try and endure and get through the grieving process, Tim suffered a cardiac arrest in October 2017 from complications with an infection in his bloodstream. In that moment, Sue’s world came crumbling down and she was now faced with not only the grief of her family members, but her very best friend and husband.
Reading was always her passion, but she started to write in order to get through the grieving process. Journal upon journal of entries has helped her on this journey to discovering herself, growing and grieving. Sue has shared her journey through grief through several widows groups on social media, meeting other widows in person and trying to let others know that they are not alone. She looks forward to sharing her hope, courage and continued journey so that it may touch someone else out there struggling through the same issues.
Sue can be found on Instagram and Twitter as BrunetteSuzyQ
At the young age of 25, Jayme Johnson lost the love of her life suddenly, unexpectedly, and tragically. She and Luke were only married 6 months and actively trying for a baby when she discovered him unconscious in her front yard after doing lawn care all day. On May 9, 2019, Luke passed away from idiopathic cardiomyopathy, caused by a silent condition he had from birth.
Since that fateful day, Jayme has used writing to help her process the whirlwind of daily emotions and endless lists of death “to-do’s” that come along when you lose your spouse. Her blog, appropriately titled “Confessions of a 25-Year-Old Widow,” has been her saving grace and introduction to a huge circle of incredible widows that she continues to turn to when this familiar grief gets too complicated.
Jayme uses daily gratitude, meditation, and copious amounts of self-care to keep a positive outlook on the rest of her life. She aspires to be a source of strength and a valuable resource for other young widows who are faced with the unimaginable pain and loneliness that accompanies being in her shoes. She is endlessly thankful for her patient, loving, and supportive family, friends, and fellow widows for encouraging her to pursue her humanitarian passions and actively find JOY and light in an otherwise dark world.
Kathy finally concluded her career as a geologist and followed Jim into retirement in 2015. The same year, having lived in upstate New York throughout their marriage, they bought their retirement home in coastal Georgia. After wintering in Georgia for three years, they scheduled their transition to year-round southern life for mid-February 2019. But Jim’s 66-year-old heart stopped, without warning, seven weeks before that – on New Year’s Day 2019 and two weeks after Kathy’s 59th birthday.
At the time of Jim’s death, Kathy counted about a dozen widowed women and men among her friends – some closer than others. She called them her guiding lights, proof that it was possible to survive and maybe, someday, even thrive. But no one else’s experience mirrored hers, without children and half-packed for a 900-mile move. Having lost the love of her life and unable to see the future, Kathy’s just making it up as she goes along. She remains in upstate New York, devoting most of her much-depleted emotional energy to being the sole caregiver for two beloved senior coonhounds. She writes to share her perspective on the effects of sudden loss and deep grief on day-to-day living, thought processes and vocabulary.
Therese Marchitelli is a mother, entrepreneur, caregiver, tea addict, eternal optimist, orchid wizard, natural protector, dog mom, meditator, mediator, and widow. Her husband, David Glickstein, died from a traumatic brain injury after a car accident in 1995, leaving behind Therese and their young son and daughter. There have been grave mistakes along the way, but Therese has learned from them and persevered. She now strives to support and help women who are suddenly widowed along their new, unexpected journey with love, protection, and hope.