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.
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
Melissa Pierre-Louis Peoples
Melissa is in the process of rediscovering Melissa. She is in her journey of “the new normal” since widowhood and single parenting. Her hope is that in sharing her journey, that she may be able to help not only other widows, but any person undergoing a transition in life. Grief is a process but moving forward is an opportunity. She currently works as a certified process improvement expert. She taps into her professional experience and applies those tools into daily life.
As a blog writer for Hope for Widows, Melissa hopes to provoke thought, share ideas, and encourage you.
You can also find her on Instagram @melly_plp
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
Jessica’s life was shattered in March of 2017 when her healthy and athletic husband suddenly and unexpectedly passed away at the age of 44. Jessica became a widow at the age of 36.
Through the eyes of a grief, Jessica has become aware of the huge disconnect there is between the reality of grief, versus what others believe grief should be. This has motivated her to share her story and hopes that by doing so, it may create a “safe space” for someone – anyone who might relate or who shares similar experiences. It took her so long to understand that she was not going crazy in the months after her loss, and hopes that she might help a reader understand the same thing: You are NOT going crazy. This is grief.
You can find Jessica on Instagram at @littlechynagirl
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
Stephanie Ann Pequeno
Stephanie Ann Pequeno life turned upside down on August 31, 2018. After being married two and half years to her best friend of 8 years, she became a widow. This new journey has been full of fear, confusion and loneliness, but nonetheless a blessed one.
She is learning who she is as a single woman walking in the ways of GOD, with a heart filled with desire to encourage and spread the hope that has helped her through the most difficult time of her life, with others.
Her story and love for writing didn’t begin here though… The love for writing began in her teen years. Stephanie was a young girl who struggled with depression. Writing became the very thing that allowed her to fully express what she felt inside. Though she was never good with voicing her feelings, the pages always seemed to know more about her than anybody else. It became an escape, the only place she felt comfortable to be who she was, and not feel ashamed with what was going on in her life.
Stephanie writes in hope to show others they are not alone in what they are going through. She writes in hope to show others they are loved.
You can also find Stephanie over on her personal blog at: https://theheartofgrace.blog/
Elizabeth had a love story straight from a fairytale; she met Simon when she was three and he was five after her family moved into the house next door to Simon’s family. They were inseparable, but simply best friends for a decade or so until Simon noticed Elizabeth’s “ocean eyes,” as he called them, and Elizabeth noticed Simon’s time in the gym was really paying off. Their first date was at Elizabeth’s favorite restaurant that overlooked the lake they had both grown up on. When dessert came, Elizabeth saw, “will you be my girl?” was written in chocolate sauce on the plate. She said yes to this handsome man with the fluorescent white smile and sunburnt lips. Simon pulled out a little blue box with a gold Star of David necklace in it; he had spent two weeks’ salary to purchase something that honored Elizabeth’s preference for simplistic gold jewelry and their shared Jewish faith. Simon put the necklace on Elizabeth and they walked down the dock in her backyard. Two kids, freshman and sophomore high schoolers who had never been on a date or had their first kiss, dangled their feet off the dock’s edge and let their lips meet for the first time. Neither of them ever kissed another and ten years on, Simon is still Elizabeth’s last kiss. Ten years on, she has never removed that necklace.
They lived an all-American dream in a nice area with great schools and sidewalks jammed with gorgeous moms who never broke a sweat pushing their jogging stroller. Simon was a star quarterback and Elizabeth was captain of the cheer team. He was Homecoming King and she was his Queen. They held onto their royal titles when prom came around and were voted King and Queen again, and Elizabeth won her high school pageant. They shared a passion for horses and calf roping, for sitting in the window seat of Elizabeth’s bedroom reading books aloud to each other, for their mutual love of competitive rowing, horses and calf roping. Simon even grew to love his lover’s love of all things Disney. Simon never quite got into gardening, but he beamed with pride that every neighbor on the street complimented Elizabeth’s sprawling garden of kaleidoscopic flowers. Elizabeth never quite got into Simon’s hobby of cars, but she beamed with pride, herself, when Simon’s ’69 Shelby won at a car show.
For Christmas 2006, Simon planned a six-day, surprise trip to Disney World; Elizabeth had just turned 18. Simon had not just planned a Christmas vacation gift; he worked with Disney staff to create the perfect experience for what he had in mind. Thanks to an uncle who’s a Disney executive, Simon secured an invite to stay in the elusive, highly-coveted Cinderella Castle Suite. It was originally designed to be the private apartment of Mr. Walt Disney himself, but is now decorated in a sort of 17th-century-meets-modern-technology style. The marble floors, fireplace, endless stained glass windows, gorgeous mosaics, a bathtub you can look up in and see a projection of stars, and two queen-sized beds in the middle of a pumpkin coach are all so lovely. Simon and Elizabeth slept in separate but side-by-side beds, as they wanted to avoid temptation and save their virginities for marriage. Thanks to “Uncle Disney,” as we called him, Simon was even able to secure a reservation at the Chef’s Table at Victoria & Albert’s the first night. The whole trip was planned down to the minute and Simon spared no detail. He arranged private, VIP tours for each attraction. If it was available, Simon made a reservation for it.
Elizabeth survived cancer as a child and Disney Princess books were the only thing that kept her mind off the pain. She would get lost in the pages and read fairytales for several hours at a time. Disney Princesses have a special place in Elizabeth’s heart and Simon wanted to recognize that at every opportunity. He made sure she got the true Princess treatment. On the last evening before their flight home, Simon arranged for a sleigh ride back to the Castle.
Waiting out front of the Castle were Cinderella, Aurora, Belle, Rapunzel, and Elizabeth’s very favorite, Miss Mary Poppins. As Simon and Elizabeth got out of the sleigh, Mary Poppins handed Simon a pillow with roses and a small glass slipper on it. With the Princesses and Miss Poppins watching, Simon knelt down and said, “Elizabeth Dreier, if I loved you more I think it would kill me. Please marry me.” Elizabeth looked at the slipper and saw there was a ring in it – a Princess cut diamond, of course. She caught her breath and said, “‘Yes’ is far too weak of a word, but it will have to do.” Simon slipped the ring on her finger against the glowing backdrop of the Castle and two perfectly timed fireworks went off just as they kissed. The wedding was a spectacular black tie affair with 600 guests and, unsurprisingly, held at a real life castle.
Young Elizabeth, barely an adult, still believed in fairytales the day she said, “I do.” She has since learned they do not exist. Simon was overwhelmed by the intractable pain from a broken neck he suffered in a car accident that ten years ago, he chose to end his suffering on his terms. Before he left this world for the next, he had his sperm frozen. Elizabeth has two perfect children conceived after their father’s death and she reads them the same fairytales she loved as a child. She works from home in the healthcare field, as well as training horses and young riders. Her greatest happiness comes from watching her children grow, reminding her more of their father each day. The few short years Elizabeth was a Mrs. were absolutely blissful. Simon made every day a brand new adventure and thanks to Eliabeth’s passion for photography, she has albums upon albums of photos from the time she and Simon were teenagers until just hours before he passed away. The children will have to grow up only knowing Dad from pictures, but the love he poured into Elizabeth from the first time he noticed her “ocean eyes” spills right out of her heart and into their precious children.
In her spare time, Elizabeth still loves to read. She’s switched to the true crime genre, however. She lives somewhere on a few dozen acres and enjoys the space to have her dream of a horse stable and multipurpose training arena. She hasn’t given up calf roping, either, and she still takes her rowing shell out onto the lake behind their home to clear her head. Her oldest child just won a major roping and junior bull riding competition, and loves the cowboy life like Dad. Her youngest is a champion rower and avid reader. They’re great kids and despite everything, they’ve got a pretty okay mom.
Life is hard. Life is messy. Life is painful. But as Elizabeth tells her eldest child, it isn’t how many times you get bucked off the bull… It’s how many times you get back on.” Elizabeth misses her sweet Simon dearly and will never be the same person again. Life is now divided into “Before” and “After.” Becoming a member of a club no one wants to join at the age of 22 came with a lot of hard lessons. For now, “After” looks like making the best of the absolute worst to show two intelligent, compassionate, loving, kind hearted little souls that we can – and will – survive, and we’ll do it together to mold our “After” into a fairytale, after all.
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.
LaTisha currently resides in Germantown, TN which is 45 minutes outside Memphis, TN. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC),National Certified Counselor(NCC), and Certified Lifestyle Coach(CLC). She is a diabetes advocate, currently preparing to take the Certified Diabetes Educators (CDE) exam. She also has 21 years of experience in healthcare, working in the nursing field. LaTisha provides mental health counseling and diabetes education services to individuals affected by diabetes and who are experiencing issues such as depression, grief, stress, trauma and anxiety. One may say, LaTisha has seemingly, gained a lot and perception is reality, right? Our perception is how we view the world or understand someone or something. It is created from our past experiences, values, and beliefs. It is psychologically who “you are”, right?
Sadly, LaTisha’s perception changed Monday, June 29, 2015.The day she found her husband, Garren unresponsive in their home, with their then 4-year son standing in shock, chanting ” My Dad is gone, he left me”. That day, perception changed, reality changed, and painfully LaTisha’s life changed. That day, diabetes stole her husband. That day, LaTisha’s status became a young widow with child (ren) and all reality as she knew it was loss.
You can also find her on Instagram: @beauty_ in_ my_brokeness
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.’
You always said I should write a blog because people should hear what I have to say but because of my adhd I never knew what I should write it about, I have so many hobbies and interests that chop and change on a daily basis..
So even though it’s not about what I have to say about something I like, or my views on things, I now have something to write about and I still get to write to you.
Although I felt crazy, It was too painful to stop myself from messaging you.
I spoke to your mum, she still messages you too. She talks to you every day and so will I.
So this blog is about my day, my grief, my mental health, my hobbies, my music and more importantly… About you.
I Love you Mi Amor,
My Sweet Sleeping Prince.
– Anu (your first and favourite lady)