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.
Mother. Writer. Painter. Runner. Student. Extroverted-Introvert. Lover of romantic novels. Wine
connoisseur. Poet. Concert junkie. Stay-at-home mommy. Wife…Or more recently, widow.
There are many different words and ways I would describe myself over the years, none of which I ever
thought would include the title of “widow”…Especially at the age of 30. Alas, I inherited the title on
September 29 th , 2017 when my young, healthy, 36 year old husband passed away suddenly and
unexpectedly. Life has given me the biggest, most unforeseen curveball I could have ever imagined, but in the wake of this tragedy, my late husband continues to motivate me to become a stronger woman and mother to
our four year old, little boy
When I am not chasing around our little guy, I have recently come to enjoy running and CrossFit, and trying to live a healthier, fuller lifestyle in honor of the man who stole my heart at 18, and in honor of the woman I want to become. I am also a full-time student going back for my Teaching License and an avid writer and reader…Both of which have saved my life throughout this journey in grief. There is nothing more beautiful and freeing then speaking your truth and absorbing the words and stories of others.
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.
Nearly 5 years into being a widow, Sandy is raising her children in Silicon Valley and works fulltime. She is passionate about joy, hope and building healthy relationships. She loves to cook and entertain and has started a Supper Club for widows called The Widows Table, we she gathers local widows for community – not therapy (and God bless therapy) its nothing more than a gathering of woman who get it, its often said around the table, “its just good to breathe the same air with sisters who get it.”
You can find Sandy on Instagram at: @thewidowstable
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.
Cecilia Mannella, RSW, RCC
Widowhood entered suddenly on June 17, 2016 when the love of Cecilia’s life died. They had a whirlwind of a love story which was fun, exciting and calming. This started her relationship with grief and loss. As a social worker, therapist, teacher, writer and human, she embarked on a bumpy yet remarkable path in her life. Cecilia is still working on discovering who she is as a woman, a sister, a daughter, a widow, a helper and a friend. She has been humbled by the depth of pain and suffering while learning that she is stronger than she thought. Cecilia has learned the strength, courage and beauty in all the widows that she has had the pleasure of connecting with.
Cecilia knows that writing is her ability to be vulnerable to the world in a way that is difficult. Words are the expression of her soul and she connects to others through their words. As a therapist, she brings a different slant to her writing that explores therapeutic approaches for healing that she has tried herself. What she has learned, is that there aren’t just 5 stages of grief but that grief is a soul changing experience which propels you into being a different person.
You can also find her on her blog Widow Living Instagram @widowedliving and Facebook @widowedliving
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.
My name is Rebecca.
My husband always called me Bec.
His name was Ruben Steven Cortez.
I called him, Rube.
We loved each other like crazy.
We had a love that others would tell me they only dreamed of…
He was my best friend, my counselor, my pastor, my business coach, my greatest love.
I loved how he loved me and how he loved others.
We worked together and were in ministry together for almost 23 years.
On December 11th, 2016 my beautiful Rube, suddenly and unexpectedly suffered a stroke in his sleep.
I called 911. I gave him CPR. I remember it very vividly. I cried out, “Don’t you dare die on me, Rube!”
He never regained consciousness.
I say that when he left this world, half my heart went with him.
And it did.
We were one.
Now I am half.
I have been learning how to live with half a heart.
I have been learning how to live the unimaginable.
At the hospital, when I realized he was not going to regain consciousness, somehow and only by the grace of God, I uttered these words,
“I SURRENDER TO HOPE.”
I have asked Jesus to not let any of this go to waste.
And to teach me what grief looks like from His perspective.
In my writings, I share how I have survived the horrific while miraculously having hope.
I will be painfully honest, as I share how I quickly recognized a glaring gap in our culture to understand grief and how to love others well, who are experiencing it.
I hope by doing so, to somehow encourage those who suffer silently in their pain, as others in the blogging community and social media world of instagram have done for me. I also pray that in some small way it will bring more awareness and help close what I call the “grief gap” that is so prevalent in our misinformed and uniformed society.
To all who have gone before me I say a heartfelt thank you.
I thank God for you.
You were used to help keep me sane during some of the worst pain of my life.
To my beautiful daughter Jess and my dearest friend, Cindy, thank you BOTH for journeying with me like none others.
Certainly not an easy thing to do.
I literally think I would have lost my mind, if it hadn’t been for you both.
We all have much to learn, especially myself of how to love better, live better and better understand grief.
Rebecca King Cortez, “Bec”
NEW BLOG COMING:
Just three years and ten days after getting married, Samantha’s world took an unexpected turn when she became a widow at the age of 22. Her husband passed away in a tragic accident in May 2016 leaving behind an almost two year old son and an unborn daughter. After over a year of just surviving through her pregnancy, daughter’s birth, and various birthdays and holidays, Samantha realized that she wanted to do more than just survive- she chose to thrive. She wanted to give her children the childhoods and the mother they deserved despite her sometimes unbearable loss.
Through writing, sewing, coffee, and a whole lot of Jesus, she takes life one day at a time as she makes her way through this grief journey. She hopes that her written words will help others to heal and to have hope in their times of darknesss.
You can find Samantha on Instagram as @samiwhitedesigns and Twitter: @samiwhitedesign
Her blog/sewing business www.samanthawhitedesign.com
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
Elizabeth was married to her college sweet heart for over 27 years. She is the mother of two beautiful grown daughters, writer by degree, Eastern North Carolinian, learning to walk by faith as a widow post ALS with a Golden Retriever named Henry. You can find Elizabeth on instragam @elizabethwwooten or on her blog www.thisgracefilledspace.com
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
Gail is a New York born California raised Texan. She married her high school sweetheart, had some kids, and shared all the things. After 30 years of marriage, with an empty nest in sight, Rod was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Seven months later, on November 22, 2013, he passed away, leaving Gail lost and without direction. After going back to school for a while, then having an online shop for a while, Gail had a dream that prompted her to write about her widow life. She felt compelled to advocate for new widows in their early weeks and months before they find their voice again, and that starts with sharing her own story. While ‘Rod’s wife’ enjoyed scrapbooking (and other crafty things) and being a stay-at- home-mom and housewife, Gail is continuing to discover who she is, and what she is all about.
You can also find Gail on Instagram at: @onecraftywidow and her website: www.onecraftywidow.com/blog
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
You can also find her on Instagram : @jjo_farley