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
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/
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!”