Help and encouragement for widows

Monday, May 3 was National Widows Day. The day eluded me until late Monday night when I read it from a Facebook post. Since entering widowhood slightly more than six months ago I had been wanting to write a little about the subject.

At the time of Steve’s passing, I was comforted by many cards and compassionate words from caring persons. But life goes on and people return to their normalcy, but my life had been forever changed, I was left alone to work through the grieving process.

“’…and the two shall become one flesh.’ So, they are no longer two but one flesh.” ~Mark 10:8

No longer one flesh, as he was ripped away from me, I must try to find my way anew, alone. The loss means learning to live life differently, singularly. Every situation is challenged by the heavy awareness of my loss.

Approximately three months ago I realized I could possibly live another 25 years. And not wanting to do many aspects of my life alone I decided to reach out to other widow ladies by posting a general message to local widows on Facebook. Soon I heard from multiple widows, as well as family members of widowed mothers or sisters, and friends of widows all wanting to get their loved ones involved in this endeavor. In a relatively short time, the group grew to 29 members. Some single women asked to be included, wanting the same opportunity to connect with other ladies.

I created a group called the “Area Widows’ Network,” a private Facebook group designed for widows to empower them in finding their identity, purpose, voice, and place in society.

Although the group’s focus is on widows, … single, divorced or women who identify as single can participate. Our immediate focus is helping widows (and members) socialize in ways they may not otherwise feel comfortable doing alone. The group offers one or more monthly events, but the members are encouraged to develop friendships in the hopes of becoming fully active. Members can network with others and find common interests and make plans, apart from the group, to do stay actively engaged.

Members are to ask for what they need. The group is also there to provide seminars or trusted answers to questions that may arise, such as financial planning, how to “do it yourself”, maintain a positive outlook, or any other concerns.

Since than I discovered the Modern Widows Club, their mission is to serve to empower widows to lean into life, build resilience and make a positive difference in society. This national club offers daily and weekly motivational emails and Facebook posts, mentoring to aid in the survivor’s healing, growth, leadership and so much more.

In my quest, I discovered many facts about widows for instance:

· “Death of a spouse” is the #1 stressor in one’s life. No other event has a more potentially negative effect.

· The sadness, anxiety, and loneliness over the loss of a spouse typically have detrimental effects on the psychological, social, physical, and economic wellbeing of the surviving spouse, especially among the elderly, for the rest of their life.

· Grief, bereavement, shock, depression and even guilt have been found to dominate the first 12 months after a spouse’s death, greatly impairing decision-making, undermining mental stability, and threatening overall health.

· 60 percent of those who lose a spouse will experience a serious illness within 12 months.

· Widow(er)s have a 30 percent elevated risk of death in the first 6 months after their spouse death. It is called the “widowhood effect.”

· Most widow(er)s lose 75 percent of their support base when their spouse dies.

· After 3 to 4 months most of the remaining support fades for a widow(er)

· Most widow(er)s lose touch with their in-laws within a year of their loss.

· 800,000 people are widowed in the US each year (700,000 of those are women)

· 1/3 of the US population aged 65 and older is widowed.

· The average age when a woman is widowed is 58.

· Most widow(er)s live in poverty (Over 115 million world-wide and two-thirds of all widows over the age of 65 in the US)

· The death benefit from Social Security is a $255 lump sum.

· There is no social security for those widowed under the age of 60 without children.

· Insomnia, fatigue, and brain fog are some of the most common symptoms for a grieving spouse.

· Widow(er)s are classified as one of the most resilient groups of persons in society.

I also discovered a movement called Widow Wednesday which I will share, later. Until then, Happy belated Widows Day and Happy Mothers’ Day! (Perhaps I will see you at the House of Flowers Shop.)

“Life after loss is … choosing to start over when you would rather not.” ~Christina Rasmussen

“Grief is like having broken ribs. On the outside you look fine, but with every breath, it hurts.” ~Unknown

“Grief, I’ve learned is really just love. It is all the love you want to give but cannot. All the unspent love gathers in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in the hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” ~Jamie Anderson

UPCOMING EVENTS

Friday, May 7, Ansonia American Legion will have a Fish fry from 4 to 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, May 12, the Ansonia America Legion will serve Wings & Things from 5 to 7 p.m.

Friday, May 14, the Versailles Vets Club will hold a “Midwestern Hayride” dance beginning at 7 p.m. There will be country swing and line dancing, celebrity singing, bronco riding and stick pony barrel racing. It should be entertaining!

Also Friday, May 14, is the first rehearsal for the Versailles Community Chorus. If you would like to participate in the Community Choir, go to www.towneandcountryplayers.com and submit the registration form. Details will be listed on the form. For more information or questions, please contact Lindsey Brown at 937-423-4979, or Lynn Blakeley at [email protected], 937-470-3270

Happy birthday wishes to Steffani Jennings, Brenda Sloan, Julie Covault, Billie Hale Platfoot, Rosie Stem, Lynn McEldowney, Kevin “Flap” Barhorst, Mike Hayes, Rick Berger, Matt Gibson, Janet Zumberger, Bob Hium, John Hilgefort, Jennifer Baker, Vivian Blevins, Jennifer Subler, Harry Gorrell, Deb Phlipot, Roberta Archey, Ed Ruhe, Jim Barlage, Travis Wilker, Stephanie Fullenkamp, Doug Armstrong, Kaley Wagner, Scott Ward, Tammy Collins, Gaylen Blosser, and those I may have missed. Anniversary wishes to Taunya and Tom Buxton (42), Diane and John Swallow (44), and Jeanne and Brad Miller (48).

Please extend your heartfelt sympathy to the family and friends of all those who have passed and those who are in our hearts but not mentioned by name as the anniversary of their passing nears. Please give too your supportive and healing prayers for the sick, suffering, terminally ill, the caregivers, and all those who have lost loved ones, the struggling, lonely, addicted and those dealing with life’s many challenges.

“True prayer is a way of life, not just for use in cases of emergency. Make it a habit, and when the need arises you will be in practice.” ~Billy Graham

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By Kathy Monnin

Versailles News

Kathy Monnin is a volunteer citizen columnist. She can be reached at [email protected] or at 423-0914. Feel free to contact her with Versailles news and tidbits. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.