The Widow or Widower Next Door

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Never Alone



Never Alone is a title that could lead us in many different directions.  Some of us look at those words and think of their religious faith implications. I do, most certainly. Others think of spiritual ideas, in that our loved ones are always with us. I think of that too. They don't call me "Mrs. Muir" (as in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir) for nothing. There are some grievers, I don't know many, but there are some, who said that in the immediate aftermath of their loss that they wished people would just let them be. They were never alone.


Today I want to consider "never alone" from a different angle. The photo above is a group of the new friends I made in my new hometown, here in the Low Country of the Carolinas, when we joined together to write my first book. The Widow or Widower Next Door (available in the bookstore on this site, and on Amazon.   


All of us in this picture had been widowed but a short time, only a few years. All of us, to the person, thought that we were the only ones, that we were alone in this awful experience. Intellectually, of course, we knew better, but it sure felt that way. We sure felt alone. Meeting other widows and widowers helped all of us a great deal to come to terms with some aspects of loss. We were not alone; we were not the only ones. Somehow, seeing evidence of that, meeting other grievers, made the whole road a little less scary. We knew we would survive, we would begin to heal, and we would continue to achieve. Never quite in the same way, but we would move forward.


Is it a case of "misery loves company"? Or is it just that knowing we are never alone makes the awfulness less debilitating? Or is it that it gives us hope, kind of a "if he or she can do it, maybe I can too" hope.


With this idea in mind, I've created some Pinterest boards that may interest some of you. I have a board about books I like on grieving and healing, one about movies and books featuring widows and widowers, and a couple of boards about famous celebreties and historical figures who were widowed. I didn't make a board about them, but on bad days I think about my widowed family and ancestors and remember how well they managed. It gives me hope. I hope these Pinterest boards will give others hope, as well.


Check them out on my Pinterest account at:     Then come back and tell me what you think. Why? Because we are never alone!




On Being Prepared ~ Guest Blog by Cathy Hewitt Windam

It just occurred to me that I was prepared to be a widow from a very early age. I'm not exactly sure but maybe about the age of six when I realized my father was away on deployment with the Army.
He was gone a whole year.

My mom was a very resilient woman. She grew up in Ulen, MN. It's just across the border from Fargo, ND. It is a tiny little town surrounded by farms.
She grew up in a home with her mother and seven siblings. Her father left the family and they were left to manage life without him.
Those were difficult days for my mom and her family. They all stuck together and made the best if their situation and remained close their whole lives.
I was shielded from any information about this and frankly, I never even wondered why I did not have a grandfather in my life.

I saw how mom handled being alone while dad was gone extended periods of time because of the Army.
She had endured his years as a Japanese POW. She thought he was dead or MIA for years until she finally got word of his capture. It had to have been the worst of fears for her. She did the best she could with my eldest sister who was two at the time.
They were reunited when she turned six. 

Our family grew to have a total of five children. We lived in several states and also in Germany. Mom was left without him home to help like so many military spouses are. She cooked, cleaned and kept all of us safe in his absence.

Many years passed and I married a military man in the Navy. My lifestyle echoed how I had grown up. The difference was it was my husband who was gone and not my father. I can't even compare my separations to those of my mother's. The only thing of similarity was that we were both widowed. But I did not get to have her help dealing with the finality of the separation this time.

When I read or hear of someone else going through what I have these past three years, my heart just wants to protect them.
Let them know what to do. How to handle it and know you are going to be alright.
I want to share what I know about surviving being a widow because it's a topic that is still in the back of the closet. No one really knows until faced with it.
All instances are different.

But, why is that? It's uncomfortable for others to ask real questions and it's hard to hear real answers.

You know what I'm talking about. It's those conversations about death. What is desired and prepared for. These are inevitably short chats.
Rarely are they put in print. Often left as their wishes.

You might find yourself remembering their wishes. When you do please take the initiative to openly discuss them. Get some prearrangement done if you can go there in your mind to do it.
It is imperative to get things in order so to speak.

Make your Living Will and Durable Power Of Attorney documents.
Know your financial status.
List your assets. Name your beneficiaries. Know where these documents are and make sure someone you trust knows where they are.
You may be caught up in a lot of financial situations. Check on your Life Insurance policy and see if you qualify for an early withdraw. Pay off debts.

I hope I have not filled you with information that seems down and makes you just want to go crawl in a hole.

Doing these things early before they are needed can make all the difference in the world when faced with being widowed.

It's hard, I can not lie.
It's lonely figuring it out by yourself.
It sucks that it happened.
You can get through it.
It's going to be ok, eventually.

Cathy Windham


Facebook Friends...and Grace


Win - Win on Holidays


I'm always puzzled at why families are so insular on holidays, choosing to mingle only with one another. That's not the tradition that I grew up with. My folks gathered up widows and widowers, singles and divorced, all kinds of people who found themselves alone on holidays. Because they did, I have wonderful happy memories of those gatherings. We had doctors, lawyers, and Indian Chiefs....policemen, teachers, church members and co-workers at our holiday (and non-holiday) table. Some close friendships were formed that way.


My husband and I continued that tradition, enveloping neighbors and elderly singles for dinners and parties. Our reward was hearing some fascinating life stories and witnessing broad smiles and sharing authentic laughter.


Now, when I bring up that idea?  I sometimes hear that people are afraid that their families may not behave for the occasion.  They don't want to risbodyk it. Are they kidding??  Widows and widowers, singles of all kinds come from imperfect families too. Not much will surprise us. Odds are that families behave better with a guest in their midst. And doesn't that make for a more enjoyable holiday for everybody??


Go ahead, take a risk, include some guests, surround some lonely folks with love. You'll be so glad you did!




Let's Call the Whole Thing Off


Evenings, Night Time and Sundays


They Also Served...


No Memorial Day holiday would be complete, at least for me, without rembering the fallen and remembering the families they left behind. What a terrible sacrifice it must be to lose your husband or wife, your father or mother, your son or daughter on a battlefield far away while they were serving our country. I come from a family populated by a lot of people who were in the military, and thankfully, all came home. Others are not so lucky, and this holiday must be particularly difficult for them; sort of bittersweet. So take a minute, amongst the picnics, parades and pool parties to remember those families whose loved one never came home, and be grateful to them.


The good news is that there are some organizations in existence now, that are doing great work to support them. Besides the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, now we also have women like Bonnie Carroll, Tayrn Davis and Taya Kyle on the front lines of helping military bereaved.


Bonnie Carrol started TAPS, or Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, found at: . Their focus is on helping those grieving the loss of someone who served while in the Armed Forces. They have programs for widows, of course, but also for kids. Bonnie has been recognized nationally for her work.


Another of my idols is Tayrn Davis of American Widow Project, Only about 21, she was about to graduate college when her soul mate was killed by roadside bombs just after talking to her on the phone. She found her footing, picked herself up, dusted herself off and founded AWP.  I can only imagine how proud her late husband would be.


Everybody knows the story of Chris Kyle, the SEAL who served and distinguished himself as a skilled sniper, only to be felled by a troubled Vet he was trying to help. Well, it seems volunteer work and the American spirit runs strong in the Kyle family. Taya Kyle, Chris's widow, has conducted herself with extrodinary dignity in the face of absurd lawsuits from Jesse Ventura, who had a beef with Chris, not his widow. She's gone on to write American Wife, and continues to support the Chris Kyle Foundation  that her husband started, as well as lending her name to many other benefits and events for veterans.


My partner, Diane MacKenzie Sapp of Expressions of Grief herself a widow of a veteran, has designed a very special line of jewelry to remember our hero's service. To see her new Half-Mast Flag selections, go to : . More choices can be found on her site. Her other widows and mourning rings can be found right here on The Grief Toolbox on my site. Just click on "store" to see them.




Each of these ladies serve, each of these families serve. Many continue to hold there heads high and continue to serve. This holiday, consider honoring their memory by supporting them with a donation. Have a wonderful American holiday, and remember why it exists.


Do One Thing A Day

Do One Thing a Day



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