On October On October 17, 2003 I lost my husband of 6 years to a fatal car crash. I felt like my world had ended.17, 2003 I lost my husband of 6 years to a fatal car crash. I felt like my world had ended.
At the age 24, I was an instant widow and left alone to raise my 6-year-old son. I had family and friends to lean on; it was not enough to get me through the tough periods. I had no consistent care and I needed consistent care. I needed someone to check on me and my son, see if I needed my grass cut, help my son with his homework, etc. After making mistakes after mistakes, I decided to make a change, if not for me, I knew I needed to do it for my son. In 2011, I started Widows of Opportunity, a support group for women, like myself, that had suffered the loss of a spouse. I have to reach as many widows as possible to let them know that it is going to be okay and there is life after a loss. The widows of Widows of Opportunity have brought me nothing but JOY and HAPPINESS!
Widows are generally overlooked by most people. After a widow buries a husband, people are there to provide initial support right after the lost but many need ongoing support. Widows of Opportunity recognizes the great need for consistent, ongoing support in the days, months, and years after a loss, and is here as the solution to providing widows the help they need. The services provided by Widows of Opportunity include monthly support groups, one-on-one meetings with widows, emergency financial assistance, and connecting widows with resources to assist them with various life circumstances.
I host the monthly support groups each month in Columbia, SC and Atlanta, GA. I’ve even hosted a support group in Houston, TX. During our meetings, the women speak openly about their feelings, share their stories and learn effective ways of coping with their loss. There is happiness after a loss, I am proof! We celebrate birthdays, exchange gifts, and have dinner and movies nights. The support groups are so intense, that we need to come out of that at times and just have a little fun.
My initial emotion from losing my husband was shock, and I also struggled with denial, anxiety, loneliness and the fear of being judged. Widows are judged on a daily basis. If you move on too soon with your life; people think question if you loved your husband. If you do not move on or date; people question when you are going to ever move on and get over your deceased husband.
Widows of Opportunity is an organization whose mission is to support, educate, and help widows no matter their age, race, length of being a widow or circumstances surrounding spousal death. We speak to widows across the country. So far we have reached widows in TX, NJ, NY, IA, NC, SC, GA, Australia and Africa. We want to continue to reach many more widows.
A few success stories I would like to share with you. In 2011 a widow came in and all she would do is mean mug me, she was angry! She would not talk at all. After about 5 months, she started talking, crying and getting her story out. When we started journal writings, she would refuse to write and now she writes. It is such a positive thing to see that she is now able to talk about and grieve her loss. Going from not talking to talking, crying to crying, not writing to writing and mean mugging to now smiling is extremely positive! There was a widow that attended out support group for about 4 months and all she did was cry. She could not talk. One evening she started talking and it surprised us all. The things that came out of her mouth were so helpful and positive. She thanked us for not judging her and not giving up on her. She actually helped a new widow by sharing her story that evening. Most of the time our widows come in crying and upset but when they leave laughing and giggling, that is when I know I’ve done my job.
When a woman loses her husband, she loses her confidence as well. Widows of Opportunity also helps the women in our group rebuild their confidence. Imagine all the times you would dress up and look greatfor your husband and his compliments are making your feel like you are all that and then that is instantly gone. Now you are dealing with nothing! You know you look good and you are waiting for someone to tell you look good. Your husband is no longer here to tell you. You start to feel like what is the point of getting up, doing your hair, or smelling good but you need to do it for you!
One evening in our support group I did a confidence exercise with the ladies. I asked them all to write down three things they love about themselves. They all looked at me and asked are you serious? I can’t do that. So then I asked them to come up to where I was standing and we are going to write three things that we lie about each other. They all were quick to write down what they liked about each other but could not write down one thing about themselves. That is a shame that they had so much to say about everybody else but nothing to say about themselves. After the exercise was done, I asked them ladies to read what they wrote about each other. It was amazing to see how the ladies responded to all of the compliments they heard from one another. Then I asked them to write three things they liked about themselves and they gladly did!
Starting Widows of Opportunity has helped me find self-confidence and happiness. I was happy in my marriage, with my child and materialistic things but this is a different type of happiness. I am 100 percent happy and content with myself!
Friendships are formed through Widows of Opportunity that last long after the monthly meetings are over. When we are sitting around 15-20 women and listening to each other’s stories, when it is over, you can’t help but end up establishing friendships. After each support group the women go up to the woman they could relate to the most and exchange numbers. They set up dates and go out together. They are not just calling me, they are calling each other. That is what it is all about. I love it!
God blessed me with my husband for nine years and married to him for 6 of them. I was blessed to even have a husband, to have a man that loved me and cherished me. I had that luxury and I will never forget that! God gave me my angel, which was my husband, and He took him from me but He blessed me with more angels, which are my widows. They bring me so much joy. I never, ever though that these women would bring me joy! Everything happens for a reason.
Widows of Opportunity meets the last Tuesday of the last Tuesday of the month at Long Creek Church of Christ, 720 Long Town Road in Columbia, SC 29229 at 7 PM. We also meet the second Monday of every month at Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, 3259 Northside Pkwy Atlanta, GA 30327 at 6 PM. For more information, call 803-238-5301 and visit www.widowsofopportunity.com and Facebook.com/widowsofopportunity