By Cindy Toledo
Eleven years ago I found myself suddenly widowed and completely unprepared in every way to face the tragic life event of losing my husband. We all know that death is a part of life, but I had no idea the deep sea of uncharted territory I was about to embark on. My hopes and dreams for our future were crushed and I found myself surviving rather than thriving. That all changed when I found an online community that understood my broken heart and provided me with a path to find hope and begin to heal.
There are 2,800 new widows every day in the United States, and 1 million widows every year. 70% of widows will fall below the poverty line and many will lose their homes and half of their household income. I am one of them. I was 57 years old when my husband died, the average age of a widow in our country today, and yet I still consider myself one of the fortunate ones.
By “divine appointment” just three weeks after my husband died from a sudden heart attack at the age of 60, I found the Modern Widows Club, an organization that launched a website and Facebook page to build a support community for widows such as myself. They have chapters across the country, including here in Seattle.
Every word I read on their Facebook page jumped right off the screen and spoke directly to my broken heart. It provided me with the lifeline of positive messages when I needed it most. That’s what the Modern Widows Club is here to do: help widows transform their grief into a positive, purposeful future by finding their own strength and courage. This doesn’t happen overnight, but connecting with widows, building new friendships, and collectively mentoring one another, whether face-to-face or virtually through our community Facebook pages, is the path we can follow to healing. There’s no doubt about it. Widowhood is a club that no one wants to belong to and one you can only join by experiencing great loss. Within that loss, however, there is the opportunity to find friendship, support, and a loving community with others who understand your journey.
The impact our community is having continues to grow. We now have nearly 40 MWC communities across the United States and internationally. Nearly all of them manage private Facebook pages for their individual communities to foster connection, communication, and community among the individual groups.
I’m extremely grateful for the day I found Modern Widows Club on Facebook. It sparked a ray of hope for me that I didn’t know still existed and led to the thriving life I live today. 11 years later I still find great joy and purpose in helping other widows. I now lead a community of widows locally in the Seattle area. I encourage any widow to seek out communities of support and lean on our club as you begin the process of healing. Once you’re able, we encourage you to become a resource for other widows in your area and remind them that they are not alone, there is hope for the future. I’m proud of my own journey and I want to help make a positive difference in the lives of other widows too.