Fort Smith Community and Support Group for Widows
Our Mission for Widows
We serve to empower widows to lean into life, build resilience and make a positive difference in society.
Modern Widows Club is designed to create a safe and private environment for widows to lean into life together through the journey.
We are the club no one wants to be in because you only get in by virtue of experiencing a great loss. Yet what I hope you find once you’re here is that you’re surrounded by a community of really amazing women that you can lean on and learn from. We’re widows helping widows to live– to go upward and onward. Sometimes we cry and sometimes we laugh. We talk about how to tackle challenges without our husbands’ help and cheer each other on. We often share food as we do this, because who doesn’t like to eat?
When a woman loses her husband she tends to feel very alone. Regardless of her age or circumstances, she can use other women in her life who understand the unique challenges she is now faced with. She needs women who will build her up and encourage her in this new life she walks. We are stronger together. No woman is an island. We need each other.
Meet Our Community Advocates
Gail was married to her wonderful husband and best friend, Larry, for 47 years. Together they were blessed with three beautiful daughters, their spouses, and three perfect grandchildren. Larry was diagnosed with lung cancer at the end of October in 2018, and he passed away surrounded by his wife and daughters in April 2019. Just three weeks later, Gail’s mother passed away at the age of 96. Using her faith, she is choosing to navigate through her grief by helping others. Gail is honored to give back through MWC with the encouragement, support, and friendship of other widows and for them to have someone to walk their journey with.
Gail has worked at church for the last 29 years. It is the same church that she grew up in, she and Larry married in, and where they chose to raise their daughters. She has volunteered countless hours over the years at church, in the community, and mentoring children in the local public school system (something that was so special to Larry). Gail and Larry raised their daughters with the motto of “It is not about what happens to you but what you do with it to help others.” That is exactly what she is doing now, and she is looking forward to helping others in the Modern Widows Club.
I was unexpectedly widowed in 2010 at age 40 when my husband, Mike, had a heart attack at home. We had been married 17 years. It was a normal Saturday morning until it wasn’t. The morning started off as usual; our 9-year-old daughter was watching television, I was on the phone talking with my sister and cooking breakfast. My husband had slept in a little longer than normal but had gotten up, talked with each of us, gone outside to get the paper and then went back to the master bedroom. When breakfast was ready, and he still had not returned to the kitchen, I went to the master bedroom and found my husband unconscious on the bathroom floor. Life changes in an instant. We hear that phrase all our lives, but we can never really appreciate what it means until something tragic happens. My daughter and I were blessed with many friends and family members who surrounded us with love and kept us busy. We were always welcome, but it felt weird doing the same things we had done before as a family of 3, now just 2 of us. I found a way to survive, but it took a long time before I felt like I was thriving again.
A mutual friend introduced me to a young woman who was widowed the year before I was. She was a beacon of hope for me. She shared her story and spoke candidly with me. I watched her navigate life with 2 young children and realized that what I was going through was not totally unique. There were others in my community who were walking a similar path as mine. This young woman was introduced to other widows and eventually organized a group of widows who gathered that summer for a book club. That group helped me realize I would survive and ultimately learn a new way of living.
Over time my daughter and I did begin to thrive. We learned how to do life differently. We learned new hobbies, traveled and developed our own rhythm. After 5 years of being just the 2 of us, I met my current husband. Dating later in life is quite different from dating as a teenager or young adult, but we figured it out, and we’ve been married for 5 years. Through MWC I hope to share my experience with others and cultivate a safe place for widows to come together and help each other thrive.