Greater Chicago 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
Born and raised in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, her college years took me to DePaul University where, at the age of 19, she met the man who was soon to become the center of her life. In November of 1987, Dan and Natalie were married. Four years later, they joyously welcomed the arrival of Lauren, and by 1993, they moved their growing family to the lovely suburb of Wheaton. It was here that they welcomed two additional bundles of joy: Richie and Dana. Together, Dan and Natalie raised their three children to love life and cherish the gift of each new day.
On April 27, 2011, Dan’s 49th birthday, he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer that had metastasized to the liver. After a 15-month courageous, determined and often awe-inspiring fight, he lost his battle on July 10, 2012. The world as Natalie knew changed forever. She doesn’t remember much about that first year. All she cared about was being as present as she could for her three beautiful children. And crying – She does remember crying – a lot. Ever so slowly, the mental fog lifted, the tears became fewer (although they still creep up on her at the strangest times), and her need to find a purpose to this new life of mine grew. She have always been a faith-filled person, and began to search for an answer to a question that just wouldn’t leave me alone: “If God chose me to experience this world of widowhood, what does He want me to do with it?” Surely, it can’t be for naught. And so the “google” search began, and Natalie stumbled upon a website called Modern Widows Club. It made me realize that she was not alone. And so she “officially” joined the group and began to really learn about the organization. Natalie came to love and respect what she saw and decided to reach out to Carolyn with the possibility of starting an MWC Community in Chicago. She then reached out to two of her dearest friends, Eileen and Maureen, who had walked the walk of widowhood with her.
None of them chose this journey, but the gift of everlasting friendship they received because of it was truly that: a gift! They signed on to become co-leaders and after much paperwork, many conversations, a road trip and months of contemplating, The Greater Chicagoland MWC Community was born!
They have certainly had their share of stumbles since Firouz, Tom and Dan left their sides. But they have learned that life is not so much about what challenges come their way as it is about how they choose to face the challenges that they were given. The choices they make, the gifts that they give, the mistakes that they learn from – these are what matter on this journey called life. And so, the ladies continue to take one day at a time and one moment in each day because life is for living. They choose to stay strong, live strong, keep the faith, and welcome YOU to join them.
Together, let’s turn the page and write the next chapter in our lives!
Eileen lost her husband to glioblastoma brain cancer in June of 2009. They have one daughter, Mary, who is 22 and is the light of Eileen’s life.
Eileen came upon Modern Widows Club group when her and friend Natalie, became so much closer under tragic circumstances. They had always been involved in the community together their daughters became friends through show choir throughout middle school and high school. When Eileen’s husband Firouz fell ill, it was only seven weeks from diagnosis until his death. Throughout that time, Natalie and her family were by Eileen’s side. Her daughter even lived with Natalie while Firouz and Eileen traveled from hospital to hospital for treatment. She can never thank Natalie enough for her goodness to her family.
A few years after Firouz died, Natalie’s husband Dan was diagnosed with cancer. Once again, their families were intertwined by a horrible situation. Mary looked at Dan as another father figure, and Natalie’s children, as her siblings. When Maureen, who was also a show choir mom, experienced the same tragedy losing her husband following Dan’s passing. This unfortunate situation once again intertwines the three families together.
Natalie, Maureen and Eileen know that they are not the only women struggling with this chapter in their lives, and they want to create an environment for like-minded individuals to support one another. Losing a husband is something one cannot understand unless they experience it themselves. Natalie, Maureen and Eileen, along with our children, have a forever bond that can never be broken.
My name is Katie, I am a registered nurse, and I have always lived in the NW suburbs of Chicago. I met Larry, the love of my life, in college. We married in 1982 and raised three, active children. I assisted Larry in running our church’s Youth Ministry for 15 years as well as our Marriage Prep program. We journeyed well together with many blessings despite a few major potholes.
Speed ahead to May of 2012 when we were crushed with devastating news: Larry was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, a fatal, degenerative neuromuscular disease. I was overwhelmed with anxiety and anticipatory grief. I could not eat or sleep. My nursing career was an amazing asset as I asked questions, advocated and cared for Larry. After a short 15 months, my courageous and wonderful Larry passed peacefully on August 14, 2013. Despite knowing his death was approaching, I still struggled even saying the word “widow.” I preferred the status “on solo journey” after my 31 years of marriage. However, I was quite lost in how to navigate alone. This prayer gave me tremendous direction, “…May your love for him fill your heart with a thankfulness that crowds out grief and despair…” I received tremendous support on my recovery path and felt I had faced grief well. Yet, there was a void in my healing. In the fall of 2017, I began attending MWC meetings in the Chicago area and discovered the missing piece. Here I found fellowship as we shared our journeys and no-apology-tears. One meeting, I asked if anyone else had a messy bedroom and almost rejoiced when at least 12 others said yes. These wisters got it! Today, I am eager to continue growing, sharing, and connecting with other wisters since this is not a solo journey.
In 2014, I became a widow after my husband, Seabury, passed away from colorectal cancer. Following his death, I found tremendous comfort in the company of other widows and widowers. Losing a beloved spouse sets us on a journey we didn’t plan to take with an itinerary full of changes, challenges, new directions, but also hope. Hope for my new future has been found by strengthening my Christian faith. Each widow ultimately finds her new destination.
I joined Modern Widows Club shortly after moving back to the Chicago area in 2017. Natalie and Eileen welcomed me into a community in which I have found connection. Now I hope to support each widow find her unique path forward through a turbulent time called grief.