St. Louis 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 partners’ 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 loved one she tends to feel very alone. Regardless of her age or circumstances, she will benefit from 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
Cyndi married her best friend and was married to him for 16 amazing years. She was traveling with a friend for a weekend girl’s getaway when she received a call the morning of March 16, 2013 from home, with the shocking and life changing message “Dad won’t wake up.” He was seemingly healthy, only 40 years old, and she was instantly and unexpectedly a 38-year old widow due to his undiagnosed heart disease. Life has never been the same since that day, as she realized she instantly would be a new person, with a new future, a new financial reality and assume the role of solo parent as well. While often her pre-widow relationships waited for her to be “back to her old self” she found acceptance, connection and understanding when she would meet other widows…almost an instant “wister” (widow sister) connection. She was determined to find a way to connect widows in her community in a way where friendship, support, empowerment and new hope for the future could be fostered. She found MWC in 2015 and began seeking the opportunity to bring a community to St. Louis. She works in hospice in the St Charles County area, and enjoys time with her 3 kids and her dogs.
The community will be focused on growing friendships and connections between widows of all ages through regular meetings, community education, service and outreach. Social events are planned from time to time.
Katie and her husband Zach were high school sweethearts. For almost twenty years, it was always “Katie and Zach.” Zach lost his battle with cancer when he was 36 years old, leaving Katie to raise their two daughters alone. Katie not only lost her best friend, but part of her identity. She struggled to put her life back together and figure out who she was as just “Katie.”
Watching her mentor navigate her own widowhood gave Katie the courage to keep pushing through the grief to build a life that she loves, filled with gratitude and happiness. Katie believes that being around other widows is important and wishes that she had that connection earlier in her journey. She wants to offer hope to other widows and help them build their own resilience.
Berkley lost her two husbands, 9 ½ years apart, and found courage under circumstances that, at times, felt completely discouraging and bleak. She married Greg when she was 20, and expected to live a long and happy life building a family and creating a fulfilling and loving marriage. Then on May 29, 2007, she arrived home to their 18-year-old son performing CPR on his dad. Unfortunately, Greg never regained consciousness. He was a healthy 57-year-old with no known heart issues who died from a fatal type of arrhythmia.
At 40, Berkley became a widow with an 18 year old son, and a 12 1/2 year old daughter. “After Greg’s death, life was a blur. Trying to raise two teenagers with my family 800 miles away, felt like an unbearable challenge.” She recalls feeling “. . . utterly hopeless and overwhelmed. At times, I felt that our lives would never again be normal. Somehow, with God’s help, we eventually learned to go forward, in spite of the pain and suffering we were all bearing.”
Almost three years after Greg’s passing, Berkley began dating Don, whom she knew from church, and they were married on October 30, 2010. They both felt they had been given a second chance at love and they were on cloud nine! However, in April of 2015 Don was diagnosed with ALS (a terminal disease with no known cure). Sadly, Don progressed rapidly and passed away on December 6, 2016. He was 54 and Berkley was 49. Berkley shares that the diagnosis was shattering to her, in part, because she already knew what being a widow was like. “I had already experienced a grief that is so powerful you can feel it in your bones – and that knowing – left me undone and curled in the fetal position many days.” Adding to her distress was the fact that they were now empty nesters who loved to travel and did everything together. “After Don died, I soon realized all the freedoms that we had, such as me not working, not having kids to take care of, and the time and means to travel, now felt hollow and lonely. I was consumed with sorrow and a sudden lack of purpose I had never felt before, and each day felt painfully long and agonizingly horrific!”
She began blogging (She-kept-going.com) as a way to share her story and to help others who felt alone in their grief. She closes each post with these words: “From my broken and reassembled heart to yours”
Berkley desires to help other widows find the hope that exists in each tomorrow, and believes that by working together, we can discover strengths we didn’t know we possessed. “Life has taught me that even amongst the chaos of my shattered life, beauty – can once again – be a part of each new imperfect day.”
She truly understands the brokenness that death brings, as well as the desire to live a life with joy, hope and love. She wants other widows to know that they have to keep going, and that eventually, the pain is not as searing, the days aren’t as draining, and that you will laugh from the heart once again – if you choose to do so.
“We all experience defining moments in life but they don’t have to define who we are. I am Berkley, a woman who has been widowed twice. Yet I don’t want people to see me as only a widow, I want people to see a woman who smiles easily, has optimism regarding the future, and only upon sharing my story, would they know that I have been knocked to my knees and I have fought to seek a new life filled with joy – even amidst the rubble of my brokenness and grief.”
Today, Berkley is married to Jack, and together, they enjoy golfing and being B-Shug and Papa to two beautiful granddaughters.