National Widow’s Day aka National Keeper’s of the Flame Day

Tomorrow is National Widow’s Day! This is insignificant to many, but so significant to millions upon millions who have been, are and continue to be affected. This is significant to each of you here.

You likely know, but for those I have some insights:

  • Did you know that every year, there are about 800,000 widowed?
  • Did you know that in the United States alone there are 14 million Widows and growing, 250 million some worldwide.
  • Did you know the average age of a widow is 59. Shocking isn’t it? Not shocking to many of you!

I was 26 and many I know also so very young, though no matter the age and time, it is always horrible, horrific. I even know many who have been widowed twice!

You are on this page, so many of you know there is very little support for widows and the children affected. Even within the United States, I could not believe there was no protection, help, support when going through this. I wasn’t listed as the beneficiary on the life insurance because we hadn’t known or thought to change it, so young (so I did not receive it – this should automatically go to the spouse!) My name was not on my car title that my husband bought me as a surprise Christmas gift (so I had to pay to change it)! I was taken to court because ownership of my husbands truck was being questioned (unreal right, as we paid for it monthly), that still offered not protection from this even becoming a part of the judicial system! I was told he had health insurance and then found out he did not (though he could have been covered under mine) and so many things that were a nightmare on top of my nightmare. How I held it together at that time, I do not know. I was skin and bone, stressed and lost. Can you relate? Likely you can to some of this.

Many woman face these same things and much much worse, YES worse. I have heard their journey’s, their stories, their hurts and their complete and utter misfortunes…that each has and continues to RISE above.

So, when you know someone widowed, be kind and caring to them because not only are they suffering extreme loss, they can also be up against so many other secondary losses. Families lashing out, societal and friends judgements, support systems going away because grief is not something others have the capacity to handle or process, greed, etc.

One woman I am friends with is fighting for custody of her children with her extended family, I know many others where this has happened as well. She is a great mom, a professional woman, a visibly great woman, a kind woman and this just astounds me that it can even take place…but that is the system and due process unfortunately. Where is the support and protection? Our government needs to step in and show up for the protection and superseding and overruling legislation that should cover a spouse in this instance.

Did you know that in some countries, widows are in effect “thrown away” or chastised because of this misfortune? Sickening. Woman automatically accused of so called killing their spouse, even having nothing to do with their death. Woman being told that they need to be cleansed and so men treat them as prostitutes! It sickens me! It makes me want to take a stand.

So, as we approach this day that may be insignificant to some, consider every day and the struggle that so many are affected by.

Widowhood is a journey, it is not a sentence however and it should not be treated by society as one.

It is a journey of strength, sorrow, gratitude, persistence and a pathway to reach and share our hearts with others who come before and after us. It is a sisterhood, a community of woman rising above challenges and showing others we are not going to take the constraints and bull others place upon us. We get to be exactly who we are, our sentence is keeping the flame alive…sharing our strength and our removal of rose colored glasses and seeing the world in a much clearer way than ever before. Our pain is our beauty and the brokenness that goes with us is beautiful! I carry mine every single day and I am proud of it. I hope you carry yours proudly and show people that there are NO LIMITS! There is not limit to grief and there is not limit to how far you will go!

Support the widows in your life today and everyday with kindness, encouragement and compassion. Tomorrow, tell someone you know that you see them and their struggles and you are proud of all they are doing and coming through…because there are days they have not wanted to come through, but they keep going!

So here is to all of my widow friends! I see you, I hear you and I feel your hearts and your journey! You are all beautiful and so take this day and every day and you own it, all of the sadness but also all of the glory ahead knowing you are on your way!!

I actually coined a new title for widows (since none of us can stand this term) See us for us and as “Keepers of the Flame”.

Here is to all of you amazing ladies and men finding your new and carrying alongside of you a legacy that is meant to burn bright!

“I am a Widow, they say. I like to call us “Keepers of the Flame”, instead. Our light flickers, almost feels like its going to blow out, but it keeps burning. It starts burning stronger and stronger as we navigate through the unknown. We become the keepers of not only our flame, but our loved one, in heavens flame. We keep their flame going through sharing who they are, what they have taught us and their flame keeps us knowing they would want us to keep going. We are the keepers of the flame for the woman and men who came before us and the woman and men who come after us. Our flames together, grow stronger, burn brighter. Together we find a new burning and brightness that we all deserve, are all worthy of. Be a light seeker and start burning your flame so bright others will want what you have, knowledge and wisdom are power.” Tanya Smith, Blogger at A Widows World and President of Addelise Inc.

I hope you all love the image I created for this day. Please share it and make sure to #awidowsworldkeepersoftheflame

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Happily Ever After Is A Choice – Choose Happy Today

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Happily ever after is a choice! Happily ever after was created in fairytale world. Many believe in it, but happily ever after just depends on your definition of it. If your happily ever after was taken, you never possessed it in the first place.

I will warn you, you may decide to agree to disagree with me on this one depending on where you are at in your loss journey. I read a lot. Articles, books, blogs, posts, magazines, you get the picture, I read. Good for me. Does reading make me an expert? No. Does being book smart, really allow you to identify with me? No.

Experience, world experience and going through a similar struggle, struggles, that is what allows us to identify with one another.

There is a movement taking place, right now. It is one of empowerment, one that more and more are starting to grasp and hold onto. I see so many hearts taking back their shape. A new mold being created. It gets me excited and gives me so much joy for you and I. It is a movement of hope, a movement of responsibility. We have a responsibility to ourselves to hope and to feed our spirits with the right things, the right people, the right content. Our surroundings and attitudes really take on those of others, so be aware of those around you. Are they feeding your spirit, or keeping you in a place of hopelessness?

I came across a post that read, “Not everyone gets their happily ever after”. It had me really stop and think about this statement. I began questioning, have I identified with this? Do I identify with it? I think I have and I haven’t, during different seasons of my life. I simply do not believe this at this stage of my life.

It is through growing, healing, and loving myself again, that I see so much clearer.

Growing up, I clinged onto the fairytale, I waited and I found my man and believed we were going to have a beautiful long life together. Then in 2004 when he died tragically, I agreed with the statement, “Not everyone gets their happily ever after”, because I felt my happily ever after was robbed from me. During that time it hurt to see others lives moving forward, seeing them get engaged, married, pregnant, welcoming their new bundles, growing their families, seeing life move forward for them. I was so fixated on what I had lost, that I couldn’t think of anything but that. Until, I started to really work on myself and chose to see the joy in my days, the joy in what I had already had, that would never leave me, never be taken from me. If I believed my happily ever after was taken from me, that I would never have that again, then I never truly possessed it in the first place.

A love that is real, true and life altering, can not be taken from us. Although not here in the physical, we still possess that same love and we will until the day we die and are reunited again.

Happily ever after lies within ourselves and should not depend on another for us to achieve that definition. Loving, caring for, listening to ourselves and following our hearts through the struggles that life brings, will lead us to us, our true hearts.

If happily ever after lies in someone else, then we certainly will stay in the space of not being happy. It starts within us and stays within us. It is a decision, not a fate, not a destination! Happily ever after is a choice and it is up to me and to you.

Think about it and please forgive me for relating this to a tree, but grief has so many rings, so many stages. The rings of a tree are called annual growth rings and so I truly feel it a great analogy. You see, life can be pretty tough on a tree! Yes, you can relate. It can be brutally tough on us as well and has been. Trees go through drought, excessive rain, fire, insect plagues and disease epidemics, injuries, thinning, pollution. All of these acclimates leave their mark on a tree’s annual growth ring. Does this sound familiar? YES! Our annual growth is altered and affected by our surroundings, by the things that happen to us or the things that don’t happen to us. The way we grow, is altered by our struggles, our hurts, our feelings, our environments.

Your growth ring may not be growing right now, you may feel in the darkest places and spaces where time has stopped and memories flood through and surround you. It may be hard to breathe, feel so lonely, so misunderstood, so lost. You may have said out loud, lord please take me and spare me this pain. I know. Your life has paused and everything around keeps moving, and that movement feels like light years ahead of where you are. I know.

So here is what I ask of you. Silence your mind, breathe in and out slowly. Relax your senses and when you feel calm and centered, ask yourself this?

“What is my happily ever after wish for myself?”

“Who do I want to be?”

Tough questions, right? Maybe you don’t know, you feel blank. Thats ok, keep silencing your mind and keep asking yourself these questions.

Happy is a choice, healing is a choice, living fully is a choice. Choose yourself today because unlike a tree, we have the power to stand up and move our roots, change our surroundings and take back our power.

This life is what we make of it, so be a maker.

I am sending love, light, worthiness and prayers your way. My disclaimer in all of this, is that grief is on-going and unending. It sneaks up on us in even the most unapparent moments. You won’t conquer it, you won’t get past it. You will get through it however, in your own time, your own way. It is unique to you, so give yourself the grace to understand that and take it easy on you.

Tanya Smith

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