In 2011, Carolyn Moor started the Modern Widows Club after the death of her husband on Valentine’s Day. It has been her passion ever since then to empower and help women grow in their lives after they have experienced a loss of their spouse. She and her members have fashioned the name “Wister” to indicate widowed sister. Groups that meet all over the United States concentrate on support and encouragement and foster social interaction among fellow widows. I have had the pleasure to be a member, since mid-May 2016 which was three months after my husband passed on February 10th, 2016. Some people might say that was too soon but it has empowered me to think about my loss in a new way and reach out to others. Carolyn Moor and her group Modern Widows Club inspired me to start my blog, A Widow’s Heart to support other widows.
The National Founder, Carolyn Moor, visited our local Modern Widows Club group recently and I was lucky enough to get to interview her. The following is our conversation.
Patricia: What do you think are the greatest challenges facing widows?
Carolyn: The isolation is a very big difficulty, partly because the lack of being able to have another voice in all the decisions that you need to make. What I see happen is financial and legal is the first hurdle. The next is practicing self-care. They really don’t have a reason to take care of themselves. Until they figure out that they have some purpose and meaning, then they are not going to care about making decisions about their livelihood. It kind of goes back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. As you look at this pyramid, it goes to the bottom where it is primal. Am I safe? Can I keep my home? Am I going to be able to eat? It goes back to “Is anyone going to hug me?”, that human connection. As you look at the Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs chart, it truly is the widow’s journey. You go from the top of the pyramid right down to the bottom when your spouse dies. Again, this goes back to my philosophy of building a foundation. You literally are like building a new pyramid for your life.
Patricia: What are the elements of the foundation?
Carolyn: The foundational elements are Faith, Self-Compassion, and Trust. You are trusting other new people at the same time as trying to trust that you have the capability to trust yourself. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. You must see the areas where you are doing well and praise yourself. That’s where the self-compassion comes in, then that keeps perpetuating and building itself. This will build your confidence in yourself and your decisions. Self-esteem and confidence is the number one thing women have said they have lost. Without these two things, it’s hard to make decisions and move forward. You need to connect with others and this opens a whole new world for you. None of us knew what that was going to be from day one.
Patricia: What have you learned as a widow overall?
Carolyn: I have learned that I am capable of creating, aware of blessings, but also being aware that miracles happen every day. I think that is part of getting back to the innocence. I didn’t realize this experience was going to make me live more alive. I always say my last name is Moor and that means two things. I am living more alive and I am more for a lot of ladies. Modern Widows Club is somewhere to tie on to when the seas are really rocky, for a time, until they’re ready to go back out into this ocean and find new horizons. My name literally is Moor. I feel I have become who my true self is and I would not have been able to do that without my husband, Chad, pointing me in this direction on his way out. I know a lot more of the pieces of the puzzle now because I have had a lot more time to see the puzzle pieces fall into place. That’s what I would tell our ladies is to see every experience as a piece of the puzzle. It’s not good or bad it’s just a piece of the puzzle.
Patricia: How many widows are there out there now?
Carolyn: In 2011, there were 12.6 million widows in the United States. From the 2015 World Widows Report, internationally, it’s 258 million widows caring for 585 million fatherless children. The numbers are staggering around the world.
Patricia: You have said before that “They’re so many widows and their needs are underserved”. What do you mean by that?
Carolyn: We have already done our own research. We took three pilot cities and called 100 places of worship just to get an idea of what is available for those cities. We picked Seattle, Orlando and Kansas City just to get different demographics. Only 10 to 15% of places of worship have anything for widows, younger or older. They might have a luncheon and the majority of those were in synagogues. For me as a Christian woman, I was really kind of shocked. Why? I had two churches turn me down to start a widow’s ministry because there wasn’t need. It’s the case of a couple of things. Everybody thinks someone else is doing something, right, and they are not. Also, I honestly don’t think they know how to do it. They don’t know how to create widow leaders. They don’t understand that widows do not want married, single or divorced women teaching their classes. Most places of worship are managed by men and the most receptive ones are managed by women. So, we have a patriarchic society that really does not see the need. Richard Branson has said, “That which is misunderstood will be underserved”. That’s what we are a misunderstood group of women, that is not being served because no one knows how to do it. So, we at Modern Widows Club are doing it. We depend on other widows to provide and fill the need.
Patricia: What would you like to see for widows going into the future?
Carolyn: I think it’s critical to get a widow’s leadership and mentoring curriculum based on the real data and research that we already have, almost like ministries all over the world. Widows want to step up and be leaders, they just don’t know how to do it. They need this support so we can create and support more widow leaders, mentors, and advocates. This is going to make the biggest difference for widows in our lifetime.
Patricia: So our audience will know, “What is involved in the process of mentoring?”
Carolyn: Mentoring works in every area. It works in corporations and children like with Big Brothers and Big Sisters. I’ve researched mentoring and how effective it can be. All the science says if you have one person who really cares about your fulfillment and livelihood and they have more experience than you in that area, then it just makes sense to apply it widow to widow. It’s no different than other mentoring experiences. The dynamic is still the same, one person is disadvantaged and one person is advantaged and they are willing to share what they know and have done. Resiliency science is important. Mentoring is taking the time to care and not leaving the situation. A mentor commits a portion of themselves to empower a portion of you.
Patricia: Is there a lot of resilience science out there?
Carolyn: We hope they come and study our group Modern Widow’s Club. We have already been featured in the Wall Street Journal as an example of resilience. When women first come to Modern Widows Club, they have what is called “sky eyes”, meaning they are just staring out and only halfway there. I don’t know what it takes to turn someone’s “sky eyes” into “soul eyes” because “soul eyes” are when you can see the person shining through. That’s what we want our ladies to get back to. I don’t know what the process or the exact science or the exact formula or the experiences or whatever creates that because I don’t think anyone has the answer to that. Some of the things that we do, helps that miracle to happen. So, we are doing something right. We meet many of our widow leaders that it has happened for them.
Patricia: What advice would you give people in helping other widows?
Carolyn: The best advice I could give is to be a great encourager, always, and to be willing to hold space and give them time, your time, for as long as it takes. That is the most important thing your presence. That’s all you’re called to do. You need to know that the trust you have with this person meant something and it was meant to be.
Patricia: What advice would you give my readers, the widows themselves?
Carolyn: That you are more powerful than you even know.
I enjoyed my time I got to spend with Carolyn. She is a smart, compassionate woman. I recommend you check out the Modern Widows Club online. Here is the link: https://modernwidowsclub.com Check them out on Facebook as well at https://www.facebook.com/modernwidowsclub. I look forward to supporting and mentoring you all through my blog. Peace and All Good.