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Why It’s Essential to Mother Ourselves Well
INSIDE LOOK Newsletter
MWC MONTHLY TOPIC
Mothering Yourself Well
Our May 2023 topic, “Mothering Yourself Well,” is found under our Relational Health Pillar of Healthy Widowhood. Modern Widows Club Founder Carolyn Moor shares a preview of this month’s video:
I’ve been studying something called the Mother Wound for many years now. This topic has a personal connection with me and my story growing up with my own mother.
Mothers mold us. Mothers carry us in their wombs — though there are many other types of mother-child relationships, including adoptive ones, or emotionally through their interactions with us. Many psychologists have attributed our sense of self to the kind of relationship that we had with our primary caregivers (usually mom).
How does this apply in widowhood? Because in any kind of trauma (and losing our spouse or partner certainly applies here) we are suddenly faced with unresolved traumas that show themselves as emotions and feelings we may not have addressed from our upbringing.
If any of the following feelings seem familiar, you may have a mother wound:
Your mother just wasn’t there for you on an emotional level.
You were reluctant to turn to your mother for comfort or security.
You doubted you had your mother’s approval, so you were always trying to be perfect.
You felt nervous and frightened around your mother.
Your mother expected you to take care of her physically or emotionally.
If any of these resonate with you, what does that mean for you now? Because in widowhood, we are faced with understanding the multitude of emotions we are actively feeling and how to manage them now. Mothering ourselves well is the answer.
Click below to watch Carolyn’s video.
LEGENDARY WIDOW ROLE MODEL
Photo credit: U.S. Coast Guard, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Our May 2023 Legendary Widow Role Model, Florence Ebersole Smith Finch, was born October 11, 1915. She was a Filipino-American member of the World War II resistance against the Japanese occupation of the Philippines.
After graduating high school, Finch went to work for the U.S. Army in Manila. While there, she met her first husband, an American sailor named Charles Smith. They married in August 1941. Charles was killed in action in the Philippines in 1942.
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Finch disguised her American connections and was given a job at a Japanese-controlled company. Working closely with the Philippine Resistance Movement, she was able to divert supplies to the resistance and assist in facilitating acts of sabotage against the Japanese occupation forces.
In October 1944, Finch was discovered to be working with the resistance. Arrested and tortured, she never talked. She was sentenced to three years of hard labor in a prison outside Manila.
When Finch was liberated by American forces on February 10, 1945, she weighed just 80 pounds. In May 1945, not wishing to remain in her native country, she moved to Buffalo, New York, where she joined the U.S. Coast Guard Women’s Reserve to, as she noted, “avenge the death of my husband.”
In September 1945, Finch became the first, and only, woman in the Coast Guard to be awarded the Asiatic-Pacific campaign ribbon authorized by President Truman.
While visiting friends in late 1945, Florence met a handsome Army sergeant, Bob Finch, who was soon discharged. Florence completed her Coast Guard service in May 1946. Bob and Florence married in October 1946.
In 1947, Finch was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the U.S. It recognizes those individuals who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” She was also awarded the Asiatic–Pacific Campaign Ribbon, the first woman to be so decorated.
Life dramatically changed in 1968 when Bob died of a heart attack at age 53. Florence raised her children and worked as a secretary at Cornell University until 1981, when she retired at age 65.
In 1995, the Coast Guard named a building on Sand Island in Hawaii in her honor, and in 2019 announced the intention to name their Fast Response Cutter (FRC 57) for “Seaman First Class Florence Finch.”
Florence Finch died at age 101 on December 8, 2016, in Ithaca, New York and was buried with full military honors.
Read about our other Legendary Widow Role Models here.
What Are Your Hopes for Your New Life?
Are you ready to lead your new life with a healthy, holistic mindset and forward momentum? MWC Founder Carolyn Moor’s powerful mentor-led PIVOT Program is for all widows looking for hope, healing, and growth in widowhood.
How can I find hope and healing?
How can I experience growth during this time in my life?
How can I find solid ground, alignment, and connection to feel both peace and confidence in my thoughts and actions?
How can I discover my strong center axis and rebuild my life?
This 6-month program begins in July and is limited to 20 registrants.
If life feels heartbroken and out of control, take this important step for yourself.
MWC SPECIAL EVENT
WEE 2023 St. Louis Early-Bird Registration is Open!
Join us September 22–24 in St. Louis, Missouri for our remarkable in-person event for widows and daughters of widows.
Loss and grief in widowhood have a way of creating anxious emotions, insecurity, anger, uncertainty, and overwhelm — but loss is also an opportunity for us to face fears head-on, offering an unequivocally empowering experience to acknowledge and embrace our own strength, courage, and determination.
Over the course of one extraordinary weekend packed with insightful sessions and presentations, you’ll connect with resilient role models in a safe, trusted community.
“Whether you’re a first-time WEE attendee or will be joining us once again, after this weekend I believe you will know more about both yourself and the healthy widowhood process. Prepare yourself for meaningful connections, true words, laughter and tears, and the undeniable energy that comes from a gathering of our Wisters (widow + sisters).” – MWC Founder Carolyn Moor
Our Widow Empowerment Event is where widows go to find exceptional friendships, understanding, support, and education as they rebuild their life after loss.
MENTAL HEALTH MOMENTS
Ask a Therapist
By Cyndi Williams, MSW, LCSW
Q: How do you help older teens/young adults who are grieving when you feel so depleted yourself?
Supporting your grieving teen can feel overwhelming, especially as you navigate your own grief. When supporting our teens in their grief, it’s important to remember that they are grieving a different relationship than you are, as well as different secondary losses. They’ve lost a parent and have been left with a parent who is shattered and unable to be the strong figure they were while navigating their own grief.
From the moment their parent died, they see that other adults constantly offer you hugs, ask how you’re doing, and offer you help while, in most cases, likely overlooking them. At my own husband’s funeral, my 16-year-old son was approached by a well-meaning adult man who told him “You’re the head of the household now and you’ll have to take care of your mom and younger siblings.” A family member asked me in front of him if he would plan to stay close to home for college now so he could help me with his siblings.
Although I know that both of the people who said these things were well-intentioned, I was furious and determined to protect my son as much as possible from these toxic messages. I had a conversation with him privately and told him that while I certainly would need his help more than I had before his father’s death, I was still the adult and I would never expect him to be responsible for me or his brother and sister at 16 years of age. I told him that I was committed to doing my best to make sure he could have as “normal” a teen life as his friends.
Teens are navigating often-difficult social lives, starting their first jobs, taking on the responsibility of being drivers, and planning for their futures. For teens who have lost a parent, it’s a time when the adults in their lives should be focused on supporting them in their dreams and launching into adulthood. But the reality is, some teens lose a parent at the time they need them most.
Click below to continue reading Cyndi’s article.
Is there a question you'd like to ask a licensed therapist? Questions can be submitted anonymously by clicking here, and may be featured in a future issue of Inside Look.
Widowed in 2013, Cyndi Williams is a mental health advisor and contributor for Modern Widows Club. Follow her on Facebook at CyndiWilliamsLCSW.
There’s Still Time to Join Our Awareness Campaign!
We invite you to join our #OneMillionWidows campaign to highlight International Widows Day on June 23. Share your story to raise public awareness about widowhood, educate friends and family, and help make a positive shift in how widows are perceived. It’s easy to participate!
Print our #OneMillionWidows sign (download below). Or create your own! Be sure to include the hashtag #OneMillionWidows.
Take a selfie with your #OneMillionWidows sign and email it to us at email@example.com no later than May 31. Your photo may be used on our social media sites, website, blogs, and/or in video form to help spread the word about International Widows Day and raise awareness for widows. (By submitting your photo, you grant permission for this use.)
On June 23, post the selfie of you holding your sign on your social media accounts and share your widowhood story. Include the hashtags #OneMillionWidows and #InternationalWidowsDay in your post, and tag the Modern Widows Club Facebook page.
MWC COMMUNITY LAUNCH
Announcing Our Vancouver, Washington Community and Support Group for Widows
By Jaysiah F., MWC Vancouver Community Advocate
For 4-1/2 years, my life was consumed with cancer. I’ve experienced nothing more gut-wrenching than watching my husband waste away from this cruel disease. And then, on Father’s Day 2019, he was gone. I was thrown into sole-parenting my 4 teenage boys, running our real estate business without him, and learning to accept that it was not a temporary situation.
The grief of losing John after 28 years of marriage can sometimes overwhelm me. In those moments, the value of sitting with, talking with, crying with, laughing with someone who understands the gigantic void left in my life and heart when he passed away is so meaningful.
The ladies I’ve met through Modern Widows Club have encouraged me, as I recognize that I’m not alone in this life-changing experience. I’m ready to continue giving back to the club none of us ever wanted to join with the launch of the MWC Vancouver, Washington Community.
Click below to learn more about joining any of our local or virtual communities.
THERAPEUTIC GRIEF RETREAT
Magnolia Harbor Carefarm Retreat for Widowed Parents and Their Kids
Modern Widows Club Mental Health Consultant (and fellow Wister) Jordan Harrold invites you and your children to “Widows with Kiddos: A Magnolia Harbor Therapeutic Grief Retreat” this July.
This weekend retreat is for all widowed parents — both moms and dads — and their children. It was created with the intention of honoring the parent-child relationship and connection that only widows or widowers with children can understand.
The retreat will be held July 20–23 at the Magnolia Harbor Carefarm in Powell, Tennessee. The Carefarm, which specializes in the treatment of complex trauma and traumatic grief and loss, is owned and operated by Dr. Bree Conklin, LCSW. At the Carefarm, the therapeutic process is facilitated by the healing green space of nature and the human-animal connection.
“I traveled to meet with Dr. Bree Conklin in person on my 2021 Moor Luv Tour between the Winston-Salem, NC and Nashville, TN stops, and knew immediately that this would be a valuable healing retreat resource for our MWC families. I highly recommend this retreat.” – MWC Founder Carolyn Moor
Over the course of the weekend, you and your children will participate in activities that include:
Guided mindfulness activities to learn how to be present and cope with grief
Breakout groups for widowed parents to build community with fellow widowed parents, and breakout groups for kiddos to build community with fellow kiddos who have lost a parent
Time with the animals and the property at the Carefarm
Creative and expressive arts
For more details about the retreat, including registration fee, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To register, click below.
Would you like to sponsor a widowed parent and their child to join the retreat? Please email email@example.com.
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