Widow Advocacy & Invisibility in Plain Sight
Building a resilient widow support nonprofit
How do you build a strong, resilient widows’ nonprofit that is moving mountains to ensure widow support is available - as available as the common charitable and worthy causes we all know about?
Because we are finding that it’s not easy to get anyone to care for the cause of caring for widows, to attend fundraising events, setting up funding conversations or to participate in the cause of supporting widows more broadly.
It’s as if widows who know the need exists must create their own support because too many people are uncertain on how to even interact with these ladies who share their grief, loss, pain and sorrow.
People don’t understand widows, what they need, why they are struggling or how they get stuck or how they move forward in life after such a traumatic and disruptive life event. People are more comfortable with the causes that we find common in the world and have already filled an identifiable gap.
This is what needs to happen with widow support- it needs to be as common and visible as all of these listed below:
Housing for the homeless
Human slavery and anti trafficking
Saving sick children
Feed the hungry
Fresh water and wells
Mentoring for Kids
Toys for Tots
I just recently reviewed the 2022 National Christian Foundation Impact Report and was looking forward to reading it. As with most people around the world, it is assumed that Christian faith outreach includes widows and widow support in their charitable giving to fulfill the Great Commission.
That isn’t exactly true.
There was a small mention of widows in their report towards the end, “It was the last and the least” indeed.
What was prominent in this report was what we most hear about in the public spaces of places of worship, churches and Christian organizations.
You will recognize all of these as they are well supported worldwide:
Animal Protection and Welfare
Rescue for slavery, human trafficking
Right to Life
Arts / Humanities / Museums
Military, Fire, Police Ministries
Generosity and Giving
Orphan Care $43 million to 438 ministries from 1,449 givers
On the last page of statistics it listed 29 ministries serving single parents & widows received 114 grants.
It doesn’t offer a monetary amount and is vague, but 114 grants was the least of all the other grants shared in the annual impact report. I cannot determine if the 29 ministries were for single parents and/or widows, because not all single parents (men and women) also, are widowed. Combining these together as a demographic simply doesn’t fit because they are not the same.
Widowed parents are solo parents, not single parents and that needs a correction with an explanation. I believe widows are valuable enough to have a dedicated outreach on their own. What do you think?
James 1:27 says “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Isaiah 1:17 "Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause."
The Bible gives the directive to care for widows and fatherless children. It is one of the MOST CLEARLY stated mandates you can find in the Bible. So I wonder WHY it is so hard to SEE in ACTION? Let’s proclaim it.
I’ve interviewed many worship leaders, ministers, priests, rabbis, spiritual leaders in many denominations in the last 23 years and yet, I still cannot come up with an actual reason why it is so difficult to raise awareness of widows' needs in today’s world.
That’s what widow advocates do every day- advocates like myself. We literally plead for the widows' cause.
The word plead means to “make an emotional appeal and present and argue a position especially in court or in another public content”.
I think social media qualifies and so does going to Washington DC and talking with legislators who we voted for to create change for widow citizens in my country.
Here’s a question I have for everyone everywhere, “How do you plead when charged with this information and emotional appeal that widows have gone forgotten, invisible, overlooked, marginalized for way way too long in history?” Does it matter to you?
Their voices are not being heard clearly in the vast systems that have been created to help women in their distress. Their dignity isn’t being respected, nor restored once no longer part of a couple in a global society that prioritizes coupledom above all other statuses.
Yet, from age 40 to 85+ women in widowhood rises from 1% to 73%. That’s a historical fact that is only increasing higher.
I challenge anyone who gives to the National Christian Foundation or any Christian focused foundation or grant making corporation to encourage them to look at this underserved, underfunded, under addressed imperative cause that impacts every family on earth. Widows are our wives, mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, neighbors, and cohorts worthy of care and love.
Many widows are isolated, lonely, overwhelmed, depressed, lacking confidence and resources to financially sustain their lives that were shattered due to the death of someone they loved. Their secondary losses can be massive after their primary loss.
I’ve heard people tell me about widows “Well, they should have prepared better for this!”
I was prepared as I possibly could have been at age 36, but still that didn’t prepare me for a life being a solo parent and raising kids on my own, keeping a job through sicknesses, deep grief, PTSD and panic attacks. I’m told I should not have survived, but I did, and that propels me to advocate for other widows who do not know what they will face coming their way. And it’s not only the person who lost their spouse, it’s the immediate family around you that will be grieving and navigating the many challenges that will come for years and years.
No one can fully prepare for this. That is why the Modern Widows Club exists. Because when you need us, you REALLY need us. And many more women will need us as the Baby Boomers begin to age out. Add in the pandemic, suicide and addiction deaths, heart attacks, cancer and vehicle deaths…..it’s happening every day in the United States at the rate of 2800 women a day.
I meet one to five new widows daily. Not one thought it would be her….but here she is reaching out to our organization because we understand her and have the community and resources that matter in moments like this.
Every community needs this because every community has widows leaving hospitals, hospice, funeral homes and memorials every day ……even if you don’t see them or know them.
Please ask yourself, where would you go if you became a widow or if your wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt or niece, friend or co-worker would go if she became widowed? Having an answer like Modern Widows Club is important at this moment.
Because when I became widowed, there wasn’t an answer, there wasn’t a Modern Widows Club that was paving the road of widow support, solutions and research to help me. But I’m so grateful it exists today! Please support us at modernwidowsclub.org and GIVE.
Thank you, always advocating for a better world for widows,
GIVE from the heart to Modern Widows Club to support advocacy and awareness for women in widowhood.
Our Modern Widows Club widow research shows that 70% of our ladies had a place of worship when they became widowed, 49% of those widows felt support was insufficient.
Let’s do better in serving widows today and in the future.