Widowhood: Your Badge of Courage

Honoring International Widow’s Day

No woman ever expects to find herself donning the veil of “widowhood”. We hope and pray that this particular human experience will pass us by. Yet there are so many of us who have found themselves living within this unimaginable reality, seemingly without end.

It’s been mine for nine years and counting.

In the introduction of my soon to be released book Widow’s Moon, I share a perspective that over time helped me navigate this new terrain. I hope you find some inspiration and solace in these words.

Yet there are certain categories of grief. For instance, to be a ‘widow’ or ‘widower’ is different than to lose a parent. I have discovered that when we lose a life partner, we feel left alone and adrift in our sorrow. After all, we have lost our ‘other half,’ the person we had built our life around and devoted ourselves to. We are left alone in silence, only to ask ourselves, Who am I, standing here now without my beloved by my side?

I imagine that my story as a widow may be easily relatable to others who have suffered the loss of their spouse. If you share this experience, I’d like to invite you to reframe the way you regard the word ‘widow’ or ‘widower.’ In our culture, this label can carry a negative connotation involving how we view our identity. Taking on the mantle of the widow was one of the last things that I would have wanted to experience as a woman. However, being a widow (or widower) does not have to mean we are dried up, hopeless, and lifeless, ever descending into a life of misery. Our lives don’t have to end when our other halves’ do. Quite the opposite. Over these many years since Claude’s suicide, I have elevated the word ‘widow.’ I now see it as a badge of courage, signaling entrance onto a sacred evolutionary path.

Though this book is written from a widow’s perspective, my journey has imparted lessons that I feel can be helpful to all those who grieve. These include learning how to hold space for grief, honoring and caring for oneself through grief, and within the midst of it all, loving and embracing one’s perfectly imperfect self. 

Although the loss of those you love is devastating beyond measure, it can also serve to crack you wide open in ways you never could have imagined. With your higher wisdom guiding you, you have the unexpected opportunity to reflect on your identity and the life narrative you were participating in. This season of grief holds the potential of awakening and claiming new aspects of yourself that were previously dormant or yet undiscovered.

Trust me when I say that this has not been an easy road, taking me on the stormiest ride of my life. Yet looking back, it has been my most empowering and transformative journey. 

If you are a widow, I encourage you to try on that badge of courage. You know better than anyone that it takes tremendous strength to keep moving forward each day, to find joy within the sorrow, to find the light within the darkness. 

You have earned that badge. Grab a hold of it and shine your light, dear one! 

Always holding you in love and light,

Cara Hope

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