Today is International Widow's Day. Yes, you read that right. On June 23, 2010 the United Nations recognized the first ever International Widow's Day. There was discussion, and proclamations, and a lot of talk about making the world a better place for widows on this day in 2011. Here we are on the second annual day honoring, remembering, recognizing the world's widows. (p.s. I always use the word "widow" to mean widowed person...maybe the UN doesn't, but I do!)
This day was set aside, because in many countries in our world being widowed leads to being victimized nine times out of ten. Widows in some countries lose their homes (immediately after the death of their husbands); they can be considered bad luck (not invited to weddings, even of their own children, for fear of the luck negatively impacting the new couple); their young children have to go to work instead of going to school...at six or seven years old. In the United States, and other countries were widows (and women in general) have rights that are upheld, we are lucky. Even as widows.
And though this day was not really intended for the luckier of the worlds widows (those who live in countries where our rights are secure, we can inherit property, and we don't have to wonder if one of our late spouse's family is going to turn up to take our kids from us)...I got to thinking about the fact that when I became widowed I felt less than. Not only did I not feel whole because Phil was dead (it was like someone removed the right side of my body leaving me only the left side with which I was hopelessly uncoordinated), but when I looked around me I didn't see anyone who LOOKED like me. You know, widowed. I seriously wished that other widowed people would wear a "W" on their heads so I could find them! Eventually, find them I did. And THEY made all the difference. Because I wasn't alone in my crazy, can't remember where the keys are (in my hand) or where my sunglasses are (on my head) or if I ate breakfast (I didn't care) world. There were others, and they couldn't find their sunglasses either.
As International Widow's Day approached for 2012, I wondered what Soaring Spirits (the parent organization for this blog www.sslf.org) could DO for widowed people today. In what meaningful way could we mark June 23rd as a day of recognizing our struggles, our successes, our down days and our up days? Then it came to me...the best way to change lives on June 23rd is by telling the widowed people who don't know that there are others where to find them. And so, the You Are Not Alone campaign was conceived, and is being launched today.
The You Are Not Alone campaign consists of a few elements. First are these easy-to-carry, packed with information, one stop shop folded business cards. These cards can be handed to a widowed person (or someone who knows and/or loves them) to share everything they need to know to find a community of peer support...others. These cards are available now, and you can get them for free HERE.
Next, we have dedicated a page on the Soaring Spirits website to the You Are Not Alone campaign, you will find that HERE. The point of this page is to help a newly widowed person (or someone who has been struggling along with no others) find peer support, right now. Again, a one stop shop.
Then, we have buttons which you can request for your blog or website that will direct widowed people to others, like them. If you'd like a button for your site or blog, send a request to contact at sslf dot org and we will get you one. This You Are Not Alone button can be found on every Soaring Spirits program page. We are serious about spreading the word. Widowed people don't have to make it through every day feeling alone. There is help. There is hope. Not only do we know where to find the help...but we will direct them to a variety of places where they can meet the others.
You can help, too. Widowed or not widowed, all you need to do is care and share. It really is that easy. Because life without the person you love so much is hard, but it doesn't have to be faced alone. Please help us make a difference. Everyone needs others.
And the last way we at Soaring Spirits are marking this International Day for Widows (we are pretty sure there are no cards for this one!) is by telling the love stories of 25 different widowed people from all over the world on our facebook page. If you'd like to be inspired, take a look HERE. Long live love.
And special thanks to Taryn for letting me write in her place today, and for inspiring the telling of widowed love stories. As you all already know, Taryn rocks!