The Modern Widows Club (MWC) is more than meets the eye. It’s not just a grief support group or a monthly meeting; it serves as a beacon of hope for women of all ages and belief systems who have lost their partners.
The group was founded by Carolyn Moor of Florida, who lost her husband 17 years ago. “I was turned down by two churches to start a widows ministry, because they didn’t think there was enough need. So I kind of laughed and said, ‘OK, I’ll do this myself,’ and that’s where it all started,” she explained.
Now there are 19 chapters nationwide, and the Greenville chapter of MWC is the only one in South Carolina. Moor wanted to create an organization that was more than just grief counseling. She also wanted to “empower women in widowhood to lean into life, to build resilience, and to make a positive difference in the world,” she says.
The Greenville chapter found its beginnings in the same way as many organizations –through a lot of Googling and emailing. Andrea Peter came across an article in the Wall Street Journal, and upon doing her own research, applied to Moor to start a chapter in the Upstate in 2016. Peter was seeking a place to feel accepted, inspired, and connected to other women who were dealing with the same things she was.
Widowhood can be an isolating experience. It is almost taboo to talk about your late partner, and our society is one that is couple-heavy, Peter explains. There are 14 million widows in the United States, and 5 million of them are under the age of retirement. These women are hoping to comfort those feeling isolated, while simultaneously ending the stigma associated with the word “widow.”
As an interfaith organization, the MWC does not discriminate against those with different beliefs. Moor felt it was important to include women from all walks of life.“Inclusiveness is where the trust and belonging and opportunity comes from. It’s not about what you believe. Its about that we all have one thing in common: We’ve lost the person who we love. The judgment stops there,” she says. This mindset came from the top down, and MWC leadership decided early on that the organization would not discriminate based on religion, age, or sexuality.
Peter is determined to help women in the Greenville area find hope and purpose after losing their partner, and to show them they are not alone. In the past year and a half, 34 women have come to meetings at her home. She wanted camaraderie, comfort, and purpose for those who felt lost and didn’t know what the next day would bring. The club meets monthly, but outside of that, the women of Greenville MWC have a relationship with the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Carolinas. On Sundays, the women cook and serve brunch to the families staying at the house.
One of the most beneficial aspects of the MWC is to see women who are a little further along than others into widowhood, and to understand that things will continue to improve. Though the members are in different stages of widowhood, from only a few months to 15 or 20 years, the different stages and levels of progress are empowering to each member. A local member, Jamie Thaemert, explains, “There are a lot of private thoughts that you think just belong to you. I found out I’m not crazy because you can voice this and see that other people felt the same way as you.”
For these women, to hear phrases like “That happened to me” or “I know how you feel” provides tremendous comfort in the adjustment to widowhood, where each day can pose a new set of struggles.
Peter encourages widows to seek out help and companionship while also discovering empowerment, hope, and some laughs along the way. Or as Kam Bosket, another local member, says, “It’s nice, because we’re telling stories about things I did with my husband, and we’re laughing because they are fond memories.”