Today’s Modern Widow, Carolyn Moor, On Leaning Back Into Life After Loss
Carolyn Moor was on top of the world. She and her husband Chad owned and ran a successful company. They had two beautiful, healthy little girls, and they were still madly in love. Things couldn’t have been going any better for them on that Valentines Day in 2000, and Carolyn savored every moment of their romantic Valentines dinner date.
Neither of them had any reason to think it would be their last dinner together, their last smile, their last everything. The accident happened so quickly, and the other driver fled the scene.
In one terrible moment of fate, Chad lost his life and Carolyn was no longer a wife. She was instead one of the approximately 2800 women in this country who became widows that day.
She knows those numbers now. She knows the statistics of widows in this country and other countries. She knows the age spans, and the diversities and commonalities among widows in the United States, and she is familiar with hundreds of their stories.
She didn’t ever plan on becoming one of the most familiar beacons of hope for widows. In fact, she resented this calling being thrust upon her while she still struggled to manage her own grief and healing. But just as quickly as Fate stole one life from her, it placed another before her.
“Promise me you’ll do something good with this experience, for others.”
Carolyn Moor remembers that moment and those words from Oprah Winfrey, spoken moments before Oprah interviewed her on her world-famous show.
In the moment, all Carolyn could think was that she was still struggling with her own grief. How was she supposed to help others?
Oprah must have seen in Carolyn what Carolyn had yet to see in herself; Purpose, promise, and hope.
Carolyn had caught Oprah’s eye when she was featured on a show on TLC. That had been a show about being stuck in life, and Carolyn’s story about volunteering at a grief center while still being mired in her own grief intrigued the renowned talk show host.
The TLC show helped prod Carolyn into facing a task that changed everything for her. Oprah, however, featured Carolyn as an example of resilience – a role model for widows trapped in their own grief.
It opened up a Pandora’s Box, says Carolyn.
It’s true that she was feeling stronger than she’d been before. She was back at work in her company. She was managing to get her young girls to and from school and she was opening herself up to new possibilities in life. But she didn’t feel remotely like the Everyday Hero she’d been billed as, and she didn’t appreciate the disruptiveness of constantly being recognized.
Every time the show re-aired, the disruptions renewed. Carolyn could be working with clients and people would interrupt, asking her if she was the woman whose husband died on Valentines Day. Other widows sought her out for help.
She didn’t want any part of other widows, in that context. But it didn’t seem like she had a choice in the matter anymore. Carolyn stepped back from her thoughts and asked herself a new question; “Am I inspiring myself?” Knowing so many people thought she was inspiring, Carolyn reevaluated her own life.
Any loss of a Loved One is devastating. No one loss is “easier” to bear than another. But some widows in the United States are luckier than others. Some couples have life insurance policies or substantial savings and strong support systems. Others do not.
Military widows have access to a range of non-profit organizations that offer assistance in grief counseling, peer mentorship, and crisis relief. They are eligible for retreats and other experiences conducive to bonding with fellow widows and providing grief counseling and similar experiences to their children. Education benefits exist for widows of those killed on active duty.
While Carolyn doesn’t begrudge the military widows, she does note the complete lack of such organized entities and resources for those widows in the civilian world. Having navigated so many years with no real support, Carolyn had to figure out legalities and restructure her business by herself. Raising children entirely alone is exhausting and lonely. She had to teach herself how to shepherd her daughters through their own grief. It was extraordinarily difficult, and Carolyn decided to begin being the mentor she had so desperately sought when she had been newly widowed.
It started small, with Carolyn mentoring two widows in her own home. It grew into the Modern Widows Club (MWC), with 55 leaders in 22 chapters around the country, and an annual event in Orlando. The mission of MWC is precise and positive.
“We serve women in widowhood to lean into life, to build resilience, and to make a positive difference in the world.”
Carolyn offers coaching, mentoring, and resource information via private and group sessions, chapter meetings, social network sites, and events of different scopes. The largest event is held annually in Orlando, Florida, and is the closest thing to one-stop-shopping in camaraderie, resilience, resources, and insight for widows of all ages.
Carolyn Moor has become everything she so desperately sought herself. She could not find the mentor she sought, so she became one. She did not know where to find the information on various resources she needed, and now she brings that information to others. She craved connecting with positive people – women who refuse to wear their widowhood as their only identity, and lean on it like a crutch. Now she is leaning back into her own life and helping others do the same.
Grief is not something that can be “cured.” No matter to what extent a life is rebuilt and a soul finds new joy, grief lies dormant within. It awakens periodically in everyone. Carolyn has learned how to sing it a lullaby and settle it back down before it resumes its nightmarish reign on her life.
She’s doing exactly what Oprah asked her to do; making something good happen for others.