Not all widows are gray-haired senior citizens.
In February 2007, Chris Buob’s life changed dramatically. Her 49-year-old husband suffered a stroke and died.
Widowed at 46, Buob struggled to explain the loss to her 4-year-old twin sons, and mounting financial worries took their toll.
Then she heard about Widows Might, an organization dedicated to helping women learn to live alone again.
“The Bible says to take care of the widows and orphans,” Buob said. “And that’s just what Wes and Adrienne do.”
Buob was referring to the founder of Widows Might, Wes Teterud and his wife Adrienne.
“When they came out to the house, they saw my twins were still in toddler beds and bought them new bunk beds,” she said.
And when Buob bought a garbage disposal, Wes Teterud knew someone who could install it for her. When she was ready to move, they put her in touch with a real estate agent.
The holidays can be difficult for widows, and Buob was no exception. In fact, last Christmas, she said, “I honestly didn’t know how I was going to buy presents for the boys, and then a gift card from Widows Might came in the mail.”
Widows Might has been meeting practical needs like these for the past 13 years. Teterud said the idea for the organization stemmed from his time in ministry. Though now in the insurance business in Spokane, he pastored in Montana for many years. “I saw a lot of young widows with great need,” he said.
In Spokane, he launched the group and watched in wonder as it grew. “One of our generous widows gave a contribution to set up the widow’s fund,” he said. “We’ve given out thousands of dollars over the past several years to widows in need throughout the region.”
Teterud stressed, “This is not a bereavement group. It’s about life moving forward after loss.”
At the urging of his pastor, Teterud applied for nonprofit status, and on Sunday, Widows Might hosted a luncheon at Spokane Valley Church of the Nazarene to introduce the newly-established nonprofit.
Supporters of the group and widows from across the region were treated to a gourmet lunch prepared by veteran chef Terri Adolphson.
As Bonita Farrow sliced into the tender Chicken Wellington, she said, “The best thing is I don’t have to clean up!”
Farrow’s husband, Joe, died in 2003. “He blew a hole in the back side of his heart,” she said, her soft Texan drawl softening the starkness of her words. “He went to the hospital on Oct. 3 and never came home.”
She shook her head. “Joe dying was not an option.” And eight years after his death, she still speaks of him in the present tense.
The exquisitely prepared meal pleased her palate. “I was used to cooking for a houseful. It seems such a waste of time to cook for one.”
Widows Might hosts four Sunday luncheons per year. Teterud said studies show that Sundays are typically the loneliest day of the week for widows. He echoed Farrow’s sentiments about cooking. “We found that unless there are children in the home, widows stop cooking.”
As to why the ministry focuses exclusively on widows, Teterud explained, “Widows tend to grieve and widowers tend to remarry.” He smiled. “We didn’t want this to be eHarmony.”
At the luncheon, Michelle Weidemann shared her story. Her husband died of melanoma in 2007. He was 31.
Alone with four children ages 8 and younger, she struggled to stay afloat financially. Enter Widows Might. “They helped finish my basement – we only had two bedrooms at the time.”
She said the organization also put tires on her car and bought winter coats for her kids. “They’re very supportive,” she said.
Teterud said, “Many people think widowhood is a geriatric problem, but it’s not. The average age of a widow is 56.”
No matter what the age, the widows in the room on Sunday all shared the similar sadness of losing their spouses. As soloist Juanita Anstine sang “Knowing You’ll Be There Makes it Easy To Go Home,” tears fell freely.
Farrow said, “It (Widows Might) is about those who understand.”
Chris Buob agreed. “It’s a wonderful organization.”