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“Will Your Book Help Me?”

September 23, 2018
STSCS library gift

With the publication of Reclaiming Joy: A Primer for Widows and the publicity surrounding it, I am hearing the question often, “Will your book help me?” The answer in most cases is YES. Near the back of the Bible, you will find a short letter—barely four pages in my version—from the Apostle Paul to the small, poor, discouraged, divided congregation at Philippi. Fourteen times Paul …

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A Letter to My Fellow Widows

September 11, 2018
letter to widows

After the publication of my memoir, Reclaiming Joy, started generating attention on social media, I began to hear from people who found their way to this website. They shared their loss—or their friend’s or mother’s loss—and asked, “Will your book help?” I can’t make any promises, but perhaps the letter I wrote back in 2014 when I first began to plan a book—now the introduction to …

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Live Well, LOOK GOOD, Travel Light, II

April 26, 2018
My mother-in-law at my age

In August 2011—almost 17 months after Lev’s death—I took my first big step in traveling alone, as a widow. I flew to London, then took the train to Edinburgh, another first for me. On my arrival, I walked into a pre-dinner reception at the hotel to meet 40 strangers who would be my travel companions on the Royal Scotsman for the next week. Only four …

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How Much Is Safe to Spend?

October 20, 2016
Pray for the best

The question raised in the headline nags at me. Should you save enough to live to 100? The subhead promises that “here are ways to insulate yourself against outliving your money”—everyone’s fear—but the recommendations are almost opposite those I received from my husband’s professional advisors after I became a widow in 2009. Instead, the writer seems to say, “Oh, chances are you won’t live that …

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Whatever Happened to Widow’s Weeds?

February 25, 2016
widow's weeds

A portrait of my great-great-grandmother Aurelia Smith Davis Ripley Smith Woodward hangs in the Cabildo at Jackson Square, New Orleans, part of the Louisiana State Museum collection. Neither Aurelia nor the artist was famous. The primitive painting hangs to illustrate a widow in lavender half-mourning attire in the mid-nineteenth century. Aurelia’s third husband and my great-great-grandfather, the father of her two children, was murdered in …

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13 Ways to Prepare for Widowhood

February 11, 2016
until death do us part

Absolutely no one (except possibly fortune hunters who marry older men for their money) wants to consider the prospect of widowhood. We are all in denial. It as if by refusing to acknowledge the possibility, we shake our fists in the face of the gods. But the facts are undeniable: The most recent American Community Survey, published in 2014, estimates that there are almost twenty-five …

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