‘When my husband died, it was much more difficult than I could have imagined': Recognizing International Widows Day

Recognizing International Widows Day

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - June 23 is International Widows Day. Everyday in the U.S., nearly 2,800 women become widowed, according to the US Census Bureau.

There are about 14 million widows in America and some live right here in the Cape Fear.

Megan, her late husband Keith, and their two children.
Megan, her late husband Keith, and their two children. (Source: Megan Kopka)

“When I became a widow, I thought I’d be fine,” said Megan Kopka. “I understood my husband was dying. I think we lived a legacy well. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to start my life without him. It was much more difficult than I could have imagined. So when people tell you, ‘I can only imagine.' You can’t.”

Kopka, along with Kathy Becker, are chapter leaders for Modern Widows Club (MWC) Cape Fear Chapter.

Kopka lost her husband after a four-year battle with ALS back in 2014. After his death, she followed the Modern Widows Club for years and that’s when she was introduced to Becker, who lost her husband to colon cancer in 2013.

“After I got through most of the grief that you experience with the loss of your husband, I realized there was very little support for widows in terms of how to live the rest of their life,” said Becker. “I started searching out options of what do you do? How do you support widows? What can we do to make life better?”

In the process, Becker met Kopka and the two have started the local chapter of MWC.

“We’re really excited to bring this opportunity to Wilmington,” said Becker.

Kopka and Becker have held meetings since September of 2019, but now the group is officially part of MWC.

“As you can imagine, widowhood can be something that’s very depressing and that’s not our motto,” said Kopka. “Our motto is to go from survive to thrive. Just helping people kind of lean into life and following a process to make it a happier life.”

There are seven pillars that the club focuses on.

“Pillars that help you rebuild your life,” said Becker. “They help you regain a place in society.”

When the club meets, they will have discussions. This month’s focus is on legacy.

“When I think about my husbands legacy, I need Kleenex right now,” said Kopka. “It’s so overwhelming to think about, ‘what’s my legacy going to be?' For Kathy and I, our legacy is part of bringing this to Wilmington.”

There are about 30 people in the group as of this month.

“Widows in the past were not treated well in the world,” said Becker. “That’s the whole idea of International Widows Day.”

International Widows Day is a United Nations day of action to highlight and combat discrimination and injustice suffered by widows worldwide. It was founded by the Loomba Foundation in 2005.

The inaugural meeting for the Cape Fear chapter is Tuesday, June 23 from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. The group will meet every fourth Tuesday at that same time.

For more information about the meetings and about MWC Cape Fear, contact Megan at 910-409-4430 or Kathy at 864-918-9921.

Copyright 2020 WECT. All rights reserved.