This site is run by widowed people, for widowed people

Widowed Village connects peers with each other for friendship and sharing. The moderators, administrators, and others involved in running this site are not professionals.

Please don't interpret anything you read here as medical, legal, or otherwise expert advice. Don't disregard any expert's advice or take any action as a result of what you read here.

We're friends, not doctors, financial or legal professionals, and we're not "grief experts." But we are here, and we've been "there."

Welcome Newsletters


Thanks for joining Widowed Village! This newsletter contains a few quick steps (and one long-ish set of posting guidelines to review when you have some time to yourself) to help you participate fully -- and safely -- in our loving supportive online community.

1. Security check! Is your screen name (username) what you want it to be? Remember that our site is open to Google. We highly recommend that you do not include your real last name in your screen name. If it's not what it should be, update it now. On the same page, check that your LOCATION is disguised — perhaps enter the next town over from where you live or work. Sharing your location is the best way to find real life people — but please do so safely. * * IMPORTANT * *  make sure you scroll down and "save" your changes.

2. Say "hi!" Introduce yourself in this discussion.
3. Join a couple of groups to meet folks of your approximate age, with losses in the same year, with similar types of loss, similar parenting status, etc. Be sure to go to the second page of groups or you might miss some (you can also "search" the list)! Groups are also a great first stop to introduce yourself and to read about other members.

4. On Widowed Village, the forum discussions are we host most of our juicy and informative discussions. Please look through a few discussions to gain a sense of what you can hear and share in a community of widowed people.

If you'd like to start a discussion, consider using this process to get the MOST RESPONSE (these are NOT RULES — but they do make the most of our format, and they encourage the most engagement):
  • Look around to see if there is already a similar active discussion. You might try using "search" to find something similar. If you reply to an "older" discussion, that discussion will be "bumped" up into active discussions so others can find it easily, too. If you don't see the topic you're interested in, then….
    • Click "Add" in the upper right corner (just to the left of your screen name and "inbox") to add a discussion.
    • * IMPORTANT * Start with an engaging and concise question. (This looks like the "subject line" of your posting.) A reader know what you're asking within the first 5 or 6 words because headlines are cut short in some views.
    • You can expand the question in the area underneath the subject line, but SAVE YOUR sharing for just one moment. This entry should be fairly BRIEF so that folks can see the "reply" field below it on smaller screens.
    • THEN write THE FIRST REPLY to this posting -- maybe share your personal experience, and you can go on as long as you wish to.
      • SUMMARY: In other words, to make the best use of this format and get the most responses, you will create * * 3 * * items: 1. Subject line/Question, 2. SHORT elaboration of question, 3. YOUR sharing.
        • TIP: Look at the question again. Is that still the question you're asking? Sometimes we find our sharing has led us to a different place. You can go back and edit the question or other parts of your posting within 15 minutes.
I hope these tips are helpful to you. Please let me hear your feedback any time, or click in the "Need a little help?" box in the right hand column on any page to send our volunteers your question.

This issue will help you understand and benefit from a few more aspects of our site, reduce unwanted emails, and will introduce you to Supa, the cartoon mermaid (just kidding!) who created this site, if you haven't already met her (me). 

1. About "friending." To invite another member to be your friend, go to their profile page, and click on "Add as Friend" under their photo or avatar. (A short video demonstrating this process is the first item on this page.)

You don't NEED friends to participate in discussions on Widowed Village… most content (and all forum discussions) is public. But members may restrict their photos and videos, and some members may make other postings "quiet." Aren't you really here to meet others in the same boat who can provide comfort, cheer, and support? We encourage you to make — and grant — friend requests generously.

2. Daily Digest helps you keep up AND get less email
The tool that gets the most raves from Widowed Village members so far is the Daily Digest. This consolidates ALL the activity on steams that you care about into ONE email sent to you each day. Each link in the email takes you STRAIGHT to where you left off… no more rereading long discussions! You can also control WHICH notifications are included in your digest.

To turn Daily Digest ON:
    •    Go to the "My Widville" page and pull it down to the third item, "Change notify settings."
    •    Under the first item, "Email Frequency," click on "Daily."
We can almost guarantee that this feature will make our community more useful to you — but let us know what you think!

3. What's that annoying beep?
If you visit Widville during US evening hours, you'll likely hear a stream of irregular chiming beep sounds. Friends, that is the sound of widowed people chatting LIVE. Click on "chat now" in the navigation bar (just below the header) to open this screen or go to

Chat is a GREAT way to meet new widowed friends FAST. Please, if a conversation is going on, don't wait to be invited "in" — a quick hello is always welcome. (If you feel shy, think of Chat as a public lounge area, or, as @Peter says, our "village square.")

4. Meet Supa Dupa Fresh.
I am a real widow who uses a fake name to be super honest and occasionally funny. I was widowed in 2006 after fighting my husband's cancer for two years. My daughter was then 2.5, still in diapers, still nursing, and I was trying to work full time because I'd been the breadwinner for all of our ten year marriage. Uh huh -- I was nuts. On my journey, I found that real widows like me, in a support group run by hospice and those who came out of the woodwork to talk and listen, were my main source of light and hope. Nevertheless, I didn't expect my blog, Fresh Widow, to turn into something bigger than my own story.

But it did. The community that you and I created on Facebook in late 2009 as an outgrowth of my blog quickly became a home for hundreds of widowed people who shared their lives and experiences, and connected with each other… (and thousands more who benefited without posting).

I created Widowed Village to provide a deeper, more versatile community for you all AND use the talents of many "big sisters and brothers" in a peer support environment. I partnered with Soaring Spirits, who I feel is the best non-profit organization connecting widowed people in the US, because we share a vision and I wanted to build something that would live on beyond my involvement, unlike many personal projects which sprout up online and die down every month.

I hope this newsletter helps you participate more fully in the Widowed Village community. Please let me hear your feedback any time, or click in the "Need a little help?" box in the right hand column on any page to send our volunteers your question.
Thanks for joining Widowed Village! In WidvilleWelcomeOne and Two, we shared tips on using our our loving supportive online community a little better. We walked you through functions like starting a discussion, using the Chat room, making friends, sharing your location on our visual MAP OF THE WORLD, and best of all, signing up for a Daily Digest so you get ONLY the emails you care about.

In this issue, I'll go into all the details of customizing your privacy settings exactly as you wish, show you how to install Widville on your phone (if you like), tell you a little bit about volunteer opportunities, and introduce you to Michele Neff Hernandez, founder and director of Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation. 

1. Are you SURE you understand your privacy settings here? Widowed Village is a public site — enabling us to share with the entire world — but it's designed to also be as secure as you want it to be. How? Mostly by using a pseudonym (fake name) here. But you can also protect your images and other content in some special ways. Read the entire (NEW) page devoted to customizing your privacy options HERE.

2. Take Widowed Village with you on your smart phone. And no, you don't even need an app for that! (This works on ALL web-enabled phones).
    • Point your phone's browser to Widowed (the URL for mobile phones is
    • Log in (the system MAY ask you to repeat your birth date and a "captcha"). This will put a "cookie" on your device that identifies you and includes your sign-in information.
  • Then, create a bookmark or item (does anyone else call them "chiclets?" Just me? Oh well!) for your phone's display (like an app icon) so that you can call it up in one step.
3. Interested in playing a larger role? Widowed Village is run by volunteers: people like you. We would love some more of you to join our Volunteers group and serve as greeters. Greeting is fun and easy, it can take as much or as little time as you wish, and it's a terrific way to meet new people (even if you're shy). We offer you guidelines and support, but there are no rules, and you DON'T have to do "technical support" (just point people in the right direction for that).  
We are also looking for experienced peer moderators and who knows? If you have another skill PLUS enthusiasm, we can find a way to use your talents!

Questions? Let me hear them!

4. Meet Michele Neff Hernandez, Director of Soaring Spirits
The word that comes to mind when you meet Michele is "inspiring." In 2005, her husband, Phillip, was hit and killed while he was riding his bicycle. Her life and that of their blended family (she and Phillip had children from previous marriages) was turned upside down. All of you know of the confusion and strain of living daily life while caring for your grieving heart. Michele found some support from her faith, family, and running, but within a few months she found that connections with other widows gave her something even more important: a path to hope.
Michele turned her incredible energy and vision to activism: she founded the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation, a secular, non-profit organization that connects widowed people for mutual support. SSLF's Widow Match (like a penpal program) connects widowed people with others like them for friendship. Michele began Widow's Voice as a personal blog, and with the addition of a team of widowed writers, now reaches more than 350,000 readers a year. in 2010, SSLF reached out to the LGBT community with the blog, making SSLF the first national program to support lesbian and gay widowed people. In 2009, Michele started the conference that would turn into Camp Widow: a supportive and informative weekend for widowed people of all ages, fulfilling her dream of creating a nationally recognized event that is ALL about hope and healing for the widowed community.

“Widowed Village is a perfect reflection of the kind of community connections that Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation creates, and fosters. Supa built a unique resource for widowed people around the world, and we are thrilled to make Widowed Village a program of SSLF. I LOVE this program, because everyone has a place and a voice.”

In addition to being the Founder and Executive Director of SSLF, Michele speaks to groups of all kinds about the power of community; writes a bit in her spare time; loves outdoor activities, as well as a good book; and happily resides with her family in Simi Valley, California.

How are you liking our Village? Are you finding things okay? Please let me hear your feedback
any time, or click in the "Need a little help?" box in the right hand column on any page to send our volunteers your question.
This newsletter — the last in our WidvilleWelcome series — will show you how to share a bit more through blogging, if you are interested; and it contains important NEW guidelines for those who are already blogging or who have their own brands or businesses.

1. Think you might like to start a blog? Blogging is a terrific way to share a bit more about your experiences, ideas, and outlook AND host a different type of conversation through “comments.” You needn’t be an expert in any topic; many think of their blogs as personal journals, created for a semi-public audience.

You can also use a blog to share recipes, review or comment on books you’ve read, or share articles and other content. Format your post using the editing tools, embed links, include images, and share videos from YouTube and other sites. Connect your posts with others on the site by “tagging” your content. Tell your Widowed Village friends when you have posted, share the link to your blog with select "outside" friends (if your blog is set to "public"), and don't forget to leave comments for others, too.  

Curious? Read blogs by some people you’ve “met” here, or make new friends by reading what’s new, OR launch your own blog now!

2. Already caught the blogging bug?
You may find that repeating (or “mirroring”) an "outside" blog here gives you a second stream of comments and an additional group of friends. I’d also like to include you in the Widowed Village GIANT BLOGROLL, which lists more than 200 bloggers, in order by their year of loss. Please fill out this form to get on the list (and be patient… I have a backlog!). And if you haven’t seen this extraordinary compendium of inspiration … check the list out today!

Please DON’T create a blog post that consists SOLELY of a URL off of the site. Note: because I have only published this guideline today, I’m NOT ASKING YOU to go back and change your previous posts. But please include complete content from here on out.

3. Does your "work" or vocation affect your sharing? Please read this!

Are you a small business owner, either with a blog or through another brand, service, or product? Have you written a book or created content you’d like to share? Are you a coach or expert of some type?  We welcome you to participate in Widowed Village in a social way. Please note, members may not engage in direct marketing on this site. But what does that mean?

Here are some guidelines that may help folks with brands use the site well:
Please DO create a profile page with links to your personal websites or other materials. Use your profile page as a “business card” when connecting with people on the site. Please DON’T repeat the information or re-post URLs over and over again.
  • Please DO repeat or “mirror” your blog posts on our site (as long as they do not refer solely to a product or service). Please DON’T create a blog post that consists SOLELY of a URL. 
  • You MAY, in chat, discussions, and other areas, refer to your product or service in passing. Please DON’T engage in direct selling, quote prices, or repeat marketing information. Please DON’T talk ONLY about yourself or your work.
  • You MAY mention your book, article or blog post as part of a conversation. Please DON’T use your own content, product, or service to initiate a discussion.
Our members trust us to keep this community safe and comfortable. If you are not sure whether a post is appropriate, please contact me before you post. 

P.S. Questions? Comments? You can reach me or another volunteer by sending a message through my profile page, email at, or by clicking in the “need a little help?” box in the right hand column on any page. 

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