According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 800,000 people are widowed each year in the United States, and two local women are making strides to help widows deal with their grief.
Susie Walker lost her husband Rev. William Gerald 'Jerry' Walker in June 2016. Walker was a pastor at First Baptist Church in downtown Newnan for over 30 years.
Walker said her widow group, W.O.W, which stands for “Women of Worth,” began with nine ladies having coffee at her house in the fall of 2016 to help her with her grief, but the group has quickly grown to 30 or more widows.
“When you lose your mate, all of a sudden everything you did as a couple is hard to do by yourself,” Walker said. “Anything such as going to a movie or going out to eat.”
Walker said the group serves as emotional support for other widows. Some who were recently widowed and others who have been for years.
Walker said the group has attended a tea party together and hosted a Widow and Widowers Valentine's Day Banquet earlier this year. Walker said she got the idea for the Valentines event as she was cleaning out her husband’s desk and personal belongings.
“I came across a note he had had written that said, ‘Widow and Widower’s Valentine Banquet,’ and I thought, I want to do this for him,” Walker said. “It was wonderful. Some deacons picked up some ladies that didn’t want to drive. We had a wonderful Christian musician entertainer. Ladies were escorted to their chair and one lady said, I haven’t had anyone do this for me for in years. I thought, ‘Thank you Lord.’ That what it’s about. We hope to do it again next year.”
Walker said the group socializes at least once per month with lunch and other activities. She said many friendships have been made and she considers the group a ministry, which is non-denominational and open to any widow.
“We have a lot of fun,” Walker said. “It’s nice to have someone so you don’t feel alone. God has put somebody in your path to help you along the way. This is a difficult walk and you don’t fully understand it until you’ve walked through it. When you lose your spouse, you’ve lost half of yourself. It’s loss there that’s unexplainable.”
For more information about the W.O.W. widow ministry, contact Susie Walker at 678-378-6495.
Walker’s efforts inspired another Cowetan, Barbara Waites. Waites is still married to her husband Charles, but Waites said she felt obligated to take care of the widows and orphans of the community after witnessing the grief of her friend Walker.
The group, Women in Transition (W.I.T.), began this year. Waites said she noticed that many widows were not coming to church as often. After representing the idea to church leadership, Waites said she was asked to spearhead the group, although she did not plan to.
“I’m not a widow, so I don’t really understand, but I can facilitate the group,” Waites said. “We have about 25 people, all women. Some of the women have lost somebody close in their family such as a son, daughter or grandchild.”
Waites said the groups meets once a month for a lunch and will do different activities. The group has toured two homes in Newnan.
“We just talk about what is the worst time of the day, which is usually at night when everyone goes home,” Waites said. “I’m not a psychologist or anything, but we are there for friendship to help them better handle their grief.”
For more information about W.I.T., contact Central Baptist Church at 770-683-0610.