Collin County Non-Profit Spotlight :: Widows Helping Widows

Several times throughout the year, Collin County Moms features a local non-profit organization that assists moms and/or families in need. We love the opportunity to spotlight how local families can help out through volunteering, donating time or money and more, right in our own community. We try to pick organizations that our contributors know and volunteer for personally, and are eager to share the needs of our friends and neighbors throughout Collin County.
If we are lucky enough to sail through life with just a few emotional bumps and minor ills, we can count ourselves blessed. But sometimes the unthinkable happens. A tragic event swoops in and robs us of a chance, a future, and of a partner we assumed would stick around forever. In that moment, the walls we so carefully construct together as a unit, crumble. And even though we see it happening, we are paralyzed, unwilling or unable to to pick up the pieces. Michelle did not expect to be a widow at 24.

Michelle’s Story

Michelle was just 24 years of age when her husband, Jeff, died. He was 27. This young couple had celebrated the birth of Matthew, their son, three months before. In a San Antonio hospital, Jeff was getting a procedure to have his aortic valve replaced when Michelle stepped out for a minute. But upon her return, she knew something had gone horribly wrong when she saw her father.

“My father was at the hospital room doorway and received the news first,” she remembers. Michelle saw that he was crying. From that moment, everything was a blur. “I felt my knees hitting the floor. The first thing I heard was an utterly sorrowful moan-like cry, and then realized it was I who was making that noise.”

“I Felt Robbed”

Grayscale Photography of Crying Woman
Photo Credit: Kat Jayne

It seemed inconceivable that Michelle would never see her young husband again. She remembers thinking, “No one else could comfort me like he could, and now he is the only person that could take my pain away.” Their son would never know his dad. Feeling robbed, Michelle described this period of her life as a “dark crevice of grief.”

As time went by, she joined a local grief counseling group. The group, Michelle remembers, consisted mostly of older people. They could not provide the support Michelle was looking for and more often than not, she would leave the weekly sessions feeling worse than when she went in. Where was her group? Why was she so alone? 

She knew that something had to be done. As a woman of faith, Michelle put her trust in God, and realized that it was she that needed to make a difference. 

In 2003, Michelle moved to Frisco with her parents and her young son, Matthew. She eventually met and fell in love with Dan. They got married. In 2006, Jeremy was born and became Matthew’s much loved little brother. Michelle had found happiness again, but knew too that the void still lingered for many who were in her situation.

Terri’s Story

Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., Terri Jordan and her husband, Ben, had just celebrated their 10-year anniversary. Together they were happily raising their 8-year-old daughter, and 4-year-old son. Not long after, Ben was diagnosed with kidney disease. One of his kidneys was scarred as a result of the disease, and he went to the hospital to get it removed. It was on the operating table that he had a heart attack and unexpectedly died. Terri and her children’s lives would turn upside down.

Top view of creative arrangement of various fresh flowers and plants placed on marble table
Photo Credit: Disha Sheta

However, even with this devastating news, Terri was determined to keep her husband’s plans for the future of their family. “Before my husband died, he was making plans for our family to move from the East Coast to Texas, so I kept his plans,” she explains.

As fate would have it, when Terri and Michelle met for the first time, they were both relieved to find just how much of a connection they had with their shared tragedies. “I met Terri Jordan when I was a dance teacher, and her daughter was my student. I heard that she had recently become a widow, and had just moved to the area. I asked Terri if she would be interested in starting a support group with me, and the rest is history.” 

Through Tragedy, Hope Hangs On

Together the two women set up Widows Helping Widows, a non-profit organization designed to help people in their grieving journey. Currently, the group’s meetings are online through Meetup. Their meetings have no set agenda, which allows its members to express freely what is on their minds at any particular time.  

Losing a spouse poses more issues that need to be addressed. In their bi-monthly meetings, their members can offer support for all the things that crop up. Terri says, “We talk about things like how long you wear your wedding ring or when you give the clothes away or someone will ask if it is normal that they went to the grocery store and broke down in tears.” 

Michelle adds, “Oftentimes those who experience a loss are also dealing with an income that is suddenly cut in half. Some people do not have life insurance or wills.” These are just some of the issues that are discussed in their open discussions. Widows Helping Widows set up a 501(c)(3) status for their group to help with not only emotional support, but also to be there for those that are in need of financial assistance during this time.

Hope after Grief

Nobody is asked to “move on.” Instead, the aim of this group is to allow the grief-stricken to be able to stand in their grief; the goal is to go through life confidently. 

”Watching someone heal and learn to move into the next chapter of their life is such a rewarding experience.”

When you unexpectedly lose your spouse, “moving on” does not necessarily mean finding a new relationship. It is a simple measure of living with the loss. It will never quite go away. Indeed, nobody wants to forget. But a day will come that thinking of a spouse’s death will not be a daily occurrence. Or in a conversation, his/her name may not come up quite as frequently as before. Little by little, the loss is lessened, but the love remains the same. Ben and Jeff touched so many lives while they were alive. Because of their deaths, many lives continue to be altered in a positive way, and both men continue to live in the hearts of so many. 

Important Things to Remember about Grieving

  • Take one day at a time.
  • Healing takes more than time, it also takes work.
  • Seek out a good counselor.
  • Share stories. Vocalizing what happened forces us to accept it.
  • Listen.

Click here to find out about the Goals of the Group and their Resources

May be an image of 11 people, people standing, people sitting and indoor
Photo Credit: Michelle Modesto/Terri Jordan

Learn more about Widows Helping Widows

Website :: MeetUp :: Donations :: Facebook 


Dymphna Keohan
Dymphna Keohan lives in Frisco with her husband,Paul, and their four children, (17yrs-23yr old). Originally from Ireland, Dymphna has lived in Texas for over 25 years. She works full-time as an inclusion teacher for Frisco ISD. Dymphna and her family are avid travelers and enjoy finding out fascinating things about the cities they visit. As a stress reliever, working out is her fuel, and like a crazy person, she runs six miles a day!