Love it Forward

As a widow, there was always something about Valentine’s Day that made me feel unloved.  Of course, this is the complete opposite feeling that this holiday is meant to evoke, but this day can be exceptionally painful for the many women who are experiencing widowhood.  Fortunately, I have found over the years that I began to thrive when I learned to love myself, and that at my best, I am helping other women to do the same.  This year, I will continue the tradition of talking about love after loss at Valentine’s Day as a means to strengthen our resilience skills and remind ourselves that we are not alone on this unfamiliar journey.

Personally, Valentine’s Day was never a romantic holiday in my marriage.  My husband, who regularly showered me with outward gestures of love like nice dinners and flowers, always felt pressured into giving gifts on what he called the “Hallmark Holiday”.  He usually presented me with the last bouquet of flowers still remaining at the local grocery store, obviously hastily purchased on his way home from work and usually looking like it was wrestled out of the hands of some other unwilling Don Quixote.

Even though this was the Valentine’s tradition in my marriage, I still remember feeling so sorry for myself the first Valentine’s Day that I had to suffer through after I lost my husband.  I somehow forgot that I had NEVER received flowers at work and instead felt that EVERYONE else in the world was loved except me!  (Is this how “all the single ladies” feel every Valentine’s Day or is it worse for those of us who are married and do not receive flowers?  Why is this so important? Can this be one of those items that we re-define post-COVID as not important after all?)

After a few years of feeling sorry for myself, I started to plan ahead and send myself flowers for Valentine’s Day!  And as I started to understand how many others felt the same way, I started to “love it forward” by hosting an event for friends who were newly widowed or divorced.  Thus, the Valentine’s tradition for “all the single ladies” was born.  I have found that the joy of celebrating this holiday with girlfriends is so much more rewarding than it ever was when I was married! Thirteen years later, we have celebrated the day of love with everything from museum visits, to private al fresco lunches, to learning to make decadent desserts and lovely floral arrangements!  I have lots of great memories, but one of my WORST is the year that the sheet of ice fell off the 7th story roof just as one of my favorite widows was driving her new car out of the parking garage.  Thankfully, it was only a broken windshield and not something more tragic, but that was one for the record books!   

These days, my celebrations are always centered around my “wisters” and I am delighted that my work through The Widow’s Journey allows me to continue the Valentine’s tradition with widows in mind. As I approach the 15th anniversary of holding these Valentine’s events, I am reminded of all the different experiences that our widows have had as they have learned to love again.  Some have remarried, some are still looking, and others have determined that being single is the best way to go. (You can always consider adopting a pet for unconditional love!) Regardless of your state of mind or your choice for your future, no lesson feels more important than learning to love ourselves right here in this moment, exactly as we find ourselves.  One of the ways that continues to show up for me is giving myself flowers. This year, I am even planning a new cutting garden in my yard so that I can have flowers “on demand”.  I have no idea where this will lead (probably back to the floral department at my local grocery store!), but the important thing is that I realize how much pleasure flowers bring me and how much I enjoy giving them away to those I love.  Surely that is what the day is all about!

Meet the Founder of our Widows Division, Joy Kirsch.

 At age 30, is when Joy became widowed, she lost her husband, best friend and business partner. She quickly discovered that she had no real education or training about how grief affects our brains and bodies. Her natural curiosity and desire to “get it right” led to years of study around life-changing events and how they affect financial decision-making. She now devotes her time to helping other women prepare for life’s transitions with the goal of improving financial well-being. “Life Happens and sometimes it’s difficult, but we get to influence the outcome. I want women to have the resilience, courage, and wisdom to make good financial decisions while moving forward through difficult times with confidence and a sense of purpose.”

Joy believes that true wealth is not just a measure of one’s financial assets, but the sum of a person’s health, wealth and personal relationships. She has devoted her professional career to helping others define their values, dream new dreams and align their wealth accordingly. She is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Practitioner, a Certified Financial Transitionist® through the Sudden Money® Institute and the founder of The Widows Journey, a non-profit entity dedicated to educating and empowering widows to allow them to lean into life and make a difference in the world. She is a member of the Dallas Financial Planning Association and former chairman of the Fort Worth Business and Estate Section of the Tarrant County Bar Association. She is securities and insurance licensed and graduated cum laude from the University of Dallas with a bachelor’s degree in Economics.

Although Joy has won several industry awards, she is most proud of her twenty-five talented, beautiful and exceptional nieces and nephews. When she’s not hanging out with those little family members, she enjoys golf and tennis, weight training, yoga, meditation and trying every new restaurant in Dallas with her beau, Ron.

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