American Widow Project Helps Military Wives Work Through Grief

It’s Veterans Day, and as the United States is currently involved in two wars, the day is particularly poignant. There are stories today about homeless female veterans and women in the line of fire, but we thought we would focus on a group of women who are finding a ray of light in an otherwise dark situation. They’re the young women behind the American Widow Project, a virtual support group for Army wives whose husbands were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, NPR reports. The Project began when 21-year-old Taryn Davis, pictured here, found out that her husband had died in combat last year.

All Davis received when she was informed of her husband’s death were eight small black boxes filled with Michael’s personal effects and a black binder entitled “The Days Ahead.” Of the boxes, Taryn said, “What’s foremost in your head is the clothes, because you cannot wait to smell him, and you open [the black boxes] and it smells like Tide. Everything is sanitized, everything is wiped down.” Of the binder, Taryn said there was information on how to arrange the funeral, but nothing about “how to deal with the emotions.”

Finding zero resources for young women like herself, Davis decided to pick up a camera and reach out to other widows in her Texas town. Eventually, the stories of the widows Davis interviewed turned into a documentary called the American Widow Project as well as a website of the same name. Over 150 women have shared their stories on the Project’s website, as well as offering support to each other via a MySpace page. The website also has resources for recent widows offering insights on how to face the difficult days ahead. Hopefully in the coming years there will be more government support for these women, as Michelle Obama has already made military families one of her pet causes.

Along with fellow widow Nicole Hart, Davis is taking her support group on the road this winter, planning to stop by many military bases to talk to fellow wives and widows about her experience. As Davis writes on the Widow Project’s website, “Finding validation and understanding in what you are going through by connecting with other widows will help you to know that you are not alone.”


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