Even though they've never met, they feel like they've known each other forever. Among military widows, there's an unspoken bond that ties them together. Losing your husband in a war is the kind of grief that no understands but them.
"It really is good to be around people who understand," said Jennifer Funk.
Funk is one of 10 widows who are spending the weekend together in Seattle to remember their spouses’ sacrifices, celebrate their legacies and make new friends. They're part of The American Widow Project, a national non-profit organization started by Taryn Davis, whose husband Michael died 5 years ago in Iraq.
“We’ve had well over 6,500 casualties, so at least from those conflicts, there are at least 3,000-plus Iraq and Afghanistan widows,” said Davis.
After her husband’s death, Davis felt alone. It wasn’t until another military widow reached out to her that she said she felt someone truly understood her grief.
Some 1,300 widows are now part of the American Widow Project and there have been 25 weekend events over the last five years.
This weekend, the women are staying in a house on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. They’ll be kayaking and zip-lining and enjoying special dinners together.
“Even though I'm quiet, it's like going into a room with your closest friends and family, even though we've never met each other,” said Emily McGarrah.
Just 4 months after McGarrah’s husband Clay died in Afghanistan, she reached out for help. She said the healing will never end, but for a few days, McGarrah and the 9 other widows can laugh, cry and share the joy and the pain of being a military spouse.
To find out more about the American Widow Project, visit www.americanwidowproject.org.