After Walking Through Widowhood, Grief Coach Helps Other Mothers Move Forward
Never-ending grief would not be Maya Dionne’s story. It could not be her story.
At only 27-years-old, she lost her husband of six years. The tragedy unexpectedly thrust Dionne into a world of single motherhood, widowhood and grief.
The positioning of grief is lossMaya Dionne
She now had to find support for her two sons, who were 6-years and 18-months old at the time.
The Maryland-based life coach had to learn how to be a solo mom and create a positive environment for her children.
In walking her new path, Dionne established Widows Do Bounce Back, a course-based coaching program helping fellow widowers move forward.
Though Dionne, now 40 with three children, experienced her loss 13 years ago, COVID-19 reminded her of how many people view widows. The median age for widowhood is around 60.
“When you imagine a widow, you think of an older woman, no woman of color for some reason,” Dionne said. “I called them the more seasoned widows, and that’s fine. …They have other specific needs for their age group.
“For a young mom age group, there are completely different things that are needed.”
Dionne found support through traditional widow groups but detected that outlooks about moving forward after grief were missing.
So, she created a space for it.
“I could not identify with ‘I’ll just lie here and make carpet angels,’” Dionne said of her awakening. “I was here and connecting with other women that were there and no longer wanted to identify as that anymore.”
From a Facebook group and live Q&A videos, Dionne created Widows Do Bounce Back.
After her walk through widowhood, she felt obligated to share with others.
And Then She Bounced Back
Dionne said it took about five years to figure out how to move forward, the experiences giving her the roadmap for her new business.
Her widow life coaching programs include courses on parenting grieving children, rebuilding and even “Dating in Widowland.”
Dionne has since re-partnered and had another child. Her children are now 20, 15 and 5.
The Widows Do Bounce Back initiative also includes the best-selling widow anthology program. It prompts people to write chapters about their widowhood based on a variety of topics, and the Purpose 2 Platform program ends with a self-published book.
Dionne, along with a team of co-authors, wrote the And Then She Bounced Back book series, which is now required reading for a course at Johnson C. Smith University in North Carolina.
The transition period when women are feeling that sensation of creating their next level is where Dionne steps in.
“Where I start is people who are getting that itch,” Dionne said. “When I say that itch, I mean any time in your life you’re looking for something new, you’re hating what you have now and you’re thinking ‘I’m going to do more than hate it, I’m going to do more than sit in it – I’m going to do something about it.’”
Now, the transformation can begin.
Dionne gives her new clients a 360 panorama exercise encouraging them to envision the movement and steps towards their new selves, including what that person looks like, what she’s wearing and who her friends are.
It’s just an extension of you with all the best parts accentuatedMaya Dionne, Owner of Widows Do Bounce Back
She said it’s “creating the person you can absolutely be, because it’s you. It’s just an extension of you with all the best parts accentuated.”
Dionne emphasized that you must discover your “after-wife identity.”
The Transformation that Widowhood Bred
Widowhood not only reshaped Dionne’s career, it reshaped motherhood for the former graphic-designer-turned-grief coach.
In her previous life, she admitted that she may not have wanted children. She wanted to live the life of Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw – but she fell in love.
Then, she lost her husband, and it took her down a new path.
“I was never into this tree-hugging, crunchy, let’s be a life coach and meditate and float together,” Dionne said amusingly. “That was never me.”
She realized that there were milestones she had to face in grief.
Dionne’s parenting journey shifted, and she experienced some negativity as a newly single Black mother.
She said the surrounding community implied she couldn’t raise two Black boys on her own.
I felt like I had done everything right, so why am I being a single mom now?
“I had to figure out how to be a mom and solo parent even though as moms of color, we are adverse to being solo parents because of all the stigmas,” Dionne said. “I felt like I had done everything right, so why am I being a single mom right now? It was a lot of personal development, environment development where I had to figure out how am I going to thrive with these two kids, being the solo breadwinner.
“How am going to do this and do it in a positive environment?”
Dionne built a “microcosm” around her children. She ensured they had male figures in their life and taught them to value what they did have.
In fact, gratitude helps her maintain a healthy wellbeing, even on the not-so-great days. Dionne’s found that filling your space with what you have is invaluable.
“It really is, because the positioning of grief is loss. I lost something. I don’t have. I wish I had. It’s gone. It’s empty space,” she said firmly. “When you can sit and fill your space with everything that you actually do have, everything that you’ve been blessed with, everything that’s growing within you and affirm the things that are coming to you, you realize: I didn’t lose everything. I am not completely alone. I am not all the things that the negative voices and the negative feelings inside me are pushing me towards having.
“You may have bad moments, but you keep a mentality of gratitude, you keep a mentality of filling your space and being thankful for all that you can fill it with, it definitely makes the day a little better.”