When Judith Fox’s husband died at 53, she found herself in an “alien world” of grief and shock. At only 50 years old, she didn’t know any other widows and had no idea how to process the loss. Fast forward three years, and Fox was lucky enough to find love again. Three years after that, her second husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
An award-winning photographer and writer, Fox transformed these difficult experiences into inspiration for her books. Her latest, One Foot Forward: Stories and Faces of Widows and Widowers (powerHouse Books), pairs compelling portraits of the bereaved with candid conversations about their journeys.
“We don’t have conversations about death in this country,” Fox says. “If you’re fortunate enough to love someone, it’s an inevitable part of life. We might as well talk about it.”
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To ease the loneliness of loss, both the reader’s and her own, she set out to capture the diversity of widowhood. Fox initially assumed she’d need to search far and wide to get the range of experience she sought. Not so. “These stories are all around us. Everybody has an amazing story to tell, only we rarely get the privilege of hearing them.”
Beyond telling those stories, Fox wants to help others in another way. She’s donating 100% of her royalties to the National Hospice Foundation, which promotes compassionate end-of-life care in partnership with more than 3,400 providers. It was a careful but obvious choice for Fox, who has witnessed the benefits of hospice care for both of her parents as well as her husband.
Fox’s advice for grieving spouses reflects the book’s atmosphere of compassionate solidarity: “There are many different ways to come through this, very different timelines. We can survive and we do move forward to thrive and create new and interesting futures.”
Photo: From One Foot Forward by Judith Fox, published by powerHouse Books
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