Patty Slupecki’s voice amplifies when she talks about her late husband Mark, a guy who had a ton of friends. At his funeral, she remembers the line to pay respects seemed like there were a thousand people—a testament to all the lives that he had touched.
“He was just one of those guys that everybody liked. A jokester, he liked to play practical jokes and push people’s buttons. Especially mine,” Patty said with a laugh.
“Early on in his career, he was very career-focused. But after we had kids, he sort of re-evaluated his priorities. He turned things around, making his kids his priority, making sure that he was always at all of their events, and supporting them in everything they did.”
In September, 2002 Mark, an avid runner and triathlete, went for a training ride. “He was training for the Sylvania Triathlon, which he participated in every year. And he went out on his bicycle for a ride, and was struck by a pickup truck.”
For Patty and her two children—a daughter, who was 10-years-old at the time, and a son, who was only four—losing Mark completely changed everything. The trajectory of their lives were irrevocably altered. And for Patty, much of what she felt was an aimlessness, like she had no one who understood what she was going through. She felt she had no one to ask for advice and help.
“I was completely lost. I didn’t know what to do. I had my family and friends and their support, and I was very blessed that they were so wonderful. But I didn’t know any other widows,” Patty said.
“There was no one that I knew at the time that was like me.”
That feeling inspired Patty over the past 16 years to reach out to other women who had experienced this kind of heartbreak, to let them know they are not alone. She now offers help as a public speaker and life coach, and recently completed a memoir on her experiences, Suddenly Widowed.
“The book is my story of how I went from my life just being completely upended to finding a new normal. It is about learning how to rebuild my life, and how I went from being a victim to becoming someone who can triumph and be a mentor and a leader for other women experiencing this kind of loss.”
Slupecki recently held a book release and signing event at Wildwood Metropark, with all proceeds benefiting the Toledo Ride of Silence, an annual event which commemorates and raises awareness of bicycling fatalities. Her biggest hope in sharing her story, though, is that other women never have to feel as she did in the days following Mark’s passing.
“The most important takeaway I want people to have is hope. I want people to understand that there is always, always hope,” she said. “For widows who have lost a close loved one I also want them to know they’re not alone. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Whatever it is they’re doing, it is okay.”
For more information on “Suddenly Widowed” or to purchase the book, visit pattyslupecki.com.
About the Author
Patty Slupecki’s Suddenly Widowed: A Memoir of Survival is her first book, though it’s not her first attempt at writing. She had written, but never finished, numerous other books throughout her life.
“My childhood dream was to be a writer. I’ve started probably a dozen or so books since college, none of which I finished. With this story, I’ve tried writing multiple times over the years, but just couldn’t get past the first chapter.”
Then, this year, she set her determination to share her story. Starting in January, she took two months off, traveled to the beach and just wrote. “I just put everything on hold and decided that was what I needed to do. And so I did it. I finished writing and it went through the editing process.”