Widows hold hands in Chapaguan, Nepal

Life after loss: Widows share their stories of grief and survival

Updated 10:51 AM ET, Fri June 23, 2017

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(CNN)The UN calls them the "invisible women."

In many countries, they're forced into marriage to retain their social status. In some cultures, they're stigmatized. And around the world, millions of them live in poverty and endure violence.
They are widowed women. And from the USA to Kenya to Nepal, they often find themselves lacking support, both emotionally and economically.
Too often, their plight goes unnoticed. But despite the challenges, they find unlikely sources of strength.
Today, on International Widows Day, seven widows around the world share their stories of grief, loss and survival.
These are their stories, in their own words. Their answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Santu Kamari Maharjan, 55, Nepal

"When I was 32, my husband was diagnosed with kidney failure and I had to sell our field for his treatment. After he died, I faced a great deal of hardship. My children were very small and surviving each day was really tough. We'd been married since I was 19, I was grieving, but I had to get up and earn some money, I had to work in other people's fields so I could clothe and feed my children. It was torture, but I couldn't give up for my children.
    As a widow, I faced discrimination. If I spoke, everyone would laugh and clap at me. I was harassed by my own sister-in-laws -- they taunted me about running away with another man and marrying again in secret. I didn't have a choice but to just tolerate it. I didn't have anyone to talk to or to help me. I felt ashamed and desperate.
    When the 2015 earthquake struck, I was inside my home eating a m