Renata and Tim Louwers co-founded Months To Years in 2017. Digital bi-coastal nomads, they spend much of their time traveling and consider home to be Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and San Francisco.
Tim and Renata married in 2016 after knowing each other for many years and after each lost a first spouse. Renata (formerly Renata Khoshroo) lost her husband, Ahmad, in 2014 to metastatic bladder cancer. Tim lost his first wife Barbara, also in 2014, to early-onset Alzheimer’s at age 50. In addition to the isolation of living through the terminal illness of a spouse, they recognized how isolating it is to lose a spouse at a “younger” age. Similarly-aged people simply don’t relate to the experience. These experiences inspired them both to write and speak about terminal illness, end-of-life decisions, and mortality.
During Ahmad’s illness, Renata began attending a writing group in 2013 at Stanford University’s Cancer Center called Writing Your Cancer Journey, facilitated by cancer survivor, social worker, and writer Ali Zidel Meyers. Renata met other patients and caregivers who felt compelled to write about their experiences. A lifelong writer (and a journalist early in her career), this sparked Renata’s renewed interest in writing. Inspired and awed by the depth and thoughtfulness of the work she encountered there, she sought a way to create an online writing community. Around this same time, she also took an online UCLA Extension Course called Transformational Writing: Writing to Heal, Turning Life Into Art, taught by Dr. Sharon Bray the original founder of the Stanford Cancer Writing group.
During Barbara’s illness, Tim attended Alzheimer’s support groups but found that participants his age faced parents, not spouses, with Alzheimer’s. It was challenging for him to connect to others who could relate to his situation and to find useful help on end-of-life planning. He found Barbara’s passing, while profoundly sad, also deeply beautiful and moving. It inspired him to want to change the conversation around the fear of death.
Renata serves as the editor of Months To Years. Her essays have been published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, STATnews.com, the Stanford Scope medical blog, and the Zen Hospice Project newsletter, among others. She is a bladder cancer patient advocate and speaker. She has Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Boston University.
After a career in the public sector, she now focuses on writing, creativity, and patient engagement as tools to help patients and caregivers. She is writing a memoir about the experience of being an American married to an Iranian and also being a caregiver to a Stage IV cancer patient. Inspired by the age of the digitally-engaged patient, she is active in the patient-centered care movement.
She has attended yoga classes in languages she doesn’t speak, is a dual Italian citizen, loves creating food with fresh grown herbs, and relishes swimming at Hawaiian beaches.
Tim serves as Months To Years’ Chief Financial Officer (CFO). He raised significant funding for the Alzheimer’s Association in the years following Barbara’s death. Professor Emeritus at James Madison University, he retired in 2017 as the Director of the School of Accounting. He has a Ph.D. in Accounting from Florida State University. He is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and co-author of a bestselling textbook on auditing as well as numerous academic articles about forensic accounting and ethics in the accounting profession. He is writing a memoir about Barbara’s last 100 days. Inspired to help others find peace and beauty in death, Tim’s focus is on identifying resources to help younger spouses of the terminally ill.
Tim is both a master chess and poker player. He apprenticed with a chef in a French restaurant, has traveled extensively and has rated more than 3,000 movies on Netflix. He is a proud Detroit native and delights in finding Vernor’s ginger ale in unexpected locales.
Barbara serves as the Design Director for Months To Years.. With a career spanning too many decades to recount, she has worked in various industries including publishing, broadcast television, video post-production, feature animation and education. Major credits of note include Saturday Night Live, Toy Story, and Shrek.
She has also spent many hours on stage as an actor, dancer and singer in various locales such as New York City (where she was born and bred), Atlanta, Vancouver, and now, San Francisco.
Barbara is happily married to a wonderful husband of almost 30 years. She is the mother of beautiful and intelligent identical twin daughters. She is also an accomplished home chef and a doting rescue mom to a very handsome chocolate Labrador retriever named Shiner.
Renusha serves as a Storytelling Coach and Editorial Assistant for Months To Years. She has a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology and an equivalent minor in Film Studies from Yale University.
She has worked in hospices in Florida and Connecticut. She also spent a year in Alaska, working on the Long-Term Care unit of Sitka Community Hospital. She provided patients with activities that maintained their cognitive, emotional, and physical well-being, particularly during their end-of-life care. After working with and developing friendships with patients in these situations, thinking about mortality and humanity has become commonplace for her.
Because of her film background, she has always been interested in storytelling and personal narrative. She believes they are integral to spreading empathy, especially concerning end-of-life issues. While at Yale, Renusha interviewed patients in order to share their life experiences and values with their medical teams. She interned on Ark Media’s documentary, Cancer: Emperor of All Maladies. She has also worked as a digital storytelling project intern for the ride-sharing company, ITNAmerica, which helps provide transportation for the elderly and disabled.
She has visited more than 30 states in the U.S. so far, has hosted live radio music shows, can quote whole scenes verbatim from The Godfather and The Lion King (she says they are more similar than you would expect), and is a native Floridian who went sledding in the snow for the first time at the ripe age of 23.