Backstory

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’s Bio

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’s Bio

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.