National Widow’s Day aka National Keeper’s of the Flame Day

Tomorrow is National Widow’s Day! This is insignificant to many, but so significant to millions upon millions who have been, are and continue to be affected. This is significant to each of you here.

You likely know, but for those I have some insights:

  • Did you know that every year, there are about 800,000 widowed?
  • Did you know that in the United States alone there are 14 million Widows and growing, 250 million some worldwide.
  • Did you know the average age of a widow is 59. Shocking isn’t it? Not shocking to many of you!

I was 26 and many I know also so very young, though no matter the age and time, it is always horrible, horrific. I even know many who have been widowed twice!

You are on this page, so many of you know there is very little support for widows and the children affected. Even within the United States, I could not believe there was no protection, help, support when going through this. I wasn’t listed as the beneficiary on the life insurance because we hadn’t known or thought to change it, so young (so I did not receive it – this should automatically go to the spouse!) My name was not on my car title that my husband bought me as a surprise Christmas gift (so I had to pay to change it)! I was taken to court because ownership of my husbands truck was being questioned (unreal right, as we paid for it monthly), that still offered not protection from this even becoming a part of the judicial system! I was told he had health insurance and then found out he did not (though he could have been covered under mine) and so many things that were a nightmare on top of my nightmare. How I held it together at that time, I do not know. I was skin and bone, stressed and lost. Can you relate? Likely you can to some of this.

Many woman face these same things and much much worse, YES worse. I have heard their journey’s, their stories, their hurts and their complete and utter misfortunes…that each has and continues to RISE above.

So, when you know someone widowed, be kind and caring to them because not only are they suffering extreme loss, they can also be up against so many other secondary losses. Families lashing out, societal and friends judgements, support systems going away because grief is not something others have the capacity to handle or process, greed, etc.

One woman I am friends with is fighting for custody of her children with her extended family, I know many others where this has happened as well. She is a great mom, a professional woman, a visibly great woman, a kind woman and this just astounds me that it can even take place…but that is the system and due process unfortunately. Where is the support and protection? Our government needs to step in and show up for the protection and superseding and overruling legislation that should cover a spouse in this instance.

Did you know that in some countries, widows are in effect “thrown away” or chastised because of this misfortune? Sickening. Woman automatically accused of so called killing their spouse, even having nothing to do with their death. Woman being told that they need to be cleansed and so men treat them as prostitutes! It sickens me! It makes me want to take a stand.

So, as we approach this day that may be insignificant to some, consider every day and the struggle that so many are affected by.

Widowhood is a journey, it is not a sentence however and it should not be treated by society as one.

It is a journey of strength, sorrow, gratitude, persistence and a pathway to reach and share our hearts with others who come before and after us. It is a sisterhood, a community of woman rising above challenges and showing others we are not going to take the constraints and bull others place upon us. We get to be exactly who we are, our sentence is keeping the flame alive…sharing our strength and our removal of rose colored glasses and seeing the world in a much clearer way than ever before. Our pain is our beauty and the brokenness that goes with us is beautiful! I carry mine every single day and I am proud of it. I hope you carry yours proudly and show people that there are NO LIMITS! There is not limit to grief and there is not limit to how far you will go!

Support the widows in your life today and everyday with kindness, encouragement and compassion. Tomorrow, tell someone you know that you see them and their struggles and you are proud of all they are doing and coming through…because there are days they have not wanted to come through, but they keep going!

So here is to all of my widow friends! I see you, I hear you and I feel your hearts and your journey! You are all beautiful and so take this day and every day and you own it, all of the sadness but also all of the glory ahead knowing you are on your way!!

I actually coined a new title for widows (since none of us can stand this term) See us for us and as “Keepers of the Flame”.

Here is to all of you amazing ladies and men finding your new and carrying alongside of you a legacy that is meant to burn bright!

“I am a Widow, they say. I like to call us “Keepers of the Flame”, instead. Our light flickers, almost feels like its going to blow out, but it keeps burning. It starts burning stronger and stronger as we navigate through the unknown. We become the keepers of not only our flame, but our loved one, in heavens flame. We keep their flame going through sharing who they are, what they have taught us and their flame keeps us knowing they would want us to keep going. We are the keepers of the flame for the woman and men who came before us and the woman and men who come after us. Our flames together, grow stronger, burn brighter. Together we find a new burning and brightness that we all deserve, are all worthy of. Be a light seeker and start burning your flame so bright others will want what you have, knowledge and wisdom are power.” Tanya Smith, Blogger at A Widows World and President of Addelise Inc.

I hope you all love the image I created for this day. Please share it and make sure to #awidowsworldkeepersoftheflame

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Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable and beginning again after loss to find the beauty in the broken spaces of your life | with Tanya Smith of A Widow’s World (TLBP #64)

My podcast episode is LIVE on iTunes, Android!! Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable and beginning again after loss to find the beauty in the broken spaces of your life | with Tanya Smith of A Widow’s World (TLBP #64)

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/getting-comfortable-uncomfortable-beginning-again-after/id1088514723?i=1000384504618&mt=2

Friends on today’s episode of The LifeBeats Project I was humbled to be featured as a guest. Please read the podcast show notes provided below from Briana Johnson, Creator of the LifeBeats Project.

I am grateful to be able to introduce you to Tanya Smith of A Widow’s World and Addelise Inc, a remarried widow and mother of 2 with a passion for not only supporting widows in their journey of healing, but also to help other women entrepreneurs reach their full potential and see that you can find beauty in the broken spaces of your life. Tanya shares her story of an unraveling family life in a small midwest town that left her feeling that she would never rely on a man or put trust in a relationship. Seeing her mother work hard for her family and learning that life is hard but is what we decide to make of it, she worked 3 jobs to put herself through college. She met John who drew trust out of her and helped her to believe in real love that could last a lifetime. After one year of marriage and seven years together they were getting ready to break ground on their property to build a home when John was stung by a bee. Tanya shares the heartbreaking events of losing him and the conflicting emotions of helping to transport his harvested heart in a cooler to an airplane bound for New York to help save someone else’s life. She tells of the days and years ahead full of hope, support, but also self-destruction, and not wanting to go on without him. She shares what she began to do to heal and to learn to trust her inner self to step into who she was meant to be. She explains her term for widows as keepers of the flame and helps them and others to understand that the loss and love is never going to leave and they will never get over it but they can embrace their story and they can find love again. She explains how it is possible for her to love her first husband and now love her second husband. She tells of her experience on the 10th anniversary of her first husband’s passing and how she was able to look back at her broken self and see who she has become and how important it is that we acknowledge and take pride in seeing what we’ve overcome. Listen and be inspired to began again and see beauty in our brokenness.

Want to know if this episode it for you? This episode is perfect for someone who has lost someone they love, especially a spouse and is looking for support, hope, and evidence that love is possible again. It is also perfect for anyone who is looking for a new beginning, who is wanting to heal, and is ready to make a choice to make life what they want out of it. It is also perfect for someone wanting to understand the widow’s heart and how it is possible to love more than once.

What is this episode about? In this episode you will learn about:

  • why Tanya left being an executive at a multimillion dollar company to begin her own marketing company to support entrepreneurs build their dreams and why she began A Widow’s World
  • putting yourself out there and being so vulnerable and why hitting publish can be so scary
  • how Tanya learned that no one is going to hand us a thing, we really have to put out what we want to get
  • Tanya’s lesson to get comfortable with the uncomfortable and how every next level of yourself will demand a new you, a better you, and a more learned & attuned you
  • how she grew up in small midwest town with a graduating class of 18
  • how at the age of 13 parents’ marriage unraveled and how she felt like she really grew up quickly and wanted to help her mom any way she could
  • how her mom worked really hard and rooted them in belief system and faith
  • how Tanya pushed through her independence and learned that life is hard but its what we decide to make of it
  • John, her high school sweetheart and how he drew trust out of her because after her dad left thad thought would never rely on a man or put trust in a relationship
  • how John made her believe in real love that could last a lifetime
  • Tanya and John being together for 7 years, including married for one
  • how they were preparing to break ground on their property to build a home when John was stung by a bee that caused him to code even though he was not allergic
  • how Tanya had a panic inside but believed everything would be ok
  • John coding twice but then came back for 3 days in the hospital until there was no brain activity
  • how he helped save 6 other people through organ donation
  • the events of Tanya watching through a chain linked fence as John’s organs were being brought to planes and how she herself carried the cooler with his heart in it
  • a rainbow of peace that appeared between the two planes
  • how John wanted to be a storm chaser and how Tanya had worried about them dying together, but how she then wished they could have
  • Tanya’s concept for A Widow’s World of keepers of the flame
  • how Tanya and many other widows have moments where don’t want to go on living without their loved one
  • Tanya recalls the first time someone calls her a widow
  • how we have the power to take what happened to us and do something good with it
  • how we have to start trusting our inner selves and stepping into who we were always meant to be
  • the first thing that helped Tanya heal was thinking about how would John want me to live me life
  • her self destructive stage and the time when she fell down stairs and the thoughts in her mind that “you can’t live in this place, this is not who you are”
  • the importance of journaling to heal, including writing down funny memories like their waxing eyebrow story
  • knowing in your heart you will never get over it, but you can get through it, if you allow yourself to live fully
  • how widows are scrutinized by everyone on everything in regards to healing or not healing
  • how it was weird to feel a spark when she began to date Dave, how his love and support changed her and gave her new hope she didn’t think she would feel
  • the strange feeling realizing she loved him but would always love John
  • how her second husband has shared how he never feels like she is holding back and how important it is for her to to be able to give him what he deserves
  • her advice to widow’s to share your story in the beginning when dating and whoever is strong enough will remain
  • why she began a Widow’s World and her desire to support and share others’ stories
  • her purpose for her new company Addelise: to help people build their dreams
  • going back to a place 10 years later after her first husband’s death to see who she was then and then seeing who she has become
  • her advice to say to go back to those places, face those fears & hurts or you’re never going to be able to live wholly or fully
  • her advice to find pride in seeing what we’ve overcome and owning what we have done, sharing how it helps others

Show Notes:
A Widow’s World website – her heart is to help empower and inspire other women through loss. She would love to connect with you here
Addelise Inc website – She is offering a free consultation to help you with business development ideas and discuss branding questions you have. If you use her service to do your website, she will provide free social media branding. Reach out to her at tanya@addelise.com and let her know you heard her on today’s show.
Tanya’s A Widow’s World Instagram feed, Facebook Page, Facebook Group, and Google Plus account
Gift of Hope – Organ & Tissue Donor Network

LifeBeats Project socials:
IG: @lifebeatsproject
FB: The LifeBeats Project
Twitter: @lifebeatsproject

Here is the link to the podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/lifebeats-project-briana-johnson/id1088514723?mt=2
Here is the link to the podcast show notes:
http://www.thelifebeatsproject.com/tanya

thelifebeatsproject.com
An iTunes New & Noteworthy podcast and blog for connection, inspiration, and the illumination of your extraordinary.
Listen and be inspired here.

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We are the “Keepers of the Flame” – Stages of Widowhood

I am a Widow, they say. I like to call us “Keepers of the Flame”, instead. Our light flickers, almost feels like its going to blow out, but it keeps burning. It starts burning stronger and stronger as we navigate through the unknown. We become the keepers of not only our flame, but our loved one, in heavens flame. We keep their flame going through sharing who they are, what they have taught us and their flame keeps us knowing they would want us to keep going. We are the keepers of the flame for the woman and men who came before us and the woman and men who come after us. Our flames together, grow stronger, burn brighter. Together we find a new burning and brightness that we all deserve, are all worthy of. Be a light seeker and start burning your flame so bright others will want what you have, knowledge and wisdom are power.

Widowhood as it is termed, is something many of you are trying to wrap your brain around.  I still try to wrap mine around it ten years later. Nothing could have prepared any of us for this.

How can this be reality? Many of us who have been on this journey for some time, still try to understand it. There is no understanding it. Its a part of life that is unfair, unreal and unimaginable to those of us who have lost a spouse, a partner, a lover, a child, a parent, a grandparent, a cherished loved one, a friend. It is never easy to say goodbye to the ones we love. It is hard if you never had a chance to say goodbye, you were never allowed to grasp and understand they were leaving. It is hard, if you sat by their bedside through the many ups and downs, the glimmers of hope for a recovery. It is hard to watch the struggle (in them and yourself), see them become someone or something they are not, watch life leave them. Whatever the circumstance, it is hard. Each loss is the hardest to you, because it is your loss, your story. Own your feelings, own your story and you will unlock and allow yourself to heal through it. Vulnerability is the doorway to healing.

So, you are here. I am happy and not happy at the same time. I am happy because we found each other. I am not happy, because I wish that you did not know this pain, this way of life. I have heard, just get over it. In those moments I could curse those people up and down and say some of the nastiest trucker mouthed things I can imagine in my head, but I take the gracious approach and say, yeah you certainly don’t understand and I don’t need to waste my breathe explaining it to your small mind and your very small heart. That is one approach, some times and depending on the situation and person, I will try to educate, try to bring across perspective, but you have to understand the audience and not everyone is worth that time, because some may never get it, and I hope they never have to.

Burn this in now, you will and you should never as some say, get over it. You may want to consider getting over them, or deciding what purpose they have in your life. I have had to sit in this many times. You see, I am awesome! Yes, I am, and you know what? I am sick of people trying to steal my colors and put me into some kind of box surrounded by walls and boundaries. I am getting off on a tangent, but the thing to take away here is do not, and I repeat, do not let others place boundaries on you! Do not let them steal your colors! Be the colorful being and person you are meant to be. I have so much to say, so much I want to share with each of you as I release and expose my vulnerabilities because sharing and opening up leads to healing and growth. It helps others while it also helps us.

You are a part of this club, this tribe. It sounds awful to call it a club or tribe, doesn’t it. Those in my mind are things you want to join, want to be a part of.  So, I would like to call us the “Keepers of the Flame” . Yes, I feel we are the keepers of the flame. We keep the memories and the legacy of our loved ones alive. We keep that flame burning inside of us forever. It is a flame that flickers, almost blows out, maybe it does blow out or feels it has blown out. It comes comes back. It does. It is a flame of love, life, light and we get to share it with the world.  At some point it willignite so bright,  it will radiate us and fill us with new hope. It can flicker and almost blow out even after glowing and growing brightly. Yes, we are the “Keepers of the Flame”.
So, my keepers of the flame, when widowed, we are told we will go through three stages of widowhood, so they say. I agree with all of the feelings, but I also think there is so much more that comes through in widowhood. I have added to these stages and will continue to add. I want you to each help me add to it, experience and various experiences and perspectives on this, will get us to the properly defined stages, which will continue to grow. I will enlist many of you to help to add to it. There are so many emotional and social issues that just are not properly addressed in my opinion. Remember, these opinions are my own and from my experience and also gathered from talking with so many of you.

When I was widowed I read plenty about grief and the stages and processes with which each book told me I would go through my pain. Many times as I was reading I would relate to some but not all because I wasn’t there yet and in the very beginning the words on the page seemed illegible to me because I still hadn’t come to terms that I was a widow.

Reading so many of your stories and learning more intimately about each of your losses has touched me. Thank you for following my blog and for joining this community who will support you through the ups and downs of widowhood. Subscribe here by entering your email, follow the Facebook page and make sure you join the private group. Stop over and connect on Instagram with me and the best compliment to my heart would be if you share this out. This community and so many widows communities are growing and just recently two woman who are a part of the Facebook group found each other in their back yard and met for an amazing lunch, I also have met many locally. I so wish I could have been there with them, but I know someday soon I will meet many more of you.

I imagine at the time when you lost your spouse, you had a moment where you stopped and thought, “I am a Widow?” Or maybe, it happened more unexpectedly like it did for me. I was asked if I was his Widow? It had not crossed my mind, but yes, they were correct. It was not blasphemy even though it felt like I had just been cursed at. They were not wrong in what they said. My bodies response was to pause, stare, go blank. It was something like a fight or flight response, a direct hit to my nervous system.

I was standing next to my husband who was lying in a casket when the next person in line waiting to pay their respects, said, “You are his widow”?  It took me a moment, I didn’t quite register what this man had just asked. I can only imagine the look I must have given him and the awkward silence and stare as I processed, what I had heard. Up until that moment, that word, “Widow” had never even crossed my mind or entered my vocabulary. 

I went to say, No. What I responded with was, Yes.

I have spent so much time thinking about each of you and where you are at in the journey of widowhood. I know for myself, I have found inspiration and encouragement in knowing that there are many just like you and I. We each have a unique story to tell, the story of our life. So sitting drinking my coffee this morning, I thought it important to share this message.

I thought about the beginning, when I first realized I was a widow. I thought about how people supported me and how people did not support me. I thought about the judgment and the secondary issues surrounding widowhood.  As I wrote, these words came to me.

I’m A Widow, They Say.
I’m To Cherish The Memories, They Say.
I’m To Move Forward Even Though Motion Has Left Me, They Say.
I’m To Not Move Forward Too Quickly However, They Say.
I’m A Widow, And Now My Every Move Is Scrutinized.
Don’t They Know Movement Is The Hardest Thing Some Days?
I’m A Widow, They Say.

Can you relate to this? Does this induce some thought provoking moments where you go back to, or maybe you are going through it now, the second hand grief that was placed on you by others? That second hand grief is something you also never expected to have to go through. Its easy to say, who cares what others are saying. Much easier to say though. It affects us after loss. We lost the most important person and love in our lives and then the scrutiny and criticism projected onto us by others for how we are grieving, how we are moving forward, how we are not moving forward, is ridiculous. IT IS RIDICULOUS! We acknowledge it, feel hurt by it and we grow to ignore and keep moving beyond others expectations for ourselves. It still hurts us though. This is what I would say to those who place judgment?

  1. Have you gone through the loss of a spouse? Answer: No. Reply: Then mind your own business.
  2. Do you know the pain and instability of my world? Answer: No, but… Reply: Wait hold your buts and mind your own business.
  3. Do you think your telling me to move on and to be happy, is helping me? Answer: I hope so, Im try to be optimistic for you, trying to help. Reply: I appreciate your care and concern, however I have to grieve in my own way and in my own time. I will get there and sometimes, I just want to share how I feel openly without judgement, without resolution. I just want my heart to be heard and my grieving in my own way and time to be accepted.
  4. Did you really say or question me for moving forward? Answer: Well, yes don’t you think its too soon? Reply: Too soon for you, or too soon for me? Do you think I want to stay in this place, I have to keep moving. Moving is hard, but its the only fluid thing I know right now and I can’t even think let alone know whats good for me. I will never move on, but I do know I am worthy of living and finding happiness again. I am not sure I am ready either.

There are many widows in this world. Millions upon millions, approximately 14 million in the United States. Many who have been on this journey for years, and others who are just recently joining. It is important to share each of our experiences to see where others are in their grief journey and to know that each person is different. I hope each of you remember that your spouse would want a life that is grand, a life that is good, a life that is not wasted in vain, FOR YOU. Their gift to you is this day and the next day and the next. Gods gift to you is this day and the next day and the next. His greatest gift, however will be the day he calls each of us home. For now though, I choose to take the pain of this life and allow it to mold me into my purpose. Will you do the same?

Your spouse wants you to know and feel the love in their heart for you and the value of doing something great with the time you have. They would likely say, “go out into the big world and create, do, achieve, share, follow your heart, and find out what it is that YOU want”.

I challenge you to do the things they weren’t interested in doing, the things that you really want. Fill your soul, find your new. I challenge you to also, do the things you both wanted to do. Along the way journal and write down your thoughts. Write down, what doing them meant to YOU. Write down what YOU think your spouse would have said while watching you do those things.

There are many layers and stages to widowhood. The stages of widowhood and processes and feelings laid out are not linear, not all encompassing and so if you don’t follow these stages or an order, just know there is no true order.

Stage 1: Grief

You have likely sat and thought, I am a widow, so now what? What will my life be now that my spouse is not here with me? Who am I?

I remember asking myself this and ten years into widowhood, I can’t say I am an expert widow, but I can share with you how I grew and continue to grow and transform through my grief. There are many feelings and experiences in grief. The body and minds reaction through processing and accepting widowhood will likely bring you to feel these feelings. It is somewhat of an incubation period, although I’m not sure that is the exact term I would use. It takes time. We retreat for a time until we are ready to emerge.

  • Fog, numbness and exhaustion
  • Pain, aching pain
  • Fear, fear, fear
  • Paralyzed feeling
  • Denial, a need to lock up places of your heart too hard to explore
  • Stress, anxiety, worry, panic
  • Depression, self pity, feelings that you don’t want to live here without them
  • Anger, bitterness
  • Loneliness, longing, want
  • Forgetfulness
  • Loss of compassion for others circumstances and life events
  • Vulnerability, susceptibility to others persuasions
  • Loss of feeling and care for yourself
  • Self care diminishes
  • Relationships with others change and some end. We push people away.
  • Health issues
  • Trust issues
  • Self destructive moments, uncharacteristic thoughts and feelings

Stage 2: Growth

Suddenly and with no real ability to pin-point the change in you, you will begin to feel hope, you will begin to feel want and start thinking about your future. Growth really occurs when we become silent with ourselves, when we start to accept the loss we have suffered and we start to love ourselves back into existence. We no longer just want to exist, we want to thrive, we want to flourish. The fog lifts and we put into action allowing ourselves to feel new feelings. I call this our re-birth.

  • Fog starts to lift
  • Semi Acceptance of your new normal
  • Motion really feels like motion, movement and the need to move in a direction you choose, comes back
  • Fear, stress, anxiety and worry lessen
  • You start to feel hope or a want to hope for your future
  • You begin smiling again, maybe you even laugh
  • Self care becomes more important
  • Mental capacity returns
  • You can start to feel more and compassion returns
  • Forward now becomes a thing and a want
  • Support from others is much easier to accept
  • Love for yourself grows
  • You unlock some places and spaces of your heart and begin processing feelings, healing
  • You want to thrive and flourish

Stage 3: Transformation

I remember when I started seeing that I was so much more than a Widow (I never really saw myself as this, rather it was placed on me), I was a strong, courageous, bold woman who had broken the boundaries and the molds that society placed upon me and that I had maybe even for a time placed on myself. I possessed an independence and a strength that set the stage for me to really go after things in life with tenacity. I possessed a grace and a courage to continue knowing I can re-invent and transform myself any time I want to. Growing has no end. I can tell you this strength is hard for others in my life at times. I will never stop being the woman I am however. I will always continue fighting for myself and showing my daughters their wants matter.

  • A renewed energy, gratitude and appreciation for life emerges
  • A security in knowing that growth is on-going and in finding yourself
  • A confidence in yourself develops
  • A new awareness and perspective on living
  • Independence and sense of fulfillment for how far you have come
  • Philanthropic exploration and appreciation for the beauty in the world
  • An understanding that YOU matter and a love for the NEW YOU grows
  • Joy has returned, newfound joy and acceptance that you can be joyful, happy
  • Emotional healing and strength
  • Understanding that grief does not end. You don’t get over it, you continue to get through it.
  • You continue to unlock places and spaces of your heart you didn’t know needed unlocking
  • A new understanding of the person you are and continue to transform into
  • Seeing the beauty in your brokenness

I am a remarried widow and so if you were to put me in a stage, I would likely fall into Stage 3. My belief however is that categories and staging and planning out where you are, are not much help. Getting through it understanding its an on-going journey and that you can go back and between and all over the place in a matter of 60 seconds or a split second, that will set the expectation, that there just really shouldn’t be an expectation.

For example, with the ten year anniversary of my husbands passing that just recently was here in September of 2016, I was back and between all of these stages. I went back there by choice and not by choice.  There are people in this world that would say “you have have moved on, you are happy, so why dwell in the past.” The problem with that statement is that we do not move on. I believe we move through, always carrying them and the loss with us, allowing it to grow alongside us and remain a part of who we are because widowhood shapes us. It teaches us a whole new level of who we are and what life is about.  Some may be concerned with how my second husband has handled me being so open in my sharing of widowhood. Some may even say I am no longer a widow. It is ok what others think, because it doesn’t affect me. My why is because of all of you going through this. My why is because I understand and sometimes just knowing and finding one person who understands, that can make all the difference.

My message is not one of despair, it is one of hope. It does encourage me to share openly to create a space of awareness, to share what my ten years in widowhood has taught me and continues to teach me. Ignorance really is such a thing as we all know and the world is not taught how to grieve and what to do when someone is grieving.

I went back this past year so that I would fully feel through and see how far I have come. I saw myself knees on the floor, hands on his legs praying fervently for him in the emergency room. I saw myself laying in his hospital bed, telling him if he needed to go, I would be ok. I saw myself, carrying like a suitcase, the cooler that held his heart to the jet that would deliver it to the lucky family on the other end. I saw myself hidden behind sunglasses as I followed his casket down the same isle of the church we were married in. I saw myself on the floor of the shower crying as the water washed my tears from my face. I saw myself stop caring for myself. I saw myself go into robotic mode and take care of all of the crazy dealings and paperwork and court and the nightmare that came after. I saw myself travel, explore, begin to live. I saw myself take on new things my heart probably never would have, but because I now felt I had nothing to lose, I had nothing to lose. I saw myself laughing and loving again. I saw myself become a wife again. I saw myself become a mother. I saw myself achieve and achieve and achieve. I saw myself, lose myself again. I saw myself, almost walk away from my marriage when we stopped putting us first. I saw myself remembering what was important and making changes. I saw myself seeking God and trusting in him more. I saw myself! I really saw and loved the woman I had become through all of the moments of my life. I found that through the rights and the wrongs, I forgave myself, because my maker had forgiven me.

So, today I bring good news to you, you have a caring friend in me, caring friends in the community of those of us who are growing in numbers and coming together. You are not alone, even though you feel alone. “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News” – Romans 10:15

Trust is so hard. Understanding is so hard. “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.: – Proverbs 3:5-6

You may be in a place where you can not trust, you can not feel hope. That is ok, start out by praying in those moments for a peace to carry you through. Turn your pain into your purpose and remember that when you are ready, vulnerability is the doorway to healing!

That is all and that is a lot. So have a wonderful day all of my keepers of the flame.

Tanya Smith

 

 

 

 

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A Widow’s Story From South Africa – We Call Her Anna

Thank you for visiting A Widows World.

In this first Widow Share Episode, Tanya Smith has the honor of sharing a Widow’s story from South Africa.

Her story and her message is powerful. Her identity has to remain anonymous for cultural reasons. Please watch and leave your comments of encouragement and support for this woman we call Anna.

If you would like to submit your story, email tanya@awidows.world. A Widows World is growing into a community, which serves to inspire, empower and connect widows worldwide.

We hope you will join this movement, sharing your own experiences through the journey of grief, growth and transformation.

 

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Happily Ever After Is A Choice – Choose Happy Today

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Happily ever after is a choice! Happily ever after was created in fairytale world. Many believe in it, but happily ever after just depends on your definition of it. If your happily ever after was taken, you never possessed it in the first place.

I will warn you, you may decide to agree to disagree with me on this one depending on where you are at in your loss journey. I read a lot. Articles, books, blogs, posts, magazines, you get the picture, I read. Good for me. Does reading make me an expert? No. Does being book smart, really allow you to identify with me? No.

Experience, world experience and going through a similar struggle, struggles, that is what allows us to identify with one another.

There is a movement taking place, right now. It is one of empowerment, one that more and more are starting to grasp and hold onto. I see so many hearts taking back their shape. A new mold being created. It gets me excited and gives me so much joy for you and I. It is a movement of hope, a movement of responsibility. We have a responsibility to ourselves to hope and to feed our spirits with the right things, the right people, the right content. Our surroundings and attitudes really take on those of others, so be aware of those around you. Are they feeding your spirit, or keeping you in a place of hopelessness?

I came across a post that read, “Not everyone gets their happily ever after”. It had me really stop and think about this statement. I began questioning, have I identified with this? Do I identify with it? I think I have and I haven’t, during different seasons of my life. I simply do not believe this at this stage of my life.

It is through growing, healing, and loving myself again, that I see so much clearer.

Growing up, I clinged onto the fairytale, I waited and I found my man and believed we were going to have a beautiful long life together. Then in 2004 when he died tragically, I agreed with the statement, “Not everyone gets their happily ever after”, because I felt my happily ever after was robbed from me. During that time it hurt to see others lives moving forward, seeing them get engaged, married, pregnant, welcoming their new bundles, growing their families, seeing life move forward for them. I was so fixated on what I had lost, that I couldn’t think of anything but that. Until, I started to really work on myself and chose to see the joy in my days, the joy in what I had already had, that would never leave me, never be taken from me. If I believed my happily ever after was taken from me, that I would never have that again, then I never truly possessed it in the first place.

A love that is real, true and life altering, can not be taken from us. Although not here in the physical, we still possess that same love and we will until the day we die and are reunited again.

Happily ever after lies within ourselves and should not depend on another for us to achieve that definition. Loving, caring for, listening to ourselves and following our hearts through the struggles that life brings, will lead us to us, our true hearts.

If happily ever after lies in someone else, then we certainly will stay in the space of not being happy. It starts within us and stays within us. It is a decision, not a fate, not a destination! Happily ever after is a choice and it is up to me and to you.

Think about it and please forgive me for relating this to a tree, but grief has so many rings, so many stages. The rings of a tree are called annual growth rings and so I truly feel it a great analogy. You see, life can be pretty tough on a tree! Yes, you can relate. It can be brutally tough on us as well and has been. Trees go through drought, excessive rain, fire, insect plagues and disease epidemics, injuries, thinning, pollution. All of these acclimates leave their mark on a tree’s annual growth ring. Does this sound familiar? YES! Our annual growth is altered and affected by our surroundings, by the things that happen to us or the things that don’t happen to us. The way we grow, is altered by our struggles, our hurts, our feelings, our environments.

Your growth ring may not be growing right now, you may feel in the darkest places and spaces where time has stopped and memories flood through and surround you. It may be hard to breathe, feel so lonely, so misunderstood, so lost. You may have said out loud, lord please take me and spare me this pain. I know. Your life has paused and everything around keeps moving, and that movement feels like light years ahead of where you are. I know.

So here is what I ask of you. Silence your mind, breathe in and out slowly. Relax your senses and when you feel calm and centered, ask yourself this?

“What is my happily ever after wish for myself?”

“Who do I want to be?”

Tough questions, right? Maybe you don’t know, you feel blank. Thats ok, keep silencing your mind and keep asking yourself these questions.

Happy is a choice, healing is a choice, living fully is a choice. Choose yourself today because unlike a tree, we have the power to stand up and move our roots, change our surroundings and take back our power.

This life is what we make of it, so be a maker.

I am sending love, light, worthiness and prayers your way. My disclaimer in all of this, is that grief is on-going and unending. It sneaks up on us in even the most unapparent moments. You won’t conquer it, you won’t get past it. You will get through it however, in your own time, your own way. It is unique to you, so give yourself the grace to understand that and take it easy on you.

Tanya Smith

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{In}courage – Look Up

I loved this post from {In}courage and wanted to share it with you!!

Through my journey as a widow, there have been many times I have questioned God and I admit, I have turned away at times from him. His faithfulness and the mercy he has shown me continue to keep me believing. He is revealing to me the life he has planned and I am thankful for that.

“God’s love doesn’t hinge on what he does or doesn’t give us.”

 

 

Look Up

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Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People

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I truly must admit, it is hard at times to lean into God’s word and trust in his plan, especially when you can not understand the heartache or the trials you are presented in life. I have had many people ask me “If God is there, if he is real, why do so many bad things happen to good people?” I struggle a lot with this question, I think many of us do.
 
For instance, I could say, “Why did he take John away from me and his family at such a young age? Why are babies born still? Why did that loving couple continue to experience miscarriage after miscarriage? Why do some of the most caring people who just want a child to love, experience infertility? Why do innocent children get abused? Why do so many girls and boys get sexually assaulted? Why do good couples that once had extreme love in their hearts for each other become filled with resentment with no resolution in site? Why do we watch some of our loved ones suffer and their bodies and health deteriorate? Why do we turn on the news and see mass murders and killings taking place, so much hate in the world?” The questions of why could go on and on and the answer to that question is, I don’t know. 
Its a hard question to answer and so I have looked into it so that I can help others understand. I found a writing on this that I would like to share for those interested. It is by a Christian author and apologist (a person who offers an argument in defense of something controversial), Lee Strobel. I have included the link and just one excerpt below of many I found to be helpful: https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2012/07/why-does-god-allow-tragedy-and-suffering/
 
“But if you doubt God’s promise, listen to what a wise man said to me: God took the very worst thing that has ever happened in the history of the universe — deicide (the death of God on the cross) and turned it into the very best thing that has happened in the history of universe, the opening up of heaven to all who follow Him. So if God can take the very worst circumstance imaginable and turn it into the very best situation possible, can he not take the negative circumstances of your life and create something good from them?
 
He can and He will. God can use our suffering to draw us to Himself, to mold and sharpen our character, to influence others for Him – He can draw something good from our pain in a myriad of ways…if we trust and follow Him.”
 
I personally am learning more and more to trust and pray asking him for specific things in my life that he can show to me. Things he is showing me, even as recent as this week.
 
I can look back over the last ten years, since losing my first husband John and see the moments where my footprints were not imprinted on the ground, where God was carrying me, protecting me and revealing to me the life he would restore for me, if I trusted in and leaned into him. I have not always been faithful to this and I will be very honest about that.  See, I am human. I follow my human ways and I am flawed. Me and my family have been hit with low blow after low blow. Some of the worst and unimaginable things, we have experienced. Things so painful you just ask why? Even in our why’s we trust and I can’t explain at times why we do this, but we do…because that is all we can do. Trust and get through it, putting it in Gods hands and supporting each other.
 
I see things that have happened to me along the way that helped me get to a better place, a place where my joy started to return and I started to love myself again. I stopped loving myself after John died. I was on a path that could have been destruction and was for a short time, because I didn’t care. I was so beat up and broken that nothing mattered. I felt nothing and therefore I cared for nothing and especially not for myself…because I was numb. Despite this, I see I was being lifted up, I was being protected and loved by my family and friends and mostly by God. He is the defender and protector of widows. There are many verses in the bible that affirm this, such as Psalm 68:5, “A Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”
 
I hope this helps even just one person today. We don’t have the answers to our why’s.  It is not for us to understand God’s plan or will for our lives. Loss is personal, your experience is different than mine. Mine is different than yours, because we are all different people and process things differently. We will never understand the why’s until we are taken home to live eternally.
 
I encourage you to try to not focus on the why’s. I encourage you to find your light, share your smile, talk about your journey. If we can shine our light, so that others know its OK to live and be happy even after devastation, it is OK to challenge yourself and be strong and courageous, maybe we will encourage someone through their own journey, maybe we will start believing in our smile again and the person we are and can be because we value living. Maybe we will learn to live fully because we allow ourselves the chance to.
It is most definitely an example to stand up and be more than just a survivor. Be a lover of life. I know I am very hard on myself at times, I need to stop that so that my light can shine, so that people can know my heart and with out a doubt understand what it is I stand for. I will re-read all of this when I need the reminder..because lets face it…we are human and we need to have continued reminders.
 
Here are some more verses that encourage me, that I hope will encourage you. Thank you to Odyssey Online for this message that popped up in my feed this morning, its funny how these little nudges come, that follow what has already been put on your heart to share.
 
http://theodysseyonline.com/longwood/8-bible-verses-for-the-overthinker/325723
 
1. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. – Philippians 4:6
 
2. Whenever you feel unloved, unimportant, or insecure, remember to whom you belong to. – Ephesians 2:19-22
 
3. Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? – Luke 12:24
 
4. Because He bends down I will pray as long as I have breath. – Psalm 116:2
 
5. Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. – Deuteronomy 31:6
 
6. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:33-34
 
7. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid: do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9
 
8. She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future. – Proverbs 31:25
Thank you for taking time to read my blog. If it encourage you, please subscribe on my homepage. Follow me on Facebook, twitter, pinterest and instagram.
Sleep soundly! Tanya Smith
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ALWAYS TAKE YOUR SPARKLE WITH YOU

IMG_3633This is a long one! ???????

This weekend my girls were playing in the sandbox while I gardened. Addison had her sparkle shoes on and I said don’t wear those into the sand box babe. As soon as I said it, I caught myself thinking…why not? The logical mom in me was thinking, I don’t want them to get ruined. The widow in me however was saying they are just a thing…let her take her sparkle everywhere with her.

This may sound silly, but it did cause me to pause, think and reflect. So here is the message I have to share…get ready for this deep thinking. ????

I feel like everything has me thinking lately about life, about dreams, hopes…about what’s next!

The sandbox of life is so full of unknown, of possibility!

Our lives will be touched by so many people through the course of it. We will have gone through so many things our heart could not have imagined or prepared for, but doesn’t that also make life magnificent and unique? If we knew what was ahead, it would cause us so much angst before we even let ourselves begin. We would fixate and possibly try to change our course.

It’s how we handle those unknown moments in life that define us and help us write our story!

For a time, I stopped writing mine.

I’m thankful I didn’t stay in that place too long, I’m blessed I didn’t let it steal my spirit or darken my heart. The loss of my first spouse and best friend forever changed me, in so many ways.

I was an innocent. I no longer am. I was naive to the way of the world. I no longer am. I was disillusioned to the fairytales that we grow up believing. I no longer am.

So much of what we see growing up in movies and media is glamorous, beautiful, perfect with some version of a happy ending. Most lives are just not this way, life is dirty, messy and full of twists and turns. I have as a mom decided to let my daughters believe in fairytales to a certain point, but the real live version of them.

Real is a life we build and decide to make for ourselves, real is how messy and hard life can be, real is being our true self and not being afraid for others to see us and our hearts as we are. real is not fitting into a mold or a perception that people have for us. Real is being authentic and not being afraid of that. Real is being kind and humble, but also having a backbone to stand up to wrong and things we don’t believe in. Real is following God and leaning into him and his word, which i admit i don’t always do, but i try to. Real is understanding that God is not of man nor evil and he does not make the bad in our lives happen, he does carry us through if we follow and lean into him. Real is understanding that not every cloud has a silver lining, real is knowing that if a door closes, you get back up and open the next one taking advantage of your time here and following your heart. Real is understanding that grief has no time limit, real is not judging others because we don’t know their circumstances!! Real is celebrating moments and opening our hearts to love and possibility, but knowing that love takes work, time and effort. Real is showing our sparkle ? through the hail storms in our lives, sharing our smiles allowing people to see that just because something bad has happened it doesn’t mean we have to live there and stay there for others!

Ten years after losing John, I feel called to share my story, share the sparkle ? I have regained and found hoping to spread it as others go through their journey.

So throw a little sparkle ? someone’s way today. I always believe being kind and real to others or taking pause to see how someone else is, helps people in turn do the same.

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