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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Keep Believing Even When Your Prayers Hit The Ceiling

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My Faith Had Lost All Meaning

Keep believing even in the moments you feel you don’t have an ounce of belief in you. I remember when I felt my prayers had hit the ceiling. The night my husband was taken to the hospital, I fell to my knees at his bedside in the emergency room. I prayed with conviction and authority in my heart, that god would heal him. Although, he came back to us, he was not going to get better. My prayers were not answered and that was something that I could not understand. I had become something I never imagined or thought up for myself, I became a widow. During that time, I lived in a fog and complete haze. Loss and the aftermath it presents is something that you can not explain or help people to understand. Unless a person has experienced loss for themselves, it is hard for others to comprehend. I saw the unanswered prayers as god failing me, life failing me. Because of that, I lost confidence in my faith and I stopped praying and believing.

You Kept Me Believing

I’m thankful that God and my family kept me believing.  I came back to my faith and as I did, he started revealing to me the plans he had ahead. I’m blessed that I can stop and look back at my life, even the struggles, and see the joy that has been restored. Through my journey of loss, I have become to know myself. I am confident in who I am, although I am still growing into the person I hope to be. I am blessed to have leaned into life and to have designed the life I want for myself. My design continues to change, but I think that is completely normal for people who open themselves up to growing.  I sometimes fear for what pain may be ahead, but I think that will always be present, because loss changes perception of life. Challenge yourselves to look to today and have a grateful heart for moments and breaths.

There is a song that goes with this. Music has been such a big part of my journey.

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A Final Letter To My Husband

 

imageBe quiet…Be quiet, I was screaming in my head.

We were driving, my parents were talking about what road to turn on, headed to the church. My dad says, “which way should we go?” My Mom says “I think we should turn here”, then dad says, “I think we should turn up there”. “Could you stop, I will tell you were to turn”, immediately feeling regret for my words, as they were just trying to get us there. They were fighting their own battle inside of themselves, their own pain. Not the pain of a spouse, but the pain of a parent. They were so close to John, he had become their son through our marriage, but also their son in every sense of the word. They loved him deeply and he in turn gave them the same love.

Silence!

I could feel how my words stung them. I felt even sadder for hurting them, in this time of intense pain. In my head, I was thinking didn’t they know….dont they know what I am going through right now, who cares about the stupid road we turn on. They did know, they were dreading this reality too. They were my biggest support through all of this and continue to be. So today, I feel sorry for only seeing and feeling my pain, because theirs was so great as well. On top of their loss, they were grieving for me and worried for my well being and the days, weeks, months, years and years to come without him here.

Driving that last mile felt like time was standing still. I was seeing things like a movie, a frame at a time. The car stopped and I was supposed to get out, I was stepping into some unknown.

One step, two step, three step, four, into the church.

What a massive church this is. I remembered walking out of this church a little over a year ago as Mrs. Tanya Meier, standing there with so much joy and happiness. Standing on those steps feeling the warmth of the love from my man standing beside me, feeling the rings on our intertwined hands and the possibilities of our new life and commitment.

What am I doing here now? What is beyond these stairs, beyond this door? Do I have to walk into this world that clearly can not be my reality? The answer was yes! My parents were leading me on. They were beside me in this.

I see so many people, they are all staring at me. The same people here over a year ago, but now instead of smiles I see so much sadness, I feel their pity, their sorrow, their disbelief, though I am trying hard to not look into their eyes. I don’t want them to see me! I want to disappear. I can’t take it. I ask my sister in law for help, for sunglasses, something to hide behind, shield me.  I don’t want to be seen. I put them on and my panic, for some reason starts to calm just slightly. I feel somewhat invisible behind them, though I knew I was not.

Pastor Metzger pulls me aside. I will myself to snap out of it. I don’t really hear what he is saying to me, I just nod. Oh, there I see Sherry Massey. Sherry was my pastor, Michael Massey’s wife growing up. She was much more than that though to me and my family. She watched me grow up and also blossom through my walk with the lord,  she was there in the celebrated and sorrowful moments of my life, always a support and encouragement.

I snap to instantly, I need to speak to her, I was waiting to find her. I told Pastor Metzger I would be right back. Sherry embraces me. I ask “Sherry, can you do something for me?”, her reply “Sure dear”. “Can you read this letter I wrote to and about John during the service? I need you to read it for me and was hoping you would”. I stayed up unable to sleep and wrote this to him in our bed. My tears are sinking in my throat. ‘Sure dear, I will read it”.  “Thank you so much, Sherry”. She will never know the true depth of what she did for me, what it meant to hear my word shared, how it brings me to tears to this day, because I knew I could not get up there myself.

Pastor Metzger went over the final details and it was time. We walk up about ten more stairs and I see the long rectangular box twenty feet from me.

This is real, I am not waking up from this. There he is, there is my beautiful husband, only he is not there anymore, only his body is. I stop at the casket and see him that way one last time. This is not him, he is not lifeless, he was full of life, he was filled with wonder and ideas, with want and ambition. This was not him! This was not us! I tucked a copy of the note I wrote for him into the breast of his coat, said how much I love him.

Walking behind that casket through the big glass doors of the packed congregation was the longest walk of my life. Wasn’t I just here, excited and ready to run down this aisle to my beautiful man, the man waiting for me, for us to say our vows? Seeing his eyes filled with tears and with happiness that day, was such an amazing feeling. Now I was barely able to lift my feet and tears and sobs of sorrow, confusion, devastation and brokenness were mine.

He was not waiting for me at this alter.

I don’t remember much of the service other than my letter. I see Sherry walking forward and prepare myself as my heart, my letter was about to be shared.

{A LETTER TO MY HUSBAND JOHN}

My sweetheart, my Partner, my Best Friend

How do I speak from my heart when it feels so very broken? Where do I find the words to describe the indescribable love we share? How do I find peace when I am just not ready to accept what feels to be unacceptable? How do I gain the strength to move forward when everything feels so backward?

You explained our love so perfectly the night you asked me to marry you, when you said “words can’t describe how I feel, it is just an immeasurable feeling that we share”.

Each day we loved as if it was our last and for that I will never regret. You have fulfilled my life here on earth though yours was cut short.

A look, a touch, a smile, a laugh, was all that was needed for everyone to see how deeply our feelings for each other ran. I am so very grateful for the seven years that we spent growing and learning in love. My heart cries out to you and knows that you are there. Even now, you are my strength, my shining light.

Although I do not understand Gods plan for you, I know they were big and it was time for you to go. Your kind and giving spirit have shown so many the deepest joy they have ever known. I could have never gotten enough of you even if we had had the chance to grow old.

I feel so empty, lost, alone and scared, but I know that you are looking down helping ease the pain.

John, you once told me you wanted to get me flowers and candy, but those only lasted a little while so you gave me yourself. What a wonderful gift to receive. I am so very thankful for the many moments that we just spent being with one another. No words were needed between us because we were one. I felt your heart and you felt mine, we will forever be entwined.

You have amazed me with your giving heart. I forever will be grateful for the time we have shared, you have touched my life in so many ways. We have traveled the path together. You are and will always be my perfect match.

If there is one thing that I would press upon everyone here, it is to love without boundaries and not be afraid. I never took John for granted because I wanted him to know the deepness of my love for him. We shared so many things that even in silence we knew each others thoughts. Do not take the ones you love for grated and make every moment count.

I stood by Johns side through all of this praying and asking God to have mercy on us and I pleaded with him for a miracle. Each night I read psalms to my husband and begged the Lord for his life. It is so very hard to accept what is the unacceptable and know that God’s plan is much bigger than our own. It would be easy to be angry with God, but God has allowed my husband to feel no pain or sorrow, no grief or despair.

John was and will always be the strongest man I have ever known. He loved me so deeply and was not afraid to share those feelings. Even in Johns death he is still giving to others through organ donation and will continue to bless and touch so many hearts as he has also done for all of us.

Hold tight to the memories you have shared with him. He will be guiding us all through this very difficult time.

John, I love you with all that I am and all that I have. I will be with you again in heaven and we will celebrate life everlasting with one another.

Love always and never be afraid.

Tanya Meier

Written Sept. 2006

My Message:

If you have something to share, if you want to write a letter or have your voice be heard at your spouses funeral don’t be afraid to share it and ask someone close to you to deliver it. I am thankful I met a widow who my parents knew, during those terrible days. She went to our church and she encouraged me. Be an encouragement and support to those around you that have lost great love or are going through a hard time. Being vulnerable is scary, sharing your heart is scary, but if it touches even one person or if it is simply a part of your healing, then it is completely worth it.

 

 

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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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What A Young Widow Wants You To Know

What a young widow wants you to know is a great article written by Kerry Phillips, Proud Mom, Lover of Words, PR Executive and Widow Warrior at Huffington Post. This is an article that I completely relate to! Many people place judgement, timelines and expectations for others unnecessarily and often times unknowingly. Loss is hard, its even harder to understand when a young life is taken. I like this article because it is a lot of what I felt and went through. I think people even to this day don’t understand, how would they unless they have gone through it themselves. So if you are a friend or family member of someone who has lost a spouse at any age, understand that the grief process is a very personal one, don’t place expectations or timelines, just be a support through that persons journey and be there. If they don’t want you to be there for them, just send them messages of your support and eventually when they are ready it will be remembered, cherished and likely something that they look back on and appreciate as one of the things that helped them through. The loss of a spouse no matter what age or if you move forward will never be forgotten. The pain will always be there and becomes a part of a widows journey. So understanding that time does not change this is important, time and rebuilding help with healing but there is no replacement and no amount of time that erases the scars of losing someone you truly loved.

Read the Article: What Young Widows Want Family & Friends to Know via @HuffPostBlog

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Trust Without Borders

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The first time I heard this song, I was flying home from a conference in Jacksonville, Florida. This seems to be my thinking time, while I am in the air…unplugged…no distraction…just me, my heart and my thoughts.

I was feeling lost, broken inside…still. I thought about that first flight I took after John passed away, it was to Jacksonville, Florida. I had anxiety over this trip back there, I was remembering all of the feelings I felt then, but they were still there..though less fresh with the time and ever present healing…they hadn’t left me.

That trip in 2006, I wanted to hear the waves, somehow escape my reality. I was lost then, deeply broken and bruised…how frail and misguided I felt inside. Outwardly, I was pretending, being strong for everyone else. Inside I was hollow. How come, on this trip back 9 years later I felt the same feelings?

From that flight to this one 9 years later, brokenness…wasn’t it supposed to get better, get easier? Didn’t everyone tell me it would? How could they know that, really? People say things they think will help you, I get it…but I want the brutal truth and honesty. It doesn’t get easier! You shared a life, you were building a life, you said goodbye with no choice…its just not easy. You do eventually re-enter and re-build, finding new joy again. I have found new joy, new life, received new blessings. I opened myself to it and for me, my journey of healing was sharing, keeping Johns memory alive, remembering all that he was to me and others and being thankful he showed me how to really live and love. Honoring him and myself was never a question, I knew I needed to live and be happy. That is what he would have wanted for me.

I had started living, I had re-built, I had made my life good, I was determined..yet I was still sad. I carried scars, I had buried tears…buried them in vain because the pain was hard. I don’t share with people that I have nights I still cry in my sleep, nights I think about what my life would have been. This does not mean in any way I am not thankful for what I do have. It is just the life of a widow. I’m so blessed, my tears don’t mean I don’t love my second husband or that I don’t feel the blessing of being a mother to my amazing girls. I cry for what I had to say goodbye to, but I cry for being thankful for what I have because of it, the new course my life took does not diminish what I had. I feel lucky to have the love and hearts of two men, the love of two beautiful and kind children. I know I am blessed despite, my loss. I pray for you who may be going through this. I pray you receive blessing through loss.

I think for me, knowing how much time had gone by scared me. How fast life was moving, was hard to believe. I was so very thankful for the blessing of my new life, my new husband, my two daughters, the beautiful home we made together, the career I had worked so hard for, the picture of normal…the normal I was seeking, but I didn’t feel normal. What was normal? Was this my normal, getting further and further away from the time I last spoke to John and saw him…was normal knowing I continued loving him while also loving my new husband. How was this all normal?

I needed the ocean then and I needed it now, the waves crashed over me then and they were crashing over me still. Scars, they were left on my skin. I was stronger, but I felt weak.

This song came on in flight and I felt, it was a gift. It is a message I continue to hear through the waves of my journey. I have so much more ahead of me to do in this life. My feet may fail, but my faith will stand!

I know its ok to carry and share my scars, they are ME. My scars are personal and I will carry them my entire life, I want to! I carry and share these scars so others know, that I LIVE and choose to LIVE. I want people to know.

I learn something new every year and I am PROUD! Im proud of John and who he was. I’m proud of the love we shared. I’m proud of the scars I bear, I’m proud I’m not afraid to speak about him, who he was to me and about my journey. I’m proud of my second husband, Dave and how he loves me never once worried about my scars, my healing, the life and love I shared before him that ended without my choice. How he continues to love me through it. He may not understand, how could he. He does however, love my posts and recognize the days that are hard…saying “todays Johns birthday, I saw your post, how are you?” I’m proud that through our journey and the trials we have faced, we have kept working on us, we know we aren’t perfect, but we have learned what we have is worth fighting for, working on, we don’t pretend we have perfect, we are open that we have lost site of our marriage at times and who we are to each other. This to me is real life, real marriage. Picture perfect, is not always reality. Love takes work, takes time. I’m thankful for your love Dave and the life we are living together. No one needs to understand that or us, because this is our life.

So, thank you for following me…for listening to my heart. I hope this encourages you in your journey knowing there are many waves and many blessings ahead. Open your heart to really living without borders.

Now, you must do me a favor and turn this song up…LOUD…feel the words and how they speak to you! MY VERY FAVORITE PART IS IN CAPS, below.

{Lyrics}

 

 

You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown. My feet may fail..and there I find you in the mystery, in oceans deep…my faith will stand. And I will call upon your name…and keep my eyes above the waves…when oceans rise…my soul will rest in your embrace…for I am yours and you are mine.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters. Your sovereign hand will be my guide. My feet may fail when fear surrounds me, you’ve never failed…and you won’t start now. So, I will call upon your name…and keep my eyes above the waves. When oceans rise, my soul will rest in your embrace….for I am yours and you are mine.

(Repeat and pray this fervently, believe it, feel it and know that whatever you are going through in life, let your trust be without borders, let him be your guide.)

SPIRIT LEAD ME WHERE MY TRUST IS WITHOUT BORDERS, LET ME WALK UPON THE WATERS WHEREVER YOU WOULD CALL ME. TAKE ME DEEPER THAN MY FEET COULD EVER WANDER AND MY FAITH WILL BE MADE STRONGER, IN THE PRESENCE OF MY SAVIOR.

My feet may fail, but I will at least know I followed my heart by really living and choosing to live, how could I fail!

~Tanya Smith

A Widows World

 

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