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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All We Ever Need Is {LOVE}

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We were young and restless
Pockets full of stars
Chasing down the moonlight
Till the night was ours
All we ever wanted, all we ever needed was love

Think you have the answers
Dreams bigger than the two of us
We took a lot of chances
All the things we did
All we ever wanted, all we ever needed was love

Sometimes those memories
Can be hard to take
We all remember the times
Before you ever felt your heart break
You never are the same

All the hurt and missteps that came
I have no regrets
I know what the truth is
I will not forget
All we ever wanted, all we ever needed was love

I wake this morning ten years late
The night closes in every eve
A dream that just can’t be my fate
I see your smile a sight to take
I feel the warmth it will be alright

The darkest cloud will split and fade
Two hearts added three one day
You follow me I feel you here
The warmth of the sun upon my face
The whisper of the wind in the still
All we ever wanted, all we ever needed was love

I hope your proud of the woman I am
I never believed I would begin again
Thank you for loving and showing the way
How a heart changes when it breaks
All we ever wanted, all we ever needed was love

I woke to my daughters cries in the night
Laying beside her, comforting
I feel the warmth it will be alright
The sun is here to stay
I will never stop finding my way

On this day, I celebrate you
All the things we grew to know
All the life we lived and shared
All the light that came from dark
Broken is a beautiful place

All we ever want
All we ever need is love

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Dream up what is next – people don’t have to get you

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Dream up what is next. I learned a long time ago that people don’t have to understand me, because I understand myself. So, I want to share this with all of you.

Knowing and adopting this, has helped me through some interesting times. This mantra I have held onto has applied to virtually every area of my life. Love, widowhood, rebuilding, loving again, becoming a mom, career, and overall outlook! I say it out loud at times as a reminder. You don’t have to get me, because I get myself. I have found understanding and adopting this, has allowed me to remain open to dreaming up my what is next.

So many times we hear the chirping of others opinions and others wants for us. People often need to have an explanation in detail of plans, of how we feel, and what we think is ahead. I will ask you this, is having everything figured out really necessary? Do we really believe that people who have spearheaded to what’s next, did so by having everything planned out? I personally have learned, planning for things is a gamble and what you think and plan for may never happen.

Having every detail of my life planned and organized at this point of who I am, is just not an option for me. I think it makes me crazy to even think about planning it all out. I SIMPLY DON’T WANT TO! The chirping, that lets face it, can and will happen. What you hear from others can start to fester and disrupt the excitement that was building, growing, for the what is next. We MUST ignore chirping. We can acknowledge it to a certain degree, but just acknowledge. We can say, you do not need to understand, but if you know me, trust me. Trust in me to know that the next step I take is a part of my WHAT IS NEXT. My next may lead to something not expected, but that not expected may set me on the right path. Never be afraid to dream up what is next.

I have let chirpings happen. If we are honest with ourselves, we all have. We may not listen to the chirping, but it likely has caused hurt or made us stop and questions ourselves. This can cause the super high to spiral to a super low. What I have come to find in my life is that no matter what others say or feel for me, the most important thing I remind myself is, I BELIEVE IN MYSELF. I BELIEVE IN ME AND WHAT I AM CAPABLE OF.

People don’t have to understand or get me, because I get myself. Period!  I have started over unwillingly and unexpectedly in my life and pushed myself. There have been wrong roads I have taken. Those wrong roads have lead me to the right roads. I have never stopped opening my mind and being optimistic of my what’s next. My hope is the same for all of my followers. Challenge yourselves to never be afraid to think up your what is next. There are people in this world that are comfortable and the known is the safe for them. I pray those people don’t cause you to stop believing in you and what you can have for your what is next.

I see so many in this world going through seasons of transition, transcendence and transformation. I believe we are all here to expand and grow beyond our own comforts. So I pray you never get too comfortable to where you stop allowing yourself to grow into your true self! Have a beautiful day and dream up your what’s next!

Please follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @awidowsworld.

 

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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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My Rose Colored Glasses Disappeared

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I will never see through rose colored glasses after going through the loss and life trials that I have. There have been moments I have woken up and thought how did I get here, how is time passing so quickly. Those moments help me stop, reflect and realize that through my own strength, determination and want to live, I made it to where I am at. I had to make that decision for myself, no one could do it for me. It certainly helped having the support of my family and friends and clinging to my faith. Having faith was very hard and I lost it along the way, but I’m glad it didn’t lose me.

This life is hard, but it’s so worth it! That’s all I can tell you at this point in my widowhood journey. It took a lot to get here and it takes a lot to stay here. Once you find your will, your strength and your hope again, you find yourself. You will continue to get to know yourself and piece by piece you heart will become close to whole. Take the chance, you are worth it!

 

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It Was Written

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Looking back on the past ten years and how fast it has gone by, I have a grateful heart. I understand what life means and I am still learning. I’m thankful for what was written in the sand for the life I shared with John and I’m thankful for what was written in the sand waiting for me after loss. I’m blessed for everyone in my life that helped me along the way. Live your life so fully through the seasons of it. Feel through the pain and don’t hold yourself back for fear of the hurt that may be ahead, because you will be missing out. Make an impact in your life each day.

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The Decision Is Ours

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It may take years to get to the point where the bad days don’t leave us feeling defeated. Just know, one day you may be ready to open your mind to those bad days and how they may positively define you through your walk in widowhood or any bad circumstance. It’s a journey, not a marathon!

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Rainbows All Around Me

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I saw that there was an amazing rainbow in Chicago yesterday. I’ve taken so many snaps of rainbows through my journey. This one in Chicago is amazing..but mine have been more amazing in my opinion along my journey and that’s because they were meant for me.

A rainbow is a sign of hope and peace and they certainly do bring those feelings for me.

My husband was an organ donor. He and our families chose to give the ultimate gift to five others waiting for their miracle. The night before my husbands organs were to be taken, there was a beautiful storm. He was a storm chaser, so that is why I call it a beautiful storm. The heavens were rolling. The thunder and lighting were loud and amazing..though nothing at the time was amazing. I remember thinking, this storm is for him! He would have had me in the truck, chasing the heart of it. After the storm was the most amazing rainbow. I wish I had a picture.

The next day was the worst day of my life. I woke up at my best friends house, because I could not sleep alone in our bed. I can’t explain the pain of knowing he was gone, of waking up with such a heaviness in my heart, thinking of him on that operating table knowing his organs were being prepared for someone else, knowing this was real and he was gone. My heart had left my body at that time.

I went home and took my first shower and dressed myself. I looked in the mirror and I truly couldn’t see myself, I looked so different. It’s crazy what you remember, but it’s so vivid for me those days..I know down to my shoes what I wore that day. I can see myself, which is hard to see. I was so broken. I drove to the airport. The jets were flying into the DeKalb airport and our families could come. Gift of Hope was so amazing and compassionate to us. I remember standing on the side of the runway, unbelieving. Looking at my life and thinking how can this be happening. Coolers, there were coolers with my husbands heart, lungs, kidneys. Regular coolers. There were two jets with life flight nurses and pilots. Amazing and again compassionate people. The pilot autographed a photo, which I have tucked away, not sure if it’s a memento I want to look back at, but I have it still. In between those jets though was a perfect rainbow. A rainbow that in such a hard time had me believe he sent it for me, for our families. Telling us I’m ok, be ok.

Even writing this I have tears flowing. Life is hard…so hard..but what’s so awesome about it is knowing true and real love…feeling so much that it, makes you feel. I wouldn’t trade my life for one second. As hard as saying goodbye was, it was equally hard to start again..but i did and not without struggle, or continued struggles. Life is just that and we should not waste it.

Grabbing that cooler handle that had Johns heart in it was something I will never forget. I released my husbands heart to the care of that jet and nurses to take to that family waiting so desperately on the other end. I cannot tell you how hard that was, even though I did feel for them and think of them and the anticipation and hope they were feeling in that moment. It gave me peace in a way that he helped so many live, though I had no real peace since he was not with me, or us.

I can say I am so very thankful. What we had was real and true even if it was taken too soon. I’m proud of him and us. I think he would be very happy for me and how I have chosen to honor him and myself by living. I’m thankful for how he taught me to love and live so openly. I never imagined being his widow. I’m truly thankful for my second hubby and where we are at now, how much he supports and loves me through my journey and how blessed we are with our girls. I never have to hide who I am, nor would I for anyone and that feels good. #widow #widowhood #awidowsworld #lovedeeply #lovetruly #giftofhope

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Have Courage

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Courage! Having the courage to step out and take action can be so hard sometimes. Truly though, the decision leading up to you actually taking that first step is the hardest, isn’t it?

Don’t we all agonize over just that part.

Once we take the leap, doesn’t everything have a way of working it self out? Maybe not the way we expected, but somehow it could lead to something better than we could have hoped for. That is at least what I have experienced.

Obstacles will always be in front of us, but I guess for me, the having no regrets part is the biggest thing. If you don’t follow your heart, I will ask you this, how can you truly be whole?

If you are struggling with something today, I would say, trust in yourself! Listen to your heart and where it is leading you. Don’t make a decision impulsively or hastily (I know this from experience), think things through, but not to the point you drive yourself or others around you mad (I know this from experience also haha) :). If you are constantly worrying or doubting what’s ahead, give it up to god and start praying for the signs to lead you to your whats next.

Comment below #iwillhavecourage if you are going to commit to figuring out your next step!

Pictured are my daughters who teach me what courage means everyday. If I had not had the courage to start again, I would not know the amazing love and joy they would add to my life. I commit to raising these two to be strong woman who are confident in themselves and go after their dreams. #lovinglife #addelise #widow #courage #awidowsworld #rebuilding #livingthroughloss

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