Experiencing the loss of your husband at a cruelly young age leaves you desperate to find someone, anyone who you can connect with. Not that you would wish any of this on your worst enemy, strangely enough there is a degree of comfort knowing you aren’t alone in this world. I have had the opportunity to find friendship and support in two beautiful individuals with heartbreak of their own. Though each of our stories are as different as we are, much of our journey follows the same uncharted path.
“Experiencing the loss of your husband at a cruelly young age leaves you desperate to find someone, anyone who you can connect with.”
Amanda embarked on this unwelcome journey when her husband Rob lost his battle with cancer, Olivia’s world was turned upside down when her husband Mike passed away in a motorcycle accident, and I when Tyler unexpectedly passed away in sudden cardiac arrest. Though most of your healing comes from within your own soul and listening to the stillness of the night, when you are in the throes of life’s greatest difficulty it is important to surround yourself with caring, compassionate individuals and seek out relationships that foster a healthy kind of growth.
As Amanda stood before me at Tyler’s viewing, I was in utter disbelief…literally, all I could process in my brain was “how the f*ck is she here?”. Knowing she had lost her husband a short 6 months prior, yet she gently took my hand, with tears filling her eyes and streaming down her cheeks, she hugged me. To be honest, I do not even know that we spoke a word to one another for several moments, but as long as I live I will never forget the look on her face.
It was tender and full of pain all at the same time. Looking back now, I know exactly what the look was. It was knowing precisely what I was going through at that very moment and knowing what was yet to come. It was knowing the helplessness you feel, it was knowing how soul crushing sad I was and still am at times, it was knowing some of my hardest days were still hanging in the balance for me, and it was knowing there isn’t a damn thing in this world that can fix or change any of it. Although, at the time, we were merely acquaintances, I knew it isn’t often you find that caliber of kindness in people in this world and I needed her in my life.
“As Amanda stood before me at Tyler’s viewing, I was in utter disbelief…literally, all I could process in my brain was “how the f*ck is she here?”.
Several months ago, as Amanda and I looked back on that night, she reminded me of what I said to her- “I am going to need you” and her response to me was “I will be there”. No truer words have been spoken. Amanda has been my rock on several occasions and I can only hope that I have offered her the same quality of support and friendship.
Many times as I struggled to see the sunlight, I saw it through her. Watching her pick up her life and actually want to feel the aliveness and vibrations that our souls crave inspired me in the early days of my grief…and they still continue to do so. Although everyone’s journey and experiences are different, there is something about watching someone that has forged the tangled path ahead of you and witnessing them become a stronger person…it stirs the spirit within your soul. On some level, you know you are eventually going to have brighter days. I mean, if trying a new and daring hairstyle (and rocking the hell out of it), going skydiving, and getting your nose pierced doesn’t scream “I FEEL ALIVE”, then I don’t know what does (cough, cough Amanda).
“Although everyone’s journey and experiences are different, there is something about watching someone that has forged the tangled path ahead of you and witnessing them become a stronger person…it stirs the spirit within your soul.”
When I am having my craziest of days, I know Amanda is there in a heart beat and we can laugh at one another’s ridiculousness. No matter if it is a meltdown on the way to work or one of us forgetting to wear a bra that day (hey- don’t judge, it can happen to anyone). We have deemed ourselves the “crazy lady club” and we continue to be upset at the fact that there is not an appropriate emoji to reflect one’s self temporarily losing their shit…maybe sanity would be more appropriate? No never mind, shit is definitely appropriate. Despite wishing our friendship had begun on a completely different premise, I am so thankful for Amanda and all that she has brought to my life. My hope is that, given the unfortunate opportunity, I would extend the same delicate kindness that was so gently shown to me and be a voice of encouragement.
In an attempt to find others to connect with, I met Olivia. Though we have never met in person, I would consider us modern day pen pals- via social media of course. It is heart breaking to know you can relate so deeply to someone by way of the largest and most earth shattering sadness, but on the same token it makes you feel less alone. For reasons unknown, I felt a need to reach out to Olivia when I came across a picture she posted with Mike under the hashtag “youngwidows”. I wasn’t sure if she would think I was a complete weirdo or if she would be open to my friendship. Thankfully, it was the latter…I think anyway, kidding!
Through our conversations, we have learned of one another’s stories and what brought us to this calamitous place in life. And, oddly enough, just as Amanda was 6 months into her journey when we became friends, Tyler passed away 6 months before Mike. They say people are connected by 6 degrees of separation…irony, fate, cosmic alignment, call it what you may, but there is a reason.
Just as I had done, Olivia scoured the internet in an attempt to find those that can empathize with her situation. She quickly realized there just isn’t a lot of resources available to young widows. That being said, she decided “why not me” and graciously opened herself up to the world of blogging. She is truly an inspiration and her outlook on life and desire to help others is sincerely humbling to read. I want to share her blog livafterhim.com with you and encourage you to share it with anyone you think could benefit from her words. You can also follow along on her new Instagram page @livafterhim.
If there is one thing I have learned through my friendship with each of these ladies it is this- tragedy does not discriminate. Every widow’s story and sorrow is their own. Although we can relate to much of what the other one feels and experiences, there is still much of what is unique to the individual. Amanda spent day in and day out of the doctor’s appointments with Rob, multiple surgeries and procedures, witnessed his decline first hand, and lived through the gut wrenching turmoil that is hospice. Olivia had Mike in her life since the age of 7, yet they were never afforded the beautiful opportunity to celebrate their first wedding anniversary or have children. I was given 5 1/2 short, but wonderful years with Tyler and left to raise our son without his father at the age of 10 months. All of these things are completely unfair and not the way any of us envisioned this life, especially at such a young age. Learning how to start your life over takes guts. Redefining relationships is hard and carrying pain and loss in a healthy way is challenging. And learning to love yourself through it all can feel damn near impossible.
“If there is one thing I have learned through my friendship with each of these ladies it is this- tragedy does not discriminate. Every widow’s story and sorrow is their own.”
As hopeless as our situations are and as inconceivable as it may seem sometimes, you have to find happiness again. You owe it to yourself as well as your loved one. I read a quote very early on that has stuck with me over the last 15 months. At first, I tucked it away and held on to it as I wasn’t quite sure of the meaning or how it was even a possibility. However, it is something that I hold strong to…”let me not die while I am still alive”.