Archive of ‘Grief’ category

How Bruno Mars Shaped My Grief Experience

By Julia Steier

Bruno Mars Super Bowl

My husband passed away the Monday before Thanksgiving. It was also the week of my ten-year high school reunion. I wasn’t thankful for anything, and I wasn’t going to rekindle friendships with anyone. Instead, I found myself talking to the moon, wishing my husband could hear me begging him for help, for guidance, and not to abandon me.

Like any willful widow, I started rummaging through my junk mail to find any missing emails that could’ve slipped away, a long lost note of him professing his love for me before the toxins from his liver cancer stole his mind and eventually his life. There had to be something, anything to hold me tight as the grief held me down and kicked me in the gut over and over again. A message from the other side hidden in-between the Gap special deals, Bank specials, and Livestrong articles. But there wasn’t anything except one new email that wasn’t like the other junk:  Do you want to go to the Super Bowl?

My phone blinked, and I fumbled it before I finally pick up.

“Did you get the Super Bowl email?” My assistant coach asked.

“Yeah. I just opened it.” I replied.

“So.”

“Let’s do it.” I cut her off.

Widow brain made a knee-jerk decision. Widow brain stopped having rational thoughts because all practicality and plans incinerated the day I signed the cremation forms. Was it real? A computer virus would be peanuts compared to the—pardon my crassness— the category 5 shit hurricane the universe provided for me.

“All right I hope this isn’t spam or a porn link,” she said. “I wrote them back asking if they were for real and” she stopped her train of thought for a second and then resumed. “Oh shit, it’s real. Okay, I’m filling out the application now. Call you back in a few.”

Two weeks later, we received confirmation: Drew University Women’s Lacrosse was going to the Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey.

The first rehearsal was January 25th. Two months after my husband died.

Universe, you’re a real asshole.

News about the small liberal arts lacrosse team heading to the Super Bowl started to leak into the community. There was a buzz going around, and along with my misery. The young lacrosse coach rebounding after the tragedy, but these events, these things to look forward to offered me a lesson, and it became something I preach today to those going through unimaginable hardships: Your innate ability to find strength will be in the most unlikely places.

In this case, my junk mail. And one lacrosse team. And Bruno Mars.

Two months widowed and I was spending it inside a warehouse following a line of tape. The tape on the ground was to lead us to our rightful places, so on Super Bowl Sunday we aren’t completely lost in MetLife Stadium. We did a couple of trial runs of the introduction with Bruno Mars cranking on the loud speaker, and I couldn’t believe what was swirling around me. My players were giggling, laughing, and smiling along with my assistant coach. I’ve been widowed for two months, and I was enjoying myself with them by my side.

But my elation rested above an undercurrent of sadness and guilt. My husband died, and I shouldn’t be enjoying this. Right? Why am I smiling? I shouldn’t embrace this moment because he’s not here to enjoy it with me. But—but—but— I’m not dead.

A couple of days later, we were on the MetLife field for another rehearsal, and that’s when the enormity of this experience hit me. And when I got to see Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers for the first time my icy heart thumped. In an epiphany, I recognized the disastrous mornings of waking up alone were not so horrendous when there is something to look forward to.

Finally, it was Super Bowl Sunday. In the belly of MetLife, we were shoulder-to-shoulder waiting for the signal to go. We held our breath, and we got the green light, and like a cannonball, we shot out onto the field.

The cacophony from the crowd was deafening, and red dots flickered from the cameras. My players were shrieking and taking selfies. This was a once in a life time experience, and I got to share this with them; A group of young women who sent me messages and pictures days after my husband died. A team who didn’t understand the magnitude of my despair but held my hand, and silently reassured they’ll hold me up as I fall apart. And there we were, looking at the flashing bulbs like stars in the sky, and fireworks screaming the into the darkness to erupt in the most magnificent colorful glow.

I was alive. Breathing, thriving, enjoying, and then I wondering– Would this experience be here if my husband was?

I don’t know. I can exhaust myself wondering, but the reality is he’s not here. Racking my brain of would, could and should will never end well. But what I do know is because of him, and the desperate need to confirm my love wasn’t unrequited, I got this unbelievable experience. And meeting him, falling in love, getting married and experiencing the warmth of sharing a life with him, that too was an unbelievable experience. To love someone so much, that even after his death he continues to impact my life.

I am lucky.

I go through this pain and continue to search for him, and in my grief, I’ve found opportunities I never could have dreamed of.

And it led me to cross paths with Bruno Mars.

Bruno Mars Super Bowl

First Annual Widows of Hope 5K event a huge success! Thank you!

By Chasity Williams

Hope for Widows Foundation would like to thank all of our Summer 2017 participants and donors, who helped in making the First Annual Widows of Hope 5k event a huge success!!!! We even had the kids and furkids join in on the fun! It is so much appreciated and words cannot express the love and gratitude we have for each of you.

Also, a special heartfelt shout out of partnership and support from Kerry Phillips, Founder of Young, Widowed and Dating. This event would not be the success it was without her!

The following are awesome #WidowsofHope5k photos from some our particpants we we received! Great job, everyone!

You rock!!!

Hope for Widows Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and relies solely on volunteers to run the organization, moderate discussions and provide other assets that have been and continue to be so helpful for so many of our women in our Hope Sister community. Thank you for investing in our organization and in the widows we serve. The gracious donations will be supporting our Hope Sisters by the way of initiatives, programs, giveaways, helping families directly, events, website optimization and so much more! You are contributing to their healing process so that they can re-engage in life much easier. Thank you for your trust in us!!

We will continue to update you throughout the year with program announcements and special events. We have so much on the horizon as we continue to grow and evolve. We are just getting started!!!

If you are interested in staying up to date with future Hope For Widows Foundation events, partnerships, announcement’s and much more sign up on our mailing list here: Hope For Widows Foundation Mailing List 

Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, our Public Facebook Page and/or Twitter.

In Hope,
Hope For Widows Foundation Directors, Board Members and Advisory Board Members
We relate. We understand. We listen. We care.

 

Never Did Say Good-bye

By khadija ali

As a widowed woman who is ten years out and considers herself a ‘veteran’, I thought I knew all there was to grief.

How arrogant of me.

I had grieved my husband’s death, or so I thought.

I was there when he took his last breath.

I was there when his casket was lowered in the ground.

Settled his estate.

Packed away his clothes.

Sold his car.

Bought jewelry to symbolize my love for him.

Raised his children.

But yet I’d never said good-bye.

I couldn’t bring myself to say it.

And so I apologized for the things I did and said.

I asked for forgiveness.

I forgave.

I wrote letters telling him of new developments. Talked to him about our kids. Asked his advise on life.

I watched for signs and confirmations.

I did all of the above.

But never said good-bye….

And then it came time ten years later to go to grief counseling.

I’d avoided doing this like the plague.

It represented finality, as if his death wasn’t sufficient enough.

But as I sat with my grief counselor last friday afternoon and she asked me what I wanted to end our session with;

I knew….

She asked me if I wanted to participate in a ritual called the ‘cosmic post’.

It was a place to write a letter to your loved one and ‘send it to them’.

A place to let go. Release. Express.

The ONE thing I had not done….

Was close the chapter of our time, our love, our marriage.

But Friday I was ready…

I cried as I sat in the chair writing.

I wrote. And paused. Cried. Released.

Wrote some more…

Tissue, pen, paper and tears.

I love you Ali,

I’ll always love you,

But it’s time.

Goodbye.

 

 

 

 

 

I Wish I Were Phillip’s Wife, Not John’s Widow

By Michelle Miller

I used to love a boy named Phillip. He was nineteen and I was twenty-one. It was 2004 and we were both addicts together. He of drugs that had slangs I had never even heard of, and I of loveless sex and sexless love. It was a hot month both literally and figuratively. Summer had come early and we found ourselves in the month of March skinny dipping a lot after midnight in the pool at my apartment complex.  

 

He would say things to me like, “Let’s pretend we are in love” while we danced naked in my living room to Kenny Chesney. “Let’s actually be in love,” I would respond, like the good little love junkie I was. And then we would smile and do things to and with each other that I cannot write about in this blog without an X-Rated label. In all my memories of Phillip, it was always nighttime and the moon was always full. 

 

And then I met John. My future husband. My future adulterous husband. My future adulterous dead husband.  

 

For a whole week, I loved John and Phillip both. Both wanted to marry me. Being at the top of a love triangle was the most awake I’d ever been. What’s precious to me now about this time in my life, is the optimism and simplicity of how we three viewed marriage. They loved me, I loved them so obviously marriage was the next step. No one bothered to ask each other anything logical like what their credit scores were, if they had any medical conditions or you know, what their last names were. We, like most adults in their infancy, made all our decisions based on intuition, and feelings, and hormones….logic be damned! 

 

After that one hot month and that one hot week, John told me to choose. I chose him without hesitation….intuition and feelings, and hormones be damned! Logic had won and Phillip had lost. I patted myself on the back for being a ‘real’ grown up. Phillip was devastated. He showed up that night at 3am on my door step crying and telling me he loved me. Yep, Phillip was crazy, this act of passion had confirmed, and John was not crazy. He was not a drug addict. He was too ridged to skinny dip, and too practical to dance naked. John was the good choice.  

 

Ten years almost exactly to the date that I chose John over Phillip, John would be crying and telling me he loved me as he shot himself. 

 

I didn’t immediately think of Phillip that night; I didn’t immediately think of anything other than our children that night, but months later I would find myself searching Instagram for Phillip. I realize now that I wasn’t searching just for him though, I was searching for a piece of myself that had been lost ten years ago, and another piece that had been lost when John fired that gun, and all the pieces of my younger self that I had been lost in between the ten-year gap of Phillip and widowhood. 

 

Instagram would tell me that Phillip was now married with three daughters. All of them had his blue eyes and their mother’s brown curls. It would tell me that he was sober, in love with his wife, had a stable job, and loved to barbeque. Instagram would tell me that I should’ve chosen Phillip. 

 

I realize saying this makes me a bad widow and an even worse mother, but there you have it: regret. Who would I be today if I’d chosen Phillip? Certainly not this broken, anxiety-ridden, bitter, pessimistic, bitch that everyone loves to be entertained by on social media. I would be in a kitchen somewhere in Texas preparing side dishes to go with Phillip’s barbeque with my hope and my faith and my innocence still intact. 

 

I don’t care if the person I am and the place I am at in my life is amazing right now-and yes, my life here in San Diego is amazing-I don’t want it. What it has taken to get me here, to get me to be the person who lives a life so boldly with her best friend and their five children by the beach, is not worth the suffering that got me here.  

 

I’d rather be Phillip’s wife, not John’s widow. 

 

But soon I wont want this. You see, its 4am as I write this and I know that this regret, (like my capacity to love a man) will not last; it comes and it goes as mysteriously as my joy. My kids will be up soon with their little drool-incrusted faces and hair like mine, that is ratted and has a mind of its own. We’ll fill our day up with appointments and work and arguing over who left their cereal bowl in the sink, and in the midst of me caving in and scrubbing the damn cereal bowl myself, I will wonder how I got to be so very fortunate to have this life. Tonight Lynnette and I will have a few glasses of wine on our backyard palette couch that we built ourselves and laugh about the arbitrary things that made up our day.   

 

I will go to bed not regretting one single choice I ever made because what John gave to me was equal to what he took from me, and I will be so content and full of wine.

Unique Ways Brief Friendships Can Help with Grief

By Julia Steier

Friendships and Exercise Help with Grief

Friendships can last a lifetime, or sometimes for only a season. This unexpected friendship pulled me from the hell of grief. This little cycling studio in Short Hills, NJ opened up the same month my husband passed away, November 2013. I didn’t know this studio existed until one of the employees, an acquaintance at the time, stopped by my office to say hello.

I met Jordan in September 2013. He had developed a friendship with our university’s baseball coach, and we just so happened to meet one evening. I never gave much thought about fate and coincidences, but Jordan helped open my eyes to it. In the days following George’s passing a lot of people expressed their sorrow and offered me a lot of support. Daily text and facebook messages to see how I was doing. As if I could be doing well after watching my life turn to dust, but then again, how many 28-year-old widows are there milling around?

But as time pressed on, people I was closest to walked on egg shells because I didn’t express sorrow in tears. My tongue was sharp, and my temper was more dangerous than ballistic missiles. Soon, the daily check-ins became bi-weekly, and then transformed into the occasional “hey, I read your blog post, hope you’re okay.”

The fog dissipated over time and the figures in the corner of who I thought was there, turned out to be imaginary. But the ones who stuck around were bulwarks robust enough to weather a carpet bombing. And for that, today I stand stronger than I could’ve ever imagined. As I fractured and the wound ripped back open, they were the ones who brushed my hair and allowed me to believe I’d be okay, eventually. I promised my husband I’d be okay, so that’s what I tried to be: Okay.

It was almost three months after my husband’s death when I ran into Jordan again. He stopped by the university to visit our baseball coach, and I recounted our brief meeting in September. He had just heard about my loss and asked how I was doing. Small talk I had become accustomed to when people learned of George’s passing.

But something was different. He didn’t have the almond shaped eyes of woe. But widow brain doesn’t believe anyone understanding the enormous horror I’ve been through as I watched the one person I love, cherish and adore be consumed alive by cancer. So I brushed Jordan’s condolences off as no big deal.

The next day, he stood at my office door, passing by again to say hello.

And then again a couple of days later.

At first, our greetings were as awkward and dry as you might have with your bank teller before withdrawing money from your account. But our brief encounters transformed into hour long conversations and soon it dawned on me his visits were genuine, and my interactions and conversations were helping me adjust to a life I didn’t want. A new life forced upon me.

One morning he dropped in to tell my assistant coach and me about a new job he started at SoulCycle. We were excited but had no idea what in the world SoulCycle was. But he invited us to visit him at work– oh how the tables turn– but we emphatically agreed.

The Life Changing Invitation
Widow Transformation

Life Changing Invitation

Jordan’s kindness during the worst months of my life assisted in lifting my chin up. Raising my eyes and looking around me to see opportunities, to embrace the uncomfortable situations being a young widow, and forging a new path for me living a healthier and fitter life.

And soon rediscovering the one emotion which kept eluding me: happiness.

He would come to my office a couple of times a week to check in, and we started meeting up after work hours for dinner or drinks. I’d go and visit him at the cycling studio, and we became fast friends. In my grief I was selfish, but as I got to know him more, I realized he was going through a life transition and needed a friend too.

We grieve for different things in this life. When there are significant life changes and immediate disruption our ordinary daily routines, there are flutters of grief. Whether it’s someone going through a divorce, a pets death, or in his case, he had lost his dream job. And SoulCycle was a new career path for him. Though it’s not on the grief spectrum of losing a spouse, it was myopic of me not to wonder what was happening with him.

A lesson I was slow to learn, unfortunately.

I opened up to him about my misery and my longings to vanishing. Which I eventually did, by moving to Alabama and away from all my friends, family and my support system.

He listened and asked me existential questions, but he also wasn’t afraid to push me away. Some days I was too challenging and erratic because of the grief. When I reflect on those months, I didn’t realize what was happening, but today I do.

I barely saw anything beyond the tip of my nose. The grief made me volatile and jaded and I hated my existence, I loathed the sun because it never stopped rising. But at some point, the iciness of the winter in my blood began to warm as our friendship blossomed. And I glistened with strength each time I walked into that cycling studio.

While astride on the bike, I realized I did have a purpose. The bike offered me the courage to start believing in myself again. My life was already well out of the comfort zone, but being on that indoor bike provided me an outlet on how to manage my grief. Plus, my husband’s favorite form of exercise was cycling. In the winter he would do spin classes at New York Sports Club. So when my quads burned, and my calves began to scream, I’d close my eyes and think about him and his battle against cancer

Sore muscles today, stronger body tomorrow, and clearer mind immediately.

Indoor cycling showed me I had a strength I never knew existed. With the turn of the resistance knob, I challenged myself to push on because what was the alternative? I began adopting the mantra “kill or be killed.” Grief won’t kill me.

The nights where I would cry myself to sleep became fewer over time, and the crippling feeling of loneliness when I woke up by myself subsided too. I wasn’t afraid of what this reinvented life had to offer, and as I started climbing out of the depths of grief he regained his too, and we drifted apart.

Some people come into your life for a reason, and sometimes for only a season. He entered mine for a short time but made a lasting impact. My naivety and selfishness during my grief prevented me realizing it. But he was truly a blessing during a very dark time. Without his compassion and friendship, I wouldn’t have discovered my passion for fitness and healthy living. I try to pass along the lessons I learned from my friendship with Jordan to those around me.

Words from the Honeycomb

By Wendy Simpson

 “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”  (Proverbs 16:24)

The qualities of honey make a beautiful word picture here.  Honey is a natural antibacterial poured over burns and wounds it protects from infection and promotes healing. It is a preservative, poured over some foods it makes them last longer.  And honey never spoils, archeologists have discovered honeycomb in Egyptian pyramids that is perfectly edible.  This being said, it makes sense that honey and the kindness of words, were compared in this beautiful proverb.

As I searched for words to share here I realized how precious words are, how like rare treasures they can become life-giving.  But misused, words can be used as a sharp blade… hurting, causing discouragement and even devastating the heart.

It’s my hope to encourage.  I’ve always been sensitive to words, both the ones I hear and the ones I use.  I’ve found it a challenge to encourage others as I feel I have so little left in me to share.  I believed for so long that loss drained me of anything pleasant or sweet. But that was a lie. I am learning I may not have much…. but I have words and words are powerful.

Widow sisters, our journeys are personal.  Each one is so unique.  I could never claim to know your pain or understand your steps. But the ache of a widow in all her agony and all she’s lost… that is universal no matter the circumstances that brought us here.

I have hope, though it’s not something tangible I can grasp ahold of or savor yet. I have faith the God I’ve come to love and lean upon as my rock will never leave me… though that faith is as tiny as a mustard seed at times.  I have joy, yes joy, in the journey’s pain… joy is not a momentary happiness it’s a life-long sense of knowing I am not alone, that I am loved and that my tears are not wasted or unseen. I  have to struggle and battle and fight for this joy though.

As widows we are keenly aware of words that unfeeling, ignorant or even well-meaning people have said to us.  The pain and wounding of such words have lead us to believe few people really care or want to understand.  I pray that you’d know words of the honeycomb. May they be a healing balm, protecting you from the infection of fear, doubt and lies. That you hear encouragement and experience healing tears and know beautiful friendships where the honeycomb is real.  May there be honey poured over the discouraging words and may the sweeter memories of your beloved husbands be preserved. Remember beautiful encouraging words will never spoil.  They will always remain, to be discovered by others as sweet as the day they were delivered.

I have received many sweet words from my hope sisters here. It’s been a hard and lonely, journey, at times. But those sweet words remain in my heart on the hardest days.  God’s used them to heal hurts and protect from unhealthy grieving steps that could have infected my journey.  Bless you all as you take the steps of your journey and share words of kind encouragement and the ache of your stories.

 

 

What July Means to Me

By John Polo

My birthday month.

Sometimes fun.

And sometimes tough.

It was the summer of 2002.

We started dating in June.

July, the month I fell in love with you.

After one year together, and eight long years apart.

We started talking again via email and text.

We knew right away. Always in each others heart.

But then one day, out of the blue, you butt dialed me.

July 21st.

My birthday.

It was your voice.

It was you.

Fast forward, to 2012.

A decade in the making.

I got on one knee, and asked if we could be wed.

You said yes, as I read the letter that I wrote.

‘We’re getting married John!!!’ the words that you so happily spoke.

Everything was perfect.

It was all meant to be.

July 15th,  one year later.

‘There is a large mass on your kidney’.

They ran a bunch of tests, and then confirmed.

July 22nd.

‘It’s cancer. Stage 4.’

Those were the words that we heard.

We rushed to the courthouse, to become man and wife.

You were so sick.

The reality of our new life.

Five days later, July 31st.

I had to say Goodbye to you. For the first time.

Eight hours later you woke up.

Cancer free.

And still mine.

© Copyright 2017 John Polo

 

 

 

 

 

Husband’s Gone and I’m Married to the Grief

By Julia Steier

 

Married to the Grief

The difficult detail when explaining yourself on days when grief appears is figuring out where to start. I was married but now I’m not. Or am I? He died three and a half years ago, so I’m not. But for others, it’s a judgment only one person can truly make. No one else has the ability to determine what amount of time is appropriate. I’m not married, however, I’m married to the grief.

To get this squared away, I hear voices. But I’m not crazy. It’s not the kind of voices that will tell me to grab a chainsaw and knock on my neighbor’s door. The voice is comforting. More like petting-the-dog-kind of comfort. On the 4th of July, I made the mistake of signing up for a race which begins at the base of a mountain. Recalling that race makes my legs shiver with pain. It’s comparable to going on one too many dates with someone when you know damn well it wasn’t going to work after the first outing together. A week later, I’m still recovering from that race.

As all 600 runners funneled toward the starting line, I weaved towards the front. My heart ascended towards my throat in anticipation for the race to begin. But as I was fumbling with my headphones, I hear the voice. Like the breeze cutting through your jacket on a crisp cool evening, chills traveled from my scalp to my toes. I haven’t heard this voice in quite some time, and there’s no mistaking it, it sounded like my husband. And he told me to get a chainsaw… Just kidding. He always had a sweet tonal melody to his voice, and it grabbed ahold of me. I looked around but then the race to the top of the mountain began. Before grief could bludgeon me I ran away with tears filling my eyes, but not enough to budge from the pool at the bottom of my eyelids.

I struggle with grief every day. It hugs me so closely you would never know. But I see it every time I look in the mirror. My scars from the loss are in the muscles of my arms, the knots in my back, the callouses on my feet. But as time has pushed forward, I’ve become used to the undercurrent of sadness. Grief has wrapped around my bones, and woven in between my cartilage and soft tissues, and has become a part of my life force like the oxygen in my capillaries.

But once in awhile, I hear his voice or a memory flows through my skull like an electric current igniting a cataclysmic landmine. Destroying my livelihood unexpectedly until I fall face first into my hands echoing the shrills of Nancy Kerrigan “Why? Why?”

Grief strips you of your identity. Takes your soul and crumples it up then proceeds to uncrumple it then sends it through a paper-shredder just so it can crumple every little part of you that still exists. But the deciding moment happens when there’s a choice to tape the pieces together or remain in pieces.

Grief can become an opiate too. Becoming addicted to the grief and the identity it provides in life after loss. And grief is addicting! My grief has become the coal fueling the engine. I’m doing things I didn’t think were capable or in the realm of possibility.

How we use our grief and value it is judgment we all must make at some point in our widowhood.

Remember on July 29th

Sign Up For Widow of Hope Virtual 5k

 

 

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