As we all know, Pinterest (and Wikipedia) are the sources of all truth. If it is written there, then it is real. While I was in Pinterest, pinning things I want others to make for me(!) I found a sentence: “Don’t let your struggle become your identity.”

We have experienced a loss that consumes our world. Our world revolved around our beloved. We cry, shout, struggle and plod through our grief. This life changing event can consume us. Years ago, widows wore black for a period of time to tell the world they were mourning. Soon after my husband died, I really understood why they did that. I was in shock, a shell of myself, going through the motions of my life. Yes, my struggle became my identity. I felt like I should wear a big, black “W” on my clothing.

After a period of time, my teen reminded me I was Karen first; widow, nerd, musician, mother, etc. after that and not the other way around. I finally felt I didn’t have to include widowhood in my conversations. Recently, I was in a meeting when an acquaintance talked about my husband and I retiring. All the others in the room knew I was widowed and I let it go. Karen first; widow later.

If you are at a place where widow is your identity, don’t beat yourself up about it. I believe that is natural. Struggles and the lessons learned define who we are and the transition to having our struggles help define us rather than solely identify us is a process. This can take time. Again, I am Karen first, with all the descriptors in my life following my being Karen. I take the lessons I have learned, the knowledge gained, the wounds and scarring inflicted, and try to be a better person and move forward. I no longer let my struggles identify me, rather I use my struggles as one of many ingredients that make me Karen.