When the funeral has ended, and when you come home from work to be greeted by silence, and the realization the rooms once filled with laughter are soaked with tears. The fog has lifted, and now it’s time to grieve.

When I expressed my grief early on, I knew I was making people uncomfortable. So when I would feel my throat tighten, my temples begin to throb as the grief storm arrived. I’d quietly close my office door, lay my head on my desk and the full eruption of tears, snot and gasping for air like I was drowning came flooding in. I felt so alone, not only because when I went home after work, there was no one there waiting for me, but also because I had to hide my hurt from everyone.

Except for my assistant coach who shared an office with me. She would pull my hair back so I wouldn’t drool on it. She was a champ.

As the fog continued to lift and the vision of living alone became more evident, I realized my grief didn’t just end with missing my husband. It infected every part of my life. And it still does, almost five years later.

Author, Comedian, and Widow, Kelley Lynn, wrote about how the way we watch TV changes when our spouse dies. And it’s true. I don’t have a hand to hold and someone to laugh along with. So in my first year of widowhood, I got rid of cable. I didn’t see the point.

The way I dined changed too. I used to create these fantastic meals with my husband, and we would do hours of prep to make tasty desserts or involved dinners. But when he died, I ordered out more, tried to throw a bunch of ingredients into a bowl and hope for the best.

Even today, I don’t bake, I don’t meal prep much like I used to. I tend to grab what is available and throw it into a bowl. The joy washed away when the funeral home lifted him out of my apartment.

I can’t adequately voice these things publicly unless I’m writing it down. Because of this, the widow boards, and blogs are so valuable for me to express how I feel. When the fog lifted and I realized the magnitude of losing my husband and how it impacts my entire life– including friendships, family dynamic, work ethic, etc.– I needed to know if this was unusual. And I was embarrassed about how I felt. But when I learned others were experiencing it too, the pain felt normal.

And there is now the longstanding rhetorical question– Does time heal all wounds? Or do you become normalized to the pain over time?



Julia lost her husband in 2013 to a rare liver cancer when she was 28 years old. In the months and years afterwards, Julia continues to use her grief into a positive lifestyle change. She has been involved in NCAA Athletics for 14 years, and has continued to document her fitness, athletic and grief journey in her heartbreaking and honest blog The Unwanted W. Julia's journey has been featured in US Lacrosse Magazine, SoulCycle, and The Guardian. She currently writes for an online fitness and nutrition journal and works as a professional fitness instructor in Navarre, FL.

To contact Julia, please visit her website www.juliasteiercoaching.com or visit her Instagram for health tips at @juliasteiercoaching