widow strong

Over the past few months I’ve taken a hiatus from writing about widowhood because life got in the way. But I continue to promote the importance of being #widowstrong on various social media platforms. For awhile, I felt like I was becoming a broken record. Constantly reciting what it means to be strong, and encouraging that although through hardships you are worth it.

But you know something, I’ve been noticing there’s not enough bloggers providing reasons why you are stronger than you think and that you are indeed worth it.

Because you are deserving of capturing that elusive happiness.

Though your friends are no longer grieving for you, and your family has moved on, it does reveal the tragic acknowledgement of life continues. But it is okay to talk about your loss! And you should be able to unapologetically. But be willing to also open yourself to new experiences to redefine yourself as a human being. If your current routine is exacerbating the feeling of loss and loneliness, you have a choice. The ability to choose the pursuit of happiness means you are worth it. Even if that happiness is for five minutes of the full day.

And so here I am, back to clicking away at my computer to remind you that through the darkest days, the sun will always rise and it takes true grit and resilience to gaze out the window to proceed forward. Even when all you want to do is crawl back into bed, beg the universe to end your misery and to finally disappear into nothingness.

How many days, months, years have you been wishing for that? How many days, months, years have you been actively trying to press forward with this unwanted, but unavoidable new normal?

Panic attacks at the grocery store, hyperventilating at your kids soccer games, sobbing on the subway on your way to work. Those are not signs of weakness. It usually takes just one hairpin trigger to set such powerful emotions to the surface. Feelings kept inside from unbelievable strength to appear like nothing is wrong. How is that a weakness when it is sprouted from trying to hold strong? The ability to walk out of your front door, every day afterwards is also a sign of strength. Each task you complete for that day while fighting the urge to throw your hands up and say enough of this I’m going home. That is strength.

I used to get so irritated when people would tell me “I don’t know how you do it, you’re so strong.” I’d flash a toothy smile and say thank you, while in the back of my mind I’d be thinking, well damn what other choice do I fucking have?

But life is all about choices. I did have the choice to stay stuck in a vacuum of wondering why did this happen to me? Or to change my attitude to using my loss to improve my future. And this here defines my widow strong.

To find new interests that speak to my soul, to find a hobby that gets me out of bed, to seek out friendships to replace the ones that fizzled. I controlled everything except the outcome of my husband. But because of his optimism and love of life, I wouldn’t have developed into the person I am today. And those moments I broke down and sobbed on the train, the anxiety attacks in the middle of coaching a lacrosse game, the stinging numbness at my friend’s weddings, all of those stem from wanting to be strong so no knew how much I really was hurting inside.

And it still happens today. But tomorrow the sun, stars, moon, and planets will all rise in the east. They’ll continue moving, just like all of us on this unbreakable pathway. Remember, you’re widow strong.


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