Dear One,

It’s really okay to forgive you.

I wished I known this for myself, but instead, I carried so much guilt and shame for how I did (or did not do) whatever a young widow is supposed to suddenly be doing. There were just so many things…

As the wife of a severely injured Marine during wartime, my widowhood was made to feel unusual. Those first few months after Chad died, those agencies, friends, church members, our family and community, were as shell shocked as we were and did not know exactly where point us. And when support was provided we, my son (then 6yo) and/or I, were not ready or willing.


You may not even be carrying this particular weight – the need to forgive yourself – but I did. And sometimes, even 14 years later, I still do.

If even once, you’ve whispered to yourself that you “should have been awake” or that you “wished you would have come straight home” or spend time longing to turn back the clock and change that last argument into something far more amicable, unifying and loving, it may be time to forgive you.

It is so painful to lose your love. To swim in the suffering of grief and pain that affects the way you think, the way food tastes and whether you can even conceive of clinging to any hope. It changes everything you’ve ever known about living and loving. And in surviving the loss and actively mourning, we can pick up additional weights, and begin condemning ourselves for things out of our control.

Taking a more honest, real look at myself – less groomed and more open to my blindspots – gave me permission to see where I was thriving and where I was still starved for healing and growth. It was clear…

I hated parts of myself for how I handled (or didn’t handle) being widowed. 


I’ve not found it difficult to realize that my backpack becomes heavier with pain. The loss, the things people say with the best of intentions, the having to figure things out on my own. I do have a hard time admitting that blame, shame and chiding at my own hands put the extra, unnecessary weight. Ridiculing myself for not being better prepared, not responding graciously to people’s comments, not making time to learn how to do all the things he did for our family.

It wasn’t until I began calling it what it really was – shame, self-hatred and really a dislike for myself – that I saw my need. Identifying what it was doing to me – causing me to hide my authentic self and trying to change myself on the surface to be pleasing to people who didn’t really care to understand or help. This is when I began to realize that I could and needed to forgive myself.

I don’t exactly know what you might need to forgive yourself for, but consider that you may need forgive yourself, even if just a little bit. Un-forgiveness of ourselves and others can dig deep roots. When our roots are untended to – fed by bitterness, anger and resentment of ourselves – un-forgiveness rots us. It can take years to recover.

There is no handbook sweet one. No exactly perfect, painless, sensical way to walk through the deeply intense pain.


Consider forgiving yourself for ever wishing you’d handled it differently. Or for withholding your real feelings to appease others. This was my greatest weight, I’ve carried it for over a decade and am still fighting to unpack this one. Perhaps you need to forgive yourself for doing exactly what you said you would “never” do and then doing it anyway, twice.

Grace is for you. And there is plenty of it.

Today’s the day. Give yourself permission. Make margin in your soul by beginning (or continuing) to forgive YOU.



Regina has been widowed for 14 years after her husband of almost 10 years passed away from injuries sustained while serving in Iraq. Though they’d had a military wedding back in 1997, she was naive that his reservist duty would ever turn into anything more than training monthly and two weeks each summer. When Chad + Regina met, he had already been serving in the Marine Corps for more than seven years; it was a huge part of his life – she never thought to ask or suggest he leave this service.

In October of 2004, his battalion deployed to Iraq. In early November, she received a call that he’d been severely injured. He had been driving the humvee that was destroyed by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and he was in a “mash unit” still in Iraq with little hope of remaining alive while being flown stateside for better treatment. By the grace of God, he was successfully back in Maryland three weeks later where nine long months of attempted rehabilitation began.

Though Regina and their 5yo son were not ever able to hold a conversation with him (they spoke, he never did), they were relieved that they were able to see him again on American soil to physically say goodbye. He passed away in August of 2005 and the real grief began. There were things in their marriage that were not picture perfect or made public because he had been portrayed as a local hero. It was only after the media attention went away and others went back to their everyday lives that she felt free to began to wrestle with some of the truths of their imperfect marriage; things that she never got to resolve with her then injured, now deceased husband.

Regina has often felt unusual in her grief since there are so few military widows (compared to other deaths) though she’s come to recognize the grief is overwhelming and quite similar no matter the cause of the loss. She has recently remarried for the third time after learning that marrying in your grief can be devastating to the process of healing if you’re not truly whole – the second marriage ended in divorce. She is now the happiest and most at peace in a marriage than she’s been in decades. She and her husband currently live in Texas and are coaching three young adult children through their next steps while traveling, eating good food and visiting as many vineyards as time will allow.

She currently works to help folks break away from stress, stuck + overwhelm. She taps into her career experience as an educator (classroom teacher, building administrator and professional development trainer/coach) in her current part-time role as an executive and personal assistant to a local optometrist and his family as well as in her mini-lessons and coaching on soul care. Regina believes that everyone has a story and the best way she can serve others is to step boldly into their soul pain and help them grab hold of hope. She is candid, real and direct but is not uncomfortable in people’s grief and all that can come from walking through it. She hopes to speak publicly someday, but for now, is focused on tending to the deep matters in her soul and and helping others do the same.
You can find her on her blog "Simply Sather" - - and on Instagram and Facebook as @reginasather.