Dear One,

I’m been almost fourteen years since my husband’s death and Thanksgiving still drains me.

It’s improved though.

Where some wounding was more pronounced and somewhat of a surprise, other things that threatened to rip me apart, no longer have the same effect.

I attribute my struggle to fighting to stay in the traditions of Thanksgiving those first bunch of years. It was as if I was going to force our lives back to “normal” by clinging to all of the traditions our small family barely had time to develop. Even though I didn’t feel like making dinner or hosting people. Heck! For most of those first few Thanksgivings, I barely wanted to shower or brush my teeth.

It became easier to move through the holidays when I broke the mold I kept trying to stuff us back into and followed my gut.

This meant different things for quite a few years.


Hospital, bedside at The Fisher House – year one, once.

Ordering pizza and turning on minimal lights, allowing my kid to play video games and watch movies until he grew sick of it – three or four times.

A trip to Mexico with other widows and their kiddos – once.

A cruise with an organization that encouraged children of fallen service members in their grief – once.

Receiving the invitation of well meaning, kind hearted friends and attending but with early, fairly fast exit strategies – at least three times.

Traveling out-of-state to spend time with my family – several times, but not back-to-back.

Other than the trips (once a plane ticket was booked, I felt I had committed), I always reserved the right to change my mind. I’m sure it frustrated people who loved and cared for us, but it was what I felt I needed to do. As I look back over all of the ways I showed up (and survived) at Thanksgiving, I have no regrets.

The holidays are hard anyway; a lot of expectations and pressure to make it look like something in one person’s mind or from their Pinterest page. Oftentimes, stressors, miscommunication and unresolved/unaddressed tension throughout the year come to a head. Dysfunction reigns and unhealthy, toxic behaviors rear their ugly heads.

Adding palpable grief to the traditions and unspoken expectations of Thanksgiving wasn’t going to work for me.

And it was a good gift.

In hindsight, I realize how often I’d made myself pliable to others, rarely speaking my heart’s desires. About many things in general, but our Thanksgiving celebration in particular.

Grief made me do it. It made me hold my ground, it helped me speak up for me and my child.

And for that, I am grateful.

it took me a long time, but I made my very first turkey this year; it was the right time


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.