Once you make it through the first year after losing someone, everyone seems to take a deep breath and get back to their regularly scheduled lives. You’ve made it through the one year milestones, the calls and messages slow down, and life becomes a bit quieter and lonelier. As I’m experiencing year two without my dear husband, I’m realizing how much harder this year is than last year, especially now that the holiday season is in full swing.

The five weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are extra busy in our house. After Thanksgiving comes our daughter’s birthday, followed by our son’s birthday, and two weeks later Christmas. Last year the holidays arrived five months after Seth passed away and I was still very much in shock and in a thick fog, going through the motions and doing what needed to be done to ensure we didn’t miss a beat.

I found that even though I was in a fog, I was doing everything in super mom mode, trying to make sure everything was perfect. We visited Santa, went to see Christmas shows, took a trip on the holiday train, baked cookies, I threw a big joint birthday party for the kids, decorated the house, and shopped for the perfect gifts. I was so determined to ensure we were ok and could manage this crappy new life, I was unstoppable. I knew I had to keep moving, keep up with all the holiday activities I thought we should be doing, and keep all the traditions alive. I wanted to do my best to make sure we were living life and making Seth proud.

This year though, it’s a different story altogether.

Now that the holidays are here and it’s year two without Seth, I’m realizing I’m tired. So. Freaking. Tired. Tired of managing it all. Tired of being the only one to think about everything. Tired of making sure we are still living the life we should be living and keeping the traditions going. Tired of not having my husband by my side. The fog and shock of last year has worn off a bit, and I’m not yet feeling the spirit of the season, which is frustrating because this has always been my favorite month of the year. And all I really want to do is hide under the covers until January.

But then again, I don’t want it to be January, and I don’t want to hide from the season. I want it to be the holidays and I want to enjoy them. However, this year with my clarity of mind starting to restore, it’s even harder to do all of this without my husband. I miss him with every ounce of my soul, and I want to be shopping for gifts for the kids together, debating over how much we should really spend and getting excited about how we can surprise the kids on Christmas morning. I want to spend hours searching for the perfect gift for him and see that kid-like look on his face when he too gets a surprise on Christmas morning. I want to give him a kiss on New Year’s Eve. I want to be making memories as a family of four, not as a family of three.

So, what am I going to do this year? Well, I’m not going to hide under the covers. But I may not do all the things I feel I need to do to make the holidays ‘perfect.’ And I’m not in super mom mode this year. I’ve decorated the house, hung the lights outside, and have a few Christmas-y things planned. And what I am starting to see is that I’m making new memories with my kids. My amazing seven-year-old son helped me to carry the tree upstairs from the basement, helped me to hang the lights and decorations. My sweet four-year-old daughter wants to bake cookies and watch Christmas movies, see the lights and visit Santa.

So I will embrace the season and we will go to see Santa and marvel at the lights. We will bake cookies and watch all the Christmas movies. I will shop for the gifts and create magical Christmas morning memories (and will try to make French Toast on Christmas morning that was as good as Seth’s was.) And we will make some new memories and traditions as a family of three.

I am finding that as much as I miss Seth, and will always miss having him here with us, I know I will see his spirit through our kids and through the spirit of this season. And I won’t do the things that we don’t need to do or that I feel we should do. I will take the time to rest. I’ll work hard to enjoy the moments we have together and will honor our traditions that we cherish and the new ones that we are creating. I’ll take the time to talk about Seth and the great memories we shared. I will keep his spirit alive and keep making him proud.


Dena's life was forever changed on June 25, 2018, when she became suddenly redefined as a widow. A title she never thought she would have, or not have for at least another 40 years or more. Her healthy 43-year-old
husband suddenly and unexpectedly passed away, leaving her shocked, heart shattered and left, at age 41, to raise their precious 5-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter without him. Since gaining this new title, she is continually trying to figure out how to live this new life, and have
leaned into her faith, has focused on being brave, and has taken head on all of the challenges she is now faced with in this new life. Dena is here to share her story as she is living it and to be honest and raw, providing insight into the life of a sudden widow with a full-time career and two young children. Dena learned the importance of what she has gained through living a life well lived with her beloved spouse, and she has been writing what is on her mind and in her heart, everything from the pain of losing a spouse suddenly, to focusing on gratefulness and being brave in this journey. She hopes to give others insight into what this journey looks like and provide thoughts on how she is managing through it all. And hopefully inspire some of her hope sister's along the way.

You can read more and follow me on Instagram @suddenlyredefined or on her Facebook page Suddenly Redefined.