Well, I’ve done it. Made it through a full calendar year without my dear husband here by my side. I remember on New Year’s Eve last year, as 2019 arrived, I was filled with such dread and sorrow. It was hard to think that it was the start of a new year without Seth here on earth. He would not be by our side for an entire 365 days…a whole calendar year of experiences he wouldn’t be here for. It was daunting to think that reality was really kicking in and our new life without him was really starting. I was only 6 months into my journey without him, and the thought was too much to bear.

So, I let myself be sad, mourn our loss and feel the pain that I knew would continue to crash in for the rest of our lives. Then I picked myself up and thought, ‘OK, now it’s time to see what we can make of this year ahead of us.’ And now that we’ve made it through the 365 days without him, I can honestly say, I’m proud of how we lived it. We had some really great days, and some really not so great days, but we’ve made great memories, have cherished the old, and honored the many traditions we had with Seth. And did our very best to keep making him proud.

When I think about some of the memories we made this year, I actually find myself thinking we had some perfect moments. Crazy to think that amid our grief, I could even find myself using that word, but I’m here to say I can. Perfect…yet imperfect at the same time. I use the word perfect because we were happy, having fun, doing new things, yet imperfect because how could life really be perfect when Seth isn’t here to experience it with us? That’s the thing about grief, you can have a perfect day, moment, or experience, and yet it is imperfect at the same time, because the one person you want there by your side to experience it with isn’t there. Those moments range from the big stuff to the small stuff.

Perfect moments that were perfectly imperfect.

Seeing Nicholas perform a solo in his kindergarten musical in front of hundreds of parents had me beaming with pride and aching with tears because his Daddy isn’t here to give him a big hug afterwards. Watching our sweet Leah in her first dance recital absolutely own the stage and realizing between the laughs and applauds, the deep ache that her Daddy isn’t here to give her flowers and tell her she is the apple of his eye.

Perfect moments that were perfectly imperfect.

Our first time sledding in the snow and watching the kids play, laugh and marvel at the joy of a fresh snowfall. Our first trip to the beach, watching the kids run in and out of the waves and bury each other’s feet in the sand. Seeing the kids playing in the pool all summer and Nicholas finally swimming and overcoming his fears. Such beautifully perfect moments, that I was so proud we were experiencing, yet moments that made me stop in my tracks because I knew that Seth would be right in the middle of the fun and would be loving these moments. And that, again, he isn’t here to enjoy them with us. Throwing snowballs, chasing the waves and doing cannon balls into the water. Things that he couldn’t wait to do with the kids.

Perfect moments that were perfectly imperfect.

I learned in this last 365 days that we have a lifetime ahead of us filled with perfectly imperfect moments, and I need to do my best to enjoy these moments, and bring with me the joy that I know their Daddy would be having if he was still here to experience them. The ache in my chest will continue to be there, and the pain of knowing how much Seth would have loved each and every moment will continue. But I will make him proud by bringing enough love and hugs for both of us and remind my kids just how proud their Daddy is of them.

Now that the new year is here, I’m filled with hope and optimism and with the idea that there are many great moments yet to come. Moments that will be perfectly imperfect. Yet we will continue to experience the fun that life has in store for us and will continue to make Seth proud. In our own perfectly imperfect way.


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.