Recently I had the opportunity to take part in a grief photo shoot.  Sounds crazy, right? But actually it is one of the most therapeutic things I have done in my grief journey. 


When this opportunity was presented to me, I jumped at the chance to put my grief into pictures. I met with the photographer and she asked me many questions about my widow journey.  She asked me to look at photos online and see if any captured my grief. And then she created photo opportunities that perfectly expressed my feelings. She captured my grief in a way words can’t express. 


When I first saw my photos, I was in awe.  To see just how far I have come in my grief journey was inspiring.  It reminded me that grief changes over time. It never goes away, but it changes.  I think we get used to it. 


This shoot was so healing.  


When I was first widowed, I could not imagine my future. Couldn’t even begin to think that I might have a future that did not include him. And now 5 ½ years later, I live every day without him. 


When I’m grieving, I go to the beach. The ocean soothes my soul. When I lay in the sand and look towards the sun, I can feel him. I can feel him in the sunshine. When I am at the beach, I swear I can feel him beside me. 


Sometimes grief is like a sucker punch to the gut. It just knocks me to my knees. But no matter how many times grief knocks me down, I get up. I rise again. And sometimes I look to the heavens and ask where are you? And the most important thing I’ve learned in this grief journey is that I have to keep moving. I have to keep walking forward. I have to keep walking towards the sun.  Towards my future. 


Despite my grief  or maybe because of it, I am living my best life now. I never say no to adventure. I live life to the fullest. But at the same time I’m always reaching back. Remembering my past. Afraid I will forget.


This shoot, these photos helped me to realize that no matter how hard grief attacks, I always survive. Actually I am doing more than just surviving, I’m living.  


My grief has changed over 5 1/2 years. It’s not as raw as it used to be. But it’s still there. It will never go away. And not everyone can understand that.  So I feel like I have two faces. the strong, happy one the world sees and the sad, grief stricken one I share with only a select few. 


My grief story is mine only.  This journey only I can walk. And these photos help share that story. 



Carla always knew she would be a widow but didn’t have any idea how it would actually feel. When Carla met her late husband Jared, he was waiting for a lung transplant due to Cystic Fibrosis, a chronic disease affecting the lungs and pancreas. So she knew that most likely someday she would say goodbye to her husband. But she never dreamt it would be exactly one week before their 14th wedding anniversary. In August 2014, Jared was diagnosed with a rare bacterial infection in his transplanted lung and was expected to survive at least 6 months if not a year. Instead, he died just 6 weeks later. And in the blink of an eye, Carla became a solo mom to their 10-year-old son. And even though her life was forever marked before and after, she was determined to live life to the fullest because her husband would expect no less.

She founded Breathing for Jared, a Foundation to provide college scholarships to those suffering from lung disease in honor of her late husband. Became a supporter of the CF Foundation and Donate Life. And discovered that writing out her emotions and fears on her blog Transplant Wife and Widow helped her to process her grief

Carla recently remarried and is now blending a family with her new husband, bonus daughter, and son.