I push to move forward and reclaim my broken life.  I want to thrive and build a life full of good memories with my children despite being so shattered by death stealing from our home.  It was three years in September, but I still struggle.  I am healing a lot but I continue to have that soul crushing grief wash over me. All it takes is half a second if I allow it in.  It is kept locked in a box until I have the time, energy and resources to deal with it.  While it is in the box, I live life rather well.  I am learning to build a happy life around the ache of missing Chad in our day to day lives but the box is always there.  Locked tight.

I have healed enough to be aware of how tightly locked that box needs to be for me to function.  I have healed enough to know I need to begin opening that box and peering inside if I truly want to build a new life for my kids and I.  Which I do.  I want to feel peace in my soul with my life as I did before.  Not just happy times but have a relaxed joy washed over me.  I still have walls built around a desperate ache in my heart. I build new life around those walls, but now I think the walls need to begin to come down.  It is time to face my grief head on.  Not running away from the pain but entering in with where I am at now with it.

My husband’s closet is still as it was 3 years ago.  I don’t need the space so I have left all his clothes hanging in their spot.  Every so often I spray them with his cologne.  I opened up two containers of his deodorant to leave sitting on a shelf.  Sometimes the kids and I will wear one of his shirts to bed or lounge around the house.  We love to smell him on these clothes and it helps us feel close to him again.  If a shirt needs to be washed, afterward I gently rub some deodorant on it, spray it with his cologne and hang it back in his closet so it can begin to smell like him again.  When we run out of his cologne I buy more.  I had a bear made for each of the kids and I out of his shirts.  We sometimes keep our bear in his closet so it too can smell like him.

When I am having an especially hard day, I open his closet and sit there.  The picture boards we made for his funeral are stored there too.  I can open them up and look at pictures of our lives while smelling and feeling his essence.  Every shirt is sacred.  Every item including his socks and underwear remain untouched, frozen in time, reminders of the man who wore them.

I want to be able to “move forward” as they say.  Not so lost in wishing for what we had but truly planning a future of hope.  I know I will always miss and love Chad but I don’t want it to be so all consuming.  Packing up his closet is my next step.  I am not ready to do it at this moment but I have begun the process of thinking about it and believe I can do it by the new year.  Through prayer, I am going to start this conversation with my kids to see if they can be ready for this next step too.   I am going to run toward the pain, push through the ugly in order to come out the other side more whole again.

Every person’s grief journey is unique.  Some widows may need to pack up closets right away.  Others like me,  may need some more time.  Healing looks different for different people.  After his closet, I will begin thinking about my next step with all the wedding photos that remain on our walls. I have learned these past three years that I am strong enough to open the box and let the pain out.  I have now decided it is time for me to run towards my pain, sit with it, cry and wail, to maybe one day call it friend.     



Tanya Christians met her soul mate during her final year of university in Spring 1999. Although she was only 21 at the time it didn’t take long to know that this guy was the one. Chad Christians was charismatic, adventurous, confident, gorgeous and incredibly kind. He was a talented athlete who made everyone feel better the minute he entered a room. Deeply loved by everyone who knew him, Tanya always felt incredibly blessed that he chose her. Chad had a 2-year-old son when Tanya met him so once they moved in together in 2001, Tanya became a part time step mom. They were married July 2004 and then had 3 children together; a daughter in 2006, a son in 2007 and a second daughter in 2010. They built a beautiful life together in a close-knit acreage community.
Chad was a successful business owner and Tanya happily gave up teaching to stay home and raise their kids. They were incredibly happy.

In 2015, Tanya returned to work as a teacher, first part time because their youngest was in kindergarten and then full time when she was in grade one. It was June of this year that everything shattered. The life Tanya thanked God for several times a week came crashing down. Chad had been having severe back pain which led to his gall bladder being removed. After that surgery, Chad’s intense back pain was still more than he could stand. He had
been seeking medical attention for his pain since February but it wasn’t until June 11th, 2017 that the answer to the pain was found. A moment forever etched into Tanya’s mind. Chad had terminal, stage 4 gall bladder cancer. Despite being told the odds, Chad fought this cancer with everything he had, even seeking private treatment out of country, but it was just too aggressive. To everyone’s devastation Chad passed away 3.5 months later at the age of 41. When Chad moved into the different hospitals, shortly after diagnosis, Tanya moved in with him. She was by his side every moment as his health started deteriorating very quickly. Tanya’s strong faith in God gave her peace and hope during this horrendous time. She started a small, private blog telling her story during the endless hours of living in a hospital. Reading other widows blogs during this time gave her hope as well that possibly she could figure out how to live without her beloved Chad.

Chad passed away September 19th, 2017 at the age of 41. Tanya still lives on their small acreage, is working full time as a grade 6 teacher, has three kids in sports and activities and tries to stay connected to her community.
Tanya hopes sharing her story of how she is choosing to build a life where she and her kids thrive, despite her devastation, will give others hope too. How being intentional with her healing, taking steps of self care, adventures with and without her kids, staying connected to those who love them and a deep faith in God is helping them all to live a whole-hearted chapter 2 of their lives.

You can find Tanya on Instagram @christianstanya and her personal blog www.seekingthelightca.wordpress.com