It’s so hard to believe we are headed into our third Christmas without Seth.  Sometimes it feels like the last Christmas we had with him was just yesterday.  Other times I can’t even remember what we did on our last Christmas together.  I guess that is bound to happen considering we never would have expected that 2017 would be our last Christmas together.

As I think about the last few years, I’m reflecting on how this journey continues to evolve.  Year one I was in a fog. Year two I was tired.  Now we are now deep into the holiday season, with Christmas just a few days away. I’m finding that in year three I’m lonely.  Aching for the life we had and deeply feeling the void Seth’s passing left in our lives.

As we’ve all experienced, this year has been like no other. Loneliness has been felt by all of us in one way or another.  Our lives have been upended, our routines have changed, our ‘normal’ won’t be ‘normal’ again for quite some time…if not ever.  And the loneliness of quarantining, plans being cancelled, not being with others, has been exhausting.

We will all have a new ‘normal’ to adjust to as we emerge from this pandemic. And if anyone knows how to endure navigating a new ‘normal’ that will never feel ‘normal’ it’s a widow.  We keep swimming through life. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Keep doing what we can to get out of bed.  And us solo moms keep taking care of our kids the best we can. Knowing that there will always be a void.  The felling that something is missing. And knowing we will never really feel ‘normal’ again.

So, while my loneliness for Seth is nothing new, it’s hitting me even harder this year. It has been felt deeply throughout this crazy year of 2020. Not having him to quarantine with. Not having him to share the burden of being home 24/7. Not having anyone who can give me a break or give the kids a break from me. Not having him here to help me navigate losing and finding a new job.

While I wasn’t surprised I’d feel the loneliness this holiday season, it hit me hard this weekend. As I was shopping for the last of the Christmas gifts, I felt more alone than I ever had while wandering the toy aisle. I debated what to buy for stocking stuffers and had to go with my gut and didn’t have anyone else to help decide. I came home and started to wrap gifts and began to think about what needed to be done this week, it hit me again that it’s just me to think about what needs to be done. I need to make the magic of the holidays happen. Alone. Again. I felt sad, deflated, and empty.

I deeply miss taking a day off work for us to go Christmas shopping and have lunch.  I miss listening to Christmas music as we wrap presents and talk about how excited the kids will be on Christmas morning. I miss sitting by the tree at night with a glass of wine and talking about all of the vacations and places we visited when we bought our favorite ornaments.

I’m lonely for Seth. I’m lonely for those ‘normal’ things we would do.  For those beautiful and fun moments together.  It’s just not the same to shop alone.  Wrap gifts alone.  Sit by the tree at night alone. And even two and a half years into this journey, the loneliness doesn’t get any easier.

And I’m lonely for the kids, too.  Knowing that they are at such fun ages and Seth would be eating them up.  He would have loved to build the Barbie Dreamhouse and play dolls with our daughter.  Would have figured out the Nintendo Switch and would be so excited every time our son won a new level in his game. And he would have loved us all sitting on the couch together watching football.

And I think this year I’m realizing this will be my new ‘normal’ for the foreseeable future.  I will always have the loneliness and aching in my heart. The loneliness of him no longer in our daily lives. However, I’ll continue to do what I can to make this a great year for our kids.  We will share stories about Seth.  Get excited about their presents.  Make a big breakfast.  Laugh and smile.  We will watch football and build the Dreamhouse and figure out the video games. We will do our best to make the holidays feel ‘normal’ when they never really will be again.


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.