This week my baby girl started kindergarten. Such a big milestone. She’s been waiting for so long to get on that bus and be at school with the big kids.  Three years to be exact. Since watching her brother step on it for the first time when he started kindergarten.

As I think about this moment, I can’t help but reflect on the fact that this another new beginning, of many, we have experienced without Seth by our side.  And one of so many more yet to come.

Seth died two months before our son started school. He was so excited for Nicholas to be in kindergarten and ride the bus. He had been substitute teaching the year before he died and had taught at the same school Nicholas would be attending. At the open house, I remember Seth telling Nicholas where the bus would drop him off and pick him up. And he told him an easy way to remember how to get to his classroom. He was so proud and wore his school spirit wear to the open house that day.

When Seth died unexpectedly, within minutes after he passed, I remember thinking, “he’s not going to be here to see Nicholas get on the bus for the first time. He won’t be here when he goes to kindergarten.” At that moment that was one of the most devastating thoughts I had of the many running through my head. He was so excited for that moment to come. And sadly, he wasn’t going to be there for it. Not physically anyway. To witness that new beginning and give Nicholas a huge “Seth” smile and wave as the bus drove away from the bus stop.

I was consumed with thoughts of all the moments to come that he wouldn’t be with us for. I remember thinking how terrible life was going to be without him. And that there was no possible way I would ever find joy in these new beginnings and moments that should be so special. I just pictured myself being alone for each of them. With no one to turn to. No one to talk to. No one to celebrate with.

As I think of the new beginnings we have experienced in the last three years, I am seeing that I’m not alone and his love is still with us.  He’s still there for the new beginnings, just not physically.

Last summer I lost my job last year due to the pandemic and had to find a new job without him by my side. Something I hadn’t done in 23 years. The scariest new beginning I could have imagined. I wasn’t sure who I would talk to and turn to during those stressful moments and was devastated all over again that he wasn’t here. However, I found people that were there. People I could talk to and get advice from. People that were cheering me on and helping me navigate this new beginning. People that were sent to help me through this new beginning and remind me I wasn’t alone after all.

I’ve also found that this journey as a widow is filled with new beginnings. Some are scary, exciting, fun, and heartbreaking. I’ve seen my fellow widow sisters sell their houses, move to new cities, find new love, get married, start new jobs, send their kids off to college, welcome new grandchildren. All of these new beginnings without the person by their side that they wish could be there.

And as hard as it is, they are finding joy. Finding people to fill the gap. Remembering they aren’t alone. Finding the ways to know that their husbands are still with them. Cheering them along and sending them signs of their love.

I’m also finding that while each new beginning we experience will look different than what I imagined it to be, it’s still beautiful. We are living life differently than I pictured we would, but we are living life. Experiencing those new beginnings that I know Seth wishes he could be here for. So, we are doing our best and making him proud and living this life while we still have it.

While it will forever break my heart that Seth isn’t here, I know that with each new beginning he’s with us cheering us along. Pointing us to those we need to lean on for support. Sending us those angels on earth to remind us we aren’t alone, and we can do this.


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.