It will always be the burnt hot pocket and the meaning behind it that gets me. You see, I burnt my son’s hot pocket, I cooked it for 20 mins instead of 2. That’s the story we still to this day talk about and every time I think to myself “But I kept myself alive and you and your sister” and we laugh about it now. The truth is I have no real memory of that incident as well as so many others that came after Bryan’s death.  Widow Brain is a real thing! I had never heard of it before and I still suffer from it today, 4-1/2 years later. It’s not as bad, but I still have it. When we talk about the burnt hot pocket and my “Mom Fails” from that time all I can do is think “But I kept myself alive” and believe me, that was hard. I did my best, I still went to work, tried my best to parent, but the truth is, I didn’t want to anymore, I didn’t want to be here.  I didn’t want to do anything. I would come home from work and go to my cocoon which was Bryan’s hoodie, his funeral playlist and the couch. I would put the hood over my head and weep, as quietly as I could and sleep. I was trying to survive. That’s all I could do. I did my best, but I still burnt the hot pocket. Crazy thing is, I remember telling my son, it’s not burnt, eat it anyway. I think we may have even argued about it and I got angry and threw it out side, which by the way it didn’t even break, it was literally a brick that our dog wouldn’t even eat. My daughter stayed gone a lot and my son stayed down stairs in his den. Our home was no longer a home, it was our shelter. Our home was 1.9 miles away from us, buried in the ground and this mama had no idea what to do. I was doing everything I was told by the ones who loved me, I was reading every widow book I could find, reading scripture, journaling, therapy and anything else I thought might be of some help. But still, nothing would take away the pain. I felt like it was slowly killing me and I didn’t know what to do. My life and world as I knew it was completely shattered. I only knew myself as Bryan’s wife, Madison & Aiden’s mom. And with Bryan gone, I was half a person, and It felt like the better half of me had also died. I felt like I didn’t know how to do anything. I mean, I couldn’t even cook a freaking hot pocket. As the days, months went by, I thought let me just get past this first year, then it will be okay. Nope, didn’t happen. I did sell our house and buy a new one, that was a no brainer for me. As much as I had loved our home, it felt like it was suffocating me and I know the kids felt the same way. We had to make a change if there was going to be any further healing. The new home was a Godsend and I believe Bryan guided me to it. Year 1 down, a new home, a new/fresh start, we got this! I can do it! Nope, wrong! Year 2 brought on a whole different set of challenges. The only thing I felt I had going for us, was our new home. Which quickly became our sanctuary. We all 3 loved it and the meaning behind it made it even more special. I felt Bryan more present in our new home then I ever did in our old home. Although he had never stepped foot in the new house, he was there, I could feel him. The challenges and grief year 2 brought were very hard and it seemed to be like it was maybe even harder. So many things were so different, yet still the same. I would still look for him every night, I would still see his truck in the drive and for a split second be glad he was home. It was all just so surreal that this was my new life, nothing like I had planned. My blessing, my kids. They seemed to be doing better, that was my saving grace. Still not completely healed, which I know they will never be, but better in a way. I saw sparkles in there eyes again, I saw Hope! and I was finally not burning hot pockets anymore. Mom win!! But in all honesty acceptance was setting in and that was the hardest part. Accepting that this was it, this new life was ours now. Was it painful, ABSOULETLY!! Was it hard, ABSOULETLY!! Was it scary, ABSOULETLY!! But it is what it is and at some point I had to realize this and accept it, as best as I could. Once I realized that the grief and pain was not going to physically kill me and that I still had so much to be thankful for and so many blessings, then the pain started to change. I started to grow and figure things out. I have always said, I had to find my place in this “new” world and that is what I am still figuring out. We are coming up on year 5 in December. What still seems like yesterday in a way, seems like a lifetime ago. My kids have kept me grounded. They have kept me sane. I wonder if they know how “they” have helped keep me alive. Grief is ugly, scary and down right debilitating and you have to go through it. You have to find your way, follow your path, stay on your road, in your lane. I believe that’s how you will get thru it. My advice to any grieving parent; You’re going to burn a hot pocket, probably more than one, but then one day – you will cook the most perfect hot pocket ever. When that happens, you smile, you dance, you do whatever you feel and celebrate that dang good hot pocket…




Brandi never expected to be a widow, she always thought they would grow old together. They had plans, big plans, of early retirement and enjoying “retired life” together and everything that was to come with that. Bryan was her first and only love. They began their journey together when she was 15, he was 17. They would go on to build a beautiful life together, have 2 children, a girl first and then a beautiful bouncing boy. They were living their American Dream. But God had other plans and on Thursday, December 15, 2016, the unimaginable happened. While they were on the phone together, both at work, he died from a massive heart attack. In total disbelief and despair, she got to him and saw what would become the most tragic thing she could have ever imagined, her 39-year-old husband no longer there with them. He was gone, just like that. Instead of planning his 40th. birthday party, she was planning his funeral. Her life and the life of her 15-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son were completely shattered. She was left alone, heartbroken, and now her biggest job, a single mom. Brandi had no idea what she was to do. The hardest job was mothering grieving children while completely in the depth of grief herself. The widowhood journey for her has been the most difficult thing she has ever done. She quickly learned that “widowhood” was also a “sisterhood” and one that no one understood unless you were part of it. Brandy was thankful to have found a handful of friends that unfortunately knew what she was going through. She took to journaling, reaching out to widow sisters, and of course therapy. Brandi ended every journal entry with a prayer for peace and hope. The widow fog is finally lifting and she is finally at a place where she feels Peace & Hope. The joy is returning as she continues to learn new things about herself and raising two children. Brandi is at a place in her journey where she feels as if she has a lot to say and can possibly be of some help to someone who has felt so lost, such despair and grief so deep. You can also find her personal blog here: