This is the first blog I’ve written in 7 months. Reason being is that this past year has been hard. In fact, it’s been hardest year I’ve ever had. And that includes the year Seth died.

It’s been a hard year for so many reasons. Not sure I’m ready to write about all of them yet. But what I can say is that it was a year filled with more physical and emotional pain, exhaustion, loneliness, and stress than I’ve ever known.

And I think it’s been even harder because I thought that by now, nearly four years since Seth passed, that things would get easier.

I mean, not everything is harder – some things are easier. The pain isn’t raw anymore (even though it still smacks me out of nowhere and can bring me to my knees in an instant). We are settled into our daily routine of school, work, activities, and chores. We know what it’s like to be a family of three and how important it is to take care of each other.  And I’m still learning how much I can do on my own and can see how far we have all come in the last few years.

I’m often blown away thinking about how much of life has happened in the past four years. So much change, so many first, so many times I didn’t think I could do it alone, yet I have.

Life just keeps smacking me in the face with challenges that I can only imagine would be easier to handle with Seth by my side. Here to help me make hard decisions, give me encouragement and a much-needed break from having to do it all on my own.

I’m not quite sure how I’ve made it through the difficulties life has handed us, other than to acknowledge that there really is a strength deep within that I didn’t know I have. Strength, I don’t usually see, nor acknowledge I have, that has helped to carry me through.

So, what has made this year so hard? Too many things to discuss now, but here are a few…

I started a new job that I had to quit relatively quickly. It was a terrible fit and drained me emotionally. I have never had to quit a job before, nor do so after only six months. I was lucky enough to find a new job to move right into, and it seemed it would be a great fit. But it had a rocky start, and I began to question my decision. Wondered if I would really be able to work the same way I did before Seth died. But knew I had to work, so I stuck with it and tried to find the good in this new opportunity. Knew I had to give it at least a year and pray it would get better. And found myself thankful to have great sounding boards and close friends to help me navigate the stress.

My daughter started kindergarten last fall and immediately faced many challenges. A time that should be filled with joy and discovery and fun has been filled with anxiety, stress, and many emotional outbursts. She’s needed more attention and support than one parent can truly provide, and it’s been exhausting and all consuming. It’s been a time filled with school meetings, doctor appointments and so many really hard decisions. Decisions that were mine alone to make. All while trying to establish myself in a new job, be there for my son and maintain all of the day-to-day responsibilities of running a household. It’s been nothing short of exhausting and completely draining.

I broke my wrist and had to have surgery. Another unexpected twist in this difficult year and had to physically push through the pain to continue working and caring for my kids.

I’ve also experienced the changing relationships that I’ve read so many other widows write about. I have seen friendships evolve or disappear completely in this past year and have had to face the reality that some of those friendships are gone forever. Or will be forever changed. I know that new friendships will come and will fill the void, but in the meantime, it sucks. Because I can feel the reason these friendships have disappeared is because our lives are now different, or circumstances aren’t as similar anymore.

It’s not easy for me to make time to go out and spend time with friends, as I’m typically so totally exhausted, I can barely keep my eyes open after 9:00pm. So that has brought another new element of loneliness that I was thinking I was going to be lucky enough to avoid. As I’ve learned from other widows, these relationship changes will happen – it’s just a matter of time as to when. Another part of why this journey is so hard. And adds another layer of emotion you’re not quite ready to bear.

So, while I’ve had a ridiculously hard year, I’m thankful that I’ve been able to see the helpers. The people Seth and God have ensured are in my life to help me make it though.

We’ve had amazing doctors and teachers and therapists who have helped my daughter to begin to thrive and love and support her in the way she needs. Our relationship has grown, and she’s taught me how to find that strength from within, which she demonstrates every day.

While the early months of my new job were tough, I’ve found a new work family who has given me support and kindness and allowed me the flexibility to prioritize family first. And the security of knowing I have them to lean on when times are tough. And a boss who has recognized my talents and is committed to my career success.

I have been given friends who have continued to support me and listen and help me care for my kids. Friends who I can call when I’m helpless (or need to be rushed to the ER), and who can give me support and a shoulder to cry on and to vent to. And help me laugh and remember I’m never alone. And I’m starting the see the new friends that are filling the void I felt last year.

So, while this has been the hardest year, it’s been one that I can reflect on to see how strong I really can be. That I’m not alone. Seth has been guiding my decisions and placing those in my path that I need so badly to help me keep moving forward. I’m so thankful to have the right network of people surrounding me and lifting me up. And I know that I can do hard things and can still manage to have some fun along the way.


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.