I am going to start this blog off with a huge disclaimer. This one is going to be tough. It is going to challenge you and possibly cause you some anger. As you read, you may feel hurt and want to yell, “you don’t know my story.”  Pissed, I am even going here, again screaming, “well, good for you, I am not there and won’t ever be there.”

Please read the whole thing. Don’t stop when the stir begins to happen inside. I recognize we all have our journey; we get to write our own stories, and processing loss looks different for all of us. Even though we all have in common, WE LOST OUR HUSBANDS!

This new journey of traveling as a widow was not what I would have chosen for my life. The pain I have endured is something I would never wish on another soul. Loneliness, lost, confusion, and no will to keep going, are just a few of what I have dealt with. Tears after tears after tears have flooded my face more times than not. It was a few months after losing Doug when a friend gave me a small wood frame with these words,

 You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have. 

As I held the sign in my hands, reading it over and over, two words stuck out to me. STRONG and CHOICE.

Hmmm, I could understand strong, but choice seemed odd to me. I knew I was or could fake being strong. Having the strength to keep going for my girls and my livelihood was automatic. I had lost my husband. I could not let my girls fall into the grief trap that could take them down a messy road, and there would be no surviving if I didn’t keep the businesses running. I could hear my dad saying, “you girls are just as strong as any boy and can do anything you set out to do.” My dad had three girls, like myself, and from a young age, he would remind us of our strengths. So, having the power that poured out of me was instilled at a very young age.

Even in my weakest moments, I upheld my strength.

There are many meanings under the word choice.

~ an act or instance of choosing; selection

~ the right, power, or opportunity to choose; option

~ the person or thing chosen or eligible to be chosen

~ an alternative

In my own words, with my circumstances, choice means the freedom to live or wither away.

It took me a bit to figure out what choice I wanted to make for my grief journey. We get caught up in the loss, the absolute loneliness, the unimaginable pain that comes from losing our husbands that we forget we have a choice.

Do you want to live miserably captured by your grief? Allowing your life to be taken from you due to not moving forward. Would your late husband be cheering

you on while you sat in sorrow, or would he be encouraging you to get up and start living?

Choice has been in our lives forever. We get to choose what we want for breakfast, how we fix our hair; we choose what we wear; there are many times throughout a typical day when the choice is at the forefront.

Once I became a widow, the word choice became very prominent in my terminology. A different type of choice overtook the everyday choices that seemed so easy. Every day I have had to choose what my day would look like. How was I going to show up? Not for others, but how would I show up for myself? I have the choice to live.

In the process of my grief, it has not always been easy to make the right choice. And I have chosen to sit in my sorrow, stay in bed and not do a darn thing on many days. I have decided to cry all day, angry that my husband is gone. But most of the days I choose to live!

I have watched widows allow years off their lives because they are not living; they choose to let grief take their lives. When it gets hard, and there are days when you don’t know what to do, how to do, or hate to do, I need you to fight through and choose to show up.

“How do you do it?”

“How are you so strong?”

“I could not do what you do!”

“Where does the smile come from?”

Those statements have all been said to me, and the answer is simple. I have a choice.

How do I do it… I have chosen to live.

How am I so strong… because I have chosen a warrior mentality.

I couldn’t do what you do… yes, you can if you choose to.

Where does the smile come from… I choose to share it even on my weakest, hardest days.

As widows, we can fall into the “poor me” mindset. Life will never be the same, and no one will ever understand what I am going through or how I feel. You are correct, life will never be the same, and no one, not even another widow, will truly understand your grief journey. So, you can play the victim card for the rest of your life or start showing up for yourself.

The choice is free, and we have control of our choices.

What choice can you make today that could change the trajectory of your journey?


Love and Blessings


Jacki Corta is a motivational speaker, intuitive life, and grief coach along with the founder and CEO of Strength > Struggle™. The brand she discovered after traveling the journey of cancer with her husband. She started the Strength>Struggle™ crusade, helping others find their inner strength during some of the scariest times. In 2014, her husband, Douglas was diagnosed with Glioblastoma brain cancer and 20 months later passed away, giving Jacki a new title… Widow. It is Jacki’s mission to share her story with the world and how it can positively impact others in whatever they may face. It is a story of unexplainable strength in life’s most challenging storms, overcoming adversity and finding hope while traveling the difficult path her life took.

It is her ability to communicate and willingness to be vulnerable that connects with her clients and audiences. Jacki believes her purpose here is to impact as many souls as possible showing them that through even the darkest days there is a glimpse of light to grab onto for them to find their strength. Jacki will empower, challenge, and give you a new outlook on your own story.

She is a mother of three adult girls and a Mimi to two beautiful granddaughters. You can follow more of her story and inspiration on Instagram @jackicorta or listen to her podcast Jacki Has a Voice on Spotify.