The holidays are always a difficult time. I feel the loss of my late husband so much deeper this time of year. It doesn’t matter how many years it’s been since he died, I always wish he could be here for this most magical time of the year.


This will be our ninth Christmas without Jared.


Nine years of keeping old traditions alive and making new ones.

Nine years of doing my best to make Christmas joyous each year.

Nine years of unwrapping old memories while making new ones.

Nine years of learning that life, love, grief, and happiness can coexist.


The first Christmas after Jared died is a blur. I don’t really have any specific memories of that day. I just know I did my best to make it a merry Christmas for our son. That year we started the tradition of writing a letter to Jared and filling his stocking with love. 


Each Christmas since has had its ups and downs. Laughter and tears. Joy and sorrow. And while I have missed Jared each and every Christmas, the joy of the day now outweighs the sorrow. Each of these nine Christmases without Jared has taught me a valuable lesson: grief never goes away. 


Grief is not something we get over. Instead, it becomes part of our lives. We carry the loss with us each and every day. Some days it’s heavier and harder to carry than others. Overtime we learn to create a new life that encapsulates the loss. Tte grief is a part of who we are, who we become. It never leaves. And yet, we can create a new and happy life, despite our loss. Or maybe because of it.


In the beginning, it’s difficult to imagine a world where your grief is not overpowering. Where it is not the only emotion that you feel. When every very thought, memory, song brings you to tears. But over time our mind creates a new landscape for us where the memories, the songs bring us joy instead of sorrow. And that is when we know it is possible to have a happy life again. 


A life is full of joy, peace, and love. Joy for the things, moments, and activities we get to experience. Peace for the contentment that surviving and thriving can bring. Love for the moments we will treasure with our loved ones in this life post loss. 


Nine years of Christmases without Jared have taught me that grief and love can coexist.. That pain and happiness can coexist. That yearning for the past while excitedly looking towards the future is possible.


I wish you all a joy and love filled holiday. 


Carla always knew she would be a widow but didn’t have any idea how it would actually feel. When Carla met her late husband Jared, he was waiting for a lung transplant due to Cystic Fibrosis, a chronic disease affecting the lungs and pancreas. So she knew that most likely someday she would say goodbye to her husband. But she never dreamt it would be exactly one week before their 14th wedding anniversary. In August 2014, Jared was diagnosed with a rare bacterial infection in his transplanted lung and was expected to survive at least 6 months if not a year. Instead, he died just 6 weeks later. And in the blink of an eye, Carla became a solo mom to their 10-year-old son. And even though her life was forever marked before and after, she was determined to live life to the fullest because her husband would expect no less.

She founded Breathing for Jared, a Foundation to provide college scholarships to those suffering from lung disease in honor of her late husband. Became a supporter of the CF Foundation and Donate Life. And discovered that writing out her emotions and fears on her blog Transplant Wife and Widow helped her to process her grief

Carla recently remarried and is now blending a family with her new husband, bonus daughter, and son.