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  • strong woman

I am a widow

Updated: Mar 14, 2022

Phone rings ….he’s collapsed ….. no heartbeat ….. ambulance …. the doctors are working on him …. no pulse …. heart attack ... .. it's not good news…. your husband has passed away.

My memories of that awful day are patchy and not entirely clear but I do remember my world just crashed to a halt as they opened a door to a room where the love of my life laid motionless with a tube coming out of his mouth. How do I tell his dad that his only son is gone, how do I tell my kids that they won't see their dad anymore … how do I breath ....

I remember a well meaning friend saying to me ‘you must be so mad! It's so unfair that this happened to you, why you?’. In times of extreme crisis, my faith warrior tends to take over and I see my situation from a further perspective than where I’m at that very moment. I remember the words ‘ If not me, who? If not now, when?’ I’m not mad or angry, I’m just really really sad … sad I wont see him again, sad we won't get to live the life we planned together, sad my kids have to grow up without their dad, sad because we never got to say goodbye. Anger never factored in, anger doesn't make the sadness go away.

Through that wail of sadness and despair I made a few firm decisions that I’m actually very grateful for now looking back. One of them was talking… that was a big one.. I never wanted anyone to feel awkward or uncomfortable or even sad, when talking to me about my husband. He was a great man, a great father and a great friend to many. It's not right to ignore the significance of that. The memories we have of him and his stories should bring us joy, not sadness. My kids need to hear about their father for all the years of their life. He may not be physically here, but he needs to live on in our conversations always.

The other was giving us all permission to feel. Feel what we were feeling no matter where we were or who was around. I know it made people uneasy when I would suddenly melt into tears because I saw something or heard something or felt something that sent a bolt through my heart. It's not my job to make people around me comfortable, it's also not my job to be ‘strong’ in front of my kids. I needed to lead by example, my kids needed to know if mummy is sad, she will cry and they will hold me, just the same way I held them every single night as they cried themselves to sleep. I always told my kids, you need to feel all the big feelings when they come, that's how we know how much we love daddy.

Another important thing is to understand that I was not the only one grieving. Everyone around me was grieving too. Everyone to different degrees but everyone was grieving. That's why I couldn't shut my door, lie on the floor and cry for 3 weeks straight. I have two little boys that only have me left. I had to get up, I had to learn to keep going despite my sadness. But we can't do it alone. The saying ‘it takes a village’ holds such truth for my life right now.

Ask for help. What got me through was my friends and family and the community around me. I know it's said that you learn who your friends are when you're going through difficult times but I also know that those friends need to be in your life for the good and the bad times well before the earth shattering events take place. I’m so grateful I have amazing friends and family. But that didn't just happen. It was all of us making the time, making the effort and intentionally building those relationships. It's a given that you need to put in the time for a marriage to work. I dont think it's too different with friendship. What you put in is what you get out. My friends are a blessing in my life and I hope they all know that if and when they ever need me I’m always going to be there for them too.

Don't give up all your life dreams when everything around you is falling to pieces. I run a business and I was working on launching another business when I lost my husband. Everyone I spoke to seemed surprised that I was still pushing through and wanting to open that other business. In all honesty there were days that everything got so hard I was ready to just give up and cut my losses. However, I kept telling myself, I’m 42, that meant I have many years left to be a productive human being and if I let all my hard work go to waste, I’ll probably never try again. So I gritted my teeth and kept at it. I’m not feeling the rewards as yet, but I’m confident I’ll look back in a few years and be glad I did.

We were a month away from celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary when my husband passed away. The night before I remember him being so excited that he had booked a surprise trip for us to go away together to celebrate. Broke my heart to cancel those plans and come to the realisation that we will have no more celebrations together … ever...

As a couple, I was the dreamer, he was the grown up. He worked full time at his job and I worked full time as a mum and a business owner. He made sure we had a will, had a financial planner, we had the right insurances, he made sure we had a plan for the future. He was also the one that ate all his vege’s and exercised so it does seem unfair that he was taken at such a young age and I’m still here … breathing. But, I don't make the plans. The reels of paperwork and legal rhythmarole involved in death is incredible. I always joked that I wanted to be the first to go because I couldn't deal with the paperwork! As usual he didn't listen!

Even with him being so organised, the months that followed were an endless series of forms to fill and decisions to make. It started with his funeral. As was expected, I started to book the church and do the things people are told to do. One night it just hit me, I didn't need to do what was expected. This was the man I loved, this would be one of the last times I get to fully celebrate him. I could celebrate his life on my terms, the way I wanted! I started by taking control of his funeral and from that moment on I made decisions that were right for me and my family with regards to everything else that followed. I didn't know it until right this moment as I wrote these words but this was a pivotal moment when I took back my strength.

I’m now standing 8 months after that horrid day. I got up and put on some makeup. I went to my first business breakfast since that day. I’m strong, I’m doing ok. I miss him so much every single day but I know he is proud of us and how we are putting one foot in front of the other. How am I? I’m treading water till I learn to swim.

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