Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

Tell Them Before They Ask

Monday, July 18, 2016
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20 months after finding my husband unresponsive in bed, I’m still learning how to live this life. My twins are 17 months old, and right before they were born, I moved
out of Chicago to be closer to family. Conversely, I moved away from my friends and everything familiar. 5 months into “Mommy hood”, I felt the pressing need to be around other Moms with infants. My Mom had gone back to work full-time and I was itching to get out of the house. It took me weeks to make the decision, but I finally joined a meet up group that organizes play dates and I dove right in.
Of course this presents the first time I would meet new people without my family there to “explain my situation” on the side. I was going to be the one extending my hand and introducing myself, playing with my children with my naked left ring finger, keeping quiet when husbands are mentioned in the conversation.
“Tell them before they ask”. It sounded right when it echoed in my mind as I drove to the park; it was what I knew I needed to do. I’m a straightforward type of person. I don’t want small town whispers behind my back: “where is the Dad?”, “did they get divorced?”, “did she choose to do this alone?” As proud as I am of being able to raise these children on my own, I’m just as proud of my life with Chris and the amazing dad I knew he would have been. It wasn’t fair to him or my children for people to make assumptions or draw their own conclusions.
“Tell them before they ask” was also implemented at the first Mom’s Night with the meet up group. We would be without our kids, having a cocktail and chatting at someone’s house. Inevitably, someone would ask if my husband was home with the kids, right? I could avoid the topic and simply not mention it. With so many women in one room, it would be easy to do. But I had made my decision, and it was easier this time. It felt good to talk about Chris and I wanted these new friends in my life to know him.
“Tell them before they ask” seems to work for me most of the time. New people learn my story without too much awkwardness, and with zero assumptions. Opening up myself this way has also, surprisingly, helped me heal. It lets people know I want to talk about Chris; I want them to ask questions about him, keep his memory alive.
Talking about his death is still painful and raw, but sharing my life and my story with others feels right to me at this moment. I’m still learning how to live this life.


I think it is always a quandry - some days we want to put it all out there and others I want to just stay anonymous. You are doing what works for you - which is always the best approach! Stay strong!

Hi Audra: I lost my wife after 34 years of marriage. Even though my 3 young adults were older and had their own careers, it was not any easier for me. After 2 years, when people come up an ask how am I doing, I am honest and reply that I take each day at a time, and that it is still a struggle for me. You have to be supportive of your children and it has worked for me. I am thankful that my young adults are doing so well.

Your post resonates with me so much. My husband died in his sleep (heart attack) the day after our daughter's first birthday. I find my self needing to tell everyone before they ask, as it is easier for them to categorize me and then we can begin a friendship. I'm four years down this new path - so the need for sharing has subsided a bit. But I still want people to know that my daughter's father was someone who wanted to be there for her - his lack of presence doesn't have to do with a choice to not be there. He was an amazing dad for her first year of life and he left us with so much love to last us through this journey. I'm with you that I have much to learn and must work everyday recalculating the choices I make. The parent I wanted to be (which is one that is married to my best friend) and the parent I have to be (grieving widow) takes constant adjustment. Thanks for sharing your story.

I'm crying halfway while reading your blog. You are a strong and incredible woman . I couldn't imagine the shoe your walking in . But one thing for sure your children will be so proud one day They have a loving Mom like you . God Bless Audra !! You are Sorroubded by Love !! that I am sure of ..

So proud of you Audra. Many blessings in my prayers for your twins and you. As a twin, a mom & an Antioch alumni my heart hopes you feel whole. I am painfully sorry for the loss of your husband & their dad. In the same token very proud of your strength. Fill your heart with the peace that passes understanding & good good friends. All the best. Heather Burke Bautista

Audra I am FB friends with your father-in-law and see occasional photos of your twins. I think you are one very strong young woman. I had similar issues after the loss of a child when people I met would ask how many children I had. I could not deny my daughter's life by saying two so, I always said three with a brief explanation. Out in the open is the best way to go. Hugs Audra and my condolences on your tragic loss.

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