Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

Who Am I?

Monday, January 16, 2012
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In the weeks leading up to January 13th, the third anniversary of Chris’s death, I found myself having slightly less of a pity party than I have in the past.  I don’t want to diminish the heartbreak that I experience at the reality of losing Chris.  It’s just that I seemed to be less focused on the intense pain of my situation this year and more on the process I have undergone since his death.  Instead of focusing on why I am a widow, I reflected on who I have become as a widow.

At 5:00 p.m. on the night Chris went to the ER, I was a mom who was feeling overwhelmed that I was about to have two babies under the age of two.  I was feeling alone because Chris, who had been an extremely involved dad in the past, was gradually becoming less hands on.  His excitement about a new baby coming also seemed to wane and I was hurt at what I thought was his indifference.  In fact, earlier in the day, I had a teary conversation with my sister because I was feeling like my life was pretty rough.  

By 8:00 p.m. that night, I had an explanation for the subtle changes in Chris’s personality.  I quickly became the terrified wife of a man who had just learned he had two masses in is head.  Every time I went to the bathroom in the ER that night (being 9 months pregnant, there were plenty of visits), I stared at the tear-streaked face of the woman in the mirror who was having her world rocked.  I didn’t know it then, but I was the woman in training for widowhood.

In the weeks and months that followed Chris’s death, I was the young mother who functioned in a haze of numbness and relied on a team of people to get her through the day.  I was the “poor widow” who needed meals delivered to her house, her laundry washed for her and her groceries purchased for her.  By the end of that first year, I was the widow who was becoming more capable of keeping her head afloat in the sea of chaos.  I became the single mother (a much despised label a few months earlier) who managed a large support network of friends and family.  And I became the woman who organized a fundraiser for the first anniversary of Chris’s death (mostly for the selfish reason that it kept me very distracted from reality).

In the time since that first anniversary, I have added new layers to the post-widowhood woman I have become.  I have become the woman who expects an attack of grief to hit at the most unexpected times and at the most inappropriate of places.  I have become the woman who gradually stopped cringing at the word “daddy” and fell in love with hearing her children say it.  I have become the woman who is comfortable telling other preschool parents that her husband died.

I have become the woman who is determined that her children will be happy and well-adjusted despite their circumstances.  I have become the woman who is capable of juggling work, child rearing, fundraising and a fairly full social life.  I have become the woman who sees more than an empty void in her future.

I am not the woman who believes her life is over because her spouse is gone.  I am not the woman who is “over” her husband’s death.  I am not the woman who thinks this part of my life will be erased if I remarry.  I am not the woman who thinks this process will be all tidied up within a certain timeframe. I am the woman who sadly acknowledges that my husband dying would probably make me a better partner to someone else.  I am the woman who has learned some hard lessons and recognizes that this won’t exempt her from experiencing more of them in the future.  And now, I have become the woman who feels compelled to help others through this process. 

January 13th will always be a complex day for me.  While it represents the death of one, it also signifies the rebirth of another.  Yes, I am a widow.  But, thankfully, I have also become so much more.


Wendy, you are also a loving and caring daughter, sister, mother and friend. There are no words that can change things, Things are what they are, now in the present. But remember that you have come a long way from there to here. Many tears have been shed for Chris, you and your children. Chris' death was a shock to you and you all who knew him, especially his family. But life goes on, you hold him in your mind and heart everyday as you care and love your children. Chris is in your children, alive and present to you. You can see Chris in their eyes and their mannerisms. You have done wonders with Ian and Claire, they are well adjusted children. It takes a village to raise a child and that's what you have in your family and Chris' family. We are ever so proud of you for the time and efforts you have put into The Chicagoland Young Widowed Connection. Thank you for sending us the website. We read all of the testimonies and have been touched by all of them. There is a saying, "When the Lord closes a door, He always opens a window." No one wants to hear this, but when a death occurs, in many instances there is always something good that comes from this death. Death is painful, it's hurts so bad that you feel like you have been cut in two, that sometimes you can't breathe.

When we spoke on the phone, I saved this message, thanks goodness, and did not finish my thoughts. So therefore I shall resume. Breathe in, breathe out, you have come a long way to where you are now. Know that Chris is very proud of you and all that you have done since he left. Chris is in your mind and heart and you will never forget him. Talk to him each and every day as if he were there. It helps! I still, after 39 years chat with my Mom about this and that. Knowing that she is there in heaven waiting for me, guiding me through life's trials and tribulations is a comfort. Dad and I are very proud of you, of all your accomplishments and especially the loving and caring way you raise your children. Remember that Chris is in Ian and Claire just waiting to blossom. Every time you caress and kiss them, you are loving Chris. He is with you always. Life is ever so precious, we don't realize that until it is taken from us. Live each and every day to the fullest, enjoy your children, your mother, your family, Chris' family and you will survive and thrive. Thank you for being the person that you are, we love you! Love, Dad & Sheri

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