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7 Years Later: A Letter to My Newly Widowed Self

This past Saturday marked seven years since my late husband, Jarronn, passed away after a motorcycle accident, and I became a young widow. He was 29-years-old, I was 26. We’d been married for just two and a half months and easily thought we had forever out in front of us.

Seven years later, and I’m still somewhat in disbelief about the way life has happened. While life today looks much different than it did seven years ago, I still vividly remember how I felt in the aftermath of his death, as I grappled to figure out who I was and pick up the pieces of my life.

Seven years later, and I’ve had to learn a lot. Things I wish I had known then, though I had little way of knowing. Seven years later, this is a letter to my newly widowed self. It’s not filled with all the things I’ve learned — though the things about God’s grace, love, and faithfulness are all true, most are far beyond what my hurting heart could handle at the time. This letter is was what I could handle to face the days ahead.

7 Years Later: A Letter to My Newly Widowed Self

Jessica,

This is hard. Heartbreaking and unfair. The worst thing you’ve ever faced in life.

Things will be hard for a long time, but those small fleeting moments when you somehow feel that things will somehow be ok, just before being thrust back into the deepest despair — well, the hope you feel is real.

You can’t imagine it, but in the coming days, months, and years, you will be buoyed by the prayers and generosity of many people, some close friends and others strangers. When you can’t talk to God, they will on your behalf. When you’ve seemingly come to the end of your rope, their random gestures of kindness will make you cry and keep you going. The orchid that arrives from your wedding photographer. The card from the long lost middle school friend who tracks down your mailing address. The birthday trip to Sedona planned by your best girlfriends. Or the guy friends who band together to cut your hedges and fix things around your house. Jarronn was a daily reminder of how you’re deeply loved and cared for, and it hurts to have that ripped away, but let these gestures and prayers remind you as well.

In the coming days and months, many kind people will want to do things for you. I know you’re independent and capable, and I know those things might not always be the most helpful, but let them serve you as best as they know how. In doing so, you’ll help them process their own grief and feelings of helplessness. You’ll also learn the gift of depending on other people.

In the coming months, people who are full of good intentions will try to push you along in your grieving and healing process. They’ll remark on how well you seem to be doing, because the weight of you being in the depths of your grief is uncomfortable, and particularly in our western world, something to be fixed as quickly as possible. And still, other people might push you to grieve longer than you want. Be gentle with these people, but don’t let them push you in either direction. Feel it. Process it. Cry in your car or the bathroom stall at work and scream about it. Seek out therapy. Choose happiness when you want to. Your grieving process will be your own.

I know you feel alone. Even with everyone around you who is experiencing this loss, none feel it in the way you do. Your feelings are yours and unique, but you will discover that for as lonely as you feel now, these painful moments will connect you to far more people in this world than you’ve ever imagined. Pain, as unpleasant as it is, is the great equalizer. And as you hear others share their stories, you’ll not only sympathize, you’ll empathize.

This surely feels like the end, but I promise you it’s not. Your story goes on, and you’re right — it’s not the one you want. But if you can muster it, perhaps months or a year down the road, stay open to the possibilities. I won’t tell you the story is better, because I know you can’t possibly imagine that. But I promise you, it’s incredibly beautiful. And you, with all of your changes and softened heart and remnants of sadness and appreciation for life and perspective for what’s important, are more beautiful too.

Hold on,
Jessica

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37 Comments

  • Reply Erin August 3, 2016 at 10:21 am

    simply beautiful.

  • Reply Alyssa Vasquez August 3, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Thank you for sharing, this is incredible and blesses me in a unique way. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

    • Reply Jessica Rice August 7, 2016 at 9:59 pm

      Thanks so much, sis! Really glad it’s helpful.

  • Reply Christina August 3, 2016 at 11:11 am

    One of the things I love so much about you is your honesty & authenticity. I remember you in between cries and laughs at Jarron’s memorial service, and how you let yourself be in your emotions even though I can only imagine the crazy roller coaster ride you were on. These words are so good for anyone grieving loss. Your heart is in every line, and perhaps even more importantly the thread of hope that gives even broken hearts the courage to keep going, even if only for today. xoxo

    • Reply Jessica Rice August 7, 2016 at 10:00 pm

      Thanks so much, Chris. Sending you a hug. xoxo

  • Reply Key August 3, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    I thank God for your tenacity and your transparency every time I read your blog and I remember your testimony. Maybe it’s the irony or the healing. Maybe it’s the pain or the purpose. But definitely it is the realization of God’s love and the journey of self. I find it hard sometimes to coin God’s love for me—not because im selfish, uppity, or out of touch with God. I spent years angry with God for ‘allowing’ certain things to happen in my life. It wasn’t until years later did I truly understand provision and grace and the footprints of God carrying me. Maybe, that was the selfish part. However, when I read this, I am gently reminded of the ability of our hearts to be mended and the once crumbling foundation to be restored through the peace of God. I am so happy to see you happy and to see your happiness manifest with your family and friends. Continue to be blessed because as always you are a blessing.

    • Reply Jessica Rice August 7, 2016 at 10:07 pm

      Thanks so much, Key. Getting a clearer picture of God’s grace was absolutely life-changing and healing for me. Thanks for the support and for reading!

  • Reply Tiairan@gmail.com August 3, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    “You’ll also learn the gift of depending on other people”- that’s probably the best quote I’ve heard in years ! Jess you have always been an inspiration to me . To be transparent and raw helps others who struggle with loss in general 💓 . I love you and am grateful to share in your crushing and brokeness and to see you rise from the ashes with substantial wisdoms to share . All my love ‘

  • Reply Raushanah August 3, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Powerful and moving.

  • Reply Clarence August 3, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    My sister, friend and co-laborer in the work of building up the Kingdom. Such a powerful conversation. I recall the grace and the human side of the transition of your beloved. I am blessed by your strength.

    • Reply Jessica Rice August 7, 2016 at 9:57 pm

      Thanks, bro. I appreciate the support, both then and now. You taught me that sometimes what feels like a period in the story is actually a comma. Love you.

  • Reply Krystal August 3, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    Honest and real. Your story will (and I’m sure already has) help others.

  • Reply Tiffany August 3, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    I swear this letter was to me. The year mark of my late Husband’s death just pass and it was kind of surreal for me. I thank you for your openness as well as your husband Jordan. My husband was friends with Jordan and I knew of him from Morgan. I always visit y’all blogs to help me with me with my journey. Y’all also give me hope.

    • Reply Jessica Rice August 7, 2016 at 9:56 pm

      Praying for you, Tiffany, as you experience all of the tough moments that come with losing a spouse. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your story. Sending a hug.

  • Reply Lisha August 3, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Like the Japanese art of Kintsugi, the cracks in your vessel have been filled with gold. You’re all the more beautiful because of it.

  • Reply April August 3, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    Beautiful. While I’m only 15 months out from my Husband’s death, I can already appreciate the journey and the changes it entails. Reading your blog made me feel a little less alone and normal in those months right after his accident. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Jessica Rice August 7, 2016 at 9:53 pm

      The journey is a tough one, and I’m sad that both of us have had to take it. It’s so nice when we can discover that we’re not as alone as we feel. Sending a hug.

  • Reply Candace August 3, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    Wow. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing❤️

  • Reply Jyothi August 3, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    So so beautiful. So moved.

  • Reply Tanesha August 3, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    Deeply beautiful and touching. Thank you. God continue to keep, heal and bless you

    • Reply Jessica Rice August 7, 2016 at 9:50 pm

      Thanks so very much for the prayers, Tanesha!

  • Reply Tanya V August 3, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    One of the most beautiful paragraphs I’ve ever read: ‘Things will be hard for a long time, but those small fleeting moments when you somehow feel that things will somehow be ok, just before being thrust back into the deepest despair — well, the hope you feel is real.’

    ‘The hope you feel is real’ – that spoke to me in such a BIG way!!

    • Reply Jessica Rice August 7, 2016 at 9:50 pm

      Thanks for letting me know what resonated, Tanya!

  • Reply Ma Rice August 3, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    You captured all your emotions exquisitely; deeply moving post.

  • Reply Shawnique August 4, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    I love you Jessica ❤️. This is beautiful and profound reflection.

  • Reply Michele Woodson October 25, 2016 at 3:51 am

    This is beautiful!

  • Reply Tamika March 2, 2017 at 7:57 am

    ❤️

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