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
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.