Paying Grief Forward

It has been eight years since my husband's sudden death. 

In the beginning, there were days where I honestly didnt see myself ever living a life with meaning again. 

I didnt think I could feel joy again. 

I didnt know if it would be possible to take the pain and turn it into something that might help others.

I didnt have the energy or the foresight to know how vital that might be. 

How doing so would help me to survive. 


and with many mis-steps,

I began to find my way. 

It would be years,

and years,

about 5 years actually,

before I started to feel more grounded,

and less shaky. 

It would be years,

before I found my new personality,

and collected the pieces of my old one,

that I wanted to keep,

and created this new version of myself. 


I am passionate about writing words in this blog

about grief and loss and pain, 

about survival and resilience and strength,

about friendships and bonds created through death. 

I am fiercefully determined about speaking 

and educating others

about changing the conversations surrounding grief and loss

and death. 


I am incredibly happy 

when someone reads my words,

in my book or this blog, 

or sees my TED talk,

or watches me speak of loss in a comedic way at my Camp Widow presentations, 

and something inside of them 

begins the long process of healing,

or believing 

that they too,

will one day have a life with meaning



This has become my greatest joy. 

Taking the pain,

and paying grief forward,

to ensure those who sit in the darkness,

will someday feel the light. 


I believe that for most of us,

we begin to heal,

when we can see outside of our own pain,

and be a participant

in the healing of 

someone else. 


When a widowed friend of mine,

who I have seen struggle,

who I have sat on the phone with 

for hours,

sobbing and feeling hopeless and awful, 

is now living a life they love,

because they built it,

nothing makes me happier. 

Hearing that a widowed friend went back to college,

to get her degree,

or another found new love,

after being convinced that he never would,

or another having a baby,

when she never got to have kids with her husband,

because he died. 

Or even,

something as simple,

as witnessing that moment,

in a widowed person's life,

where they go from simply existing,

to really, actively living, and participating lin life 


That is a moment,

that is worth everything. 


When they are able to again

see natures beauty,

or hear incredible music, 

and experience lifes wonders,

in a profound new way. 

To watch them

take the pain of death,

and slowly

turn it into more 


carrying their person 

with them,

every step along the way,

a connection never broken. 


When someone you love dies,

it changes you 


I have always believed,


that eventually, 

it is up to you


death changes you. 

What will you do with your pain? 

What will you make of your loss? 

What will people say,

when they tell your story? 


I hope that when they tell mine,

they say,

that I lived through great pain,

because I lived with great Love,

and that I took all the horrors 

of death,


turned them 

back into 



I allowed death to change me,

and I will never

be the same. 


Showing 5 reactions

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  • Sallie Rodman
    commented 2019-08-01 12:14:05 -0700
    I feel like everyone thinks I should be “over IT” since it’s been 8 years. I’m doing the steps. I’m carrying on. Why can’t they accept where I am?
  • Karen Lawrence
    commented 2019-08-01 00:16:56 -0700
    Thank you for your beautiful words. You inspire me. I’m definitely still a work in progress. Coming up on 7 years in 10 days. Not happy with who I am yet, but working on it.
  • Deb Bradford
    commented 2019-07-31 22:26:43 -0700
    Your words are incredibly meaningful, they speak of both the pain & the hope of someone who’s truly been where I am now.

    After two & a half years, I’m finally taking the first steps in rebuilding my life, a life that was completely shattered with the passing of my husband of over forty years.

    It seems that everyone else, even those who truly loved him (children & grandchildren) quickly move on, as the remaining spouse sits in a paralyzed stupor, amongst the shattered remains of what was once a full, happy life.

    The only ones who truly understand are those who’ve experienced it themselves. Even so, there are so few are willing to become vulnerable by truly opening up,

    So very thankful to have found this community of “survivors.” (I was actually beginning to question my sanity.) To know that others have walked this path provides tremendous strength & encouragement.

    I’m so very appreciative of those here who are willing to open their souls to others, you give that which is is so precious & fragile, HOPE for the days to come.

    Perhaps, a little further into this journey, I too, can be a blessing to those among us who are still alone & hurting.

    Deb B.
  • Sarah Treanor
    commented 2019-07-28 06:23:35 -0700
    This was so beautiful. I teared up. And you are living that legacy so well. What a legacy to leave behind. <3 Helping people turn death back into life. I freaking LOVE that. And you!
  • Susan Lynn Ditsworth Scott
    commented 2019-07-27 08:48:40 -0700
    Hallelujah and amen, my sister! I have my hands high above my head, fingers outstretched to the sunny California sky this morning, breathing in a full breath and reveling in the opportunities of my day.
    His death brought me this appreciation. Having my tribe brought me here. And time and reaching back and many, many moments of, well, not breathing, but hoping to one day breathe again.
    Here’s to love! And I heard it somewhere that love begets more love… ;)