Who Am I ?



Life after the death of the person you love demands that you ask yourself BIG questions.  Ironically, the questions are often about life and living.  I have asked myself over and over again, Who am I now that Mike has died?  Maybe part of the answer lies in Who I was before I met him.  Who I was before he died.  I think a lot about Who I was when I was Mike's fiancee.  And, I ask myself again and again, Who I want to be now that I am his Widow

Admittedly, these are questions to which I don't have the answers; but, I'm working on it.  These questions challenge me and scare me because of their enormity and because I feel the potential here.  I still have choices in my changed life.  I have the opportunity to re-create myself, and you do too.  I know how overwhelming this is; but I believe that if we allow ourselves to be off kilter we will find ourselves in the process. 

In the last year, I have spent a fair bit of time on my knees scrounging for direction and answers.  I have spent many a night on the floor crying, begging Mike to come back.  I've dance under the stars with my dead fiance; desperately wanting his touch, longing for the days when his arms were wrapped around my life.  Many times, I have wandered through the day completely absent with thoughts of him endlessly ruminating in my mind.  Grief is gutting.  I know how hard it is for you to live with the  relentless heaviness and ache in your chest.  If I am awake I'm likely on the verge of tears at any given moment, I get it.  I have noticed, with time, the ache in my heart is softening a little and my tears don't last as long anymore.  But, still, the emptiness is there.  And, maybe in some weird way, that's okay.  Maybe we are meant to use this emptiness and rootlessness as our foundation.  Maybe we need to feel the emptiness and absorb all this "missingness" into every cell of our body.  If we feel it and lean into our grief we will learn something about ourselves.  I think there in the empty silence - is where the answers are for all of us.  I've decided that if I am going to survive Mike's sudden death I have to build a purposeful life around the emptiness inside me.


So, I haven't told you Who I am. Well, for starters...




I am:

A Mother.

An Ex-Wife.

A Fiancee.

A Widow.

These are my "titles".  But, this doesn't answer Who I am.

I am so much more than just these things.  These labels don't accurately describe me and they certainly do not define me.  In short, I'm a middle-aged mother who's life didn't turn out as I expected.  I have two boys from a 21 year marriage that didn't last.  My boys are amazing people and being their Mom is one of the greatest joys in my life.  They are my two favorite people on planet Earth and I'm thankful to share my life with them.  My boys are the good stuff in my life.

Now, for the cruddy stuff. 

My path to widowhood began on November 15, 2016. 

I went to bed engaged and I woke up a Widow. 

(I still can't get my head around this.)

Mike went to bed and he never woke up.

It still seems surreal as I type this. 

I think it always will.  



Mike died on Tuesday.  He died two days before we completed the purchase of our new home. His death was unexpected and sudden.  I was left with a mess...  We were planning our wedding.  There were florists, caters, and photographers. We were supposed to get married in the backyard of our new house August 20, 2017.  




The photos are what was supposed to be our backyard. We thought that getting married on our property would be a way to make our house feel like a home where we could blend our families together.  We had it all planned out; and then everything was just over...  Our happily ever after never came to be.




                                                Mike and I were right in the middle of our love story... 

                                                                 He wasn't supposed to die. 




Mike always used to say "Honey, we have the rest of our lives together".  Well, in reality, he did spend the rest of his life with me.  We gave one another some of the happiest days of our lives.  I completed his life and he died a very happy man.

Still, I am left wanting more.  When I said I'd be his wife I thought we'd have at least twenty years together as husband and wife.  But, there was a major plot twist. 

Mike and I were so dang in love.  Ours was a BIG LOVE.  The kind of love every little girl dreams of having one day.  Together we shared a beautiful life.  And, now it's over.  And, I am broken.

This new life feels uncomfortable to me.  Some days I don't know where to start.  I feel shattered into a million pieces and I don't know where to begin.  Where do the broken pieces fit?  I have recognized that I can not put myself back together the way I used to be. I am different now.  So are you. We can't create some cheap imitation of our old lives and our old selves.   

Although, we are different now, some pieces of us survived their death.  Cling to these pieces because they are the blueprints for who you are becoming.


The reality is that Mike died.  I didn't.  And, neither did you.  I know some moments it feels like we died too; but, in spite of this, we are doing what we've always done - we are Living. Yes, we are living with shattered hearts, but we are living nonetheless. Now, as I enter year two without Mike, my focus is to somehow re-enter life.  To create a purposeful life in his absence.  With tears in my eyes, I am attempting  to re-engage in living.  Every single day,  I wipe my tears and I persist.  Just like you do. 

I am trying to find joy in the beautiful, ordinary things in my life.  I still don't have all the answers, but I am certain that Mike's death should not and can not define the rest of my life.  If I'm lucky, his death will teach me a lot about living and I will find out Who I Am.  And, you will too.


In search of Who I Am,


Showing 8 reactions

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  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2018-01-22 17:02:12 -0800
    Hunter, I appreciate your comments and insight.

    I think more people should ask themselves the question “Who am I?” The world would be a better place if we as human beings paused and considered what is in our hearts.
    Who are we? What do we want to do in our life?
    Reflecting on these big ideas serves everyone well. However, most people are too busy living their lives to stop and contemplate these existential questions.
    But, grief demands that we stop; and, in this stillness we ask and sometimes find the answers to these substantial questions.
  • Hunter Allan
    commented 2018-01-22 10:41:27 -0800
    Nowadays there are so many things that people think play into “who we are” as people. I recently had a friend tell me he couldn’t play soccer because it doesn’t fall under “who he is”. It’s interesting how something that we do, or something that happens to us gives us a particular label.
    Isn’t it amazing how when we feel loss, in a way we GAIN some knowledge on who we are? This article made me very emotional, it’s beautifully written. I am so sorry for your loss. I can only imagine how you feel.


  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2017-12-13 19:17:21 -0800
    Kelly, thank you for taking the time to share your comment. Like you, I am a “younger” widow too. (Mike died when I was 43.) I can relate to you when you say you are in “a mentally weird place” and you feel like you “don’t fit in anywhere”. I agree that widowhood is bewildering.
    I’m not sure how I feel about Christmas… I started thinking about Christmas in July because I was worried about it and I wanted to figure out a plan. I’ve come up with something simple that will “work” for me and my kids; but, still, my heart is not in it the way I wish it was. I used to love Christmas and now it feels hollow. I will make sure to try to be present for the kids during the day. I will cook dinner, and play music and honor Mike by setting him a spot at the table. I will do what I have to do, like everyone else here. I hope it’s enough for my boys. My blog posts Mondays, so that means it will be publishing on Christmas Day. I hope whatever I write will speak to your heart especially, on that day.

  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2017-12-13 12:34:24 -0800
    Candace, thank you for taking time to leave a comment. As a writer it is my hope that my words will “hit home” and “inspire” readers to a place of “reflection” as you said.
    I’m grateful to write for this community.
  • Kelly Carby
    commented 2017-12-13 04:32:44 -0800
    Thank you for sharing your story. It was beautiful. I became a widow on May 26, 2017 when I lost my husband to cancer. It was actually a shock to me and the family because we were under the impression that he was beating the cancer. His cancer had metastasized to his liver. Three years prior to that he was diagnosed with colon cancer., And I guess the outcome of the colon cancer had much better chances than the outcome of metastasize liver cancer.

    I am in a mentally weird place right now. I feel like with the loss of my husband that I don’t fit in anywhere. There so many couples doing so many things. Especially around the Christmas time of year. There are Christmas parties, there are activities going on, but I have been isolating and not wanting to really get out of the house much. The only time I really leave is to go the grocery store and to take my 13-year-old daughter to school and pick her up. It has been very tough for the both of us. She shows her emotions different then I show mine. But the fact that it is just me and her now and on Christmas morning we will wake up and it will just be us 2, I think will be hard. For the past 13 years we have celebrated Christmas with my husband, his two stepchildren, and his parents who come in from Chicago to spend about a week with us. (We live in Louisiana) I’m still having a hard time trying to move forward and decide what to do now with my life. My husband was in the tourney and he made very good money and I did not have to work. Now I’m in the process of trying to find a job, but being unemployed for the past 10 years, has turned out to be pretty difficult to find a job. I do have a degree in ecology, but I just have never utilized it. I am 36 years old and and I am now a single mom. I don’t think I will ever get married again, if I do get involved in a relationship, I don’t think I will move in with that person and they will not be moving in with me. But this is just my mind state as of now, maybe because the death of my husband is still so new to me.
  • Candace Woodring
    commented 2017-12-12 19:12:09 -0800
    Thanks so much for sharing Staci. Your words hit home and inspired my own reflections.
  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2017-12-12 16:15:30 -0800
    Thank you for the welcome Gayle G. It’s a privilege for me to write here. I love writing because it helps me make sense of my thoughts and feelings. I hope the readers feel supported and encouraged when they read my posts. In grief, we all speak the same language, that’s what I love about being part of this community.
    Next post on Monday….
    Until then,
  • Gayle Goldberg
    commented 2017-12-11 10:55:00 -0800
    Welcome to the club none of us wanted to join. Thank you for writing.