I think one of the strangest places that my journey of widowhood has taken me is this place of discovery.  Discovery brought forth by the need to survive.  This new place is definitely earned.  I struggled to survive for so many years.  I searched my being for a way to get through each minute, each breath when Dave died.

At 39 years old, I was a widow.  I was a mom with two little boys looking to me for guidance through this unknown journey of grief.  I didn’t have a clue how to survive.  It was all trial and error. Surprisingly, here I sit nearly 8 years later…still alive.  That alone is a something that I doubted early on in the journey.  I thought I might really die of a broken heart.  If my own pain wasn’t enough, I had to watch my children struggle to understand how this horrible thing had happened to us.

A few years shy of a decade later, I sit in a place of discovery.  I have learned new things, become more capable and believe it or not…more loving too.  I am kinder to myself. I have discovered things that I never would have learned if this wasn’t my journey.  I am more appreciative of my family, my friends, and my life.

At first, none of this was true…it was just breathing. That was it…nothing more, nothing less. Now life is beginning to take my breath away again and I can see the beauty around me without thinking that life isn’t fair.  It took a long time to not feel ripped off by the universe.  It took a long time to think that my life would have joy in it again.

Step by step, discovery by discovery I find myself in a new place…is it better…who knows?  I don’t think anything would have been better than my boys having their dad watch them grow up.  I don’t think I’ll ever be ever to measure better or worse.  There’s just no telling when your world is torn apart.  I didn’t get to see the life I’d planned, so how can I judge?

What else can I say? I can say that I have grown and continue to discover a woman that I didn’t know before he died.  Would I have grown and changed? Of course! Would I have grown and changed into this woman? I don’t think so.

There’s something to be said for being brought to the darkest place you’ve ever been, emotionally, spiritually, physically, well…in every way…and then finding your way back to light, joy and love.  I never expected to find my way.  I am living proof that it is possible.  It has taken much time and extreme effort.  It has taken every ounce of courage I have.  It still does…every day.

It is still hard to crawl into an empty bed each night.  It is still hard to come home to more work and no one who wants to hear my story.  It is still hard to watch the boys grow and change and not have him here to share it all.  It is still hard to bear all the responsibility of being a sole parent, sole financial provider, sole emotional provider…but it is all doable.  Over the last year or so, it has even become a life I appreciate and enjoy.  That fact alone is a discovery I thought I would never know.  It can be amazing…and the even bigger thing…I appreciate it all more.  I know the struggle.  I know the sadness, the heartbreak and it makes the happiness sweeter than I have ever known.

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Christine Thiele

Christine Thiele is a free lance writer, middle school teacher, and a former professional and volunteer youth minister. She has written for The Journal of Student Ministries, YouthWorker Journal, Grief Digest, OpentoHope.com, is a contributing author in several Open to Hope books and The Widow's Handbook (to be released in 2014 by Kent State University Press). Along with her writing, Christine is raising her two lovely and energetic sons. Since her husband's death in 2005 from pancreas cancer, her writing has been focused on grief and healing issues.

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