On March 9, 2010, the unthinkable happened, I found myself widowed at the age of 25 when the love of my life, my soul mate, was in a car accident while on his daily morning commute to work, just two months shy of our wedding day. 

Early on in my journey, I knew part of God’s calling was for me to minister to other widows. At the time, I was 4 months into my journey and I had no idea what my ministry was going to look like. I had a plan in my head, but it was my plan. In the end, God’s plan is the one that prevails, so suffice to it say that I had no idea where this ministry would go, nor what it would evolve into.

God did prepare me prior to Greg’s accident, to minister to other women, by having me complete internships at several churches within women’s ministry. I felt my calling is in ministering to women so that I might encourage, educate, counsel and shepherd women in need. In addition, I continued to work on my master’s degree in counseling.

One thing that has helped me in my journey is being in community with other widows. I created a facebook screen name with my widowed name, as a few other widows have done. I did so in order to reach out to other widows and be encouraged by them as well. This road is so hard and so lonely.

People try to help, most have honorable intentions to help, but they just do not understand the ins and outs of being widowed; only those who have walked this path, truly understand everything that goes into being “widowed”. We are all a part of a club that no one wants to join, but you will not find more accepting, amazing, caring and compassionate people than those that are widowed. Hey, we all “get it”.

Another thing I did was start a blog about my journey as an Unwedded Widow to share with others our love, my loss and my faith in the hopes that others will see that they are not alone in their journey or in their grief. My posts are open, honest, raw and you can see the pain and loss in them. 

I feel that that is the best way to tell others about the grief process and what I am experiencing. I didn’t ask to lose my beloved, nor to be widowed at 25; but I did choose how I was going to respond to my loss. I choose to embrace my grief and all the darkness and sadness that comes with losing your beloved, because I know my sweet Jesus is with me every step of the way. When I am sucked into the hole of darkness, consumed by grief, longing, missing and sadness; I know that Jesus carries me through this journey when I can no longer stand on my own two feet and gives me the strength when my bucket is empty and has a baseball size hole in the bottom. For me, embracing my grief instead of running away was one of the best decisions my Widow brain made.

As the second year began, more opportunities arose and I was given the opportunity to help others in different ways. I started writing for Open to Hope Foundation, which expands my audience to people experiencing various types of loss. I also help other widows on two different online support communities, as a contributing writer to Thewiddahood.com and as the Unwedded Widows group moderator of Widowed Village. I also recently started hosting a Live Chat for Unwedded Widows to gather and be together in a safe community filled with validation, love and support. It has been such an honor to provide a place and time for other Unwedded Widows to meet each other online.

Recently, I was asked to help establish a program for Unwedded Widows for Camp Widow, an event created by the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation, which is a weekend long event for widows and widowers to come together and share in community, through various activities, workshops, group events and a 5k run/ walk.

Time and time again, I have heard from widows that helping others helps the grieving process. It doesn’t make things easier, or make the pain less, nor does it shorten the length of time that it takes for a person to get to the other side of grief. It does, however, help both parties involved. Reaching out to other widows, establishing friendships, supporting and encouraging other widows, is one of the most helpful things in my first two years in this journey.

Since the loss of my beloved, I have a passion and heart for helping other widows. As an Unwedded Widow, my vision is to advocate for and bring awareness to Unwedded Widow/ers everywhere so that I might shed light on our unique journey in the widow/er community and to let other Unwedded Widow/ers know that they are not alone. I have a voice in the widowed community and I am using it to help other Unwedded Widows.  

Brandi Reyna 2011

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Brandi Reyna

Ms. Reyna is a creative soul with a passion for helping others. Her faith is very important to her and is reflected in her writings. She writes about her faith and the role it plays in her grieving process and how she grieves. Ms. Reyna's purpose for writing is to give voice to and shed light on unique losses. Ms.Reyna's articles focus primarily on the loss of her fiancé; the subsequent grief associated with sudden loss, her identification as an "unwedded widow" (a widow who was not legally married to her beloved), loss of a parent (grandparent) and creating a new life while living with loss. Ms. Reyna shares her journey to encourage others in their own faith and in their own healing journey. She hopes that by sharing her story and leading by example through her own life that her journey will show others that we can experience significant and impactful losses and still experience a full and joy-filled life after loss. Ms. Reyna has completed internships at several churches within women’s ministry, as one of her gifts is in ministering to women so that she might walk beside, support, encourage, counsel, shepherd and offer hope to women in need. Since the loss of her fiance Greg in a tragic car accident in March 2010, Ms. Reyna also has a passion and heart for helping others who are grieving the loss of someone they love. Ms. Reyna holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology and Psychology; with a certificate in Women's studies.

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