another life is possible

I took this picture a few months back when Mikey, the girls and I were at Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens. The park is filled with art installations, and this saying was scrawled on one that reminded of the top of a lighthouse. Something about those four words jumped out at me, beckoning me to take a picture. Almost as if I would need this reminder down the road.

I’ve been thinking it would be therapeutic to write a book about what not to say to a grieving widow. While it’s true most of it is well-intentioned, some of it leaves me flat out bewildered. I especially get a kick out of the ones that say God has a plan. Um, more like a twisted sense of humor is how I’d see it if I considered myself a religious person.

Really, I’d love to know your plan for me God.

Was last week’s earthquake that shook NYC for 30 seconds on your checklist?

How about the hurricane two days ago—you know the one that had me leave the Cape in haste, to keep my children out of harm’s way.

Oh, and there’s that little bit about my husband.

I’m laying on the sarcasm thick, and for those of you who are faithful folks, please understand he’s your God these days—not mine. He hasn’t been mine since 7th grade when I came home from Catholic school and told my mother I didn’t want to make my confirmation. I appreciate the encouragement and support, but please the whole He has a plan for Me just doesn’t cut it these days.

The piece of advice that left me feeling the most bitter, though, was when someone told me I’d never recover—the best I could hope for is to function again one day. That’s flat out the worst advice you can give to anyone who’s life has come crashing in like high tide during a hurricane.

Functioning isn’t an option.

Functioning isn’t a way to live.

Functioning is not going to be what I settle for in this lifetime.

Happiness is my goal. I know it’s a long way off. I know the first year is going to suck more than it will bring joy.

The first anniversary.

The first birthday, mine.

The first Halloween.

The first parent-teacher conference.

The first Thanksgiving.

The first school recital.

The first Christmas.

The first New Year.

The first snowfall.

The first Valentine’s Day.

The first birthday, his.

The first day of spring.

The first birthday, the girls.

I have a year of firsts ahead of me, but I will not simply “function” through them. I will live them. Every single moment. And from each one, I will rebuild myself into a whole person. A woman who one day will dream that she can be loved again, held again, and made to feel like the most special person on earth.

So God, you may want to wait before shopping around the book proposal on my life—I’ve got first dibs on those rights.

Holdinghands

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Comments

  • Irvin @ Eat the Love: A beautiful post. I have no words of advice to give you (it sounds like you have been given more than enough of that already). But I say that you (and everyone else) deserves better than “functioning”.
    Much love to you and your girls…

  • Michelle: You inspire me, Jennie. Your girls are so lucky to have YOU as their mom – Such a mentor and teacher… We love you, xo Michelle

  • Kristen: Wow. You’re amazing. I wish you so many good things.

  • Amanda: You go girl.

  • Selfish Mom: Oh Jennifer, I’m just crying for you. But also amazed at how strong you are.

  • Jen: When the time is right….and it will be. Carol is my cousin….this is her blog/book/life/career/gift check it out. (Not spam I promise). She lost her husband at a young age, with a young daughter in a freak turn of events.
    http://www.widowswearstilettos.com/

  • Barbara | Creative Culinary: My husband did not die. He just left. A week later he was now coming for ‘visitation’ with our young children with a woman waiting for him in the car when he came to the front door.
    I can’t know your pain but I can know a lot of it. And that year of firsts. Strangely I recall the first time I took my kids out for a pizza and thinking I must be the only woman in this entire world without a husband. I had to leave before I broke into a sobbing mess in front of my girls!
    But I, like you, did not have the luxury of falling apart. My girls were 2 and 6 and I had to carry on for them; many times with a smile on my face that took every single ounce of effort I could muster.
    I cried myself to sleep almost every night; the letdown after the days of stress and heartache and yes…just a lot of damn hard work doing it all; proving I could.
    I got weary of hearing how I should be progressing quicker. I had to progress on my own.
    But I also remember the day, almost exactly a year after ‘that’ day when I was doing laundry and I realized that every single pillow case I owned was covered with mascara stains from my crying at night. And I had a moment when I laughed at the mess I had made…and for some reason from that day forward those tears stopped at night. I had laughed at my tears and that was good.
    A year later I could let my children spend a holiday with him without spending the day totally bereft at the unfairness of it all.
    I tell you this because it will get better but it will in your time frame; no one can tell you when or how you should feel. Certainly no one should be telling you this is part of some ‘plan’ well meaning or not…because it sure wasn’t your plan and that sure doesn’t help.
    You are strong Jennifer, you have weathered other life storms and you will weather this. It is good to see you have a plan for the future. It is one baby step at a time but as long as you keep moving forward…that’s all anyone can ask.

  • Andrea: Seriously. People who don’t know what to say should really stop at, I am sorry for your loss. Is there anything I can do for YOU?
    Sending you hugs. Such beautiful words you have shared, yet again.

  • Laurie Jesch-Kulseth: I applaud your honesty. You are in my thoughts so often. I wish you so much happiness. Take care.

  • Vanessa: Maybe this is one more of those comments that won’t help, but reading this makes me think about my therapist. She’s the third serious therapist I’ve had, and a really special person who has taught me a ton. She lost her husband of 15 years to a very sudden cancer, and talks about this a fair amount during our sessions. Since losing her husband, she has remarried. She doesn’t do that whole “this was the way it had to be” thing, which is obviously bullshit, but just talks in a pretty open and honest way about what she’s learned from the experience, and how she feels about relationships now in the wake of it. What I have learned from her is that after a loss like this that just blows apart your life, happiness and love without naiveté or forgetting are possible, and should not be given up on. Don’t give up: life is messed up and has no reason, but you will be able to be happy again, because I can see that your desire for it is so strong.

  • Glenda: Beautifully written. You are amazing and you deserve to be loved and held again!

  • heather…: I haven’t lost a husband, and I am so sorry for your loss. I ache for you. Truly. I have lost a child, and it sounds like people say a lot of the same things. Especially the God stuff. It’s so hard not to scream at them, to laugh in their faces, even when you know they are just grasping at straws for words to say.
    My daughter has been gone for two years, four months, and twenty days. I have happiness. It’s just not what I ever expected. You’ll have it again, too. It’s just always going to be different – and that’s OK. It means we always carry them with us, always yearn for them, always always love them.

  • Jen Yu: People say a lot of stupid crap, Jennie. Thankfully, you have a very good head on your shoulders and you’ll find your way… And some of us will be right there with you when the clichés have moved on and are long forgotten. Nevermind those folks. You have a life to live. Love you. xo

  • Bri: I continue to be amazed at your grace. I’m with Michelle, your girls are lucky to have such a strong, capable, loving mother. All the best to you and your girls. I’ll be right here with you through this journey of firsts, please don’t hesitate to ask if there is anything I can do.

  • Paula: If you were in front of me staying this, when you finished, I would stand up, clap my hands long and hard and then if you’d let me, I’d give you the longest hug.

  • Coach Laura: Hang in there Jennie. I’m just an anonymous friend of your friend Shauna but I admire you from a distance. I am cheering for you.

  • Kelly: Jennie,
    I don’t have any good reason to ask you to listen to me, but I make a humble plea that you would.
    I just got married 5 months ago and for some reason I have this constant fear that my husband is going to suddenly pass away one day. When I came across your blog post, I thought — “See, this could happen to me! This happens to people! How can this be? How can this be what God ordains in people’s lives?”
    You have been on my heart a lot – I constantly check to see if you have written a new blog post or not to see how you are doing. I can’t imagine what you are going through.
    I REALLLLYYY don’t want to be one of those people that tells you “God has a plan for you,” so I will not say that. But I will say God can understand what you are going through.
    I understand what I’m about to say here is making a lot of assumptions (God is real, The Bible is true, etc), and I can’t go into detail about those assumptions right now, but I will just say that certain things have happened in my life to convince me that those assumptions are true.
    When I say God can understand what you are going through, I’m not trying to be trite or offer a cute little saying to try to make you feel better. I am saying it because it is actually true, and the only things that can bring real comfort are real truths.
    God endured great, heart-wrenching loss when his son Jesus died on the cross. (Again, I know there a lot of assumptions here, but I do believe this to be true.) On the cross, Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have your forsaken Me?” Jesus and the Father had had perfect, loving fellowship together for all of eternity past, and then, while Jesus was on the cross, the two were separated. Jesus was going through unbelievable physical and spiritual pain on the cross, and God was pouring out His wrath on Jesus, something he never would have desired to do or conceived that he would do.
    When you think of God, do you think of a God who Himself suffered? It’s not a concept that normally comes to our mind. We don’t think of God as someone who suffered – we feel like we suffer, but that God is up there in heaven completely ambivalent, and that he’s enjoying all the pleasures of living in white mansions or the like, because he’s too powerful to have to suffer.
    The reality is, God could have chosen not to suffer. But instead, he chose to suffer greatly. He CHOSE to. You did not choose to be suffering right now, but God actually chose to…..because of the eternal happiness you could have through his suffering. “By His wounds we are healed.”
    Thank you if you have read this. Again, I know i don’t deserve for you to read this, and I am so sorry if any of this seems absolutely absurd or painful right now to read. My desire is not to cause you further pain. I only wrote this in the hope that God’s pain could help you understand your pain (and I don’t claim that that is an easy process. I myself struggle greatly with why God allows suffering in this world. Yet, knowing God has suffered greatly so that I could have eternal happiness is humbling and a truth that does bring me comfort).
    Thank you for your time.
    Kelly in Minneapolis, MN

  • kc: Kick ass, Jennie!

  • Peggy: Jennie, when you can, I think that book is a great idea. People don’t know what words to use, probably because nothing right comes to mind about the loss of someone still so seemingly healthy, and missed so very much. Though many of your readers have never met you, what you are sharing with us has given thousands of people the will to worry about you and your daughters, and many are probably trying to imagine what their lives might look like, given these same difficult times. Your honesty and openness show what an incredibly unselfish and loving person you are and although the handle of this wagon is in your hands, we’re all pulling for you.

  • Adrianna: Functioning is never an option. It just isn’t. You’ll make it. It’ll be hard, I’m sure, but it’ll happen…because you’re determined for it to be…so it’ll be. You’re an inspiration. As a one non-religious person to another, you have to intellectually get yourself through this. Time will not help. Praying will not help (sorry to offend people). Thinking…and working…yourself through this will help. But you know this, obviously. Thinking of you and cheering you on.

  • Laureen: This is such a beautiful post. And you, Jennifer, are such an amazingly strong woman.
    Sending you and your daughters tons of love and well wishes.

  • Sharon Miro: Saying anything more than what you have so eloquently articulated about this time in your life would simply be gilding the lily.
    Brava!

  • Ese: I don’t know if this would be published since you screen comments,but it will definitely get to you. Don’t know how you lost your husband but what I can MOST assuredly tell you is that is God’s plan for his children. He said he blessed us with LONG life,and our soul should prosper.That includes love,joy and health.He said its the devil that comes to steal,kill and destroy.Never blame God for evil. In the bible,its all plain what he wants for us,question is do we read it. I am a testimony of divine health,3yrs n counting,I have not taken pill for even headaches.God loves u more than you ever know. Go back to Him. Man was not designed to carry burdens,that was Y he told us to drop it @his feet,but how many people do,that’s y we have a whole lot of sickness. There is a lot I want to say but the basic is go back to God and his word,ur life will take a new meaning.not that life will b so rosy from then on,but there would be peace in ur heart. Love you,a friend
    JP’s Note: I screen comments to refrain from profanity and rudeness. This just happens to be your opinion, which I still don’t agree with, but to each their own. Thank you for the support.

  • lisa: I don’t know you. And, until this thing happened, I didn’t know you at all. But, I am a member of the blogging community (a reader, not a writer), and I knew from the consistent outpouring that I should read.
    I’m sorry that it took this to get me here.
    You have such a candor that I admire.
    I completely agree with your observations about the odd things people say to you when your heart is raw. My youngest sister died 16 years ago, quite suddenly, and quite pregnant. We were best friends and confidants. I remember wondering why people would say “it’s god’s will”, or “god has a plan”. All I could think was “you insufferable bastards!, he’s selfish!”.
    You go ahead, and rail with fury! It’s not fair. It’s not right.
    But, I still don’t know you, and I believe you’ve got the strength to pull this off. It won’t be your plan, and it’s gonna suck… but you’ve got kids who will be your focus, and your source of happiness.
    Good luck. I really wish you good luck.

  • Nicki: I applaud you for your honesty. Stay strong and true to your emotions! Let me know when you decide to write that book on the stupid things that people say. Having dealt with breast cancer, I can contribute a chapter or two. Live strong….you and your girls are in my thoughts daily!!!!

  • Sarah R: I haven’t posted before, but have been following your blog for a wee while. When my Dad was dying of cancer, we also planned a book of advice to give to people of what not to say, gosh there are some doozies out there! It is not at all the same that my Dad died (although he was young, and I was 36 weeks pregnant with my first child so totally tragic for me) but you do get through it, you have to – we have to – there is no other choice than to just carry on, for the kids, for ourselves, for them! And eventually there does come happiness, and maybe even a little bit of peace – I wish that for you, and will continue to wish it for you till you get there. xxx

  • Leigh: People never know what to say and instead of saying something like “I am here for you;” they feel the need to open their mouths and say something completely inappropriate… I read your post and smiled.. you go girl! I am sending lots of strength your way.

  • diana: I hope you’ll never feel more hit by life than now; that all “this”, your husband’s unfair death, to be the worst ever, by far, incomparable. I don’t know if I help you or hurt you by telling MY story, when it’s about you, but. The worst in my life is that every day I’m disappointed by my husband. I’m glad for you that Mickey made you a proud wife.
    Sending you all the sisterly compassion and love, Diana

  • Jessica / Green Skies and Sugar Trips: Wow, its barely 6am and I’m balling. Jennie you are the most amazing strong and amazing woman in the world. You will live, and you will live how ever it is you have to live to make it through the day, whatever it takes. <3

  • Luisa: You will be happy again. You’ll find love again. I believe in you.
    You and you alone will know when your grieving is over. It’s always amazing to me, in moments of devastation, when it becomes apparent just how many people simply do not know how to deal with a grieving person. I’m not sure if it’s a lack of empathy or sheer terror or what, but it’s mind-boggling.
    But you are so right to realize and to say it out loud: You will do so much more than just function. You’ll thrive and you’ll be happy again. You will.

  • Kathleen: Love the sarcasm and your comments about the guilt riden religion. My husband of 46 was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer ealier this year and I lost my job of 9 years as a result to be with him for treatment – and i worked in healthcare- laugh that one up -so I too am filled with anger because things like this should not happen to young people. I do believe that time heals and that you will be happy again. Take care oh btw, I started a blog as a fresh start

  • Ag: You are so strong and such a beautiful person. I am so sorry you are going through all of this AND dealing with ridiculous people to boot.
    Thinking of you – shine on.

  • Stephanie Doublait: I subscribed to your post two days ago expecting to find delicious recipes and food advice/opinions/revelations. When I saw the title I almost did not read the post because I am a busy mother of 2 small children and reading blog posts that are not about food is a luxury I do not allow myself (one day maybe…).
    But I did read your post and I loved it. Your strength, pain, courage and articulate description of being a widow literally took my breath away. I felt an immediate kinship with you as I also attended Catholic school, but made up my mind at a very young age that I did not want anything to do with God or his plans.
    If I could say something to you, I would tell you to make your own plans/goals/wishes. Make lots of them….more than you could ever hope to accomplish in a lifetime. And eventually, before you thought it possible, you will start to enjoy yourself in realizing your own plans.
    I look forward to your next post. Maybe you will tell us about your plans :)

  • eileen: wishing you less pain each day. how strong you are. i’m a person of faith, but i’ve not experienced your loss or those others have gone through similarly, so can’t walk in your shoes. wonderful that you are willing to share how you feel and i wish you only the best for you and your children.

  • lindsay: your strength continues to amaze me. I am cheering for you too!

  • Sasha @ The Procrastobaker: I just loved this post! I think this proves you have the strength to get through anything, and you will, and you WILL be happy because you are so determined to do so. Its refreshing to hear the raw truth from someone going through such a time, when my dad passed away this year I felt pretty much just the same way as you but didnt have the guts to say it. Good on you, you are simply inspiring

  • Anna: Good for you!

  • Kathy Gresko: Hi Jennie,
    Brushing the sleep out of my tired eyes this morning, your post was the first in my “in box”. Thank you for your words.
    I worked in hospice for many years. I managed the volunteer department for hospice. Two hundred plus volunteers dedicated to comforting, being present, and being fortunate to be with a family during this end of life journey for a family member; or for those that didn’t have a family.
    They were taught exactly what you bring up; what NOT to say. It is embedded in them from day one.
    I am grateful for your words this morning. I am grateful that you won’t stand for functioning. I am in utter amazement (well, not really) how someone could say such a thing to you. I would err on keeping my mouth shut. So hard for people that don’t know what to say about another’s grief.
    One of my co-workers, in fact, started a book on that subject. She might have been young at the time, but death and grief have no timeline. She was in her 20′s when her boyfriend of 9 years died suddenly in an accident. At the funeral, one of the first things someone said to her was, “Oh, you’ll find love again. You’re young.” As people suffering in grief–and their own grief, not someone else’s–how is one supposed to let go so easily. It simply cannot be done.
    I am grateful for you allowing yourself to feel. I am grateful that you share your sarcasm and anger. Mostly, I am grateful for the model Mikey instilled in you and your children. Not only in the resilliance that is ahead of them, but the passion and acknowlegement of your years of “firsts”
    You will simply not function. You will grieve this loss and you will live. One step at a time, and at your pace. No one else’s. Make that list of what not to say to a grieving person. Hold it close. It’s just one more step.
    I wish you wholeness and your continued strength as you rebuild holding your children and Mikey close to your heart.
    Kathy

  • seren: when people don’t know what to say they spout anything that sounds good. in reality there are no words that can make it better, but your attitude is going to get you through this. you are a strong woman and you should write that book in all seriousness, you can be a beacon of hope for others. I salute you x

  • Jen: I am a believer and it makes me sad when I hear people use God’s words in a hurtful way. I lost my baby and I heard the same phrase over and over. But, they have it wrong – they forget to use the rest of the phrase. He says “For I know the plans I have for you”…to give us “a future and a hope”. He wants the same for you – another life is possible. He never promised all my babies would be healthy – he lets life happen. But he does want a future and a hope for me. Keep getting up every morning and find the joy in life again. I admire your courage!

  • Peggy: I have to admit I am a Christian but it completely and totally blows my mind when a person will tell someone who is grieving that God has a plan. I have been through this both firsthand and vicariously… And the other garbage…. I won’t even go there because it makes me so angry!!! Just know that there are those who are thinking about you…. as you take on each and every milestone. hang in there kiddo!

  • Karen Johnson: Hey, life happens to everyone.

  • Pam Siloti: I lost my husband @ 24.
    The firs tyear sucks, and you function but are on autopilot and the friends you can be yourself with, who can share memories with you…and you don’t have to relive everything all the time are the best
    I would have what i called “widow days” days where that was all encompassing for me…then days that I got stuff done…felt like life was moving on….always there…just not in the forefront so much
    People say and do some terrible things… I came to the realization that they don’t know what to do… and it is better to experience that then the elephant in the room where no one acknowledges there is anything different
    My goal was to get thru the first year … truly. I knew all the memories and living thru those without him would be horrible…and I figured if I could get thru a year… i knew I could “make it” no more surprises and my heart being pulled out of my chest in tiny intervals
    I guess the reason I am sharing… You will make it… there are times you don’t want to. (in all honesty)
    This is a Hard Hard Hard exhausting thing you are doing… living everyday, greiving, moving one foot at a time. Go easy on yourself… go a little easier on those around you.
    Do a little pampering…
    Plug in to those friends and family you rely on
    Know that this has altered you…it has altered your perceptions, and sometimes your goals…. but those don’t need to be changed anytime soon..
    Take care…if able find new people to share with that have gone thru the same thing… widownet.com used to help
    Take care lady! (virtual hug)

  • Treasa: Even if he is your God, the last thing you need or want to hear that part of His plan is blowing up your life. You’ve got this! Sending you love, strength and anything else you need to get through the day!

  • Judi: No truer words were ever spoken. Sending the biggest hug your way.

  • Tamar@StarvingofftheLand: When the determination to recover is so fierce, the recovery itself is inevitable.
    I wish you joy, sooner than you ever thought possible.

  • Allison: You are an amazingly strong person! Sending my hugs-

  • JulieD: Ugh of all of things people say when someone suffers a loss is the God has a plan thing, is one of the most annoying to me as well. I have learned that no matter what anyone says, it will not take all of the hurt away. I hope all of the love & care you have been receiving undoes some of this as well…I still can’t believe people are emailing you asking for help on your recipes. Jennie, no matter what you want to do & as you experience those firsts, there’s a whole of people, some whom you have never even met, are pulling for you and want all the happiness in the world for you. Sending you hugs again.

  • Kristin: After my husband had a serious health scare, we had a talk about what we’d want if the other one were to die (I would say “pass,” but it’s die.). We agreed that we’d hope that the other one of us would someday find love, companionship, and support again. Of course, our children’s interests were included in those hopes as well. And it would hopefully be without guilty feelings for feeling love and happiness again.
    “They” say that those who have loved deeply and lost will more surely love deeply again. I’m sure it will take time, but judging from my computer-side reading of your posts (past and present), you will find happiness again. And I’m most certain that Mikey would want that for you.

  • BusyChica: Yes, the first year will be rough, but you are strong. Yes, there will be many moments in this up coming year of firsts and through life that you will miss your Mikey, but he will be there. Allow yourself to feel his presence and know he is there for you and your girls. Definately live your lives to the fullest and laugh and love as much as you can. You are a fighter and you will.
    Hugs to you and your girls. You’re grace through this has been amazing to witness from afar.

  • Cheri: Beautiful, just beautiful……

  • Belinda: I am saluting you Jennie! You are an inspiration. You are a strong, vibrant woman and will live a full and vibrant life! It will be different from the one YOU had planned for yourself, but it will be at YOUR pace and in YOUR plan! I am but an unknown person in Illinois reading your blog but I send you positive thoughts for a good day today…one day at a time! Hug your babies. And remember that lots of people open their mouths and say stupid stuff who should keep their mouths shut, but there are alot of quiet people out there who understand.

  • Stacy: I have a problem when people also do the blame game with God also. We all have free will, and sometimes our lives are stopped by other’s free will, sometimes it is just our time which hurts deeply either way. I can only pray for a life after where I will see my loved ones again if they believed in the Bible’s promises, and strength to get thru the days until then with joy even when in pain, I am praying for strength and peace and joy for you because the one verse that I had to repeat when my loved one died was, “The joy of the Lord is my strength” and sometimes I would say it repeatedly until I felt some of the sorrow life, and it did happen each time, but sometimes it took many repetitions until I felt peace. Please take care of yourself and love yourself some each day with rest and your healthy, delicious foods, and know that we all are keeping you and your family in our prayers.

  • Becky: You go girl.
    I was 19 when I lost my father to a heart attack one beautiful Saturday in May. I hate all the things people say, especially, “I’m sorry for your loss”. I always took that as them apologizing, taking some sort of blame for it, as if they had something to do with it or they could have stopped it. To this day, I can’t say any of the things you’re supposed to say when someone loses a loved one, because I think they are trite and meaningless. Personally, I always start with, “I don’t know what to say, because I hate all the crap you’re supposed to say”.

  • Kim Foster: That’s my girl. :)

  • Tracey: Oh…people mean to say the right things, don’t they? And I guess it is just because they just want to try and help. The one that killed me was, “Sorry for your loss.”Like I had lost him at the grocery store. I know that sounds dumb. But there are things that will set you off for sure. And this is just one of the steps of grief.You will find your way though with the source of love and inner strength. I am sure this blog can be helpful at times and an hinderance as well. But the hole is there. Mikey IS looking down on you and helping you. Be sure of that. If nothing else helps, that will. This is a test for sure! Be still for the moment, for your love and his will go on.
    May a smile pass your lips today.
    Tracey

  • Amanda kp: wow…an amazing and inspiring post.

  • Amanda: You will find a new normal, Jennie. I lost my dad as a teenager, and while that’s nowhere near the same as losing a spouse, there is an emptiness that you fear may never be filled. Like you, I was amazed at the seemingly ridiculous and un-thought through comments people carelessly tossed my way. I’m sure you’ve heard the familiar, “Everything happens for a reason…” I wanted so badly to scream back at them, “And what reason is that!??!?!” One comment that has stuck with me the past 7.5 years, however, is, “You will find a new normal.” And you will. One tear at a a time, one ‘first’ at a time, one day at a time. You’re already on your way.

  • April: I’ve been wanting to write to you since I heard about this on twitter. I feel that we are in comparable situations, at the least. I lost my twin sister at age 23 4 1/2 months ago. Every Saturday I am reminded of how I found her and how my heart feels like it will never be whole again. People who haven’t lost someone close to them do not get it. Their hearts may break, but they do not get it. I went from being devastated to bitter and now my sadness comes in waves, and I have happy moments again. It is okay to be bitter (really – it is)… I kept thinking “why my sister? why not that person? why do they get to live? i’d gladly go after them…” There are a lot of questions, and since my sister’s death, both of my parent’s have skipped their birthday and my brother is “postponing” his. I worry most about the birthday I shared with my sister. It weighs on me every day that in 5 months, I will have to have a birthday without her. I’m writing all of this to let you know that you aren’t alone, although I lost my sister, I lost an integral part of me, as did you. It WILL get better. Normal is totally redefined, but YOU WILL GET BETTER. You will be happy and you will look back on the fun, happy, loving memories you had rather than looking back on how much just got taken away from you. I think the best thing for me was knowing that others out there, who I think operate and function quite well, that have gone through this same thing… you have a great support system and you will get better… it just honestly takes time… and it is a struggle, but you will make it. I am wishing the best for you and your girls… its a hard time, but you will be amazed at how much stronger and capable you are than you thought.

  • Stephanie: Oh, Jennie, that’s just horrible! Speaking from experience, you will heal! As your living through it, it is incredibly hard and sad and lonely, but I think it is a comfort to have small children with you through this time. I don’t know if we’ll ever make it through the milestones easily. I just passed my husband’s birthday and the third anniversary of his death is in just a few weeks. And, it’s still hard, but I do have a wonderful life with my children. And, doing a lot more than functioning!

  • Kim in MD: Wow. You are amazing, Jennie. I’m glad you and your girls are safe…we also felt the earthquake and dealt with hurricane Irene on Saturday (power just came back on last night). Stay strong-you can do this, and you do deserve more than just a “functioning” life.

  • beehostess: Wow, you are amazing!

  • Allison: You will get through this. It’s clear in every word you write that you are a strong, amazing, and graceful woman who will be a guiding light for her two daughters as they grow up. You have been served an unfathomable injustice in such a cruel way, but I think your ability to inspire others through your own heartache is such a testament to your own character and strength. I’ll be waiting to read your book one day soon.

  • Michael Dietsch: My mother at least could prepare for this, to a certain extent. I was five and singing in an Easter pageant at our church, when my mother realized her husband would never again attend those events at her side. Easter pageants, graduations, weddings, first grandchild — all of those she’d see without her children’s father. He was in a hospital that morning, dying of pancreatic cancer.
    I understand too too well how you and your girls are feeling right now, and my heart breaks for you all every day.

  • Marisa: I just recently stumbled upon your blog (via all the talk of peanut butter pie, of course). I just wanted to offer my condolences on your loss – I can’t imagine what you’re going through. However, I do know, just from reading a couple entries, that your children are very lucky to have such a strong mother. You will all be happy again – it will take some time, but you will find a way.

  • Tonya: Yes. Just yes.
    When my mom died, I got many of the same platitudes. I knew that people were just saying what they thought they should say, but man, was that ever irritating.
    One thing that I have kept coming back to in the nearly 13 years that she’s been gone is that the hurt is different – not less or more – just different. It will hurt one way this year and another way the next. Certain dates I thought would gut me pass without a whimper, but the everyday mundane activities can sucker punch me. However, I don’t live my life functionally. Well, I’m functional! But I’m so much more than that. I am living the hell out of my life because my mom would be pissed if I did otherwise.

  • Allison: You are a strong lady!!

  • JacquieLH: You. Amaze. Me.

  • Elle: The first year is definitely the hardest. And maybe even into the second year a bit, too. When I was eleven, my thirteen year old brother died. My world fell apart and came to a screeching halt. Adults told me that “there was a reason for everything,” and it was God’s plan. While I don’t believe those things to be untrue, they’re the worst things anyone could say to a grieving person.
    My mom died very suddenly in 2006. Again, my life came to a screeching halt. Again, I was told those things. People who say those things just don’t get it. Maybe they haven’t been through that tremendous grief. Maybe they truly think that it’s a comfort to hear them. I don’t know.
    I’ve never said those two things to anyone going through what you’re going through. Like someone said above, it may be “in the plan,” but it’s not your plan.
    You will eventually feel joy when you think of Mikey. You’ll be able to have a good belly laugh when you remember funny things that happened with him. And you CAN be happy again. Don’t let anyone tell you that you won’t. Until then, you go at your own pace.
    Much love, Jennie. xo

  • PaigeP: Very well written!

  • Aly: Write the book! There is also a book called Tear Soup … Has anyone given it to you yet? It is a beautiful book on grief that you can read with your girls – good advice, not this bad awful sh** that people have been putting in your path. But seriously, write the book. Your honesty will be welcomed into many homes I am SURE!

  • Blaire: Praying for you and your family. You are never alone–look to Him for strength and happiness.

  • Heather: Jenny,
    After having gone through a devastating event in my life, it took time to heal but eventually laughter will come and moments of happiness will occur but it will be on your timetable and when you are ready. I just found your blog after your loss but I am profoundly moved by your words. You are in my thoughts….

  • Mari in Chicago: Your strength is amazing. I’ve admired you from afar, but your determination and strength has left me speechless. The girls are lucky to have you as their mother. You are in my thoughts.

  • Claire: I am so very sorry for what you are going through, and for your untimely loss of such a special person. It’s good to see that you have so much fight in you…..I’m sure that will get you through this. My hope for you (and what I’m sure is true) is that as time goes by, the happy memories are what you start to think of first, and the pain recedes a little, though of course I know this will take a long time. I can tell that you are going to get there though, and I’m full of respect and admiration for you. Your girls are lucky to have such a strong mom. Much love xoxo

  • gail: Jennie,
    I am very sorry for your loss. I carried this quote in my wallet for many years and I hope it helps.
    “It comes with bittersweet agony . . .
    I am anxious to afford some alleviation of your present distress
    Perfect relief is not possible, except with time.
    You cannot realize that you will ever feel better.
    And yet it is a mistake.
    You are sure to be happy again.
    To know this, which is certainly true,
    Will make you some less miserable now.
    I have had experience enough to know what I say.”
    — Abraham Lincoln

  • Sara: Amazing post. Thinking of you.

  • Lynn Lovejoy: Hi Jennie,
    I’ve been reading your blog for awhile and I am so so sorry for what you are going through. I know that nothing I say will make it better and I can’t even imagine the pain you are experiencing. I don’t know if this will help or if it will be just another thing that people say to try to make you feel better but doesn’t work. Just know that my intentions are genuine and I truly hope that one day you will be happy again… not functioning.
    About 11 years ago, a close friend’s mother passed away (she and his father had been married for 20 years). Although I never met her, I can tell through stories and pictures how much they loved each other (as I can tell with you and your husband, through the pictures, stories and the video you posted). His dad was devastated, as were both children. He spent 7 years on his own, not dating anyone. About 4 years ago he met someone, fell in love and got married about 3 years ago. He is happy again. It took some time, and they all still miss their mother, but he isn’t “functioning”…he is living. It may not take you 7 years, or it may take you longer (only you can decide your time frame…don’t listen to people who tell you that you should move on or whatever because they are idiots). But you will find happiness, because you deserve it, and based on this post you seem to have the right attitude to achieve it (you know what you deserve and what you want for your life and for your girls).
    I hope I haven’t said anything that would make it worse, I really just wanted to tell you that you deserve happiness and all of us in the food blog community are here for you and will make as many peanut butter pies as you want. <3

  • sara: I can’t imagine what you are going through, but Tre, that writes this blog: http://whiteelephantintheroom.tumblr.com/
    she did lose a husband unexpectedly. She writes beautifully about it.

  • Kara: I will help you write that book and I have a LOT to contribute. I was and am still appalled at the things people said to me when my daughter died 4 years ago. My all time favorite is ‘you’ll get over it.’ REALLY?!?!!? I didn’t have the flu, my child died!!
    The one good thing that came from those comments is that I am much better at knowing what to say (and what NOT to say) to someone who is grieving…..
    When my daughter died it became clear to me VERY quickly that I did not have many choices – staying bed all day made me feel worse and would never help me feel joy again. So, I got out of bed everyday and used every ounce of energy in my body to go on with my life. It sucked and it was hard and there are still days I want to pull the covers over my head. BUT pushing myself in those early days and months did help me find joy again.
    The other thing that I think made difference for me was seeing a grief counselor. The hospice near my home has a grief counseling center and they were great. It was the ONE place I could go and feel any emotion I wanted and no one would say stupid crap to me. A friend had to drive me for my first visit cause I am not the therapy type…but, alas, it really helped.
    I wish joy for you, Jennie. And wish you energy for the journey to find it.

  • Maria Raynal at Fresh Eats at Home: Jennie, even though we’ve only met once, you are never far from my heart. Somehow, I knew you’d write this post, and that it would convey your dignity, grace, and that fantastic streak of sarcasm.
    You are a woman of substance.
    I believe you will live — truly live — again. And all the beautiful memories and moments your Mikey gave you and the girls will be part of that wonderful life you’ll create for yourself.
    p.s. I always worry about being THAT person, you know, the one that says the wrong thing to grieving family and friends. : )

  • Sarah Geist: I agree there are hard times that have come upon the world that God has allowed, but what about the miracles? It’s easier to be angry and ask why God has forsaken us than to bless him in the storms isn’t it?
    But that’s what he teaches us, what he wants. To be dependent on him for everything. Because without him we truly just don’t know what to do, we truly are a lost people.
    I will continue to pray for you and your family Jennie. But I know this truth and I challenge you to prove me wrong. Open the bible, read his word and tell me that nothing inside of you moves. Pray to God ask for understanding and tell me that you don’t receive anything. Go to church, attend a support group and tell me that the whole church does not stand beside you.
    What have you got to lose at this point?

  • Madeleine Peterson: I lost my husband 2 months ago and I so feel your pain. I am also amazed at what people say and I try to remind myself that they mean well. I am sorry, but losing your partner by death is not the same as divorcing your partner. I know it will get better, after a lot of “firsts”. Hugs and love are so much better than telling me how God has a grand plan. I hope that you are as fortunate as I am, being surrounded with family and friends who can listen and not explain why this happened. (I am actually showing great restraint with my comments!!! ….) I hear you and I feel your pain and anger and frustration and apprehension and so many other emotions.
    Peace and Love to you and your children.

  • ellen tinder: I can feel your pain. I lost my husband of 30 years Jan.19, & it’s hard trying to cope without him. But,I have a wonderful daughter & grandchildren to stand by me-as you have your daughters. They will give you strength you never knew you had. I send hugs your way.

  • ellen tinder: My husband had stomach,colon,liver&bone cancer he fought two horrible years before he passed. I forgot to mention this on my other comment.

  • Candace T: You are AMAZING! You inspire me to LIVE!
    Allow yourself to feel the good and the bad. You are right … people are stupid!
    We are here for you.
    All my love

  • Judy: Just let me say I think you are amazing. Thank you so much for posting a realistic picture of grief. Although I know relgion is a comfort to many people, to others, like myself, there is little solace at a time like this. Cliche, I know, but time eases. Thinking good thought of you and of how fortunate your girls are to have you for a mom!

  • Jennie: I’ve never commented here before, but my heart is gouged by every post you’ve written about losing Mike. You should write a book about this when you are ready, because your writing is honest and powerful and moving.
    I believe in God, but I don’t believe that Mike’s death was part of some kind of plan. Bad things happen, and then terrible things happen, and sometimes good things happen. That’s life on planet earth. What matters is how we face those good and bad things. I am in awe of how you are facing this terrible thing that happened to you and your family. You are determined to do more than survive (function), but to truly live and find joy down the road. You do have faith in yourself, your family, and your future. It’s amazing and humbling to read about your journey. I wish you comfort, and healing, and strength, and – when it’s possible – joy.

  • Tori: I lost two family members last week and although it doesn’t even compare to your loss, I’ve also been angry when people tell me it’s part of “God’s plan”.
    In my opinion, if causing such hurt and loss to people is part of his plan, God sucks. (Sorry if this offends anyone.)
    Anyway, I also wanted to add that my husband lost his father unexpectedly as a child and although he still misses him everyday, his mother is amazing and did much more than just “function”. He is lucky to have such a good mom and I know your daughters are as well.
    I look forward to continue reading your blog about all the great and lovely things you do and your life brings!

  • Mia: You can do this!

  • helene: One “first” at a time you will live again. Everyone is different in loss, grief and living. More than ever these days I don’t understand people and how they behave but the best we can do is to keep on trucking the way we know how to in order to take care of ourselves and our loved ones.
    Love to you and the girls.

  • Mrsvjw: I either need to stop reading these first thing in the morning, or stop bothering to put on mascara in the morning.
    JP’s Note: My goal is to one day be able to wear mascara again too ;)

  • Monica: You are amazing. Good for you for wanting more for yourself than to just be. :)

  • Brooke: You’ll find your new normal. None of those firsts are going to be like they were. But you will, first, find your new normal and then from there you will find a differnt happiness than the one you had before. Doesn’t mean it not going to be as happy, it will just be different.
    I’ve been where you’ve been. It will be a year Sept 26th. I’m not there yet, and I have a long way to go, but there is improvement.

  • Coco and Isa: Jennie, have you seen soul surfer? Please see it if you haven’t. I hope it will let you know how much god loves you and mikey even if you don’t believe it. I am praying for you!

  • Dusty: While i don’t know the pain of losing a husband.. i do know the pain of loss. I was 22, my father 47, he committed suicide. I had to go through a lot of firsts without him.. and sadly 10 years later i still find firsts that he will not be at. I think i understand some of the pain and anger.. though i was angry at my father. People look at me funny when i say i will never forgive my father for taking his own life and how selfish he was to do that. But i will never stop loving him. I don’t hate him.. but i can be angry at him. But.. what i really wanted to tell you.. is it’s hard. but it does get easier to get up in the morning. to smell the things that remind you of him. When at first they bring tears of sadness and grief. they will eventually lead to smiles and happy thoughts that make you feel good. There are always sad moments, but they pass with only a tear or two.. not rivers. My favorite things now are talking with my mother and brothers about all the fun times we had. laughing, playing, dancing.. looking at pictures.. remembering. The sun does shine again, and the warmth comes back and you laugh and smile and always remember and never regret.. it’s true.. another life is possible.
    JP’s Note: Dusty, you are so right. Being mad a him, doesn’t negate the love you feel. Sending you lots of hugs, and thanks for taking the time to share your words with us.

  • Elizabeth: You go girl!

  • Elizabeth of AsianinAmericamag: Amazing post, Jennifer ! Your candor, strength and honesty are so inspiring. Sending hugs to warm you & your girls!

  • Cheryl Arkison: Great words!
    Religion is not in my life so I also hate the ones that talk about “better places” and “being home”.
    The first year will be hard, but you will also laugh and enjoy things too. And one day there will be far more laughter than tears and you will know that it’s going to be okay. Even good.

  • Kate: I’ve not lost a husband, but I can relate to your thoughts/feelings about peoples’ advice. I have a chapter or so I could add to that book! I was recently diagnosed with cancer. I received some terrible advice (“It’s no big deal… you’ll be fine”), but also some wonderful advice the other day. I think it applies here…
    Own your feelings. Be mad. Be sad. Be furious. Hold true to how you’re feeling and screw anyone who doesn’t think you should feel that way. You have the right to feel however you want. No one can tell you how to feel or how you should feel, because they are not you.
    I didn’t find your blog until after your loss of Mikey. I’m so sad that this tragedy brought me here but I’m also so glad that I found your space. My heart breaks for your loss. I am inspired by your fortitude and commitment to moving forward, rebuilding and getting through this to a place where you can be happy.

  • Stephanie: I have been following your blog ever since I found you from another blog, and I have felt heartbroken every time I read.
    Today, I was driving into work feeling blah and having a “woe is me” attitude about meaningless things.
    Thankfully, the first thing I did when I got to work was check your blog. Boy, did I get the attitude check that I needed. You once again, remind me how blessed I am to live another day and also, how truly fleeting life can be.
    I am impressed by your strength, grace and brutal honestly about your situation. My wish for you is to find little bits of happiness everyday, until one day you begin to feel whole again. I too, believe that life isn’t just about functioning- but living.
    All the best to you and your girls.

  • Donna: Oh Jennie, my heart just aches for you. I too lost my husband very suddenly of flesh eating disease and my favorite stupid comment was “he’s in a better place”. I was so sick of hearing that line that I actually told someone off at the wake. I said let me see, we were happy, we had a wonderful daughter, we traveled, blah, blah, blah, now tell me he’s in a better place!!!!! The person was speechless. I was always hoping that my comment would help her to restrain from ever saying that line again. :)
    Donna

  • Kat: This really struck a chord in me and I appreciate your honesty. I’m not sure what to say other than I’m just a person who is sending you lots of good vibes and support.

  • Amanda: You are amazing and strong and a complete and utter inspiration to us all.

  • Sharon: Jennie, recently a friend of mine passed away in a terrible accident. The most profound legacy he left, other than his wonderful children and a career spent saving lives, was that he lived his life to the fullest every moment until the end. What is amazing about this is that he lost his wife to cancer when she was young and his kids were little. From that point on he never took life for granted. He found love again with a kindred spirit but never forgot the lessons learned from the mother of his children and what they had and lost. He lived, laughed, and loved again and so shall you. And God has nothing to do with it.

  • Dana: I’ve been quietly reading these posts (and aching for you) but just have to put in a word here. My father is an oncologist and over his 30+ year practice, he saw a lot of death. Our family is Jewish but in a purely cultural way. We did not go to temple, barely celebrated the holidays, and my dad is the most agnostic of all of us. Still, when he had a patient at death’s door, he would slightly envy the ones who had religion. They and their families truly believed that person was on to a better place.
    I’m not speaking for the God squad readers you have and I am about as far away from them as you can get. I guess I just very slightly understand where they are coming from. They BELIEVE, in a way that you or I never will, that there is a reason, a pattern in the madness. It must be comforting to them although I know it is not for you.
    So, I say bravo to you for your courage and your levelheadedness with your tragedy so recently in your past. Bravo for keeping your head above water and your eyes on the future. Bravo for continuing to take care of your children when what you probably most need if for someone to take care of you. Bravo for putting it out there to the universe (not God) that happiness is in your plans. It will come your way.

  • Natalie Clark: I cannot begin to imagine the pain you are enduring right now and I am so happy that you realize that you should not just “function.” Your strength is amazing that you can find that kind of will during such a hard time. One thing I will say is that as a Christian, I do agree with one of the above comments that Christ is where you will find true joy (not just happiness) and peace. I can humbly attest to this in my life. In my opinion (I will have to ask God about this one day), this is NOT God’s plan. His plan was a perfect life, but we as human’s sinned and life can no longer be Eden. I believe that He does use situations for a purpose though. Whether this situation will allow you to draw near to him once again or bring someone else back to him, I believe He uses every situation for good. I am sorry you have had to endure harsh/not-at-all comforting words, but I will continue to pray for you and your family.
    Psalm 29:8

  • April: Happiness is the best goal anyone can have. Go after it.

  • Kepaterson: Couldn’t agree more. People die because of cancer, a heart attack, they jumped off a cliff, overdosed, what have you.. Not because god decided it was time for them to “come home to the motherboard” or whatever. They just died cause shit happens. So you move on. You pick up the pieces and thank the heavens (no, not god) that that person was in your life and helped shape you into being you.
    Keep on keeping on, Jennie. We’re all here for you.

  • Maia: You will be happy again precisely because you are so utterly determined to be so!

  • Laura: Such an awe-inspiring post, and so eloquently put. So many times I’ve heard people utter the ‘He has a plan for you’ stuff to someone who has just lost their whole world– and I’ve wanted to punch them, or for the person on the receiving end of those words to punch them instead. Your honesty is beyond refreshing and you have my deepest respect. xox

  • Anne D.: I know that you’re not looking for trite encouragements, but I just feel compelled to say that you seriously kick ass.

  • Britt: I love you.

  • Sasha (Global Table Adventure): You are right – you will do more than function. I lost my brother when I was 12 and he was 14. He was my only constant in a life in and out of foster homes. The devastation rocked my world. He was my shooting star, and even though he is “gone” he still illuminates my life more than an entire sky filled with billions of stars. I cannot give you advice, but can say that I am walking along with you in support and love.

  • Tamara Mitchell: My Mikey died nearly 10 years ago – 46, I was 38; massive heart attack while I was at work. (everyone tells you my including their hamster, died stories, so I hesitated to post that, because I know how it feels when everyone does that..)
    Less than 48 hrs later my nutty neighbor drove the 250 yards to my house bearing a bundt cake. When I opened the door, she thrust it at me and said: “I just want you to know, it never gets any better. EVER.” At the time I was aghast, and secretly afraid that she was right. She wasn’t.
    The firsts will be difficult. Grieving in general just sucks. It’s you in a row boat alone, navigating both the giant waves and the calmer seas, with an occasional toss overboard, under water until it feels like you’re drowning. Then you bob to the surface again.
    I did it my way. You’ll do it your way. And you’ll collect both sweet and bitter memories on the trip. Peace and hugs.

  • Becky: Dear Jennie,
    Like many others, I didn’t read your blog until after your husband’s death. I’m so sorry for your loss; there are no words.
    We made a pie for you and Mikey last week.
    In my graduate program in Arizona, I completed a certificate in trauma and bereavement. My professor, Dr. Joanne Cacciatore, keeps a blog that I wanted to share with you. Some of the things you are writing about are similar to what she writes about.
    http://drjoanne.blogspot.com/
    We’ll be thinking of you and your family.

  • Rocky Mountain Woman: Something you may find interesting from someone who doesn’t really know you, but does know your pain (me).
    When my husband died at age 43 of heart related issues, I was a very religious person (as was he). When I turned to my religion for comfort, there was none there. As a matter of fact, there was judgment (as in if you really believe in God, you will be ok. If your faith waivers or you draw away from God, you will not be ok). Within a few months of his death, I had left the religion of my youth and his.
    Where did I find comfort? In my children, my friends and my unwavering faith in my ability to heal. Not my family, because they were upset that I had left my religion (and theirs).
    I sense that faith in yourself in your words.
    I consider myself a healthy whole person now. I miss my husband and always will, but I am alive and happy.
    You can absolutely do this. One day at a time, sweetie, one day at a time.
    xxoo,
    RMW

  • Michele V: I for one will be watching for your book!
    Take Care!

  • Elizabeth Sherman: You. Inspire. Me.

  • Myra: Jennie,
    I know you must be hurting now and I can’t imagine your pain but I do know that God loves you and weeps with you and wants to hold you. God gets blamed for all the bad things that happen in the world because “He could have prevented it” but we forget that we live in a fallen world with both good and evil. And the truth of the matter is, we all are going to die someday and then there is eternity and the question of where we spend that. Everyone does not live to 70 or 80 or 90 or whatever. And heaven only is where finally all tears and sadness will end. My cousin just lost her only son (24 years old) in the military in Afghanistan. He had a wife and young son. They just went to Dover DE yesterday to receive his body. She lost her husband just three years ago. I can’t explain the pain of that either but I do know that in the midst of it all God has promised that “He will never leave us nor forsake us” and out of that sorrow can come something we can’t imagine nor can we see now. Life is so full of knots and loose threads and inexplicable pain. I think of Naomi in the book of Ruth who lost her husband and her only two sons and yet God was weaving beauty out of the ashes. For through Boaz, her kinsman redeemer, the Messiah was born.
    What a blessing you’ve shared of the years you had with Mikey and the blessing of your two precious daughters. Don’t despair. Don’t run from God. And yes I know this is a process but one thing I know, He has not forsaken you. He loves you with an everlasting love.

  • Chelsea Talks Smack: Your posts are so incredibly honest and beautiful despite the tragedy you’re suffering through right now— you are still a pillar of what a strong, brilliant woman is. Just remember that. Thinking of you and sending lots of love.

  • April: People do say a lot of stupid things and I sincerely apologize if I’ve been one of them. You’ll find a way through this and you’ll be strong, I’ve only been reading your blog a couple of weeks and I can feel it.

  • Meggie: You go girl! Seriously, you got it going in the right direction. Keep it up and live it like there is no tomorrow!

  • marisa: Not sure if anyone has gone the “platitudes are bullshit and this fucking sucks” route but that’s what I wanted someone to say when my little girl died. The whole “angel in Heaven” thing made me want to kill people.
    Hope that helps. xoxo

  • Shelly McGlathery: Jenni-
    One. Day. At. A. Time.

  • Laina Lamb: Jennie, As a fellow “logic above mythology” person, I just wanted to say, thanks for your honesty. They are just trying to help, but it really sounds hollow to our ilk. You will always be worthy of being loved and doing more than “functioning.” Sounds like you have a good idea of what to expect this coming year. Have fun when you can, and know you are cared about.

  • Hilary Masson: Jennifer I was a 34 yo widow with a 2 year old son. The first year has long since passed and we have met each milestone along the way. He has along the way started nursery school, gone to sleep away camp, had a Bar Mitzvah, graduated from college and just set the date for his wedding. I learned that functioning is the first goal. Then came the two steps forward and 5 backwards stage. Being able to plan for a time period longer than 15 minutes will come. There will be days of anger and terror. Set a timer for 15 minutes and worry every second and when it goes off get up and on with your day. Shower after the girls are asleep and turn your face into the water and cry (feels like the whole world is crying with you). They need to see your tears, fears, strength and ultimately your ability to move on. I would have liked to celebrate what would have been our 38th anniversary next month even our 25th or 10th. But the 81/2 years we had was better than 5 and to this day I know it beat the hell out of none. Make an effort and initially it will be an effort to meet others like yourself. It’s good to know that you will make it to 6 month or through that first year. They help with the stages your kids will go through. I met a great group of widows and widowers on line (lots of us have remarried and moved on but are still in touch) and would be happy to put you in touch with them if you like. You would think after all this time I would be able to know just what to say. Mourning and grief are personal and though today you may not think so but you will do it your way – it will take a good 2 years and you will learn to accept the Jenny you are is not the Jenny you were before Mike died. I made the pie for Mikey for my husband, son and future DIL. I wished that when my husband died there was a gesture like that for Jacques. You will wake up one day and remember you are special and will allow yourself to be loved and love again. Grief is like a wave – when we stand in the ocean we see waves that we know will knock us off our feet, there are waves we can dive under as they passover, and then there are those that are gone before they reach us. If you are hanging out at Socrates Park I don’t live far from you. If I can help please let me know. I wish you good days, laughter, smiles and good friends to see you through this.

  • nicole: You are really amazing. And inspiring. And I know it is/will be hard, but you can do it.

  • Kb @ Home-Baked Happiness: I really admire your attitude here, and I hope that you get everything you’re looking for, that happiness returns to you as soon as it can.
    I know this isn’t the same situation, but I thought this book was interesting. It’s a different grief, but her attitude was sort of like yours, trying to overcome a loss and not wanting to hear what people might be telling you:
    http://www.amazon.com/Exact-Replica-Figment-My-Imagination/dp/0316027669

  • Carrie @ No More Tomorrows: I had reached my due date, and passed it, and went in for a check up to see if I’d be having my son anytime soon, and had the breath knocked out of me when they told me my son had no heartbeat. I don’t know what it’s like to lose my partner and my love, but I do know a loss so sudden and so deep that life stops. And the words people say, because they don’t know, because they’re trying to make sense of something that doesn’t make sense, because they have no idea what to do, I know how hurtful they can be. How frustrating. I don’t have the faith that I had when I was younger. I don’t believe the things I used to. And I don’t understand the idea that an all loving God would rip a man from his family or rob a mother’s womb of her fully formed and beautiful baby boy.
    Other blogs I follow have talked about your husband’s sudden passing and that is how I found you. My heart breaks for you and your children. The thing I have learned about grief, that I’d like to pass to you, is that it looks differently on all of us, and that nobody can tell you how to grieve. It is yours to navigate through. I wish you the peace and the strength to do so.

  • Barefeet In The Kitchen: I’m sitting here crying for you, Jennie. You are strong and you will most definitely do more than just function.
    The book is an excellent idea. I try to stick with, what can I do for you? But, I’d love to know what else might actually be appreciated.

  • Kristin: My father and brother died in a car accident 23 years ago. I have told my mom that she made it possible for me feel like it was okay to be happy again. She has lived life to the fullest! Sure, there were lots of hard days, lots and lots. But despite that she chose to be happy, and now that I am a mother I love to use her life as an example for my children.
    Happiness is a choice. Things may never be the “same” again. But you can definitely have joy in life again, and it is a powerful example to your children. That they can remember with love and live happy.

  • Cat: I’m sure it’s been recommended, or perhaps you’ve already read it, but Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking” reminds me of what you’re writing about here.

  • Cyndi: I agree 100% with Kelly from Minneapolis. God understands pain more than most people realize. God is real; so is the devil (Satan). Satan’s goal is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) as someone else commented. Yet those who claim to be “non-religous” always blame God – Always.
    Jennifer, I know that a lot of people say things to those who are hurting in an effort to help in some way. It is hard for people to know what to say to someone that has suffered such a loss as yours. I think what most people mean when they say that God has a plan for you is that God knows that you are suffering, he knows the pain you are going through and He hurts along with you because he loves you. It was not God’s plan for your husband to die, but he can restore your life if you let him.
    I know this is just my beliefs and opinions but for what it’s worth, you and your girls are in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Melissa@IWasBornToCook: Stay strong, Jennie!

  • elizabeyta: I have no advice other then to breathe, one breath at a time. Sometimes it is all you can do. Life will never be the same. It will be different. I will also send blessings and hugs because I have been thinking about your post for the last 7 hours.
    ((((((((hug)))))))) and blessings.

  • Deb: Jennie, Thank you for sharing your life with us. We may not know you personally but know your pain. I lost my twin sister a few years ago. Your honesty helps all of us to know that we are not alone in this crazy world. I’ll be thinking of you and your children..

  • kate: Jennie, this post reminded me of this poem. We can accept something in life without ignoring it or letting it define us. After an unintelligible death of someone close to me, this poem put some words in my head when I was left searching for them.
    Dirge without Music
    Edna St. Vincent Millay
    I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
    So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
    Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
    With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
    Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
    Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
    A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
    A formula, a phrase remains, — but the best is lost.
    The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
    They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
    Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
    More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.
    Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
    Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
    Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
    I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

  • Terry C: I completely agree with you, Jennie. My most-hated saying, personally, is “God never gives you more than you can handle.” For two reasons: Yes, most people get more than they can handle at various times in their lives; and also because I don’t believe in a vicious Creator. I just think we need to try to be there for each other as much as is possible, when things happen. I hope you find more comfort from the people who are trying to be supportive than pain from those who might say something well-intentioned but hurtful. I’m sorry you have had this additional hurt to bear.

  • Amy: I don’t really have anything to say to you that will make anything better. I just wanted you to know that there is one other person out here in this vast, crazy world who feels so deeply for you.
    Rock on when you want to rock on. Don’t when you don’t want to. That’s your perogative.
    I wish you and your girls all the best and will be here reading you.

  • Dana Mathes: Jennie – I stumbled on your blog recently through a link from the local kitchen blog. And I’m so glad I found it. You are doing an amazing job navigating through tremendous pain. I just have to echo what so many have said here – your girls are so very lucky to have you (and your amazing pancakes). Also, I believe you will find happiness and true love again. But getting there will be, as you said, a gut-wrenching journey.
    I’m with you, I don’t believe in God’s plan. I believe in doing the best you can with this enrapturing, heartbreaking, and perplexing thing called life. And you are doing your best, one day at a time.

  • robin: people are just people they mean well

  • maryanne: oh hon, i’m so sorry.. i couldn’t even imagine what you’re going through, how you’re feeling.. I just found you when someone linked to one of your entries.. sometimes I think people don’t know what to say, so they turn around and say something stupid and it makes you want to tell them to shut shut the hell up. we all heal at our own pace, like you said.. you’ve got the first year to get through.. I will say time heals.. it just takes alot of time. I remember when the person closest to me passed away, I wrote an journal entry saying “whoever said ‘time heals’ lied” but now, 8 years later.. i realize it does heal. it just takes a long time and we all go at our own paces. you’re in my thoughts hon.

  • joanne nixon: please write the book. i am sure most people are at a loss of words to comfort you.
    my husband is a counselor at a cemetery. he tells me that so many times words come automatically to people when they just don’t know what else to say. to know how you feel would be to crawl into your skin and experience it first hand, in your moments.
    i think of you and your family everyday…and wait for every new entry that you post.

  • ali cox: Joan Didion They Year of Magical Thinking.It’s a lovely book and exactly what you are facing. I lost my sister. I couldn’t walk in a church without crying and feeling very bitter for a long time! I remember using the F-bomb and Jesus in the same sentence. In time you will find YOUR way. I choose to have a full life BECAUSE of my sister. I read to my kids every, single night, I hug them, kiss them. I do not take a day for granted. Her life was too precious to waste mine. Her inability to live on this earth is the reason I make the most of every day. Looking back at the years immediately after her death, I realize I was physically depressed. Incapable of doing everything I wanted to do. As time passed, I could do more. I think of you and your husband often. Now, I probably always will. That gave me great comfort to know people other than me remember her. I also ran. I ran alot. I ran through tears and fits so extreme I’m pretty sure I hyperventilated. But I kept on, and thought of my sister all the while. I hope that you find peace here and there and eventually everywhere.

  • herheatherness: You rock! I can feel your strength.

  • Angel Hunt: Thank you, Jennie for exposing yourself to all of us- the anonymous public at this impossible time. I think I would have been inclined to shy away from the thousands of comments from us well meaning strangers. But you’re stronger than I, and your posts are helping others. I do hope they help you some too.
    I don’t know you, so I can’t do much to help you personally- but I wanted to tell you that I take the spirit of Mikey’s pie to heart. When my own dear husband makes me crazy, thoughts of you pop into my head and I am a little more patient, and hold him a little closer and a little longer. I can’t bring Mikey back to you – but I wanted you to know that I am keenly aware of the fortune I have just by the very fact that he can still get in my way in the kitchen.
    You’re far too good to merely function. Go thrive.

  • Andrea: Such a beautiful post – filled with hope and strength. You are amazing. Wonderful things will be in store for you and your girls, at just the right time.

  • Carol: Jennie,
    I can’t imagine the pain you are going thru. I pray that you will be comforted. I believe you will live, laugh and love again-fully, happily. John 3:16, For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. Also, 1 Corinthians 1:24-25, “But to those called by God to salvation… Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.”

  • Dee: You’re amazing.

  • Sabrina Modelle: Jennie,
    Thank you so much for your beautiful post. I, also, love your idea for a book. Like you, I refused confirmation at 13, and I thought the same things when I lost my parents. I felt no comfort upon hearing that they were in “a better place” or “at peace now” or “with God”
    The other thing I heard every day was to be strong, and carry on. It wasn’t until I met a very wise woman (years later) who challenged me to just touch upon what it felt like to crack open just a little bit. I realized that I’d been holding on so tight that I’d forgotten how to let go.
    I hope that you have some moments of letting go- whichever way they present themselves.
    Though we’ve never me, I’m sending so much love to you and the girls.
    Always,
    Sabrina

  • Sarah: Just wanted to share a blog of a woman who just faced death and the peace that she and her family have found…she just left this life less than 2 weeks ago. Hope it can be an encouragement in this time of pain.
    http://amycaldwellbixby.blogspot.com/

  • Mia: You’re so amazingly strong. I will never understand how people are able to do what you are doing, to keep on living without settling for simply being alive, after such a terrible thing has happened. Maybe it’s one of those things a person can never understand until it has happened to them.
    You are a true inspiration, and you are in my thoughts.

  • Gema: Jennie,
    You will do more than “function”! This post really shows your strength and determination. You need time. After all these firsts and the overwhelming pain, I am sure the day will come when you will surprise yourself remembering your husband with a smile and being grateful for the time you spent together. You will get through it and you will for sure enjoy life again.

  • Andrea Meyers: You are an amazing, strong woman, and I have no doubt that you will come through this time even more amazing. I hope that you feel the love and support that everyone wants to share with you.

  • Lauren @ KeepItSweet: You are amazing. And with those thoughts in your mind, things will get better, you won’t have to just “function”.

  • Danielle: Jennie,
    I stumbled across your blog a few weeks ago while doing a search for cooking blogs. While I have appreciated your recipes, I have a lot of empathy for your situation. My stepfather passed away suddenly in the same manner as your husband. I saw him on thursday night, January 13, and on Friday, January 14th, 2005 (less than 24 hours later) he was gone; he had a sudden heart attack on the Cross Bronx Expressway while driving home.
    I can remember people telling myself, my siblings, and my mom the same things that you’ve been told recently and they make you want to scream. I know from experience that this is a very tough road you have ahead of yourself, and it will by no means be easy. But you will be happy again, you will love again, and you will be stronger for it.
    Stay strong for your children, and try to smile each day (which I know is the hardest thing to do sometimes.) Also if you’d like to speak to someone who went through this I’m sure my mother would be more than willing.

  • Roz@weightingfor50: Hi Jennie. Holy smokes, you are my hero. Your words are amazing, and WHEN you write that book (or any other book, as you are a very gifted writer) I’ll be right there with a pen in my hand asking you to sign my copy. All the best, continued good thoughts to you and your family!

  • Bevi: Long ago I stopped listening to people telling me God has a plan. Too many misfortunes have befallen loved ones and dear friends for me to suffer that response.
    I spent the hurricane weekend cooking, and your Sweet and Savory Jam was on the top of the list. I made plenty of other jams, but yours was the best of the bunch, and I am hoarding it.

  • nancy s.: Hello Jennie,
    I am so sorry this has happened to you.
    I have walked this same path twice; once when I was 28 yr. old and again when I was 38.
    I am now 58 yr. old and my life has been, and continues to be, filled with love, happiness, imagination, and inspiration.
    Life is what “you” make it now, Jennie.
    When the anger and pain begin to subside, go out there and embrace this different life with open arms. Hold every moment with love, strength, and thankfulness. For you know how precious and fleeting moments can be.
    Bless you.

  • Jennifer: Good things happen to bad people. Bad things happen to good people. There is no rhyme or reason or “plan” in it. There is only how you decide it is going to affect you. I’m so sorry for your loss and I hope time lessens your pain.

  • Stacey: Romans 8:28

  • Christina: When I was 16 my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on January 7th, On April 2nd he was gone. My mom was left with 4 children ages 16, 14, 8, & 5. People told us really stupid stuff too. Like, if we had just believed a little more that God could heal him, he would have. Don’t even for one second let the stupid things people say bother you. They don’t matter now, and they will never matter. The pain of losing him and missing him never really gets easier, but I can honestly say that another life IS possible. You WILL feel true joy and true love again, don’t doubt it for one second.

  • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite: Jennie,
    *I* am one of those people who never know what to say in times like this. So all I will say is that your grace and strength are admirable.
    Hugs xox

  • FoodforMyFamily: I know another life is possible for you, Jennie, and I have no doubt in my mind that you’ll be loved and held again. xoxo

  • sarah louise: thank you for being so candid. i can relate to a lot of what you have been sharing with us… my father died of a heart attack 10 years ago when i was 18. your posts bring back a lot of the raw emotions from that time, the ‘firsts’ are terrible, but we got through it – i am so sorry for your loss.
    i also know where you are coming from with well intentioned (but still hurtful) comments… i will never forget hearing, ‘he is in a better place,’ or ‘he is at peace now.’ i remember thinking, i don’t want him in a better place, i want him here with us!
    your strength is inspiring. i hope you can again find the happiness you so rightly deserve.

  • Amanda: Atta girl. You are AMAZING.

  • jen: i have thought of you so often since that first tweet, but never felt like i had the right thing to say to you, since I only know you through your blog and twitter. i still am not sure I do, that it will even matter. just know that up here in the great white north of toronto people are thinking of you and your girls, willing you to get through and to live and find happiness again. I have to say, after reading this post, I’m certain you will get there. whether you feel strong or not, you are exhibiting such strength and grace.

  • Susan: Hi Jennie,
    Thank you for such an honest, open post. No one can know what it’s like to go through what you’re going through because no one has had your experiences that have lead up to this moment in your life. The people in your life – strangers from your blog like me, your friends, your family – everyone is sorry that you’re going through this pain. If we could change that, we would.
    I’m also sorry that some people are using this most painful time to shove their religion down your throat. You’ve got enough to swallow right now. I also left the church when I was 12 years old because I became aware that there was a difference between spirituality and religion. And no one should be trying to interfere with your beliefs, ever.
    I’m glad for your strength. I’m relieved to hear you talk about a future that includes love. And your ‘first’ list made me cry. It couldn’t be more bittersweet.
    I hope you do write that book. And a few more. I’ve been following your blog for a long time, more for your writing than the recipes. They’re appreciated, certainly, but it’s your voice in the world that is so special. And even during this most private hell, you’re still sharing with all of us.
    I agree with what someone else wrote -
    You’re a woman of substance.

  • MelanieF: I am only a lurker, and enjoy your site. I am very sorry for your lost, and I applaud you for your honesty. My mother in law lost her husband last December and I saw her go through all of the emotions you are going througg and the firsts (some are still to come). I think the best way to help somoene in those situation is to just listen. And I am not a religious person at all, so I won’t ever tell you that God had a plan or anyone for that fact. But just to stay strong and take it one day at a time!

  • Mary Smith: My husband chose his “secret life” over my children and I and disappeared out of our lives forever. Within the same week a casual acquaintance lost her husband and the father of her children suddenly. We spent many times together over coffee or cocktails laughing over the ridiculous advice we were given by well meaning friends and spent other times bristling over suggestions that it was part of God’s plan. What kept she and I strong for our children (and for ourselves)were two things: having someone in a similar situation to lean on and keeping our senses of humor intact.
    I have no pithy words of advice nor do I come bearing celestial news of master plans. It sucks, it just plain sucks…I can promise you one thing though, it DOES get better.

  • Shoshanna: There should be a tax on every utterance of “God has a plan”, “Everything happens for a reason” and “God never gives you more than you can handle.” All infuriating and all unhelpful, often said by people who’ve never been at the receiving end of a “plan” as cruel as the one you’re dealing with. I have no words of wisdom to offer about widowhood, grieving or recovery, other than to say I’m so sorry that you and your children have experienced such a heartbreaking loss. But I do have plenty of words of admiration at how well you are coping and how eloquently you continue to describe what you’re going through. Good for you for being determined to rebuild yourself and your life. I don’t know about God’s plan, but you’ve clearly got one, with the whole web world rooting for it to boot.

  • Charlene: Jennie-I usually do not comment on post, but today I read your very honest and heartfelt words. I sat here and smiled, really smiled. I think that you are right on and you deserved to be happy and do more than function and the hell with all that god crap. Born and raised catholic, 13 years of catholic school and I still don’t get it! I choose to live my life as I see fit, not some cookie cutter way that some church sees. I understand that life is precious and when it ends so suddenly, the grief begins and your everyday routine is suddenly different. You are an incredible mother, women and wife and I didn’t say were when I said wife on purpose. Continue to live and love and be the you that you want to be! Take as little or as long as YOU need/want and stay as true as you have always been!
    My thoughts have been of you and your beautifuk girls often and I thank you for sharing your world with all of us. I am truly humbled!
    Charlene

  • Farah: As a new follower of your blog I admire your writing very much and send my condolences. Having watched a best friend lose her husband at a very young age I agree that the first year will be the hardest. But I also know you will get through it with the grace and strength that you show through your writing. All the best to you and your girls.

  • Tastytreatz.wordpress.com: Jennie,
    No advice here, you’ve gotten enough. Just know that your readers support you. We wish you the best when going through your firsts, so that you may get to your happiness again.

  • Sally: Jenny – I am so, so very sorry for your loss. Linking you to someone who has experienced the same loss and who may be a good resource for you – http://www.mattlogelin.com/if-you-havent-been-here-before/
    All the best to you and your girls.
    Sally

  • Laura Callum: Tomorrow my sons and I go on our first visit to the cottage since my husband died in March at the age of 49. I have very mixed feelings about going there, but at the same time I am looking forward to getting away for a few days.
    Sometimes, life just sucks!

  • Sarah: Thank you for your honesty Jennie. I lost my father suddenly last year while I was living in Africa (I received a call at 3am from my brother), endured a 40 hour journey home, and over the next 6 weeks my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer, my baby cousin died at 12 days old, I found out I was the carrier of a rare gene mutation, and my uncle had a heart attack.
    The “God has a plan” advice always made me upset too. The other adage I was constantly told, that I just could NOT understand for the life of me, was: “Well, you’re done now. You’ve had so much bad stuff happen you’ll only have good stuff happen from now on.”
    Ummm… what?! Who signed a contract with life saying it would always be good? Because I never did, and I’d sure like to get in on that deal retroactively. No. What I have to get through this isn’t some debt that God or the Universe owes me to make my life good from now on. That’s just everyones’ way of trying to make themselves feel a little less lost when so much bad stuff happens every day.
    But what I do have to get through this is the people around me, and the strength inside me.
    And now I’ve just rambled on far longer than I intended. ;) What I really wanted to say is, thank you for sharing your story, because even a year after my Dad died, it makes me feel a little less alone to read your words. You and your girls are in my thoughts. Much Love.

  • Brittany: Jennie,
    My best friend lost her husband over three years ago and was told a lot of the awful, unhelpful, dumb things you appear to have been told. I am so sorry. I know it makes this harder.
    I love your honesty and openness. Bravo.
    Just know that strangers in California are thinking of you and your family.
    And guess what? I know it will get better. You will be happy again. I guarantee it.

  • Christy: Jennie, I will be praying for your broken heart. I have thought of your family often since reading about the loss of your Husband. I am married to a Pastor and I always say no one knows how one (myself included) would respond to such a tragic loss unless they experience it. I do not judge your bitterness towards God. It does sorrow me though, because He is the ultimate Comforter. God will still be there for you when you are ready…

  • Karen: I am so sorry!

  • lori: Jennie, You are simply amazing. Stay strong. You will make it through this first year–with aplomb–I am sure of it.

  • cassie: You are such a strong woman Jennie! *hugs*

  • Ann: That was a very honest post. I wish I had the magic words for you…but I don’t.
    I am, however, thinking of you.

  • Adele: I am so sorry… your loss is palpable and your pain manifests through your words… I am truly sorry…
    I don’t believe in god. There is too much pain in the world for me to think that there is a Supreme being governing us all. My father tragically died when I was 3, my mom was 33 (she never remarried), and my sister was 8. I don’t have memories of him and there are not so many photos of him left but I DO HAVE in my heart the light that he passed on to us and all the kind reflections of him that those who knew him share with me.
    Life will never be the same, but the colors, albeit different, will return, and your girls will make you and him proud. You are very strong, you will make yourself and him proud too!

  • Jennifer: Like you, I don’t believe there’s a God with a “plan” for us. I believe we have free will and that we are ultimately responsible for how we live our lives and the choices we make reflect that. Sounds to me like you’ve already chosen how to go on, because another life is possible. More power to you Jennie.

  • Sally: I don’t know why bad things happen, I just know that they do. What’s important isn’t what happens to us, but how we deal with it. You’re dealing with this with strength, grace and courage.
    I know you will have good days, bad days, and downright awful days. With time there will be more good days than bad and fewer awful days and wonderful days will creep into your life.
    One of the things I’ve admired about you since Mikey died is you writing about your new normal. I think the people who only hope to “function” after a loss or tragedy are those who never accept that there is a new normal. They always want thing to be the way they used to be: the day before the life-altering event happened.
    Keep going, Jennie, one foot in front of the other, one day at a time.
    My thoughts are with you and your daughters.

  • While The Sun Shines: From the other side of the world – I hurt for you ! I also know that oneday (hopefully not too long away) I will smile for you – your first true real smile, the first real laugh – you will see it and you will hear it. He will too xx

  • Tiffany: I think you have the exact right attitude, Jennie, and you and your girls will be loved. You will. You will live because you believe it. Good for you. I think it’s important too that you are letting yourself realize that it will suck. A lot.

  • JoJo: My father died when I was 19. I was obviously much older than your girls, but I watched my mom piece her life back together and honestly it’s been one of the most rewarding things for me to witness.
    Please know that you WILL recover, you WILL find happiness again, and you WILL be whole again.
    The road to get there is long, yes. But with the right attitude (and I know you have it), it is filled with many important lessons that will make you strong in ways you never imagined.
    You’ve experienced the unthinkable. But as you are well aware, how this ultimately unfolds ahead of you is completely up to one person…you. I’ve no doubt that you will find your way, one step at a time. Your girls will learn what strength really is, and it will be you that teaches them – a wonderful gift given under the worst circumstances.
    Good luck.

  • Roxie: Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior; I believe in God and His plans for my life. However, when my Dad passed away, those were the last things I wanted to hear. The pain was too raw; too real. Well meaning people would say things like “I know how you feel” or “I’m sorry for your loss”. Let’s face it – people don’t know what to say, so they will either say the same ‘ole same ‘ole, or they say nothing at all and ignore you. There is no appropriate ‘protocol’ for dealing with someone who has lost a loved one. The most comfort I found was when people said nothing at all – just silently prayed for me and/or held me as I wept and allowed me to ‘feel’ without judging me.
    I cannot hold you as you weep, but know that I am praying for you; that God would comfort you. And your feelings are just that – your feelings. You must grieve in your own way. God does love you, and so do your friends and family.

  • Abbie: You have the right to fall apart.

  • Whitney: Jennie;
    My husband didn’t die, but he did leave me for a new life. One with a new woman (or women, as it turned out) and now a new child. Emotionally, it felt the same when he left as if he had died. I felt that part of my life had just ended and would never be the same. The first year was one of the most emotional years of my life for a number of reasons but the way I got through it was my beautiful daughter. She became my rock, my best friend, my living teddy bear of comfort and my reason to drag myself out of bed every day.
    If there’s one piece of advice I can give you, it’s to hug your children twice as much. It helps. You may think they don’t get exactly what’s going on, but they do. My daughter knew that her daddy was leaving and not coming back. What I didn’t expect were the words (and the wisdom in those words that was far beyond her years) “Don’t worry mommy, we’ll be ok. Just the two of us”. She was 2 when he left and these words she said on her third birthday when I spent half the day in tears as I tried to arrange a birthday party entirely on my own. If it wasn’t for her, I’d still be a puddle on my bathroom floor crying for a life I used to know and comforts that I still, on occasion, think fondly of and almost miss.
    I can’t tell you it’s all going to be ok or that everything will get better, but it does get different. You’ll never forget the hurt, the angry or the longing but you will find a different way to live and accept that this has happened.
    My heart goes out to you with every well worded and emotional post you write.

  • lisa: most people don’t know how to respond in certain difficult situations. if anything, you have developed filters to what people say to you at this time. just nod and smile (in one ear, out the other, i say!:) ).
    i lost my faith in god a long time ago. there is no plan. (that’s some bs people tell themselves to be able to cope.)
    thank you for sharing yourself so honestly in this online space. i see that from all the comments from friends and complete strangers (hi, me), you have many people thinking about you and your girls. i think all that positive energy can be of some help. another life is possible.
    stay strong and chin up.

  • Kai Harper: Jennie it does seem that we humans haven’t been able to find a way to deal with death. I was a hospice worker for quite some time and
    I was always amazed by things people said out of their inability to
    deal with death and their lack of self control – meaning sometimes if you are feeling uncomfortable it is better to just not say anything.
    It’s very hard not to take what people say personally, what I feel is that if they say something to you then they can feel like they have done their part and can feel comfortable not having to deal with the situation any longer. It is selfish and not compassionate but unfortunately something that many people do.

  • Debi Boz: Pbozanich
    Wow… I came across your blog the day of the Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey and I have followed you ever since.. Yesterday I heard about a friend who just lost her precious little 4 yr. old to a tragic gun accident, Being a Grammy to a 4 yr. old made it even harder to believe. I have been at a loss on what to say to the family, but after reading your blog I know what not to say… That being said you are a strong, amazing woman, not afraid to say how you feel. I know you will find happiness and love again… for you and your girls. Wishing you all the best in your year of firsts.. Hugs to you all… Debi

  • Helen Jonsen: I cannot believe there is a grand plan. That leaves me with more questions than answers. But I agree with you, that somehow you push on. As moms, we don’t have a choice to do it for the kids, but it helps to do it for ourselves as well.

  • Leslie: The quote reminds me of my current meditation for new life each day but not a new life..I’d really just like to take care of the one life I’ve been working on for the past 48 years.
    And I hope you’re serious about the what-not-to-say book. We need that.

  • Amy Hursey: Jennie,
    Though we have never met, I am sharing your sadness with you. I lost my husband of a heart attack in 2008. Its like we joined a club that we never wanted to be a member of. I remember vividly having a moment of clarity in the ER and thinking to myself “I am a widow. I don’t know how to be that” I was so lost and didn’t know how to function.
    I desperately wanted an instruction manual. I called a freind one night in a red wine fueled crying stupor saying, “why isn’t there a book to tell me what I am supposed to do and feel?” I wish I could tell you that there is a magic spell that will make you feel whole again. I can tell you this: You will be pissed. You will be hurt. You will be confused. You will be lost. And it’s OK to be all that. All you can do is just get through it, and some day, there will come a time when you will begin to feel like yourself again. It does not feel like that now, I know.
    People say the meanest, stupidest things to someone after a death. I’m sure they think they are being kind and well meaning but ll I ever wanted to say was “go f*ck your selves!” People kept telling me “you’ll be together again” When I had had enough of that nonsense I said “If I truly believed what you are saying to me, I would kill myself right now to be with him. I want him here with me, now.”
    The firsts suck. It gets better. I promise. But for me, it’s been over 3 1/2 years and every now and again I will catch myself turning to ask him a question, or to remember some memory we had together. I just smile and think of im and it makes my heart warm to know that he’s still with me.
    Much love and many prayers.

  • Lindy: You can’t really give a time line for grief, we all progress at our own rate. I agree, people can be so stupid in their remarks. My sweet baby died in my arms, on our anniversary. I always got, “you can have another, and it is God’s plan”, blah, blah, blah. Yep, I had more children but none of them replaced him. Some just don’t ever get it and I suppose are trying to help.
    A previous poster wrote, (“They” say that those who have loved deeply and lost will more surely love deeply again.) It’s true….

  • Grace: Honest, articulate, and awesome. Pure Jennie. I think you should actually write that book, Jennie. Everyone I know who has lost someone has been annoyed, and sometimes overwhelmed, by the burden of responding to, or just enduring, the seemingly endless string of (almost always) well-intentioned platitudes and advice. You are right, this is not the time you need to have people foisting their religious beliefs all over you and your loss. Whoever told you that you will never recover needs a punch in the gut. What a terrible thing to say to a bereaved person! Only you can decide what is possible for you.
    On the other hand, what the hell do you say in a time like this when you are face to face with someone who has just lost so much? When you are looking into their stricken face and you just wish you could somehow make their pain go away but you can’t even find the words to express that to yourself, let alone say it out loud. In times like that we all feel awkward and stumble over ourselves trying to get it right and not sound like an idiot. Maybe what we all could use is a little guidance here. Like, hey, you want to make me feel better? Make a pie!

  • Kristen: Just wanted to let you know I’m thinking of you…

  • SamCyn: Sometimes listening to songs bring me comfort, even if for a little while. All the best to you and your girls.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=4sGYHlreXO8#t=0s
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=WTNBWv33-QI#t=0s

  • Amy: I’m not sure anyone can know what to say to someone in pain, unless they have been there themselves. The best comforters are people who have been comforted. Most people try to make sense of it the best they can, and offer words based on their belief system or world view. Trying to make sense of a tragedy the best they can. Truth is some people never get over their pain, they turn to alcohol or bitterness to drown their pain. But healing and victory are possible. I have never been in the place you are now, and I often wonder the kind of person I would be if I were. I know religion is something that would not help me in that place. Religion tells me if I’m good enough, I will have God’s blessing and favor. Instead of religion, I choose to have a relationship with God, a relationship where I don’t have to be good enough, and I can tell him how I feel and cry out to Him. I know he’s my God and not yours, but on your behalf I ask Him to comfort you and your girls.

  • Movitabeaucraft.wordpress.com: I think you’re brave. Far braver than I would be. I hope this new life that is possible – the one you didn’t ask for – holds wonderful things for you. I’m betting it does. In the meantime, you might want to consider kicking people who give you ridiculous advice. This is probably the only time you’ll get away with it…

  • Jessica: I think what people mean to say is that you’re not obligated to get over it, you just integrate it. Some people feel flattened by the feeling that they have this enormous pain and that the world expects them to forget about something that changed them fundamentally. Maybe those people were trying to say that and just failed miserably.
    And I can’t freacking fracking STAND the people who say god has a plan. Of all the heartless, thoughtless, thoroughly-ridiculous, self-righteous CRAP. People want to escape from the feeling that life can be hideous, that we can make good choices and have horrible things happen anyway. They are trying to escape the fear and helplessness that your husband’s death brought on, and they’re doing it at your expense. f*%k ‘em!!!
    Oh, and PS, you are awesome.

  • MC: Of course you will do more than function! It sounds like you have two great kids, lots of wonderful milestones to look forward to, and happy memories to come, even if that’s hard to think about right now. Some people just give ridiculous advice, and you can feel free to completely discard it. Take strength from all the people around you who care about you, enjoy your terrific kids, and day by day things will get better.

  • Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts: You tell ‘em!! This is exactly why you will find happiness again someday. It may not be right away, and it may be a rough road getting there, but you will find it!

  • Donna: I got “It’s God’s will,” when my 16 year old brother died. I was 11 and I knew then and there (though I’d had sneaking suspicions before then) that he was no God I wanted to put any of my faith in. I put faith in myself, my family, my friends, most of humankind, but no god. My heart is aching for you, especially after reading that you got your period. I just shake my head at the absolute unfairness of it all. I’m so angry for you. And I’ve cried at each post I’ve read since I was introduced to your blog through another blog. Life continues to baffle me…but I know as you do, that there is happiness ahead. Happiness tinged with sadness, yes, but hopefully no regret. (your last morning together ripped me up and made me smile for you) I look forward to watching you find bits and pieces of it in years to come.

  • Jess: First, let me say how sorry I am for your loss. I did not lose my husband as you did. Last summer, I lost my little boy. He was almost 16 months old, leaving behind his twin sister and older brother (by only 12 months). My husband was serving overseas with the military when this happened and was given only a few weeks to come home to be with us before being shipped off for another 6 months. My son was perfectly normal, happy and laughing up until the end. I found him not breathing in the morning. It took 14 weeks for the autopsy to come back with “viral symptoms”. So many people told me it was God’s plan. What plans could he have for an almost 16 month old boy? I have received horrible advice from people over the past year. I have also had to move across the country, due to my husband’s military orders, and leave my baby behind. My husband once said that he wished his life would have been taken instead of our son’s, which he felt would be easier on us. He’s insane. Kids need both parents. I have read about your loss on more than one food site and I feel terrible for you and your daughters. Just wanted to let you know that I think of you often.

  • Sarah B: My MIL lost her husband at 44. People say the most inappropriate things. I don’t know what I believe about “God’s plan” in these cases. But I can tell you that even though she was a pastor’s wife it was not comforting to hear “God’s plan” crap. That is easy to say when it was not your husband who has been ripped from you.
    Not to discourage you… but to just be real with you… something that she has shared with me is that she expected the “firsts” to be hard. But she was caught by surprise when the “seconds” were just as difficult.
    To encourage you…. 4.5 years later… she is healing. She is past functioning and working on a new normal. A good and happy new normal. Best wishes to you!

  • Margie: I cannot imagine the pain. The absolute pain. My heart is with you and your family.

  • Svasti: Mostly when people say whatever they say to someone in the midst of a life-changing and traumatic situation… it’s just whatever words they can muster because really, they’ve no idea how to help or what to do.
    I’ve lived through the horror of assault and suffering Post-Traumatic Stress and depression – which is different from your experience. But really, pain and grief are universal, right? For many long nights and days I thought I’d never be free. That it’d never be over and that my life was now indelibly ruined.
    But I was wrong. I hadn’t counted on the fighting spirit I still (thankfully) possessed. I got through it. As I said to someone recently – I didn’t kill myself, I didn’t become a drug addict or an alcoholic and I didn’t choose to permanently numb out my experiences with medication. Recovering and healing was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but here I am.
    Healing is a choice, like you said. Of course, some people can’t see their way clear to even be able to choose. But some of us do, and you clearly have.
    Functioning isn’t a goal – it’s just what we do until we can do better. Perhaps for some, that’s all there is. But no way is it all you can hope for in the future. There’s so much more. There IS happiness again one day. There IS new life and at some point, there will be options that you never could’ve imagined before. Like, never in a million years did I expect that I’d become a yoga teacher. And yet, that’s what happened and it was an important part of finding myself and becoming happy and whole again.
    Yes, your year of firsts will be sucky. Or perhaps only some of it will be. It’s hard to say.
    All I can say is this: you are doing some incredible writing while you’re going through this very fresh pain. I know it’s something that helped me, and it seems to be an outlet for you, too. So keep going. Keep doing what you’re doing as best as you can (or not), and you will find your way. I know that’s true because you have the fighting spirit you need to get there.
    The entire internet that’s somehow mysteriously connected to you via blogging and tweeting and so on is behind you. Sending you love, feeling your pain and wishing you all the very best. *hugs*

  • Kelly Heavener: You need to live those “firsts” and embrace it. Treat every ” first ” how Mikey would. You are’a very strong woman. I lost my father when I was young. I sure do love my mother and thankful to have her in my life. Be there for those babies.

  • Vanessa: Remember waaaaay back when Arsenio Hall was on tv? Remember the crowd making the fist pumps saying “whoop-whoop” or something like that? I’m doing that for you! You Go Girl!

  • Angelica: I find your sharing both exhilarating and heartbreaking at the same time. I can only imagine what it feels like on the inside.
    Thanks for also allowing us to see another first: the first time you chose to live, despite all the circumstances and words that surround you.
    Keep on keeping on, Jennie!

  • robin: why does God get blamed for all the bad stuff? Doesnt bad things just happen?

  • Anna: amen, jennie. you are in charge of your life and the plan. i wish you the very best in life, more joy than sorrow, and the best of support during the year of firsts.

  • Christina: Damn right! The first year will suck, you know that. BUT you’ll surpass functioning and reach happiness again.

  • Kirsty: After losing my partner of 11 years, unexpectedly and suddenly, this June, I have heard some pretty shocking things from others too. Most have been more fantastic and supportive than I would have imagined but others left me dumb founded. One person actually said to me “Well, I heard losing a child is worse”. If someone lost their leg, would you say I’ve heard losing your arm is worse???? Seriously who are these people!! lol (I’m trying to find the humour in it so I don’t lose my mind completely!)
    I do like your list, and I agree whole-heartedly – just functioning is not an option and not how I know my Chris would have wanted me to live.
    Like you, I still have the first year to get through and some days it’s still so hard I think I’m going to go crazy from the pain. But I do make the most of the ‘good moments’. They are there … and I’m sure you will find them too, with the love and support of your family and friends xx

  • radhi: this post was awesome, and so are you. people just don’t know what to say and don’t like sounding awkward or uncomfortable, so they say stupid shit instead of nothing at all. i can only imagine how frustrating that is. from dealing with annoying people to living through a year of firsts, i hope it’s tiny consolation that you have a lot of people cheering you on…

  • The Suzzzz: Trying to wish sympathy…everyone wants to do it, we’re built with it inside us, but it always seems to sound wrong to the person hearing it and the person saying it.
    I’ve always hated hearing (whether it was true or not)…
    *”They aren’t suffering any more”~Yes, that may be true, but so what?! I’m selfish and want them here with me.
    *”They’re with Jesus”~see above response.
    “God works in mysterious ways”~Well I would really like some clarification or an owners manual or something because I don’t understand.
    “When a door closes a window opens”~Is my loved one going to come through that window? No? Then shut up.
    “I’m sorry”~ You’re sorry? Did you kill them? Then you have nothing to be sorry for. I mostly hate this one because you hear it from everyone and it loses its meaning so quickly.
    When I try to talk to someone who’s just experienced a loss, I find “Here’s my number call me for whatever/whenever, I’ll be there 24/7″ and a hug seem to be all I can say without feeling like a total heel. It is different for everyone.
    When you’re grieving it is hard to be objective, but I think people understand that. I hope the healing comes, it is slow and painful, but it does come. You eventually come out from under the covers, you laugh, you play, you work…and life seems to pick up even though at first you feel like it shouldn’t and that it never will.

  • Karen: To the folks here who are preaching & proselytizing to her:
    Stop. Part of being a witness is observing when the person has their door cracked open. Ask yourself: Does telling a suffering widow that comparatively speaking God suffered more bring comfort to her? Bring her CLOSER to God?
    Grief is a process. Allow her the space to go through it and find answers to HER questions – not YOUR answers to her questions.

  • amiee: this is one of the most raw and beautiful things that i have ever read in this online place of words. i wish that people did not need to say these awkward and ridiculous phrases to you … so many are so very bad when it comes to loss in this day, trying to explain away and in some ways comfort themselves more than you.
    i think that you have a rare core, a light that you share so brightly with your love, and it is dim but not gone and you will find more light, restore it. you will not just function, you will live and grow and love. and it won’t be because of any damn plan. it will be because you are amazing.
    i may be a stranger but i recognize amazing when i see it. sending hugs from the west

  • kelly: This post was amazing. I love your passion to rebuild your life to one of happiness – it is THE best goal for you and for your beautiful family. Don’t settle for functioning. Your Mikey would have wanted so much more for you than that. xo

  • Linda Elsik: “Firsts” are hard but not impossible. For me the worst part was the anticipation of the special day or holiday. The first “first” was father’s Day. John died a few weeks before. I had a bbq–thinking that cooking would keep me busy. I thought it would be good for my kids. We invited the family and saluted John. I did keep very busy and stayed strong but after the clean up, I fell apart. Rule #1-you’re going to cry for a while–don’t try and stop it. The next first was Thanksgiving/his birthday. I was busy but I could remember crying as I put the turkey and the potatoes and dressing onto the table. But I just let myself cry. I had my daughter say grace and son give the toast while I sat and quietly cried. Then I decided that I would change the remaining firsts. So we had holidays and vacations that had some tradition and always a new twist-something that was now new but still celebrated the past. After over two years, I still do it.
    I cried for two weeks straight after John died. I’d talk about the weather and start crying. My kids were looking at me strange, because I’m not a crier, but I wanted them to see that grieving was hard, noisy and OK to do it the way you have to do it. After about two weeks, I was out walking in the morning with my dog. I was in a school field and it was a beautiful morning and I just said out loud”John, I can’t cry anymore. I just can’t.” So I stopped the unexpected outbursts,but I did have my tears. I also decided to start back to work in order to get my mind onto something else. I cried driving to work. I cried at my desk, but soon the episodes were less and less. I still have his voice on the answering machine and I get choked up when I hear it. You’re never the same anymore, but that doesn’t mean you’re any worse-you’re just different. I guess it’s up to each person who goes through this to decide where she heading to next; what she does with that “difference”. Jennie, you’re going to do fine.I can see in your writing that you are. Maybe you don’t feel it,but you’re going to be alright.

  • danielle: Although my heart aches for your loss, my heart also aches for you and all of the others who have posted that do not have a relationship with God. It’s very disconcerting for me to see that there are numerous posts blaming God (bashing Him so to speak) and not many sticking up for God. I have no idea what you are going through, but I do know this….God loves you and if you let Him in your life, He will give you strength.

  • Cathy: As someone else said, You go girl! And as was also said you are an inspiration. Thank you for the insight. You are beautiful.

  • Shawna34Garrison: The credit loans suppose to be important for guys, which would like to organize their own organization. By the way, this is comfortable to receive a secured loan.

  • Lise: The person who told you the most you can hope for is functioning is a moron. Spiritually and emotionally, a body without wisdom or sympathy.
    Take it from an old lady; grieve at your own pace in your own way.
    The human body is unable to tell the difference between physical and emotional injury. So, please take extra good care of yourself, pamper, spoil, indulge yourself and never mind what anyone has to say, if isn’t loving and kind.
    This disaster is fresh and raw, I know. In time, you’ll thrive, I promise.
    I’m Catholic and I hope you won’t mind my saying prayers for you and your family as this is offered in the most delicate and respectful manner.

  • Katherine Laine: Apologies if someone has already linked you to this, but have you read Julie Cho’s (widow of the musician Daniel Cho) blog? http://dearmissaudrey.blogspot.com She’s addressed the “God has a plan” business in many of her posts.
    But beyond that, she’s pretty much a brilliant writer—and that is not a term I tend to throw around. She has a way of saying everything that I wish I could say myself, and the way she says it just sounds . . . right. It’s been five months since I lost my fiance and partner of seven years, and I credit her for a lot of my day-to-day survival. I recommend starting with her first post.

  • WolfeConcetta26: Make your life more simple take the loan and all you require.

  • Mindy G: This is no time for you to have to stomach the arrogant certitude of religion and well-meaning christian folk. I am sad this is happening to you and your sweet family. The whole thing is just so wrong.

  • Sugar Daze/Cat: Reading this post makes me think of the old adage — what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. You are a strong woman indeed, Jennifer Perillo. Toasting your year ahead of firsts.

  • Maria: I know this won’t be posted, and I still have my husband, so I cannot relate to your very sorrowful pain, which I am very sorry for, but you dished God through the first part of your post and then at the end asked him for a book proposal? Your hurting and I understand that, but nothing happens by chance, its all part of His plan, His will be done. Please don’t think you don’t need Him, someday you might. When you don’t have God in your live, it leaves yourself open to the evils that lurk…I’ll pray for you…

  • Pam Rauber: Well said. Thank our constitution for freedom of expression and religious choices. Just so you know…you’re right on target for grieving. Only one piece of advice…the time will come when you make a decision. Make certain that everyone around understands completely, the decision is your’s and your’s alone. Ask for advice but make certain your decision is respected. Trust me. People come out of the woodwork when you decide your future.

  • afouf: I remember after my husband died, all started to prepare me to live for my son, and only my son, I was only 36yrs old, and thinking “wow, what about me???”, donot i deserve to be loved and love and all what ppl dream of???
    he was on the top of the world and myself was thinking i could never find someone like him, but ppl r different after all, and i remarried, and so happy.
    the point is, i am happy that you r so strong and know what you really want, and you r so pretty and young too, and ofcourse you will be loved and held again….
    take your time,dear, and do it your way!

  • Lals: I came across your site through Pink of Perfection. I wish I could say that I had read your blog before Mikey died, but it was Pink’s post on Peanut Butter Pie that brought me here…
    My heart is breaking for you, Jennie. I was 11 and my brother 9 when our father passed away after a brief illness. We had nearly 3 months to say good-bye, but that wasn’t enough. In fact, we spent most of those 3 months in denial about the reality that was about to befall us. It wasn’t easy for us then, and I certainly know that it isn’t easy for you now. We did have our Catholic faith to lean on, but even that took time. For a while, a long while in fact, we (my mum, brother, and I) were all mad at God. 23 years later, none of us understand *why*, but we have all learnt to live again.
    I can’t imagine that strength it took for our mother, suddenly finding herself a widow and single-mother, to parent us. And I certainly can’t imagine the strength that is being demanded of you now. It is good that you and your girls are grieving together.
    All I can say is that as a child, I learnt to look for my father in the quiet, and in the activities we used to do together. It wasn’t easy, but looking for him in those things brought me comfort. In death, just as in life, he has been there for me, when I needed him most – interceding for me and holding my hand along the way. His influence has been palpable. I encourage you and your girls to look for Mikey, too. It’s not the same, it never will be, but you will all learn to live again with this new reality. ((Hugs)) to all of you.

  • eliz a buf: jennie, i am sure that in some other parallel universe we are sisters but don’t ask my why i *think* i know that… i just have since the first post of yours that i ever read.
    i don’t believe in god anymore, either. after watching a childhood friend die quite suddenly of a very agressive cancer, i decided that if this is ‘God’s plan’ then i don’t want to know the sicko or his his plans. LIFE is so very beautiful, but i’m not at all convinced that tragedy, catastrophe and loss are what make it so.
    i hope you do write your book; even if it’s only for yourself.
    i have a friend, brook noel, who has written a beautiful book called ‘i wasn’t ready to say goodbye’ after the sudden and unexpected death of her older brother. she has another book called ‘grief steps’ that may also have something inside that would speak to you.
    i think of you often, and you are showing your girls amazing grace for both them and mikey by keeping on, puttig one foot in front of the other, one pancake in the pan at a time. sending love to you all, across the ether.. xoxo, buf

  • Robyn: Dear Jennie,
    I just recently discovered your blog…you are such a beautiful, poignant writer. My heart breaks for you when I read this post. My mother died suddenly and unexpectedly about a year and a half ago. She was only 57. She and my father were truly in love…high school sweethearts who had been together 39 years and still left each other love notes every day. As hard as it is to lose your mother, I cannot even imagine how difficult it is to lose your spouse, your parnter in life.
    I just wanted to say that I am thinking about you, and that I completely understand what it feels like to want to scream at people who say stupid things like God has a plan…I am also not religious and I just wanted to shake everyone who said that to me and scream “do you really think that is going to make me feel better??”. Instead I just stared at them blankly, which I hope conveyed a slightly less harsh version of that message.
    Also, don’t be afraid to keep showing your emotions in front of your daughters…after the first month or so my father stopped ever talking to me about my mom or what he was going through. It was so hard because I felt I had to hide my grief from him, because it might make him more upset…even though I knew he was still going through the same things. Lean on each other…being strong for them doesn’t mean hiding your own grief.
    Wishing you strength. Much love.

  • Ashlae: I admire you so, Jennie. For your strength to carry on; to share your story with the world. Each of your posts since Mikey’s passing has brought me to tears – I have no words except that I am so, so sorry. This world we live in is cruel and ridiculously unfair, and it makes me wonder how people can honestly believe that a god exists. Tragedies like this – Mikey passing so abruptly – confirm to me that there is nothing in control of our lives; no god, no higher power – nothing.
    Thank you for making me want to hold my significant other a little closer; to kiss him every chance I get. He doesn’t know it yet, but he thanks you, too.

  • Jen: Jennie, I just started reading your blog this year and I am so deeply sorry for what you and your girls are going through. I had 5 miscarriages before my son was born and, holy crap, can I relate to the dim, insensitive and sometimes horrifying things people say to other in pain. You’re an inspiration and your girls are lucky to have a mama that is committed to building a happy life for them and for herself. Much love to you.

  • Mari: Jennie, I’ve always been more of a lurker, and I was one of those who didn’t know what to say and so chose to say nothing at all. Nonetheless, my heart has ached for you.
    I’m just now reading this, and I agree 100% with your post. While I have not lost anyone especially close to me, my life – looking at the most important events of it so far – has been one unfortunate occurrence after the other. It hasn’t all been bad, and for the most part my optimism makes me a happy kid. But as an atheist it hurts my heart when people tell me, in the most loving way they can, that their god has a plan, or that this the Devil’s doing, or worse that it’s my own fault for being a “sinner” – that god is punishing me for not seeing what is so “obvious”.
    I am less brave than you, and I stay mum about it. I want to lash out, argue with them and ask them how they could say such a cruel, senseless thing with such a loving demeanor, but I don’t; I say, “Yep” and change the topic as quickly as possible. But I do want to say that I am so sorry that some people don’t get the point. Some of the comments here, and the audacity that one must have to post them, make me sick. You’ve made it clear that you don’t want to hear that, and yet they keep going…
    Your strength and grace is beautiful and admirable, and I thank you for saying what I’ve never had the courage to.

  • Carolyn: I happened to catch a clip of Nate Berkus (Oprah’s protege interior designer) on an old show the other day. He spoke candidly about losing his partner, his love, in the tsunami in Thailand. One thing that resonated was him talking about dates. Fernando’s next birthday, the first anniversary of his death. For him, it was like those dates tied him to grief. What worked for him was to not give those dates power. You have mentioned all the firsts you’ll have to go through. Firsts are wonderful things, but they can also be sad. It’ll just depend if you allow them to be that way or not. Celebrate and remember Mikey and don’t make them firsts. They are nexts. You have to take those nexts, you and your kids.
    Hug. Carolyn

  • Sara: Hi Jennie, I have been following along with your story and it makes me heart so incredibly sad. I can’t even imagine such a loss. My prayers are with you and your girls. What a beautiful writer you are to be able to convey such a small part of what you must be feeling and going through. I wanted to point out something that I heard recently and have been thinking a lot about, and that is that death and hurting and pain and NEVER a part of God’s plan. And while I believe that He can bring beauty out of the ashes and healing out of immense pain (maybe that is what people are trying to convey), rest assured that it was NOT God’s plan to have your husband taken from you. My heart aches for you and I wish you and your girls days ahead of love, healing, memories, and happiness.

  • Ann: I’m with you on the ‘god’ thing. I would much rather have faith in myself than think my whole life was part of another’s plan!
    I hope that keeping up your posts is helping you in some way. I wish you and your family nothing but the best.

  • Kelly: Morning comes after night. Spring comes after the winter. That’s a promise. It’s is God’s promise. Cling to it because whether or not you believe in God it’s still fact.
    I’m still holding onto your PB pie recipe to make one day soon!

  • Megan: Mikey wouldn’t want you to just function. He would want you to live, love, and be whole. He would want the best for all his girls!

  • Linda: Hi,
    This stranger is still checking in with you and reading your posts religiously (ha!). You write so beautifully and so hauntingly– my heart aches for you. I completely agree with you on the whole god thing. If he does exist and if he really is omniscient and omnipotent, then he’s the one making me question his existence. So why would he be so mad about it and send me to hell for something that he’s ultimately responsible for. And don’t get me started on all that worship and sacrifice; that guy is on some major ego trip. I mean isn’t he supposed to be perfect–why so needy? Weird! :)
    Sending a big hug your way from a fellow (col)lapsed Catholic.

  • Stephane: Someone once told me that the truest sign of a great love is the existence of a desire to love again. I am so sorry for your devestating loss.

  • Emily: Your post says exactly what I’ve been thinking the past 5, almost 6, months. While I am not a widow, I did lose my mother unexpectedly at the end of March and have been living in a daze since then. She was my best friend who I talked to everyday, and in fact had just hung up the phone with her minutes before her heart stopped. Everyone tries to say something to make it better, but as we all know words don’t really help. One of my friends said it will suck forever, but you learn to live with it little by little. Any faith I did have was thrown out the window, as I can’t for any reason figure out why this would be God’s plan.
    I only hope you are able to find a new normal as I am trying, and will be thinking of you and your children. One day, one breath at a time!

  • Sheri: Jennifer,
    When I had a miscarriage very early in my first pregnancy, my doctor explained how something wasn’t quite right and I was lucky it happened early, since it likely hadn’t developed properly. I had a positive head that this time wasn’t right. And in my readings, I discovered that this was incredibly common the first time as Mom’s body often doesn’t know how to respond to this foreign body. Most of my family and friends tried to offer positive condolences. My very sweet Italian-Catholic friend offered something about it being one of G-d’s little babies (it was the size of a peanut and not fully formed, so it hadn’t occurred to me to think of it as a being). I’m not sure how he thought this was supposed to make me feel better. Has the saying that my mom often expressed to me as a child been totally forgotten: If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
    Jennifer, you sound like you’re doing amazing under the circumstances. Your girls are VERY lucky to have such a totally awesome mom!!!

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  • Apron Appeal: My grief cannot be compared to yours (or anyone else’s for that matter) but for me I want to bath in it. I want to cry and shout and let it to pour over me until I’m drenched. I want to look at pictures, watch videos and listen to songs that remind me of my pain because it helps me remember. In the beginning, a part of me is always afraid that if I allow the raw pain to heal, that I won’t remember and I’ll start to forget the sweetness of what has been lost. I don’t want to forget. And then one day I go to bed at night and realize I didn’t cry today, and then with peace I remember – and then I cry :)
    I hope for you that someday soon your peace will be more profound than your pain.

  • Carolyn: Jennie – Your post is stated honestly and in the midst of pure grief. I am saddened for you that some of the reply posts still cannot respect your wishes. On the other hand, I am delighted for you because of the number of people who support you and your beliefs. I have never experienced the death of a husband, so I cannot offer empathy. I can, however, offer my best wishes for you in the upcoming year. No doubt your blog will continue to be a source of comfort. Take care of yourself. Peace. – Carolyn

  • marie helene Ballain: Glad to meet you Jennie,
    I saw Brooklyn Bridge and how “in the wink of an eye your husband collapsing next to you and your immediate souvenirs of the last hours spent with him full of so much love and beauty and life s expectations for the future and could not help remembering when myself then living in Brooklyn with my companion who after a long illness died at the age of 48 old when 5 months old pregnant with a baby boy.
    That baby boy born in Brooklyn is now 29 old and doing fine.
    Brooklyn Bridge my heart goes to you and your daughters ….. knowing that even not with us they are watching over us and want us to celebrate and sing and dance always.
    My love to you and daughters

  • Gail Cooke: My dad died 8 years ago from cancer. I adored him with all my heart. Even though it was a devastating blow to our family, we carried on. He would have wanted no less for us. Your husband would want you to live happy lives…anything less would not honor his memory.
    I wish I could offer you something that could take your pain away, but all I can offer is my condolences and my hope that you and your family can get through this time as swiftly as you are able.

  • Caneel: I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through the awful things people say when you’ve lost someone. I haven’t lost my husband, but I lost my first child in the second trimester and had so many hurtful things said to me in people’s attempt to give me “advice” or “support.” I wanted to slap each one of them, and it took incredible effort on my part to not do so. A few of them I did leave with stinging rebukes. And as a newspaper reporter at the time, I eventually wrote a column on the stupid things people say. I had a lot of people call the paper to say thank you.
    I am someone with a fairly strong faith, but I was very angry with God for a very long time after it happened, and nearly lost my faith over it. I guess in a way, I kind of did for a while. I still don’t understand why He allowed it to happen, and probably won’t ever understand. (I’ve since learned that I have medical issues that make me more likely to miscarry and have lost a total of three babies, two earlier in pregnancy – but I still ask why me?) I do know that I have an overwhelming compassion, now, for those who lose babies. A compassion I didn’t have before – but I can’t believe that my need for compassion is the reason I lost my baby.
    I have two beautiful daughters I wouldn’t have now if things hadn’t worked out like they did, but I still mourn the losses and I always will. Life goes on and I love living again, but I don’t forget them.
    My experience with the hurtful things people say has led me to only give hugs and say, “I’m sorry. I’m thinking about you, and praying for you.” And provide a meal, or a shoulder to cry on, or an ear to vent into. When friends and family told me they were praying for me after my first child, I told them that was good – they could do my praying for me, because I wasn’t doing anything but screaming at God at the time. Eventually, I began to feel peace. I pray that you’ll eventually begin to feel peace, too. I’ve been thinking about you so much since you lost your husband, and praying for you and your daughters. And will continue to do so. I’m so sorry for what you’re going through, and here’s a virtual shoulder to cry on, and an ear to vent into.

  • Jennifer: I appreciate your frankness about faith and that some things just don’t cut it. I don’t have the cuts to tell people that I don’t follow any particular faith. Like you, I have a hard time believing such an able power would allow such terrible things to happen. While I don’t put my faith in the divine, I do believe in the power of positive thought, and I think of you often and send positive thoughts your way.
    I can’t tell you if or how you’ll get through this, but I can say that I believe you will. Keep on keeping on, and open yourself up to the love headed your way.

  • Karla: I’m sorry about what happened. I don’t know you but I heard through the blogging community about your husband. Your post is so touching and honest, it made me cry. I wish you all the best, hope everything gets better with time.

  • S: My family has been walking your walk for 30 years next month. I can say with confidence that you will be happy again and so will your girls. Only time will reveal the exact details – this you know of course. I just wanted you to get the message that your life will shine again despite the journey you’re on now. Your writing is wonderful and clear despite your fresh pain – perhaps this gift will help ease your journey. Everyone who faces this challenge knows that no two paths are alike and that you must chart your own path. Be well and take your time. Happiness is saving your place.

  • Lilly: Hi Jennie. My heart breaks for your loss. I watched my sister loose her husband while pregnant with their first child. I don’t know what it’s like to loose my husband, best friend, and father to my precious children, but I did see the pain that my sister went through and still goes through. I recently went to a woman’s conference and heard an amazing speaker. Her name is Heather Gilion. She has written a book along with her sister, Holly Snell, about the struggles she has gone through. Once you pick up the book, it is so hard to put down. The name of it is, “Dancing on my Ashes.” If you are able to purchase this book and have the time to read it, I truly believe it will help you heal. When we go through struggles and loose loved ones in our life, it’s so comforting to connect with people who go through the same struggles. Here is a link to where this book could be purchased.
    http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-60799-871-6
    I will pray for your heart to heal and that you will once again find joy.

  • Nina B: I read this post just now and “for mikey” and tears were rolling down my eyes…. my heart breaks as I can imagine how raw and painful this was and still be. So sudden and unexpected. My grandfather died the same way… out walking a block or 2 away from his home and suddenly he fell to the ground. The ambulance took too long getting there-the time that was crucial. My grandmother never married again… I hope as time passes the pain lessens but his memory never fades from your heart.

  • Ann Bibby: I always resented that too. The idea that life could never be as good, or that I would be some emotional half-wit for the rest of my life. Being widowed is not like getting a lobotomy, no matter what they say.
    You are still you. If you couldn’t play the piano before you still can’t, but if you were able to run your life and take care of business that hasn’t changed.
    I regret having spent too much time listening to the doom crew crowd that first year and wondering if perhaps they were right about grief being a disability I would be plagued with forever, which hasn’t been the case at all.
    I remarried shortly after the first year to a man who’d been widowed not even a year. I relocated to Canada to be with him, giving up my home, job and leaving family/friends. It has been one of the best moves I have ever made in my life though people thought I was crazy (and by “crazy” I mean “grief-striken”).
    Four and a half years later, I’m happier than I can recall being at any point in my life. More settled. More at peace. More me than I have ever dared to be.
    Perhaps I am an anomaly, but I don’t think so. I don’t think grief buries the majority of widowed. Most of us are just fine and happy and can look back grateful for our experiences – good and bad -and without regrets.
    I am sorry your loss. It wasn’t fair, but in terms of life, fair isn’t actually the point. I wish you the best. Stay true to you and you’ll be fine.

  • susanbellnc: I hate it when people march out the whole “God has a plan” type thing. My husband has been ill for over two years, he’s lost his job and the medical bills are piling up. Because of constant pain, he can rarely even hug me any more. I have a couple friends who are so good about listening and just being there, and that means more than anything. I don’t even talk to my mother-in-law about it any more as all I hear is how I should keep praying, etc. I’m all prayed out. Sorry.
    I’m not saying I can even begin to fully understand what you are going through. Even with the illness, I still have my husband here, and I am grateful for that. But it was kind of good to see that someone out there feels the same way I do. And no, just functioning is not any way to live, and you will do so much more than that.

  • steph: I completely agree…A book is a good idea because people say the stupidest things.I think sometimes they are trying to comfort themselves…or just talk because they can’t listen. Let me add a couple:
    “Everything happens for a reason” this infuriates me.
    People who cry…and then I end up comforting them.
    And, mostly…the cruel. My boss told me 2 months afterwards that I was, “too emotional at work.”
    Our daughter died, five years ago. She was six and had a chronic disease. It is just awful and sad and bad and horrible. I can say nothing truly makes it better when you just want to hold that person you love…and they are not there.
    But, with time, we have gotten used to the absence…we’ve just gotten used to it.

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