Sunday, July 7, 2013

And Then...

Source - I couldn't find a picture that spoke to me.. so again I used my own photography.

At Camp Widow, Michele did an amazing keynote.

It was about finding our “and then.”

My “and then” started 12 years ago. I was happily married to my husband Seth. 

And then 7 years into our relationship, bipolar stepped into my husband’s soul.

And then… my husband took his own life.

And then… that was the end of our life together. And what I thought was the end of my life.

And then… I was left walking in a strange land. Where everything was wrong. Everything was terrifying. Everything pissed me off. Nothing helped my pain. All I could do every day was drag myself out of bed and go to work. That’s all I had to give to this strange land.

I felt like an alien. I felt like my body wasn't mine anymore. I was trapped in a body that didn't belong to me. Where the hell did I pick up this altered version of myself?

Nothing fit in this new world.

I felt like I had this huge puzzle with a million pieces missing. How would I finish this puzzle I call my life if the pieces are missing?

I remember I was about a year into my widow journey. I was completely devastated and trying to get out of the hell hole I call depression. I remember thinking what will make this life.. my life.. worth living?

It was then that I took a look around... took a look at things that kept nagging at me.

My mind kept taking me back to my struggles I had within the first year. Struggles with depression, in-laws (out-laws) and struggles with keeping my job through my husband’s death.

That’s when my FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) petition dawned on me (see it here).

Through my petition I found a small piece to my “and then.”

It gave me purpose. It gave me something to focus my energy on. Something to drown myself in.

Shortly after starting the petition, Michele came knocking. She asked me to write for widow’s voice. To share my story, struggles and joy. To write about my experience as a suicide widow.

I remember the morning after she called me I stood staring at myself in the mirror. I was of course crying, because that’s how all my mornings were back then. I wondered how I would ever share my story. For so long I hid my thoughts in my personal blog. Where very few people knew it was my writings and they defiantly never saw pictures of me or my husband. I pondered how I would share something so personal, gruesome and tragic for complete strangers to read?

How would I write so honestly about my life, without hiding behind a fake user name?

That’s when I found another small part of my “and then.”

Sharing my story, with my name and my pictures was a relief. I didn't have to hide my story anymore. I could scream my story and there were people to hear me. There were people that understood my pain. There were people that were just starting this journey and people that were years into this journey.

I was no longer alone or hiding my story.

Sharing my story so honestly has given me another small piece of my “and then.”

I realized one way to help myself... was to help others..

I didn't want my husband’s suicide to be in vain. Through sharing my story I could possibly help someone on the verge of suicide or a widow that just needs someone to understand their pain.

My petition, my writings and helping other widows has given me purpose. Has given me hope. And gave me small pieces to my “and then.”

I left Camp Widow thinking about how I have picked up pieces of my “and then” without even realizing I found the pieces.

How did I pick up these pieces without noticing the movement I had made to get there?

I couldn't stop thinking that my life is still missing some of my “and then.”

What is my “and then?”

I don’t know. I’m still wondering what or where it is.

I realized I won’t see my “and then” as it’s happening. It will be something that I look back on and realize a certain person, memory, movement or even a thing or place… was my “and then.”

And then – I realized I still have work to do.

I still have pieces of this puzzle to find.

I still have pieces of my “and then” to find.

I left camp with hope.

Hope that one day… piece by piece, little by little, I would find my “and then.”


  1. Great Post!! Thank you for helping us all make sense out of tragedy. Even those widowed by other circumstances are helped by your wisdom.



  2. Melinda, I just recently found this blog and it has given my so much support reading all the entries. I'm sorry for your loss. My husband passed away suddenly on May 10, 2012 at age 52 from an undiagnosed blood clot. I'm still trying to heal, grieve, and mourn so I can start to take the steps to move on. I recently received an email from "someone I used to know" and they said "Hope things are going well for you!" I wanted to email them back and say "Sure, things are peachy! I can't pay all my monthly bills and now I have no money for food, but thanks for asking!"

    Thinking of you,


    1. ((hugs)) I know that all to well! Please know you have a place HERE, where people understand and care <3

  3. Oh my gosh! I wasn't even sure that my comment went through the other night and tonight I see your reply! Thank You So Much for taking the time to write your column and then reply to my comment - I really appreciate it. It really helps to know that I have a place HERE where people understand and care. My 2 daughters & I have been really lucky to have so much love and support from my family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, fellow church members, and sometimes total strangers during this past difficult year.

    But no support for me from (out-laws). Thank you again! Thinking of you, Leslie