Grief, Guilt, & Gratitude: How being widowed helped me grow.

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So, I was having coffee with some of my new friends, in my new town, and at one point, we were discussing grief and gratitude – and how they go hand in hand. 

One of my friends has experienced the loss of a baby: She knows what grief is.

I was widowed in my 30’s, with a 4 and 10 year old at home waiting for their parents to come home. Their dad didn’t get to come home: We know what grief is.

As we were sharing our stories of love and loss, we had a realization:

We, at times, grieve the hardest and the deepest because we feel guilt. 

Boom. Mind explosion.

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Grief.Guilt.GratitudeSo, let me back up a little bit….Over two years ago, my husband, myself, and two friends were involved in a horrific car accident. The accident took the life of my husband and friend, while my other friend was badly injured. I, miraculously, walked away from the accident bruised and beat up, with a broken hand.

I will never, ever understand how this was possible, but I remember sobbing in the hospital room because I was so GRATEFUL to be alive. 

And I felt sick and disgusted with myself for feeling that way. 

It was not fair that I had my life and that two others did not.It was not fair that after a quick surgery, I got to go home to my two boys that same day, and my other friend would be in the hospital and in recovery for weeks. It was not fair that I walked away with the chance to continue to live life, raise children, and love others.

Oh my goodness, but I was so, so, so happy that I did.

Let me tell you….that juxtaposition of feelings: happy and so incredibly grateful to be alive…yet grieving the loss of my husband – the father to our children, and grieving the loss of my dear friend who had children of her own…. that’s a really hard egg to swallow.

And it never, ever goes away.

In that moment, sitting alone in the hospital bed with the weight of what had happened, the weight of this tragic loss, waiting for the news of our accident to reach others, I had a choice to make:

How was I going to respond in this life changing moment?

I decided to choose gratitude.


Not a day goes by that I do not think about what happened. Not a day goes by that I don’t grieve the loss of Jared & Jessica. Not a day goes by that my heart doesn’t ache for my sons who lost their dad, or for Jessica’s three children who lost their mom. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel guilty because I get to see my kids grow and learn and thrive…and their dad doesn’t. Not a single day goes by that I don’t feel guilty that I was given a chance to live and the chance to find love and the chance to make our best life.

So now, I have to make a choice – daily – on how I will respond to those feelings of grief and guilt. 

And every day I choose to be grateful, to find joy, and to love even harder.

Because what loss teaches you that we are not guaranteed a long life. We are not guaranteed a single extra day. So it is up to us to live our very best life and make every day count.

I was given an OPPORTUNITY through the loss of my husband and friend: I was given the chance to live every single day with a heart FULL of gratitude. 

I am thankful for my life. I am thankful for Jared and the years that we had together. I am thankful for the memories and experiences we shared. I am thankful for our sons. I am thankful for his family – who will forever be a part of mine. I am thankful that through that loss, I was able to open my heart up to loving even bigger and even harder.

I am thankful that I was given the gift of PERSPECTIVE.

Life is short and time goes quickly.

Live fully. Live intentionally. Live joyfully. Live with LOVE.  

With grief comes great guilt. But with grief also comes great gratitude. 

{The above rainbow photo was taken the first time my boys and I visited Corpus Christi: the first day of what turned in to our new life here in Corpus Christi!}

Many Smiles,

Elisabeth

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Elisabeth is so excited to be living her best life in Corpus Christi. After years of visiting the beaches of the Coastal Bend, she is loving the salty air, sandy toes, and wind in her hair. No stranger to City Moms Blog Network, Elisabeth began contributing to Austin Moms Blog in 2012 and is thrilled to continue the sisterhood here in Corpus Christi! She is married to Rad Brad and has two boys, Hudson and Finn. Elisabeth enjoys all kinds of music, singing at the top of her lungs - especially in the school drop off line when the kids are getting out of the car - being outdoors as much as possible and is a complete and total proponent of NOT having a television in the living room.

4 COMMENTS

  1. So beautifully written, Liz. I needed to hear this today. Although my grief is different, at times I need to remember to choose gratitude. I love you. Thank you for sharing!! (And for the beautiful card btw) Your family is so precious.

    Lots of love and hugs!

  2. So authentic…so genuine…so good. You are amazing. I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it forever… You inspire the F*CK outta me!

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