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“It makes me feel great that my girls witnessed my resilience, and saw me build something for myself.”

“I want my old life back.”

That was my mantra for over four years.

Why wouldn’t I want my old life back? My old life was great. I was a stay-at-home mom with a happy marriage, two beautiful daughters, a nice house in a lovely community, and fabulous family and friends. Life was good.

That life changed in a matter of minutes. On an unusually hot October day in 2011, my husband went out for a run. He came home very sweaty and complained that he didn’t feel well. I was concerned, but he said he wanted to go upstairs and lie down for a while. My girls and I started to eat dinner, and I planned to check on him when we finished.

As soon as we sat down to eat, I heard a huge crash come from upstairs. I knew that something was terribly wrong. I told the girls to stay in the kitchen as I ran up the steps. I found my husband lying on the floor, unconscious. I immediately called 911.

The next hour of my life moved in slow motion. I tried to do CPR. The paramedics came. My neighbor took my girls. I got into the front seat of the ambulance. The driver squeezed my hand. I noticed that the police had blocked the roads off so that we could get through. I walked into the emergency room, and I saw a nurse crying. That was when the doctor told me there was nothing they could do. My husband had died almost instantly after suffering a heart attack.

It was the moment my life changed.

All of a sudden, my husband was gone and I was heartbroken, as were my children. I lived in a fog for the first few months. I took care of my girls and got through the days as best I could, but it was not easy. Aside from the sadness, I became a single mom with a whole new set of responsibilities for which I was unprepared. It was not the life I had planned.

The months turned into years. I knew that I appeared to be doing well, but the truth is that I was alive but not living. I walked around with a big fake smile on my face. The only thing I cared about was making sure that my girls were okay. There were many dark days for all three of us.

I wanted my old life back, and I did not hesitate to think it or say it regularly. I did not want this new, lonely life. It just wasn’t fair. Why us? Why did everyone else still have their perfect lives, while my children and I did not?

Four years after my husband’s death, I hit rock bottom. The heartbreak, plus the responsibility of being a single mom, almost became too much. I had pretended to keep it together for so long, and I felt as if I was finally falling apart.

This was not the life I signed up for. I will always miss my Option A. 

I knew I needed help, and thankfully I found it. I went to a therapist who taught me how to better deal with my feelings. She also made me realize that my old life was never coming back, and although I didn’t want to, it was time to accept it. I needed to move forward, and I finally wanted to do so.

I began to write about my experiences since my husband had passed away. I had so many stories and felt it might be beneficial for me, as well as others, to share them. I started a blog about my experience. Before I knew it, people were reading it, and I began to hear from widows from all over the country.

I was making a difference. I wrote more and submitted my stories to online magazines in the hope of reaching a wider audience. My work started getting accepted, and I became a published writer.

During this time, I met someone and was able to start a new happy, healthy relationship.

I am in a good place and I am proud of myself, but what I am most proud of is my daughters. They are both doing so well, despite the unimaginable happening to them. It makes me feel great that my girls witnessed my resilience, and saw me build something for myself. I hope that they are as proud of me as I am of them.

This was not the life I signed up for. I will always miss my Option A. I wish I didn’t need an Option B, but I am so grateful to have finally found one. 

By Stacy Feintuch

Grief & Loss