I have never met Stephanie in person but we both belong to a Facebook group which was formed in 2011. It consisted of a bunch of ladies planning their September 2012 weddings. We discussed many things in that group such as floral arrangements, wedding hairstyles and seating charts. After our wedding, many of us stayed in that group and since then we have bought houses, gotten job promotions and welcomed babies into the world. We also give each other fashion advice, share recipes and we talk about a LOT of things that, like Vegas, will stay in that group.
I am the first widow of the group.
Well, sort of.
My friend Stephanie really is the first widow of our group.
Stephanie and I had a lot in common. We are both New England girls and we love the ocean. We both root for the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots. We have both run for public office. Despite the fact that she is a Democrat and I was a Republican, we understood each other and we always refer to each other as our “sister from another party.” However, I never thought we would share the bond of being widows. At least not this soon.
While the members of our online group come from a variety of backgrounds and each had our own love story, Stephanie’s story was a bit different. Like the rest of us, Stephanie was marrying her soulmate, Chris. But unlike the rest of us, Stephanie had a heart breaking story that preceded her happily ever after. Chris is Stephanie’s second soul-mate. Her first soul mate was her fiancé Stephen and he drowned in a lake in New Hampshire in 2010.
Now, I am just going to stop here and state that just because Stephanie and Stephen were engaged and not married does not disqualify Stephanie from widow status. As far as I am concerned, she lost the man she was planning to spend the rest of her life with and it doesn’t matter if they had made it legal yet. If anything, engaged widows have to deal with some major challenges, especially if they did not legally have their affairs sorted out beforehand. And to be clear, I have no idea if Stephanie had those challenges. I didn’t ask her because it is none of my (or your) business.
Stephanie was about my age when Stephen died. And she had to face the dilemma that every widow must face- do you move forward or do you let this destroy you?
Stephanie chose to move forward. She met her next soul mate Chris shortly thereafter. Stephanie says that falling in love again was scary because you know that love can be ripped away. Stephanie was so happy with Stephen and she never thought she would experience that kind of love again. When she started to have those feelings again, she realized that she could let this new love pass her by or she can see where it goes. I am sure Stephanie is glad that she decided to see where this love would go.
Chris was extremely supportive of Stephanie during her time of grief. Chris also let her incorporate Stephen’s memory into their life. Stephanie states that she and Chris were comfortable creating a bridge between the relationships. It makes sense since there was not breakup. It was more like a transition. When Chris and Stephanie got engaged, the center stone of her engagement ring came from the solitaire from her engagement ring from Stephen. And on their wedding day, Stephen’s dad walked Stephanie down the aisle.
If I ever fall in love again, I hope my man would be as understanding and supportive as Chris.
I did ask Stephanie if she had any advice for other widows. Here is what she had to say-
- Don’t live according to anyone else’s timeline.
- Everyone grieves differently and no one has the right to judge any of your decisions
- Lean on people. Friends and family genuinely want to help you. Take them up on offers, but don’t be afraid to say no as well. If you are not ready to go to a movie, have girls night, etc., it’s okay not to force it.
- People will surprise you. You will definitely find out who your real friends are.
- It’s okay to seek professional help.
- There is also an opportunity to do things you might not have otherwise done that you’ve always wanted to do. Once the “widow fog” lifts, do what you have always wanted to do whether it is learn to paint, take piano lessons or go to law school.
- You will be caught off guard by PTSD even years later. Stephanie states that she was watching a movie a few months ago where the husband died and the wife was in his closet, crying in his clothes. Stephanie says she lost it.
Whether my great love story has a chapter 2 or not, I will continue to look up to Stephanie. As I said, she was my age when she lost Stephen and she chose to be resilient. She went on to finish her bachelors degree and she just completed her first year of law school proving that you can always follow your dreams. I hope I can be like Stephanie. Today she and Chris are going on a well-deserved vacation to somewhere that requires passports. Let’s all wish for them to have a great time.
If you want to read more about Stephanie and Chris’s love story, click here.
If you want to read more about Stephen, you can view his obituary here.