09/06/2012 03:30 pm ET Updated Nov 06, 2012

Is This Really It?

It's all over.

The doctors and the hospitals and the insurance companies and the tumult and the constant parades of people (well-meaning and otherwise).

The exercise in survival into which a heinously evil illness turned a once-happily bustling home.


I can't quite believe it actually happened.

He's really gone.

And the excruciating pain of anticipating the inevitability of his death?

Also gone.

The "inevitable" has arrived.

And now?

Silence. Darkness. Quiet. But not a peaceful quiet. Instead, the quiet that emptiness brings. Calm is supposed to be peaceful, right? This isn't calm. This is a playground for overwhelming anxiety to freely dance. Over and over, the same question whirled in my mind like milkshake in a blender set at high speed:


And at that moment in time... it was. So this is what it feels like. This is widowhood. I remember being convinced that this was indeed "it." This is now my life.

Darkness. Uneasy silence. Anxiety. A bone-chillingly cold loneliness.

This is it.

No bright future. No more laughter. No shining light in the darkness.

No love.

This is widowhood.

This is what everyone calls the "New Normal."

There is nothing "normal" about this.

All of these feelings felt as permanent as if they had been tattooed onto my heart with a jackhammer. I could not see any future from where I was sitting; on a couch in a darkened room, surrounded by the complete wreckage that was once a wonderful life.

And then I made a decision.

A conscious choice.

A declaration.

This wretched illness has already cruelly claimed my husband's life. It destroyed our family. Our hopes. Our dreams. Our plans.

Our future.

It does not get to take my life, too.

It also does not get to destroy the life of a little girl on the cusp of adolescence who has already experienced too much loss in her young life.

My spirit is definitely damaged.

By illness, by death, by people who presumably meant well... and as it turns out, didn't mean so well.

Yes, I am damaged...

...but I will not be broken.

Healing did not happen overnight. Change was not instantaneous. As with everything else, it began with a choice.

One tiny step.

One day at a time. I decided then and there (and I invite you to decide as well):
  • I am still here. Although I have experienced a devastating, life-altering event, it is because I am still here that makes me entitled to a life of abundance. I do not have to wait any specific amount of time to begin my Healing Journey and I will not feel guilty over my pursuit of healing, nor will I question my right to live a life filled with happiness.
  • My Healing Journey is mine. It belongs to no one else. I cannot be compared to any other people; nor my loss to any other loss experience. I cannot "hurry up" my grief; even though there may be people around me who wish I would. I accept that healing is neither fast nor easy and therefore, I will truthfully honor whatever it is that I am feeling; rather than let others' opinions dictate how I "should" be feeling.
  • On the difficult days when I feel that the faith I have in myself is wavering, I will turn to those who will breathe belief into me; rather than turn to those who might bring me down.
  • My identity and my self-esteem have nothing to do with my marital status, what I look like, my career path or any material accumulation. My identity and self-esteem come from within. I recognize that what others think of me is not half as important as what I think of me. Not everyone will agree with what I do; however, as long as I am not hurting myself or anyone else, I will pursue the healing that I seek in the way(s) that I see fit
  • I will limit time with Energy Drainers and welcome those that contribute to my life in positive ways. I will accept social invitations and offers of help; understanding that letting others help me is also part of their healing process.
  • I will also be the one who initiates invitations for lunch, dinner or other quietly social activities with those who contribute to my life in a positive way, rather than always wait for others to ask.
  • I accept that I cannot control the fact that I have suffered a devastating loss -- but I can control what I am going to do with the new life that I have been handed. I will make a list of what I would like to do and / or accomplish. It may be a new hobby, a pursuit that I had to give up and wish to resume, trying new foods, meeting new people or exploring new places. Whatever I decide to do or try, I will do so with the understanding that by exploring these new opportunities and experiences, I am not casting aspersion on my past. I am actually taking control of a situation over which I've had little or no control by embracing a future of my choosing.
  • I will be proactive on my Healing Journey. I will acquire whatever tools will help me; as well as surround myself with the support of others who understand exactly what I have been through.
And through the darkness, the light began to shine again. The uneasy quiet eventually filled with laughter and hope.

The calm came.

And while certainly different from what I had planned... the future wasn't so terrible after all.

This is widowhood.

But it doesn't have to hurt forever.

It doesn't have to be dark forever.

It doesn't have to be a life without laughter, without new possibilities...

...or love.

Your "this"... doesn't have to be "it."

Make your choice.

Make your decision.

Scream your intent and declaration of healing to the world.

And journey forward.

For more information about Carole Brody Fleet and Widows Wear Stilettos, please visit

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