Sure, our situation is a little different. We're both in our early thirties, have 5 young children, and both suffered extremely painful pasts (hers due to the loss of her late husband, Jeremy, mine through a painful divorce with a mentally ill ex-wife). Nonetheless, we thought it should be easy to find information about guys who marry young widows - but to our surprise, we didn't find much of anything at all! Ok, there were a couple of "experts" whose advice was nauseating (ideas such as: "instruct the widow put all mementos away in a box or get rid of them completely so she can just have a life with you") but nothing from someone who had actually been married to a widow and who had walked that journey side-by-side with the woman they loved as they grieved the loss of their love while simultaneously loving a new person.
I spent two or three days scouring the internet looking for blogs about guys who were dating or married to a widow and who would have real, valuable, honest information about challenges and joys of loving someone with a broken heart. The more I searched, the more disturbed I became. I realized that there was no support, no help, no resources for people like me and my wife.
Enter the idea for "Love in the Aftermath."
On November 9, 2010 my wife experience the worst nightmare of her life: at age 28 she became a widow. Her husband, Jeremy, had gone out hunting after work, but hours later, was found dead near his tree-stand. Left with two young children and six months pregnant with their third child, Vee was left to figure out how to make sense of life without her love. Three months after Jeremy's death Veronica gave birth to a little baby boy, Carter, who would never get to hear the sound of his daddy's voice, feel the touch of his daddy's hands, or feel the embrace of his daddy's arms. While Vee would grieve the loss of her best friend, husband, and partner, she also grieved the loss for her children. Jeremy was a family man who loved his children ferociously. His everyday presence in their lives could never be replaced, not by her or any other person.
In 1999 I started working in church ministry as a youth minister, which eventually evolved into involvement minister and preaching minister. In 2002 and 2004 I celebrated the birth of my daughters Zada and Reagan. I had a good job, a good home, and good kids - to most people, it seemed like I had it all. The truth, however, was that I was living in a personal hell. My ex-wife had developed a mental illness which caused extreme tension in our relationship, it led to her nearly ruining us financially, being an unfaithful spouse, and kept her from participating in my life or the lives of our daughters. As her disease progressed and the symptoms worsen, her actions and attitudes began to make my personal and professional life almost intolerable. She began to spread lies around the church where I was working that I had abused her, had affairs, and even raped her - and although these allegations were false, they still impacted my life. Not only was the situation bad for me, but I could see the affect it had on my two young daughters who had no real relationship with their mom and did not trust her. For the health and wellbeing of myself and my daughters I needed to get out of the relationship, even though it meant that I would receive a lot of scorn from those in the church where I had worked for so many years.
It was here, in the aftermath of the storms of life, that God brought Vee and I together to find healing, purpose, and love. While our relationship has come with its own set of unique challenges, there is not one second that I have doubted my love for Vee, God's purpose in our relationship, and the future that we have together. As a result, Vee and I decided to not just live out our love for each other but to do so in a way that would help others.
Yet another step towards "Love in the Aftermath."
This blog is not about the "right" way to be married to a widow, and I certainly don't claim to have all the answers. What I hope this blog can do is fulfill what I was originally looking for sitting in the driveway with my wife: real, valuable, and honest information about loving a widow. Its a personal journey. And, while I have worked as a bereavement counselor for the past several years, I am no expert in being married to a widow. I make mistakes, from time to time feel insecure, and struggle with how to best love and support my wife as she grieves.
I want this blog to be transparent. If you love a widow and want some support in how to love her best, if you want to make sure that the feelings you are experiencing from time to time are normal, or if your looking for advice on how to handle the intricacies of a dating or marriage relationship with a widow, then I encourage you to take this journey with me!
On a last note, there is NO WAY I would be writing this blog without the support and encouragement of my amazing wife, Veronica! If there is one thing that I have learned through Vee's love for me it is that the challenges that come our way are in no way comparable to the love, loyalty, and understanding that she gives me on a daily basis! I daily look forward to seeing how God will use our lives together for His purpose and I pray that God will use this outlet to help others who are sharing a similar life experience!