Shedding the Weight.

I no longer think of myself as a “widow”. I don’t check the widow box on government forms, I don’t include “single mom” in my bio.

For two years, I did. That was how people saw me, and I’m sure, whispered about me. In small-town America, your most important identity is the one made up for you at the grocery store. You have no control over it; you can only pray it’s kind and nonjudgmental.

If it’s not, well, you pray another scandal emerges before the plastic bags full of bread and cheese and chicken nuggets are loaded into the car.

My kids know they have two dads, one here and one in Heaven. They know our family is made up of two last names. I’m never going to forget, and I’ll never let them forget. But for the honor of my first marriage, and the sake of my last, I won’t dwell on the past or that label I once carried. I can’t do that kind of disservice to either of them.

It was heavy. How could five little letters weigh me down so much? Maybe because along with “widow” came “single mom”, “depressed”, and “lost”. I was lucky that it also came with “support”, “love” and “family” because otherwise, I don’t think I would have been able to pick myself up under the weight of it all.

People are usually shocked when they discover that I was a widow. I was 26 at the time, after all. I’m only 31 now. That’s far too young to lose a husband.

I was extraordinarily blessed to have found love again, and been able to have the four kids that I always wanted.

I’m no longer the “single mom”, or “depressed” or “lost”. I’ll always be a widow, I suppose, but I don’t have to focus on that. I’m a woman, a wife, a mother, a dork, a goofball, a music lover, a reader, a (bad) singer, a writer, an amateur photographer, a hugger, a smoocher, a listener, a friend.

What labels have YOU released from your internal biography?

44 Responses to Shedding the Weight.

  1. mamamash says:

    I really, really love you and you know why? Because life tried to kick your ass and you kicked right back at it. I remember when I learned of your loss, I was so shocked. You are indomitable, Greta, and such an example of the kind of person I strive to be every day. (Except for those days when I stay in pajamas and greasy hair and watch entire seasons of Saved By The Bell. There's not much striving happening then.)

  2. You, you are wonderful .. And your new online design is perfect xxxxx

  3. NotJustAnotherJenn says:

    That is a ton of baggage for anyone, but especially for omeone so young. You are a strong, amazing woman. Way to kick that label to the curb!

  4. I'm loving your new site and blog name!!! I also love your question at the end of this post and I'm gonna have to think about it :)

  5. Angela says:

    Great post. You are inspiring. Thank you for sharing your story and your strength.

  6. Alison@Mama Wants This says:

    You're strong, courageous and an inspiration – to us and your lovely children.

  7. My mother became a widow at the age of 25 with an (almost) two year old and a newborn (me) to care for. I personally know how how difficult it can be and how having a strong, amazing, mom to guide you through it can make all the difference in the world. Sounds like you are being just that for your family – great job!

  8. Jackie says:

    What a powerful post Greta! I think this demonstrates how far you have come, how strong you are, and what a great inspiration you are to your family.

  9. angela says:

    You show so much grace and strength, simply by being yourself and embracing life with such a positive outlook no matter what comes your way. I am so happy this JBE prompt came at a time in your life you're ready and excited to shed that label.

  10. justjenannhall says:

    You know I am thinking a lot about the possibility of this label being put on me. I'm writing one of these posts too and I mention it. When I saw yours, I thought, wow, I need to read that. I for one appreciate you sharing.

    • gretafunk says:

      Jen, I hope that doesn't happen for a long, long, LONG time. I'm glad you got something out of my post, though. Thanks for reading and sharing. :)

  11. Mandy says:

    What an amazing post. I can't imagine what you've gone through, but am so glad you were able to release that weight.

  12. Kimberly says:

    You're strong and courageous. I can't imagine what you have gone through, but to know you've come out on the other side as wonderful as you are? That's amazing.

  13. When I hear the word widow I always picture someone older, who had the opportunity to grow old with their partner before the invevitable separated them. It still take my breath away when I read your story and realize that you lost your partner.

    But then I keep reading and you inspire me with how much strength and grace you have shown and how you opened yourself up once again and found love again. Simply amazing . . . that is what you are.

    • gretafunk says:

      It's still hard to fathom. I've always been good, done what I was supposed to. But apparently, life really isn't fair.

      Thank you, Jenn, for your kind words. You're a great friend.

  14. jfarelyn says:

    this was beautifully done. thank you for talking about that season in your life, and how its something youll always know but dont label yourself with now.

  15. Jacki says:

    Great post about moving beyond the label applied to based on circumstances rather than who you really are. Too often we focus on those particular labels as if they really capture who we are and we lose sight of what it really means to be ourselves.

  16. Brook says:

    I would say you are blessed. Because many times we find that "one love" only once in our lives and you were blessed enough to find it twice. My your memories give you peace and your future bring you joy.

  17. Your post and your strength are inspiring. I love how you don't let the circumstances of life get you down. Thanks for sharing!
    ~Kristin

  18. ksluiter says:

    widow and widower are horrible words. they just scream 87 year old.

    that is not you.

    you lost a love.

    and for that I am so sorry. but you. you are so strong and inspiring.

  19. idiosyncraticeye says:

    My heart goes out to you and I hope it was well meaning and good intentioned in the supermarket. You are inspiring and courageous. :)

  20. Abby says:

    I can only imagine what it's like to lose a spouse. But I can imagine it. My husband battled cancer in 2010, and I almost lost him. My heart breaks for you even as you emerge from your cocoon. Your courage and strength are awe-inspiring.

  21. That's a great label to let go of, because it would be such a hard thing to carry around. Not that you'll ever lose the experience of course, but you have to live your whole life in spite of it and I'm so glad you feel able to do that.

  22. […] life in the middle of Kansas raising her four kids, and one of my favorite posts is a recent one, Shedding the Weight, where she thoughtfully describes moving beyond the label “widow” after the death of her first […]

  23. mamarific says:

    Wow…love this post!

  24. adrienne says:

    I loved when you wrote "But for the honor of my first marriage, and the sake of my last, I won’t dwell on the past…" That's beautiful! I can feel the freedom you feel through your writing.

  25. You are strong, brave, amazing!

  26. Shell says:

    So true about our identities being made up for us in the grocery store.

    I'm glad you are able to see yourself in another light.

    On a random note, I read this the other day and got distracted from commenting by your pretty new design. :)

  27. tranquilamama says:

    Labels don't convey the true essence of a person at all. Widow conjures up someone much older than you are. So sorry for the loss of your first spouse. I am so glad that you found love again. Your grace and resilience shines through on this post.

  28. mandarock says:

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this post plus the rest of the site is also very good.

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