Monday, January 15, 2018

Voices of Experience: The Jury Has Made A Decision

As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. We will remain addicted to putting people and things in their "right" place.  ~ Henri J.M. Nouwen

Kelley Lynn is a writer, comedian, actor, and speaker. Since she was widowed suddenly in 2011 at age 39, she has made it her mission ~ through her writing, comedy, and speaking engagements ~ to change the conversation surrounding grief and loss. Her popular TEDx talk, When Someone You Love Dies, There is No Such Thing as Moving On, has 90,000 views and counting. Here she writes of the challenges of navigating widowhood in a culture that is often insensitive, judgmental and all too willing to offer unsolicited advice.

As a widowed person, I sometimes feel as if I've been convicted of something.

Perhaps I did something wrong, and I just don't remember.

Being widowed is sort of like having to plead your case,

take the Fifth,

plead insanity,

to a Jury of your "peers,"

over and over and over


For some reason,

when you become widowed,

people seem to think

that this gives them the right

to give any and all opinions

on your life.

How you should feel.

What you should do.

Shouldn't do.

How you should grieve.

When you should date.

When you should "get rid of" his things.

Take off your wedding ring.

Move on.

Get over it.

"It's been 3 months. Why aren't you dating anyone?"


"It's been 6 years, and you're in LOVE after only knowing someone for a few months? That seems VERY FAST!"


you know what?

Fuck off.





I'm angry.

I have every right to be.

I'm sick and tired of being judged.

Of feeling like people think I've lost my common sense,

and not my husband.

Of feeling like everyone is silently, or VERY LOUDLY, judging and picking apart

everything I do.

Or don't do.

I'm tired of it.

I'm not on trial here.

I haven't commited a crime.

I love two men.

One of them is still dead, forever.

It took me SIX YEARS to get here.

To be able to love again.

Love after loss is messy.




Eyes wide-open.

Incredibly beautiful.

Profound, even.

When you have lost everything -

your partner, your world, your future, your present, your sense of life having meaning,


when it all disappears,

before you have even woken up that morning,

you are changed,



HOW you are changed,

is ultimately,

up to you.

I have changed.

I am more emotional.

I am more sensitive to things.

I am more compassionate.

Less judgmental.

More patient.

More empathetic.

I love deeper.



My relationship with my late husband,

was a slow build.

A deep friendship that turned into more,

over time.

My new love

Is a volcano.

It erupted and sparked and turned me inside out,

and Love didnt just WALK in,

it sprinted.

It tumbled down a lava-filled mountain,

screaming and cheering and carrying on.

It's terrifying.

Every single day I wake up and think,

"What if he dies today?

What if we don't even get our first Christmas together?

What if we don't have our first New Years Eve?

What if I wake up one day, and it's just gone,

all over again?"

Panic and terror and anxiety are a part of me now.

They just are.

That's what happens when you wake up one morning,

and your husband is already dead.

That never leaves you.


So I can close off my heart to love,


because I don't want the panic.

And because,

I can't go through that never-ending pain of losing them,



I can love profoundly,

with the knowledge

seeped into my brain


that this may end tomorrow.

That tomorrow may not be a thing for us.

I have chosen Love.

I will live with the fear, so I can have the Love.

I will love my dead husband,

as I love this beautiful new person.

I will collect all the Love,

and hold it

like a precious Jewel,

never letting go.

Just adding more,

and more,

and more.

And if you,

and your Jury of peers,

most of whom have NOT been through this,

and who have NOT A CLUE what this life is,

want to judge me

and convict me

for loving

and honoring

my dead husband



loving and honoring my life,

and my new love,


and deeply,

and simultaneously,

If you want to convict me of that crime,

as you go back home and slide into bed

next to your husband,

who is very much alive,

Go For it.

When it comes to Love,

I plead Guilty.

Every single time. 

© 2018 by Kelley Lynn

About The Author: In addition to her work as a stand-up comedian, actor, writer, speaker, teacher and grief coach, Kelley Lynn is a weekly contributor to Widow's Voice, the blog sponsored by Soaring Spirits International, and each year gives a comedic presentation at their annual Camp Widow event. Her self-published book: My Husband Is Not a Rainbow: The Brutally Awful, Hilarious Truth About Life, Love, Grief, and Loss will be released in 2018. Find Kelley on her website, A Kelley Lynn Life, on Facebook and Twitter, or email her at

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