“I looked right into your eyes last night.  I guess I should say that I stole a look. I wanted to see what your eyes were saying.  I could see joy in them. I could see genuine love in your smile. I looked. I wanted to see hope…and I did.  I’m sending a prayer to your heart right now. Thank you for inspiring me simply by standing tall and living life.”

We were two strangers at a mutual friends party.  Michelle’s husband died in a car accident earlier that year and had come to visit her best friend for her 40th birthday.  There I was, seven years after my fiance’ was killed in a car accident on our wedding day, at a party, smiling with friends, remarried to a wonderful man, and the mom of two beautiful daughters. The next morning I received that message from Michelle.  

That’s what we do as widows and grievers; we “stare” at fellow grievers, even if they are complete strangers, and try to figure out if they know the answer on how to cope, how to find hope, how to find happiness, how to move forward when we so desperately want to stay in the past.  I must have looked like a vision…a grief goddess…the epitome of how to navigate the grief journey since I was seven years into grief and I had found a chapter two in my life. And you know what, I was and I am…we all are. Once touched by grief, we turn into vessels of knowledge about life.  We learn more about ourselves, we learn more about empathy and compassion, and we learn about what’s important in life and what’s not. It’s the silver lining of grief. Not only do we learn this knowledge, but we get to give and in return receive the most genuine love in the universe by others who too walk the grief journey.  

I have come to realize in my grief journey that the most profound and beautiful people are people who have had to experience “Second Firsts” or “Third Seconds” and so on.  People who have had to completely hit rock bottom and figure out how to get up. While we are on the ground wondering how we are ever going to pick our self up, we meet these visions, these grief gods and goddesses who remind us that we are not alone.  They are a force so strong that we gravitate to them and thankfully get to learn their story to help us on our own journey.

I was 27 years old when my fiance’ died.  Thankfully, my friends and peers had not known tragedy; but that made me feel even more isolated and alone.  I didn’t know if I could classify myself as a widow or not, due to my fiance’ dying on our wedding day. We had obviously had a long relationship and were living together, but the term widow just didn’t feel right to use, at the fear of belittling someone who had been married for decades.  Nonetheless, I messaged my local (Raleigh, NC) Triangle Young Widows and Widowers group and was immediately swooped up by a fabulous group of widow women who took me under their wing. To this day, they will always be the most beautiful women I have ever met in my life; they saved me. They were my grief goddesses and vessels of knowledge about life.  Their love for me has allowed me to give love to others.

I didn’t know that my life was about to take a serious turn one month after I met Michelle.  My brother died by suicide on December 28, 2016. Everything that I learned about life and love have come crumbling down after the loss of my brother.  I no longer feel that I have any knowledge to give about life. Perhaps different types of death lead to different types of grief. My fiance’ had a zest for life and after he died, I feel like I could channel his zest and allow it to lead me in my life.  After my brother decided that life was not for him, it makes me question my life and what life is all about. He was and will always be one of the best humans to have walked the earth, so his death has left a huge hole in my heart.

So here I am, at rock bottom figuring out how to get up and meeting new visions, grief gods and goddesses who remind me that I’m not alone.  I’ve met countless survivors of sibling suicide who have swooped in and taking me under their wings…and you guessed it…they are the most profound and beautiful people that I’ve ever met…

just like you.  


Karen Peloquin’s lost her husband on their wedding day, and she lost her brother to suicide years later. She finds that writing and sharing about her grief is the only way to get out of her head, as well as meeting phenomenal people who are also grieving. You can read more about her story on OptionB.org.