A New Life After Widowhood: Words Of Wisdom From A 21 Year Widow With Alma Davis

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When my late husband passed, I met Alma Davis in CA to attend a widow conference, which was extremely helpful for me in learning to be a widow. In this episode, Alma shares her journey of being a widow for 21 years. Alma shares about her life, how she met her husband, Tony, his death, and the life she developed after widowhood. You are going to enjoy her transparency, her ability to convey the importance of her faith as it relates to dealing with the death of her husband, her professional background, and how it impacted her life. Tune in for more!

Thank you for viewing this post. I am not a licensed therapist or professional life coach.

I am sharing my experience of loving the same man for 32 years, a mother to two adult children, a retired military officer, a breast cancer survivor, and my connections with others. 

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts should reach out to a suicide hotline or local emergency number in their country https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/suicide/suicide-prevention-hotlines-resources-worldwide

Watch the episode here

 

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A New Life After Widowhood: Words Of Wisdom From A 21 Year Widow With Alma Davis

Our conversation for this episode is with Ms. Alma Davis. You are going to enjoy her transparency, her ability to convey the importance of her faith as it relates to dealing with the death of her husband, Tony, her professional background, and how it impacted her life. Let’s get into the conversation now.

 

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Welcome to the show, Alma.

Thank you.

Thank you for being here. We know it is a Saturday morning and Alma is on the West Coast. She has gotten up bright and early to be here to join the show.

Yes, I have, bright and early.

Alma, what gives you hope right now?

I’m looking forward to the future. It’s bright and sunshiny as it always is in San Diego for the most part. I’m about to finish my seminary journey, which has been a journey, especially with grief and health conditions which are not unusual as it relates to our grief. I’m about to complete May 27th, 2023, which is my daughter’s 36th birthday.

I’m really excited about that because I’m in the process of implementing a mental health group program that was created by Joe Padilla. It’s called Living Grace. Anyone who’s dealt with anxiety, depression, or any other mental health issues can go online with me and join this group. I’m currently in the process of creating some peer support. It gives me great hope because I’m booming with excitement and opportunities that will come my way.

You have written a book if I recall in this journey.

I did. It was called A Widow’s Virtue. It was about my process through grief. It begins prior to the moment that Tony passed away. It goes through my journey. It was incredible writing it because I felt like Groundhog Day. I was constantly in it. I tried to write it in such a way that it shared the experience, but at the same time demonstrated the hope that was there. Looking back on it retrospectively, I’m not certain that it showed enough hope because I did have some comments from other widows and they said it was too raw, but it’s out there.

I want the raw because that’s what the real talk is about. If we don’t have the rawness and the realness, how do we know what to prepare for?

That’s true. I’m not always sure that I talked about the preparation as I did about what God was doing and showing me. Of course, the rawness of my desires for that future. I had future expectations about how my husband and I would live, especially after the children were out of the house. I wasn’t too graphic about those things, but certainly, when you have an empty nest, there’s some excitement that you had to put on reserve.

The show is for ages eighteen and older. This is not for children.

I talked about some fun times that we could have during that emptiness season that we didn’t have a full opportunity to experience prior to my getting pregnant. I got married at a really young age.

Tell us about who Tony is and how you guys met on your journey.

Tony was the love of my life. I was in the Air Force Reserve and I had prayed, “Lord, I want to go to England where our six-week tour was going to be.” He made that happen for me. I met the love of my life while I was there. We worked in the same building. I remember I had on my fatigues and I was walking up to the building. There was this guy at the door. I had my hands in my pocket. In the military, you’re not supposed to have your hands in your pocket, but I’m a reservist and I’m spending too much time in the real world.

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A Widow’s Virtue

There’s this beautiful guy at the door with a grand piano smile, and he was like, “Why you are playing pocket pool?” I was like, “Excuse me. Who are you to be telling me what to do?” I went on into the building and he disappeared. He knew my boss from previous reserve trips to England. He arranged for me to come to his office because one of my girlfriends was working in the office with him. My boss was like, “You need to go see Cassandra.” I was like, “I’m busy. I don’t need to go see Cassandra.” Eventually, I gave in because he was nagging me. Mr. Davis is in that office with Cassandra.

It was a setup, but it was a good setup. For the time that I was there, the whole story unfolded. I remember one occasion right now. I wish I could have sent you this picture, but everything is packed away in storage. We were sitting on the lawn. There were these children gathered around him and he was playing with them. I thought, “He would be such a wonderful father.” I don’t even know why that came to me, but it did. As the story unfolded, I left England but we kept in touch. I didn’t know or he didn’t know where he was going to be stationed after we left.

We made this pact. If he got orders for the base where I was, then I would take him for a trip to San Francisco. If he didn’t get stationed there, then he would have to fly from wherever he was and take me on a trip to San Francisco. Needless to say, I had to pay for the trip to San Francisco, and it was an absolutely beautiful time. We had a hotel on the water. It was heaven. I remember telling my girlfriend, Pam when I came home. I was like, “Pam, it was like hand in glove.” There goes my love story.

How long did you guys date before you got married?

We communicated via letter. We were writing letters. I have those letters in a book to this day. He had given me a rose from a garden that was there. I still have that to this day. It was everything I had collected from that time. What was your question? I’m sorry.

Was the dating in getting to marriage?

We communicated for about 4 or 5 months. Of course, silly me, this other guy found me. I thought I want this because it was a more materialistic thing. It was an officer and he was a pilot and all of these things. I remember my aunt’s aunt. She came over to the house and was asking about my trip to London. I brought out my photo album. I was showing it to her. She was looking at that picture that I told you about. We had taken a picture when we were at the park looking at those children. She said, “That’s your husband.” I was like, “What?” She’s from Louisiana.

It could have been whatever. Aunt Francis did some incredible things with herbs and stuff so I never messed with Aunt Francis. When she spoke, I was like, “Really? I don’t think so. We’ve ended that relationship.” She said, “I don’t care. That’s your husband.” Moving forward, that relationship didn’t work out. I had to eat humble pie and write him and say, “I was being materialistic. The love and care that I shared with you were unmatchless. I’m eating humble pie and I’m telling you that I’m sorry. If you ever come to Sacramento, I’m available.” Fast forward to when we got married, the family told me when he got that letter, they had rerouted it from London to his parent’s home in New York.

They said he bolted out of there. They were like, “What’s going on here? You got home. You’ve been gone for four years. We haven’t seen you.” His uncle said, “It must be a woman.” That’s where we got there. In a timeline, it was probably about a year or so. It was quick. We didn’t waste any time. It was a love story. I was staying at the bird in the hand when I was in London, so I’m going backward. The London fog was at our shoulders that night. We were standing by this white picket fence and he asked me if he could kiss me. I was like, “What a love story.” He took my breath away.

He’s still taking your breath away.

However, he’s been gone for many years. To tell that story is life for me because he brought me joy. He brought me peace. I had had so much chaos in my life prior to that. As Black women, we keep that momentum, endurance, and forging forward because I was young at that time and I was determined to make it and do something with my life. He brought rest to my continued forward upward momentum. He was everything to me. When he died, there was such a great loss.

 

 

Do you mind sharing how Tony transitioned from this world?

No, not at all. My being a nurse was probably one of the most challenging things in this process because I worked in critical care at the time that he got diagnosed, which was in 1999.

He was diagnosed with?

Pancreatic cancer. Only 1% survival rate from pancreatic cancer. Normally, when it shows up, it’s at the very late stages because of the location of the pancreas. We lived in San Diego but he was working in Florida because he was going through a transition process. We had been apart for so long and when he flew back home, it was on. This time, when he came home, he wasn’t like before. He went to bed and went to sleep. I remember waking up in the morning and looking at him. He got up from bed and went to the bathroom. He then came back and said, “My urine is Coca-Cola color.” I’m a nurse in critical care. I’m going into motion because I need to diagnose what’s going on with my baby.

I looked into his eyes and they were jaundiced. It’s yellow in color. He had been in Florida and sharing with me what he had been eating. I thought maybe he encountered something and he’s developed hepatitis. I was like, “We’re going to urgent care this morning.” We did go to urgent care and everything that I had said in advance about what it could be, that’s what the doctors were thinking also. It’s so funny because nurses expect things to happen right now. That wasn’t the case, but I remember they drew his blood and said, “We won’t be able to get it over to Pomerado until Monday.”

I was like, “No. I will carry that blood over to Pomerado. I worked there. It’s not a problem. I know the people in the lab.” I did carry it up. They did allow me to do that. When it came back, it showed that he had elevated HDL or something that had to do with his pancreas. It was extremely elevated. They decided that they needed to go in and do a sonogram and an endoscopy. They did those things and realized that it was pancreatic involvement and that the common bile duct was obstructed at the head of the pancreas, which was why everything was backing up.

That’s why we’re seeing the presentation in his eyes. That journey began. They diagnosed him with pancreatic cancer. I asked him what he wanted to do because when I was early in my career as a nurse, we were in Tucson, Arizona, at that time. I developed this incredible relationship with one of my patients and his wife who had pancreatic cancer. I remember when I left my shift and I knew I wasn’t going to return, I knew in my heart he was not going to live.

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Life After Widowhood: I remember when I left my shift and I knew I wasn’t going to return, I knew in my heart he was not going to live.

Was it your patient?

Yes, my patient at that time. I couldn’t bring myself to say goodbye. Fast forward to my experience, now I know why. It was almost like I wasn’t accepting of a reality that was going to come my way. At the same time, as I look back on it retrospectively, it was God preparing me for my future. In December of 1999, the Lord woke me up and said, “Alma, you have cancer.” I was like, “Lord, I’ll wait for it to manifest.” It wasn’t surprising to me because over the course of my life, that’s how God had dealt with me. When things overwhelm me, he would tell me in advance so that I would know that he was present with me. This was another occasion.

Let’s stop right there. There are people reading this episode that have different faith and beliefs. I respect that. The intention is to talk to different people because how our faith impacts our grief and life is so important. I love that you said that because it doesn’t mean hardship and trials will not come in life. It’s just that our faith in God will be there with us through those trials because those things make us.

There must be a reason for us to have this journey in life and to experience these trials, tribulations, and things that we learned from people that are with us on this journey. If not, whenever we started our particular faith or relationship with God, we didn’t leave this planet immediately. This journey has value. That is impeccable to think that hardships are going to come but to know that the creator of the universe is with you in that process, you deal with it differently.

 

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You absolutely do. Moving forward, the doctors and my husband decided that a Whipple procedure would be the best in terms of longevity. We were scheduled for surgery. He went into surgery, and the surgeon came out and said, “Because the tumor is at the tail, we couldn’t do the full Whipple procedure. Therefore, we did what we could to mitigate whatever pain he would have in response to this particular cancer because the pain is excruciating,” so they did that. The Whipple procedure is like a gastric bypass that they’re doing now for the reduction of weight but not to the full extent, but he did obviously with cancer lose weight.

You could see the belly protein deficit developing as he went through it. I wanted to share this point. When the surgeon came out and said that he could not perform the surgery that we had hoped for, our hearts dropped. I’m in the room with my children, my mother, and my in-laws. What I heard in my spirit was, “I will confound the wise.” We asked what time period we have and he said 6 weeks to 3 months. That’s when the confounding of the wise came. That’s important because as we journeyed through this process, when we got beyond six weeks, I would ask the doctors, “What’s going on?”

I knew that regardless of the outcome, it was going to be an incredibly terrible journey. I didn’t realize how bad it would be for me, but I have seen God move because he said he would confound the wise. I would ask the doctors, “What do you think? We’re beyond that six-month period.” Dr. Sundaram was the oncologist who was providing Tony with the chemotherapy. He’s like, “I don’t know. It’s a miracle. It must be your prayers.” I was like, “I’m just checking.” I’m watching God move on the hearts of these doctors. That’s what that meant to me when he said he was going to confound the wise. We kept proceeding through. The chemo would work for a while, and then it would hit a wall and stop so we’d have to change.

Now we’re 3 months and 5 months out and things are beginning to work again. We’re making progress. I would say to Dr. Sundaram, “What are your thoughts here? What’s going on?” He says, “I don’t know. This is a miracle.” I was like, “It sure is. That’s how God works.” To make a long story short, we got 21 months out of this journey. God did some powerful things. It was overwhelming sometimes how powerful he moved through this experience in confounding even the doctor’s minds because the trajectory of this particular cancer was normally at this point. I didn’t share that. It had already metastasized to his liver and lungs when they identified it at the surgery point.

To get 21 months was truly a miracle. To have the doctors say this was a miracle, I was like, “You need to know who my God is.” He even said, “It must have been your prayers.” I was like, “I guess so.” Fast forward, probably ten years out, I met this doctor, Dr. Sundaram. My car had some scratches and a dent in it. It was at a collision center in Mira Mesa, and he remembered me. He said, “My God.” I said, “Your who?”

He said, “That experience with your husband was life-transforming.” I said, “Really?” He said, “Yes. I had never seen anything like that. Oncology can be a difficult feeling.” I said, “I get that because people are constantly dying.” It’s like hospice. It sucks out your hope depending on where you are. He said, “It was a restoration.” That one person, the life was impacted so powerfully through our journey. It was that 1 sheep that was lost and left the 99 to go and get him. I now know what it’s like when Paul says, “The encounters that I’ve experienced were for your benefit.”

I know that in a different way now. I can hear that where I didn’t hear that before. It’s like David when he says, “What the enemy meant for evil, God meant it for my good that I may save a generation of people.” Those things have been my hope, but it’s not always been through the journey of recovery for me. It’s not always been at this high point. I was not always able to see and grasp the beauty and significance of these high points because I hit a low point.

That’s important to say because you may have had this. Those two verses that you mentioned are powerful, but I don’t think that’s something I need to hear the week my husband died. Those are not confident verses that you give me as you think you’re being supportive. It’s too soon. You can pray those for me on the back end, but the grit of that moment is not when you deliver that verse to me.

I think that’s huge. I remember when I went to the lawyer to register our trust. He said, “You’ve done everything you needed to do. Now you need to get on with your life.” I was like, “That was a dagger because my husband hadn’t even been dead three weeks and you’re telling me to get on with my life. Really?” I don’t even know what that looks like. I’m going to be truthful with you. I’ve been a bible teacher for a long time, and I’m telling you that hope was across the street. I couldn’t even lay hands to hope.

I knew about it because it was God’s word, but I could not lay my hands on hope. I guess the truthfulness and the painfulness of that saying is that I experienced hopelessness at that point. In my faith, there’s a tension here that I’m not familiar with. I am torn because I’m feeling like Peter when he denied Jesus. I’m like, “What’s happening here?” I want to pause right here and say, “At the beginning of the book that I write, I said that I knew at that moment he died that everything I had ever taught and believed was going to be tried by fire. Only that which remained would be precious stone and could be used for God’s glory.” That’s where I’m at on the other side now.

 

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How many years is that, Alma?

It was a long journey. I’m going to say fifteen years before I felt up.

That is important because so often, you hear in the widow community, “If you make it through all those first years of anniversaries, then you’ll be okay.” To me, what happened after that first year, they really did. You cannot run away from it anymore. You can’t do all this stuff and check the boxes. It’s like, “Now that I’ve done all of this, the real work of me coming to the reality of their absence becomes whatever is going to look like. It’s going to be challenging like the place and all of that.” Thank you for mentioning that. It is a process to go through that. It’s not just time going by that makes it happen. Time can go by and you can be in this same location with that if we don’t do something in dealing with the reality of it. I have found it for me.

For me, a big part of my journey was since I did marry so young, there were things that I missed out on in my young adult life. Through this journey, I went from my mom’s house to our house. I had to go up back and pick up me and find who me was. Also, deal with this loss at the same time because I’m 40 years of age at the time of his death. I had to go back to age 21 to some degree and develop those spaces that had not been developed. I had never lived on my own. I had certainly gone to college, but I didn’t know who I was. I was a registered nurse so I could take care of myself financially and maintain the lifestyle that we had currently lived because of the way we had set up trust and all of that stuff, but that wasn’t enough.

I had to deal with multiple losses. Not only did I lose a husband, but I lost the future of retirement. I lost a grandfather for my grandchildren that weren’t even yet to be born. I lost a companion in life. Even though I think about that now in my current reality, I’m still longing for that peace. There were so many losses that I hadn’t considered and people around you don’t consider. That’s why they want to console you with scripture to give you hope, but you have to go through the process. I’ll tell you, I had enough Jesus on board, but with just Jesus, I was out of balance. My husband kept me in balance. I could go up into heaven. I was like Paul. I’ve been to the third heaven and God revealed some things to me. My husband was an air traffic controller so he kept my plane on the ground when it needed to be.

I’ve had to learn to do that for myself to keep myself grounded. I had to go to counseling to find that grounding. Even in that process, the Lord worked on my counselor. He worked on my stories because, in the field of psychology, they have certain beliefs about God and the people of God. God had grown me up in his word. The things that I was talking to them about were things that they had questions about but never vocalized. I don’t know if this is supposed to happen, but we became friends. Not that we went out because that would be unethical, but they were amazed at my process.

You have a medical background. You’re able to have that conversation a little bit differently than the regular person that’s untrained in it. You are having a conversation about your faith, the loss of your husband, life, and everything that is still in a way that relates to them. I could see that being used differently.

You’re absolutely right, but even with that piece, I was in handcuffs as a nurse. Let me tell you why. That was a part of the real difficulty that I needed to have sorted out with my counselor because here I am working as a critical care nurse. I’m saving lives. I’m a child of God with the help of the Lord. I’m titrating drugs. It’s happening. The very thing I would want to do for my own husband, I cannot do. I’m in handcuffs. I can’t move. My best girlfriend was angry at me because she said, “Alma, you’re not using your medical knowledge.”

I said, “Frida, I tried. I even went to the book to pull down the pancreatic information so that I could have an intelligent conversation with the physician. The Lord shut the book on me and said, ‘This is a faith journey. It’s not about intellect.’” I had to tell her that, but she was still upset with me. One day, this is how good God is, she was a part of that confounding of the wise. She called me up and said, “Let’s go have coffee because I was praying about you. The Lord opened up a treasure box, all this light came through it and then it shut. I realized the face for which you were working out that I could not perceive before. I apologized.”

When you have a sister love like that, what can you do but accept that apology? For those of us who are women of faith and we’ve been with the Lord for a long time, applying the scripture to our lives, making the necessary changes, and haven’t been hiding behind the veil of our Christianity, we’ve been pulling up roots. We’ve been planting seeds that we hope will gain a harvest and all of these things. People don’t understand what we’re going through because we’re the strong person they always came to for spiritual advice. Let’s face it. We don’t have any right now.

I remember when Mark passed, I came into the church and someone said, “Reverend Tina, you are doing a good job.” I looked at them and said, “You know he died in front of me. Stop talking.” It got to a point for me where I wanted to be in church, but I couldn’t go to my home church. I had to go someplace elsewhere where I could just be Tina. I could be a person that they saw at the altar that was crying and weeping. It covers me because I cannot pour out of the empty vessel. I was challenged with believing that if I praise, something was going to happen. I was challenged with believing being able to give somebody words of encouragement.

I believe in who God was, but in a lot of the tenets of those things, I could not organically operate, talk, and do because Mark was dead. My life is altered by all this. What does this mean? How is this in perspective? What does that look like in my life? Unfortunately, a lot of other things, whether we intentionally believe it or not, if bad has happened, how does that impact what it looks like my walk with God is doing? Certainly, my husband dying is not cool. They’re going to need to reconcile that.

When I hear that journey is that reconciliation of leaving this world as part of existence, finding peace and solace, and finding where God was with me in that journey that solidifies, “This is what it looks like,” and how does God be magnified in that process, and how do I trust him even more in a way that I never did before? Unfortunately, the opportunity didn’t present itself. I can relate to that. Going back to that one thing about that perception of strength, no one is strong. I’m barely not falling apart right here. I’m trying to get to the car real quick before. You all got this all wrong because I don’t talk about it. I don’t show you all of that. What do you think?

Part of my reconciliation is we are strong women, but there are times when our strength is not personified. We have to be okay with not being okay with that. To perceive someone as being strong all the time in every situation is an imbalanced scale. The word of God says that’s an abomination to him. We need to get rid of that and come into balance. We need to come into real life perspective because we don’t and we try to work out of that strength when it’s an empty vessel.

We are strong women, but there are times when our strength is not personified. We have to be okay with not being okay. Share on X

We’ll try to live up to that because people keep talking instead of going, “No. Let’s deal with reality.” We have to say that ourselves because no one will stand it organically and do it.

God dealt with me on that because I was trying to be strong and live up to that expectation. I was leading praise and worship. I was leading the women’s group and doing everything I possibly could before I fell apart, hit the wall, and wound up on my back. All I could do was look up, and it was good. The Lord said to me, “You need to go to the Book of Lamentations.” I was like, “Lord, I can’t go there because I’m already weeping enough.” He kept saying, “You need to go to the Book of Lamentations.” I always have a study bible so I know how it breaks it down. It said that Lamentations take away the idea that you have to live up to strength when you’re in a moment of lament.

That began a new trajectory for me because he says, “Alma, if you miss this opportunity that’s occurring for you right now, you’re going to miss your greatest opportunity to minister to people from an authentic place.” I was like, “What?” Let’s dive into God because he knows me and he knows that if I get the real about the situation, I’ll tell it from a real place. I’ll have you crying in the real place but I’ll tell it. He knows that about me. I know that he loves me as a woman after his own heart like David. That’s where I’m at now. I’m telling it from a real place. Throughout my seminary journey, God is so faithful to me. He gives me those huge nuggets.

If we read the Psalms of David, and he spoke to me through that because I was a worshiper like David, you’ll see that David was very honest about his emotions. When he was in a place of anger, he said, “I hope your family dies as a result of what you’re doing to me,” but then as you watch the song that it comes down, he said, “God, I know it’s you that’s going to deliver me out of this place.” The Psalms have taught us how to be real with our emotions, but we’ve moved those out of our services. We’ve moved those out of the places where they need to be to teach people how to deal with these raw emotions.

They don’t know what to do with it. It’s all right there. He allowed me to see the Psalms in a way that I had not. I hadn’t been exposed to them because I was in that strong zone with everybody else. My point in all of this is that with what we’ve gone through and loss and grief, there is a process. We, in Christendom, have said to people, “This is where your event happened and this is where you need to be right now.” Let’s skip the process because God said we’ve endured it for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

We don’t weep the world weeps.

We don’t.

That’s why it’s supposed to be instant and done as we go through verses.

You got it.

“Are you still sad about that? It’s been two years. I thought you would’ve moved on by now.”

I’m going through the motions of life. I’m taking new jobs and I’m doing some great things out here, but my heart has this void in it. I’m still trying to live. I’m not in a room in a straitjacket. This was a big thing for me. I was a worshiper. God said, “We’ve been too close. You can’t come up into my presence faking it.” I was like, “I literally could not worship.”

That’s okay because you were dealing with a broken heart. If you are a worshiper, you’re leading people into worship. If you are a worshiper, it’s not that moment when you’re singing. Your life is about worship. It’s now that because you have, you can love somebody out of the love that God gave you. When they’re having a hard time and you’re going there, that word we use now is empathy but you’re leveraging. It’s all that God has done and all you’ve experienced to be present with them at that moment, whether it is this conversation that other widdle words will listen to or their family and understand to not put this fake Band-Aid over something that is not holding back anything and to be as this goes.

I remember a guy friend who was going through the loss of a divorce and a breakup. I remember he had gotten to that point. He says, “You need to learn to be.” I hadn’t lost my husband at that time. I was like, “What is that?” I know what that is. You’re not in a head space to be receptive to these seeds that are being planted, but when they germinate, they’re germinating within your spirit. They will rise when it’s time. You’ll learn to embrace it. It won’t be foreign to you because it came from someone that you knew was going through and they planted a seed of hope and understanding that you couldn’t even proceed at the time.

This is a journey that what you receive from it and what becomes of it truly can be miraculous. I would’ve never thought years ago if I was devastated or trying to consider what to do the next day that it would be a conversation. It’s so open to sharing journeys and bringing other people hope and encouragement and to go, “I know it sucks right now.” There’s something on the other side of this. There is life not existing, but there is a life opportunity for you to thrive. It’s okay to talk about how you feel and connect. Speaking of connecting, I came to California. I met you through your cousin and we went to a widow convention. Are they still in existence?

I don’t think so. I think COVID knocked them out. They were an older group of women. I haven’t been in contact with them, but Betty did let me know that because of COVID, they had to cut a list and shut things down. They were a group of women. They would have teas and things like that. I would imagine they’re still doing those kinds of things. In terms of putting on the event itself, I would say not.

It’s the idea of making a connection. There are opportunities when you search for them that are other people going through a journey with you. Knowing that you’re not alone is so helpful to realize all these different thoughts and things I’m experiencing. It is unfortunately common that other people are having these same things and this is natural in the loss of someone.

Jesus emphasized community. This is a unique community and not everyone can be in the conversation.

Nor do we want to be.

I remember when I went to the widow’s conference, one of the girls said, “I don’t want to be a part of this group. I love you guys, but I’m not going to be a part of this group.” I was like, “None of us really care to be a part of this group.” Through it, God is doing some unique things. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always prayed for purpose in my life. I want to know my purpose, Lord. What I’ve come to realize with that desire is that our purpose is not always something that is awesome and most people would like to journey through it. What I’ve come to realize is that I’m a living stone and I can bring life where death may occur.

WRT 14 | Life After Widowhood
Life After Widowhood: I’m a living stone and I can bring life where death may occur.

I can relate to that. I was talking to my daughter who lives on the West Coast. She was driving home from work. I’m talking and sharing how I feel. This platform or organization, Widowhood Real Talk with Tina, I am seeing that as my purpose. God is using my educational background, running businesses, and having an Accounting degree to be able to set up a 501(c)(3) and not have to pay somebody else to do it. I had the means to do that like being able to understand the organizational structure of a nonprofit and have board members to so many different pieces, whether it’s my organic willingness to talk.

I care about people and how God has used this experience of losing my husband to be purposeful for other people. When you and I met a few years ago, I didn’t know it was going to be more than that. Mark has been deceased for a couple of years so I think it was the 1st or 2nd year. It was us walking up the hills in California. This connection to stay and as our journey has progressed like this. We talked about what has happened and we started off with what you’re excited about. What do you see happening in 2023 for you?

I can hardly contain myself. I have this unique ability to spin multiple plates at one time. I don’t know if I’ve seen all of them stacking up. I’m trying not to do that because I don’t multitask as well as I used to or it may create some anxiety in me because of all of the things that I’ve been through. I don’t know if I shared with you, but through this process, I’ve had a dissection of my heart, which they call The Widow Maker. I remember saying to God, “I’m already a widow.”

You started talking about health. We didn’t dive back into that because a lot of people experienced health challenges immediately after losing a spouse. Please share about that.

I also went through breast cancer so now I’m having to come back from all of these things on top of the loss of my husband. I was speaking to my sister-in-law. We lost 10 people in that same time period in 10 years. All of this is on top of the grief, and I had to extubate my father-in-law from a ventilator. I had lost my mother-in-law. I buried a whole group of people.

You had children. You’re a mother, too, in the absence of that. I know they’re grown, but they still require the love and support of a mom.

That’s been one of the challenges I’m having to face. My daughter mentioned to me that I wasn’t always available for her emotionally because I was doing all these things and dealing with my own grief. That’s something that I’ve had to process through. There was something else she said but that will keep us talking forever.

I can relate to that. As I look back on that first year, I was thinking, “I have nothing to give my kids right now.” There was a lot of silence. We were texting and we would have different things. Mark died in March. I had a plan for what we would do for Christmas, but between there, there was a lot of silence. If there was anything I could change, I wished that I had enough to give them and to try to survive because I thought their whole world is shaken. Not only is their dad gone from this, but the two people that they would count on in everything in life are out of pocket. One by the nature of Mark’s passing and my incapacity to give anything to them. I didn’t go back to work for three months.

I was in bed. I’m trying to be like, “Really, life? This is what we’re doing?” It was six months when we went for Christmas that I could start feeling like, “You got kids right here. You got to start paying attention.” I’m grateful that my children were older. I know that there are people with very young children. I have talked to people and their time to cry was in the shower because they didn’t want their child to see them crying or what they need to do or be in the car because it has to come out some way. Women are generally the caretaker where we’re taking care and doing emotionally for people and putting our own emotions on the side. That is a lot to have to deal with.

Looking back retrospectively and then also what I’ve learned through my own grief experience, we should allow that grief to be present in our children to some degree. If we hide those emotions, then what we’re saying about what we feel is that it’s okay to be stoic. We implode as a result of that. In Christianity, that’s been something that we’ve always promoted, which is to be strong, but then we’re creating these children that in our “be strong” who are not developing the emotional bandwidth that they need to go through life.

We should allow grief to be present in our children to some degree. If we hide those emotions, then what we’re saying about what we feel is that it’s okay to be stoic. We implode as a result of that. Share on X

It made me think that when I’m saying be strong, my strength is I’m trusting God. I’m not trusting what I see always or what is this moment of this circumstance. I’m trusting God for the big picture. That is where I see my strength in. Unfortunately, I’m also dealing with breast cancer, the loss of my spouse, and everyday trials. I’m not trusting the momentary scenario. My strength is I’m trusting God for the long process. I do not confuse my inability to not trust God to feel I’m handling this because it’s beyond me.

When my daughter Katherine was maybe 5 or 6, she had a cold and was sick one day. I was supposed to be at church doing something. I walked into her bedroom and she said, “Mom, is God going to be mad if I don’t go to church?” I was like, “What am I teaching her? Am I teaching her that this is a performance-based scenario? If so, then I need to change this.” I told my husband, “You and Alex can go. I’m staying home with her.” I took off my clothes and put on my pajamas. Now we had a VCR that we put with the tape.

I had to rewind it and I sat in her room. We got ice cream and we watched a movie. I said, “God loves you unconditionally. If you’re sick, we are not about to go to church and break that. We watch movies.” It became realizing God loves you because he created you. You have life. If this is not about what box you check and what you do this and that. We’ll never measure up. That’s why Christ had to come. There’s no way I could perform enough to equate to that. I had to start making that message loud as much as I could.

For those of us who are involved in ministry at that level, we forget that our first ministry is at home. You’re putting on your pajamas and watching movies. That’s ministering. You’re ministering to the soul of your child and you’re bringing that moment into balance.

That’s what I realized because I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to have this persona of that because there’s no good to come of that. As you said, to lament. You missed the opportunity to understand what Psalms said. All those things are there because life is hard and we do something to pull into it.

There have been women who have experienced multiple deaths of a husband, but your first is different. Who teaches us to walk that experience? You don’t even know. That’s an unknown. You have to learn to do that because God is developing endurance, character, and perseverance in you that you’ve not yet known.

God is developing endurance, character, and perseverance in you that you’ve not yet known. Share on X

You didn’t know it was in you.

Yes, and also hope. Who can tell you how to do that? No one. God is bringing you to a place that you’ve not known before but we’re trusting him to bring us through all right, and he does. That’s where my joy comes from because I could say with my hands lifted high. He has brought me through all right. There’s still more yet to be received.

There’s still more. What does that look like outside of the seminary? Would you be open to a relationship? What are you open to and what do all those things look like for you?

I’m definitely open to it because now I know who this Alma is to some degree. I know what Alma enjoys, how to take Alma out to fine dining and be comfortable with, as my girlfriend Pam says, dinner for one. In my youth, I didn’t know who I was. I was still developing. Now I’ve developed. As I said, I like theater and fine dining. I love to kayak and I would get out on the water by myself. I bought myself this banana kayak. I love the water. I was a lifeguard in my youth day. I was like, “I don’t know why it took me so long to get out of here because I love to travel.” The thing that I love the most is I traveled after my husband died. I went to Paris. I was taking my daughter to school in London at that time. I had promised myself when I met my husband in London that if I ever got to London again, I would go to Paris.

When I took my daughter to school for college, I took a trip to Paris. I had always wanted to see the Eiffel Tower. I went up to the Eiffel Tower, and in my innocence, I didn’t know lovers would be up there kissing and hugging. I’m so sad. I remember looking towards the East out and I said, “God, my life and my marriage did not turn out the way I would have desired, but don’t allow my heart to harden to love.” He has done that. My heart has not hardened to his love and he has poured out his love on me. I do look forward to being in a relationship. Whoever that special person is that God has created for me in my latter days, he’s going to have to take me back to the Eiffel Tower and give me a big kiss and hug.

Alma, this has been so great. As we prepare to wrap up because I know you got up early and you are a busy woman, any final words? Anything you feel like you wanted to talk about that we didn’t capture?

There’s so much. Maybe we’ll have to do this again. I like to share with all the widows and the widowers that it is a journey and to continue wherever your faith lies. If it’s a spiritual thing and not necessarily with God or Jesus, hold on to that and be open to life. Be open to new experiences and trust the process. Don’t allow anyone to take you out of it because there is no specific timing for it. You’ll know when you know but then also be cognizant or have people around you who are aware of who you are and when you may be out of balance so that you can ensure that you get the help that you need. We can grieve but then we can grieve to the point where we get stuck. That’s when we need to ensure that we have a special help that we need. I love you all, and I love you, Tina. This was so fun.

 

 

Thank you so much.

I’m so proud of you that you have picked up this platform and your care and concern for people. It really does touch my heart because we’re sisters in synergy in that way. I love people. I’m picking up a mental health piece, but I see it as a part of my calling through Isaiah 61 and setting the captives free. There are words that Christ has spoken to us that we’ve skipped over because we were not prepared to go there. When he brings you to this place of surrender and removes the shame so that love can be poured in, then we can do mighty work for him. I thank God for you and I thank God for my recovery. I’m looking forward to another future talk.

Thank you so much, Alma.

Thank you. I love you.

I love you too.

We wrapped up a conversation with Alma. I have not spoken to her live in years. If you want a copy of the book, I’m not sure if it’s still published, but I do have a copy. You may find it helpful. I hope that you were able to benefit from this conversation, whether it is managing maybe your absence in the lives of your children while you’re dealing with your own grief. Also, understand that grief may take 15 to 20 years to unpack as you’re rediscovering yourself.

This conversation that I’m having with Alma and other widows and widowers is for you. I am sorry for the person that you have lost that’s driven you to this conversation, but I’m glad that you have become part of our Widowhood. I want each one of these conversations to be a nugget that you can pull out of your arsenal as you develop your own grief walk. You are not alone. Alma and I are here with you on this journey and I look forward to talking to you soon. Have a good day.

 

Important Links

About Alma Davis

WRT 14 | Life After WidowhoodAlma Davis is a native of Northern California. She has been a resident of San Diego, California, since 1994. She currently ministers in the San Diego area as a Community Chaplain and the Rock Church Point Loma disciple. She holds a weekly online Bible Study: Growing Through the Gospel with Chaplain Alma. She founded “WE HOPE Missional Consortium,” a Retired Registered Nurse and an Air Force Veteran.

She has two beautiful adult children, Antares Simensis of Los Angeles, California, and Ashanti Davis of Seattle, Washington, and a beautiful and intelligent granddaughter Beatrice of Escondido, California.

Alma Love’s the Lord and has dedicated her life to growing in God’s Word and ministering to the needs of God’s people through prayer, presence, and compassion. She will complete her Seminary course work in May of 2023 and expand her community Chaplaincy work through “WE HOPE Missional Consortium” by implementing a community faith-based online and in-person 16-week programmed support group called ‘Living Grace” created by Joe Padilla at the mental health grace alliance. Living Grace is not a counseling group but a support group with people who understand and offer grace. Her online and in-person groups are open to those who have experienced or are experiencing anxiety, depression, or any other mental health disorders.

Alma’s call to serve is Isaiah 61:1-6. She believes that she has experientially grown through this passage and is now prepared to be God’s helper in setting the captives free.

 

EDUCATION:

Masters ThS. Candidate 5/23             Bethel University Seminary, St. Paul, MN    

BA Human Development 5/13                        San Diego Christian College, El Cajon, CA

BS Biblical Studies 7/10                                  Andersonville Theological Seminary, Camilla GA

ADN  12/92                                         Pima Community College West, Tucson Arizona

 

MILITARY SERVICE

US Air Force Reserve 9/78 – 9/84     Mather AFB, Sacramento, CA

 

Contact Information

  • Email address to provide publicly info@mhgracealliance.org
  • Website for “We Hope Missional Consortium ~ under development ETA September 2023
  • Name of your book and where it is sold ~ A Widows Virtue – Amazon

Thank you for viewing this post. I am not a licensed therapist or professional life coach.

I am sharing my experience of loving the same man for 32 years, a mother to two adult children, a retired military officer, a breast cancer survivor, and my connections with others.

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts should reach out to a suicide hotline or local emergency number in their country https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/suicide/suicide-prevention-hotlines-resources-worldwide