Beyond Loss: Transforming Grief And Embracing A Life Of Joy, Love, And New Beginnings With Brandy Bell-Trapp

WRT 32 | Grief Transformation

 

From grief to growth, widowhood taught our guest that even in the darkest moments, love’s light finds its way. In this powerful episode, Brandy Bell-Trapp opens up about the unexpected loss of her beloved husband during the COVID-19 pandemic and the profound grief transformation it had on her life. She shares how she found solace through social media, particularly TikTok, and the unexpected community she built with fellow widows. Through laughter and tears, she shares the support, positivity, and understanding that this community brought into her life. Brandy also explores the complexities of dating after widowhood. She delves into the concept of “Widow Fire” – the overwhelming physical and emotional longing for companionship, revealing the challenges and newfound perspectives on love and connection. Tune in to discover how Brandy’s outlook on life shifted over time, allowing her to honor her husband’s memory while embracing new experiences and possibilities. Join us in finding strength, joy, and a renewed sense of purpose through the most challenging of times.

 

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

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Beyond Loss: Transforming Grief And Embracing A Life Of Joy, Love, And New Beginnings With Brandy Bell-Trapp

The conversation in this episode is with Brandy. I connected with her on TikTok, and the girl is real. Our conversation is about the passing of her husband, Tim, how he passed, and her journey forward, him being the lighthouse of their family. This is a conversation that will inspire you, educate you, and give you hope. Let’s get into the conversation.

 

WRT 32 | Grief Transformation

 

Our guest is Brandy. We’re going to be nice because she’s a little nervous and welcome her to widowhood. Welcome, Brandy.

Thanks for having me on here. Even though the Lord knows we didn’t want to be a part of it, at least we’re connecting with people who understand.

That is a big thing. That is why I’m guessing you’re doing your TikTok, sharing and making it vocal between your faith and the death of your husband. You are transparent, the music and the rawness. I don’t want to fast-forward into all of that. I want to say thank you. As widowhood knows, I am reaching out to people who want to share. Sometimes people don’t want to share. It’s value-added because it creates a community to talk about this because none of us had a clue how wretched this was. You’re sitting up there sending your vows, “Until death, do us part.” We skipped over that. We don’t think what that looks like.

That whole death do us part is like, “What? I didn’t agree to it at this time.” I figured I was going to be old, like a notebook old. We’re lying in the same bed together old. What is this?

Tell us about your husband. How do you guys get together?

When my husband and I met, I was in high school. I was working for McDonald’s. I got a management position. They transferred me to a Walmart store where they had a McDonald’s inside. I was one of the closing managers. I worked there a lot. That ended up being his second shift job. It was funny because I remember this older woman was like, “You need to ask him out.” I’m like, “I’m not his type. You’re crazy.” I always had a complex because I’ve always been a fluffy girl. He was thin as a rail. Thanks to Sesame Street. It gave me a complex and a half because they did the numbers and Count Dracula went through and did all the counting. For the number ten, they used a real thin man and a short chubby woman.

I’m done with you already. First of all, my first job was at McDonald’s. I am relating to all of that.

She’s like, “I think he likes you.” I said, “I think you’re crazy.” I had been up there for several months working. He kept coming in. He’s the last person to come in on his break. He would always come in and ask us and see if we had any more pies. I started putting in some extra pies because I knew he’d be coming. How do you get to a man’s heart? His stomach. That’s how you get to it.

I ended up transferring back to my home store in my town. I decided to switch jobs to nursing. Back in that day, they had layaway. I put all my nursing scrubs and everything in layaway. If I didn’t have bad luck, I have no luck. I ran an order out, slid across the drive, sprained both my ankles, messed up my knees, and ended up in a wheelchair for a month because of the nonsense.

What was it?

I hit a hole in the drive-thru and slid right underneath the car.

Were you coming by to try to see him and be cute?

It was someone completely different. What ended up happening was my mother taking me up to Walmart to get my scrubs. She had to check out puzzles. He worked in the toy section. I didn’t realize that. Here he is, the toy stockman. My mother is trying to check out puzzles. All of a sudden, this man comes over. It was him, sickening sweet. He was like, “I’ve got brand-new ones that came in. Hold on, let me get the ladder. Let me help you out.” He’s over there. I’m like, “I can’t deal with this.”

I rolled around the corner in my wheelchair. My wheelchair was taken off. He starts drilling my mom. He was like, “Is your sister married? Is she single? What’s the status?” My mom finished. She comes around. She starts laughing hard. She was like, “That man wants your number. He thinks you’re my sister.” That’s the first check mark-off. I said, “Either I look that old, or you look young. I don’t know which one we’re complimenting here on.”

Did you ever go back to him and ask him? Did he think that was your sister or Mama? Is he trying to be nice? What is the type of part there?

I ended up pulling out a pen and paper. I wrote down all my numbers because I had a cell phone, a pager, and my home phone. I rolled myself back around the corner. As he was trying to put the puzzles back, I said, “What are you doing asking about me? I’m her daughter.” He was like, “I’m sorry.” I was like, “I get it. My mom looks young. You’re not saying that I look old.” He goes, “Yes.” I was like, “Are you serious?” He goes, “Yes.” I said, “Here’s my number.” I handed it to him quickly, grabbed the wheels, and rolled off. It was hilarious. He got off at 10:00 that night. I got a 10:30 phone call. We talked until 6:00 AM the next morning.

What was his name?

Tim Trapp. There was something about it. The crazy side to it is we had dated for about 9 to 10 months. I went on vacation with my friend. There’s an age difference between us. It was eighteen years of difference. I had conversations with my dad and mom because he was amazing, kind, sweet, and thoughtful. He was already a dad of three teenage kids. I wasn’t ready to be a mom. I’m like, “Maybe this isn’t it.” When I went on my vacation with my friend, I called him up. We were talking. He is like, “When you come back, how about you move in with me? I find myself falling in love with you more.”

How old were you, Brandy?

At that time, I was twenty. He had teenage children. He had a 13-year-old, a 14-year-old, and his daughter had turned 16. That was a whole lot. I was nervous. I called him, and he was like, “What about moving in?” I’m like, “I think we’re better off friends.” I broke his heart. We hadn’t talked for several months. Afterward, my dad passed away.

I went up to Walmart to get one of those Valentine’s Day Bears that’s got the date on it to put one in the casket and one for my mom. I ran into him, and I told him, “Dad passed away.” He was like, “I’m sorry.” At the time, I was seeing another guy. That was a nightmare. He was like, “I understand.” He was concerned. He was always there, but that was the last time I talked to him.

The crazy side to it is I had tried to find him. He had quit Walmart. He went trucking. He became a truck driver. I had searched. I moved on. I broke up with an ex. I put something on a MySpace account about how I got sick and tired of all the guys in my life looking at me as a dollar sign or a sugar mama because I’m that one who loves to take care of people. I get this little message that says, “I hope you never felt that way about me.” I’m like, “Who is this?” It didn’t have his name and picture. I’m like, “Who is this?”

Another message comes in. He goes, “I’m going to be up at the pub. I’ll be up there tonight. I hope to see you.” Who is this? That is the one bar my parents told me to stay out of, and I did because it was not a good place. A third message comes in, and it got a phone number with it. I called it. It went to voicemail, and I heard his voice immediately. I’m like, “What in the world? You got to be kidding me.” I look at my friend, and I’m like, “We’re going to the pub tonight. That’s Tim.” She goes, “Tim?” I said, “Tim from Walmart.” She goes, “Okay.”

We rushed over. I got dressed up and got all my stuff done. The bar didn’t open until 9:00. We got there at 8:45. We got in. We get to the very back of the bar. We’re back there shooting pool. I watched him, another gentleman, and two women all walk in together. I’m going, “Maybe I shouldn’t have come.” I didn’t realize who everybody was because it had been six years since I’d seen everybody. I recognized him right off the bat. I spotted him immediately.

I’m sitting there talking to my friend. I’m like, “That’s him.” My nerves were shocked. I couldn’t even talk straight at the time. It was insane. She’s like, “Go up to him.” I’m like, “I can’t. There are two women there talking to him. I can’t do that.” One of them was his sister and his sister’s friend. I was like, “Okay.” She goes over, and she goes up behind him at the bar. She orders her drinks. She goes, “My friend thinks you’re hot.” He goes, “Who’s your friend?” She goes, “Brandy Bell.” He grabs his cup of coffee and goes, “Where is she?”

He sees me and immediately comes over. We were together from that night for several years. When we first got back together, he was an over-the-road truck driver. He had started getting back into it. He was off for a period of time because of some health conditions. He was like, “This is what I’m doing now. If you can’t handle the separation, I understand, but I would like to see where this goes.” I said, “My grandfather and brother were over-the-road truckers. I get that life. I don’t need somebody up my backside 24/7. I’m good with whatever we’re going to make this to be.” We did.

For several years of us being together, he was an over-the-road truck driver. He took me all over the East Coast. He showed me the ocean for the first time and the Statue of Liberty. We had experiences and opportunities I never would’ve imagined. I did all that with him. It was amazing. He decided one day he no longer wanted to work for a company. He decided to do his own company. I thought I was going to have a heart attack the day he said, “I want to buy a truck.” I said, “Are you crazy? If your wheels aren’t turning, our bills are not getting paid.” He is like, “I can do this.” I’m like, “You got to give me a moment,” At 9:00 in the morning, we had that discussion. By noon, we were signing off on a truck.

He was serious.

We were working for a company where he was able to purchase one of the trucks that he had driven before. We knew the truck, the setup, and everything in it. He was like, “As long as you have faith in me, I’m not going to let our family down. I get this.” I’m like, “I love you. I’ll back you as much as I can. I’ll be there and do whatever you need me to do.” He was like, “It’s not just for me. It’s for both of us.” I said, “We got this.” We signed the paperwork. We became owner-operators that day. My nerves went from flat to through the roof all of a sudden.

With that, we had many more experiences than we ever would’ve had before. We got to go out west. We got to take our grandson with us because early on in our relationship, we became parents to our grandson. Here we are with a special needs child, raising him, doing everything that needed to be done to be the ones that stepped up. It was amazing. It was more than I’d ever expected. I went from that person who didn’t want to be a mom, wife, or any of that to him looking and telling me, “If you love me and you want to be with me, my kids and grandkids are part of me. If you want that, this is what we need to do.” I’m like, “I’m all in this time around.”

Tell me about when you told him, “I have faith in you.” He said, “If you have faith in me, I can do it.” What did you see in him when he saw you had your faith in him to do that? What did that do to him?

He was a man who, if he had an idea, no matter how half-brained it was, he put it all in. The fact that he had such rooting in the family because he not only was my husband and the father to his children, but he stepped up to be a dad for his sisters when his bio dad left. He stepped up to be their kids’ dad when things didn’t go well with their husbands and ex-husbands. He wasn’t just my husband. He was the lighthouse of our family.

Anytime that somebody was going through whatever storm or turmoil, he brought them back in. He made sure that they understood what a man was about. That’s being there for their wife, being there for that female person, or in some cases, their male partners giving them the understanding and the love that we’re supposed to do to one another and build each other up. It’s not about taking or giving all the time. It’s about making sure that both of your cups are evenly filled and supported. That was the best part of him.

It's not about taking and giving all the time. It's about making sure that both of your cups are evenly filled and supported. Share on X

He honestly taught me what unconditional love was. I didn’t understand it before him because I grew up in a lifestyle where if you did something correctly, you loved me. If you did something wrong, you don’t love me. You didn’t do this right. You didn’t do that. Everything had a string and attachment. With him, there were no strings and manipulation of love. It was unconditional. It was amazing.

Telling him I had faith in what he was doing and being supportive in that wasn’t just about the words. When he signed on to do that, I ended up having to take classes to learn how to dispatch loads. I learned how to double-check a truck and go over things. I learned how to handle all the finances and all the stuff that had to be done. I did all the office work while he did the manual work.

When we got to go in the truck and be out there together, I learned how to unload a truck, strap down the stuff in the truck, pull the curtains, and do everything that had to be done with it. The only thing I wasn’t comfortable with was driving that bad boy. We were a partner in everything that we did. He made sure that I always felt that it wasn’t just his. It was ours. That was the biggest part of it.

Everything was together.

If we weren’t physically in the same area, he had eight Bluetooth. We killed those things on a daily basis. People used to think I was as crazy as a loom because I’d be grocery shopping with this little bitty thing in my ear, going, “I’m looking at this. This is what’s in it. Is this what you want for the weekend?” They’re like, “Who is she talking to?” It was him. We went shopping together, whether we were physically together or apart.

If I was at a doctor’s office, they didn’t have the video chat like we do now, but I wish they did. Everything was on the speakerphone for all of our appointments. If our grandson we were raising had a school appointment, and he was on the road, we were on speaker phone. Everything that we did was together.

Let me ask you this. Did you have any friends that were also married at that time? How did that look as far as describing marriages and the girls chatting? How did that look to you?

Sometimes, I wouldn’t put up with that. I said, “Here’s reality. You’re not me. I look at the bottom of my husband’s work boots. They’re worn after two months. Meaning he’s on his feet. He is walking and doing all of the stuff that he has to do to provide for our family. I respect that.” The crazy side to it is I never would’ve thought I would’ve been that girl, that wife, the one that meets you at the door and says, “Do you want me to go ahead and get your shower? I got your clothes ready for you.”

It wasn’t because he was overbearing or controlling. It was because the reality is he put work into his work ethic and what he did for our family. If that was the smallest way I could be there, that’s what I did as a wife. I supported what he did. I cheered him on when he was succeeding. When he was in a phallus mood and didn’t want to go and deal with something, I was the one kicking them in the britches going, “Is it that bad? Talk to me about it, and let’s see if we can problem-solve.” That’s what we did.

That’s why I didn’t want to be a wife. I have seen all the turmoil. Instead of growing in love, it is growing in hatred or despising one another for whatever purposes. We had a rule in our house. You never went to bed, mad. The reality, at the end of the day, you didn’t always like each other at the moment, but you loved each other regardless, and that was the best part of it.

In reality, at the end of the day, you and your spouse didn't always like each other at the moment, but you loved each other regardless. And that was the best. Share on X

You said you never wanted to be that type of wife. What did you envision that type of wife being compared to what it developed into being?

I have family members that, in their relationships, the men are here, the women are here, and they are talked to in a manner that I wouldn’t talk to my dog that way. If my husband says, “Jump,” It’s, “Okay, how high?” It was not a good setup for them. I was raised in an abusive household. If something didn’t go right or you didn’t do something, somebody was either getting screamed at to no end or getting smacked around. I didn’t want to deal with that lifestyle.

The crazy side to it is my dad raised me never to take a beating and never to take any crap, which was odd. I have a dominant personality. I will work a sixteen-hour day and do what I have to do. I didn’t need a man to provide for me in any way, shape, or form. I never thought I’d be a stay-at-home mom, but I ended up being a stay-at-home mom. I loved it. I loved being that support system for him. I miss it. At the same time, when our grandson got older, I was able to go back to work.

We became equals on the financial aspect because I always beat myself up that I didn’t bring enough in when he was like, “You are the master of our house. You’re setting up appointments, doing bills, balancing all these things, and making sure you’re providing for Sebastian. You’re there in all the emotional aspects where I can’t be because I’m physically out here.” I always was trying to balance that back and forth. I always thought of that wife as the ‘40s and ‘50s, where they leave it to beaver moms at home doing all this stuff. No, I’m more like Roseanne, where I’m going to work, and we’re sitting there going back and forth with each other. It’s more me.

I can relate to that. Many similarities are you ran through that. The household I was raised in was this male-dominant role, and seeing my mom in a subservient role. At the same time, I’m one of five siblings. My dad raised us not to take anything from anybody. It’s interesting that his behavior will be such, yet choosing to raise his daughter in a demeanor different than that.

I met my late husband when I was in the Army. It was obvious I was not sitting here waiting for you to come take care of me based on where you met me, but as time evolved, I did become a stay-at-home mom. When you have the right spouse, and you’re supporting, loving, and respecting, it’s a gift to show up and support them.

When you have the right spouse and you're supporting and loving and respecting, it's a gift to show up and support them. Share on X

I remember my husband coming home. He was a traveling electrician. He spent a lot of time on the road. I was like that when you said that. He worked for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. I remember him coming home. I would take his boots off at the door because he was tired. He could not bend over and do that. I was like, “I’m staying home taking her to kids. I can do this for you.” Because the connotation of before had so much negativity, I was like, “Don’t ask me to take off your boots. I’ll do it.” It changes when you’re loved like that because it’s not a chore. This is your part of this relationship. That’s how I saw it.

I’m a bit of an oddball. It’s one of those things where I finally felt like I fit in a piece of a puzzle when I never felt like I fit any place else. With him, things were easy. Because of his being over the road, we grew more with the conversations emotionally and mentally, and the physical part came. That is where the connection is hard because I’m used to him working on the truck. I’m there next to him and handing him tools. I’m under the hood with him getting greased up from top to bottom.

We did it together. Although when he would call out for certain tools, I had no clue which ones they were because I didn’t know the legit name. I know the made name I gave them. The real name for it is called an open-end crescent wrench. I call it C and O because one side looks like O and the other side looks like C. You can put it on the piece and twist it. It’s a whole thing for me. He had to learn my lingo.

If he wanted the tool, he was going to have to make it work.

He had to fill out a description form of what it looked like first before I could give him exactly what it was.

You meet several years later. You become this family. Where are his children and their age, and how did that blend work?

The night we met was his youngest son’s birthday. He had turned nineteen. He still lived at home with his dad. His second son, the middle child, was 21, and he was living out of state at the time. His daughter was 22 or 23. She was living close by. She wasn’t my biggest fan of me at all. I get it because we’re only about four and a half years difference. That caused a big old issue.

In all tens and calluses, I’m his third wife, but fourth marriage. He bought one twice. I told him he should have returned that one. Those other marriages weren’t good marriages. The kids had a lot of turmoil and stress left over from that. The second wife was not good to the kids at all. They were young when all that trauma started. I had to pay big time for a receipt I did not make. It was worth it because here we are, several years later, and they still call me Mom. They’re still here.

I think of every day and every moment how the pain of the past was whittled away. They eventually saw who you were. I’m making it up in my mind. Those are a lot of hard moments.

I am not going to lie. There were days that I’d be like, “Do I need to do this now? Can I throw in the towel?” I’d look at him and see that face. I would remember the conversation in the car, “If you love me, my kids and my grandkids come with me. That means you love us. You’re a part of something.” I wanted to be a part of that.

This may be a tough question. Being this nuclear mom now in this situation, can you think of one moment where you were like, “I’m winning like this?” You see it changing. Do you recall one instance like, “We’re getting there?”

When my youngest got in trouble with the law, he and I were only together for about six months. We were still dating, and he got into trouble. I’m like, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” He comes to me. He was like, “I don’t know what to do.” I said, “Here’s what we’re going to do.” He’s like, “What do you mean we?” I said, “We, as in you, me, and your father. This is what we’re doing.” He goes, “We.” I said, “Yes, we. Learn that phrase. It’s two letters. It’s we, meaning three people, two letters.” He goes, “Okay.”

I stuck by him. Even when he was pertaining to still wanting to do the same stupid stuff, I was the one that drove up and yanked his booty out of the house. He was like, “You’re not my mom.” I said, “You’re right. I’m not. I’m your dad’s girlfriend. I’m going to be the one that’s going to be here to hold you accountable for what you are doing. He might be on the road, but I’m here now.”

He finally gets in the car. The whole way back, I’m reading him the riot act. He goes, “Why do you care?” I said, “I care because you’re your father’s son. You’re a part of him. I love him, and I love you. It’s not changing.” He goes, “Really?” I said, “Yes. I don’t care how hard you make this. I’m not going anywhere. You better figure it out real soon. I don’t run.”

He was like, “You did the first time.” I said, “I may have, but I was young. Here’s reality. You got to understand. God gives us what we need when we need it. I still had a lot of growing up to do. That means you needed a stronger woman to be able to step up and do the right by you guys. All the stuff that I went through in those several years made me the woman I am now. That means I’m able to step up and step in where I need to step up and step in.” I stayed.

There was a whole lot of turmoil, flipping, flopping, and discussions that, I swear, we had to replace the roof a few times after the time we were done talking. It doesn’t change. Even now, if something goes on, I’m the first phone call they make. Both my boys call me mom, but my daughter calls me her Brandy, my Brandy. I’m perfectly okay with that.

When I talked to the boys about it, I said, “You guys have a bio mom? I’m never going to take her place. I never want to step on those shoes, but I am your Brandy. You can call me anything or whatever works out for you, as long as it isn’t disrespectful. When it’s disrespectful, you’re going to deal with the attitude.” They laughed. My daughter has finally come around, but unfortunately, it took her dad passing for her to see that I wasn’t here out of whatever. I was here because I loved him.

How did he pass?

He passed from COVID.

I’m so sorry.

On August 24, 2021, he started having some chest issues. We took him to the hospital to have a heart Cath done. He was there for two days. We know the person who was in close proximity to him who had a family member at home who was dealing with COVID at the time while she was caring for us. He and I were the only two in there. He got released on August 25th. He came home on August 27th. It spiked a high temp. He tested positive for COVID on the 27th. I tested positive on the 28th. We continued doing our life like we normally would.

On September 1st, 2021, he couldn’t get warm. His O2 count dropped so low that we took him to the hospital. They had to keep him on oxygen and transferred him from our local hospital to another hospital here in town, a big hospital. Within 48 hours, they took him from high-pressure oxygen to what they called heated high flow, which is pressurized oxygen that goes into them.

It was rough because the next step after that was a CPAP machine or BiPAP. After a BiPAP, it would be a ventilator. As they talked to us and gave us all the signs and symptoms of what everything was, I kept playing out. I’m like, “We’re at this stage.” I do have a medical background and I get it. The roughest part was to see him go through it, and God loves him.

You could talk cars all day long to that man but in medical, one ear and out the other. That’s what I was for the translation. I explained that to him. I told them, “When you’re talking about tests or doing stuff, call me and put me on speakerphone.” Unfortunately, for five days, I couldn’t be there. We video-chatted. I’d watch him sleep for two hours at a time on the phone because that’s where I was comfortable.

By the time I finally got released and got down there, it was frustrating because I knew what our procedures were for healthcare. They weren’t necessarily meant. On that sixth day, I finally was able to get him out of bed, get him an actual bath, clean up, get him in his chair, and get him to be able to eat sitting up. I got yelled at more times than I knew what to do with by that nursing staff. I said, “You all aren’t doing it. I’m doing it.” They’re like, “He can’t.” I said, “Watch me.” He felt much better. His levels started coming up. He started progressing better.

His O2 started acting weird again, which I didn’t know. With COVID, your O2 levels can handle at a lower rate in your body than what we normally have because normally we’re at 90%. He was averaging somewhere around 85%. He was still cool, calm, and collected, sitting there playing on his phone, doing his thing. Nothing ever rattled that man. We dealt with that for a period of time.

On September 18th, 2021, he started having bad anxiety attacks. Something changed. At the time, I didn’t know what it was. On the 19th, he struggled even more. They started talking about having to put him on a vent. He said he didn’t want to vent. He said, “If it’s a last resort, let’s see what else we can do. Let’s figure this out.” They said, “We’ll try one more thing, but there’s going to come a time that you’re probably going to have to go on a vent.”

That day, I became the biggest pain in his butt that you could imagine. I made him call every one of the family members and have conversations. He was like, “I don’t want to tell them what’s going on.” I said, “You don’t have to, but you are going to call them and have a conversation. You are going to know that could be the last conversation you have before going on a vent or a conversation in general.”

We called all of his siblings, kids, nieces, nephews, grandkids, and anybody with a cell phone that day. We called some of his friends. He had good conversations throughout the day. His anxieties eased down a bit, and he started doing better. On the 20th, I went down and took him breakfast. He was doing okay. We had a great day. I left late that night.

I went down on the 21st because the moment they started talking about a possible event, I quit work. I took time off, and I’m like, “No, I don’t know how long I’ve got with him. This is where I’m going to be.” I put my grandson on the bus. I went down, and I said, “What do you want for breakfast?” He’s like, “Bring me some real food because this stuff is for the birds.” I said, “Okay.” I stopped and got him some biscuits and gravy, a large coffee, and a sausage biscuit from McDonald’s. I was like, “I’m on my way. I got up there, and his O2 count dropped to 72%. He was like, ‘I got this. Hold off.” I’m like, “I’m not holding off.”

I kept watching him try to bring it up himself. I finally get on the buzzer. It had already been half an hour. I got on the buzzer, and I was like, “There’s something going on with the O2. We got a problem here.” They’re like, “We called it out.” I’m like, “Nobody is in here. How about sending respiratory?” Finally, the respiratory came in.

Altogether, it was a 45-minute difference from the time I came to the time they came in. They called in the support staff, and they said, “We’re going to have to do a vent.” He and I sat. We talked with them and made the decision for him to go on a vent. They said, “What if you can’t come off in two weeks?” He goes, “What do you mean?” The goes, “If you can’t fully come off, will you go on a trach?” He said, “Whatever it takes to get back to my family.” They said, “Okay.” I said, “Whatever you want to do, that’s what I’m going to support because I know how you feel about this.”

That was the first time that I’d ever seen that man scared ever in several years. He goes, “Whatever it takes to get back home to you, I’m going to do it.” The doctor talked to him for a little bit more. I could see the fear. She went to walk out to get the stuff. I followed her out. I told her, “I know what you’re getting ready to do and how you guys talk in a room. If you medically sedate him, his mind is still going to hear everything you are saying. That means his anxieties, fears, and everything are still going to go through the roof because he’s hearing your guys’ voices. I’m staying in the room.”

She goes, “No, you can’t be in there.” I said, “I know what’s going to happen in that room. I’m going to stay out of your way. I will talk with him only and keep it to where he’s going to stay calm.” She goes, “Are you sure?” I said, “Yes.” I walked back in. He was like, “What did you say?” I said, “I’m going to be in here when they do the vent.” He goes, “You are. They’re going to let you.” I said, “Yes, they’re letting me.” He goes, “You put her in her place, didn’t you?” I said, “This soapbox is a little taller than you can imagine. You know me.” He goes, “Yes.”

When they all came back in, they started talking about his wedding band. He had rheumatoid arthritis. His knuckle was big. I was like, “I don’t know if that’ll come off.” I asked him. I said, “Does your ring move around? Will it come off?” He goes, “Why?” I said, “When they sedate, we’re going to have to take the ring off in case anything happens. That way, you don’t have any burns.” He goes, “Huh?” I said, “If something happens, they have to shock you. You can’t have metal on you.” He goes, “Can you take it off?” He took it off and handed it to me.

That was the first time in several years that that ring had been off his finger because we had been engaged for four years and got married. Altogether, it was fifteen years, but only married for almost ten. He had the cross that his son gave him for Father’s Day. They said, “The necklace has got to come off too.” I said, “No, it’s not.” She goes, “What do you mean?” I said, “Once he’s fully sedated and under, it can come off. Until then, no, because that’s another step that you’re going to throw him for a loop.” She goes, “We can do that.” I said, “Fine.”

On September 21st, 2021, he took his ring and crossed off. That’s when I put it on. It’s only come off one time since then. That was only for my grandson for a situation he was dealing with. Other than that, this is where it stays. It’s not going anywhere. It’s staying foot. I talked him all the way through all of the stuff he and they were doing. I learned how to rotate him over and turn with all the mechanisms.

That started the two weeks in one day of pain because I couldn’t hear his voice anymore. I had tried. It was a hot mess. While we were waiting for the doctors to come back in to put him on the vent, I told him, I said, “I need to hear you say I love you. Keep this in mind. This is only temporary until you come back. This is a temporary solution for now.” I recorded it. It shut off before he said, “I love you.” I still had all the facial and other stuff.

I still have that. I play that from time to time. We talked about everything while we were waiting. Before he got put onto the vent, I talked to him, and I said, “I know you. You’re not a statistic or a number. I don’t care what they think or say, but I know you’re going to fight like hell on your side, and I’m going to fight like hell for you on this side until you are back. Understand that no matter what happens, I’m not giving up.”

I said, “I will be here with you. I will be through everything you are going through. I will be the one to make sure that things get handled the way they need to be handled. I’m not giving up, and neither are you.” He said, “I know. I marry you for a reason. You have always been my guard dog. You have always been the bull in the China shop to get stuff done.” That’s what I was.

For two weeks in one day, I make their lives a living hell down there. I drove them crazy. Every day I went in, gave him his bath, and lotioned him from top to bottom. I did his range of motion. I did all of his stuff. I kept him clean and turned. Everything is put in place. He had Christian music that he loved to listen to. Every morning when I would give him his bath, I’d go in, turn on that music, start singing, wait for him to wake up, and say, “You can’t carry a tune in a metal bucket. Why are you doing this to my ears?” It didn’t work.

I made the nurses and the doctors realize they were not going to walk in that room, come in, and be like, “This is negative.” I told them, “The moment you step foot into this room, you speak words of healing and positivity because that man can still hear you. Those negative words are not what’s going to rattle around in his brain. I knew what was going on. I’ve seen the signs. I was keeping up with the MyChart. I was following everything.”

I said, “If you want to talk about something we both know is going negative, we take it to the hallway. This is not the room for it. In this room, we will speak only to the almighty healer. That’s God himself because he’s the only one who knows how this plays out. That was the one thing my husband said when he got COVID. He wasn’t scared, upset, and mad. God had already won this. We had to wait to see what he was going to do with our bodies.”

We had that talk. When he went into the hospital, he said, “I’m okay. You got to understand something. God won that for us. God did this for us. Nothing manmade or otherwise will take me before it’s my time to go.” I held to that. With everything that happened in that hospital, doctors dealt with, and we went through, I held to that faith that nothing manmade or otherwise would take him before his time.

When I got the phone call on October 5th, 2021, his heart rate went up, and his blood pressure dropped. Before I left, I could see that he was getting tired. I could see the change in his eyes because I worked in long-term care. You see physical traits for when that person’s being called or when it’s time for them to go. I have seen that. I talked to him. I told him, “I love you. Nothing will make me stop fighting for you until you give me a sign that you’re tired and you’re going to take the call. Until then, I will fight like hell, but I will listen when you tell me.”

I did not know that two hours later, I would get a phone call stating that his heart rate went to 170, and his blood pressure dropped to 60 over 40. It’s a 35-minute drive from my house to him to be up in his room. Fifteen minutes later, I was up in his room beside his bed as they were telling me, “We can still do this.” I said, “No, he’s done.” They were like, “No, you don’t understand.” I said, “No, you don’t understand.”

The one thing that we changed on his code was that they could not do chest compressions for his heart because his ribs and lungs were weakened from COVID. It would’ve done more damage and caused him more pain. They could still shock him and put everything into the rhythm. Where his heart and all of his stuff were wasn’t an option at that time. I knew that was his sign.

I walked into the room and said, “Mr. Trapp, I told you before I left no shenanigans. This is shenanigan, but I also understand. I get it. You’ve got a call coming in that you cannot hang up and turn away from. When Papa calls you home and says the streetlights are on and it’s time to come sit on the porch and have a conversation, you got to go. I get it, and it’s okay. This doesn’t stop where we are in our life. I love you. That will never change.”

I called the kids. I told them, “I need you here in the morning.” They said, “What are you talking about?” I said, “He’s not doing good. I need you here in the morning. It’s time.” They said, “What do you mean it’s time?” I said, “It’s time. He was tired. He got that call already.” I stayed the night with him. I sang with him. I held his hand and talked with him. We had a long conversation that night.

The next morning the kids all came in. Everybody got there. I talked with them. We got around them. I explained to them. Sebastian is my youngest. He’s our grandson that we’ve raised. He has special needs. He’s on the autistic spectrum with a lot of other things after it. He came in and said he was angry. I said, “Why are you angry?” He said, “I’m mad because Papa is leaving, and God is taking him.” I told him, “I love you. It’s okay to be mad and angry. God understands that. You need to understand that the love that we have for him is because we love his physical being that’s here. The spirit of him is going to live on. That’ll be with God. The parts that he left with us continue to live.”

All of the good, stuff and things we can remember is what still continues to live on. I said, “No matter how many times we want him physically here, he’s here spiritually. When we do stuff that he taught us how to do, he continues to live on.” That’s how we teach the rest of them. He goes, “I’m mad about it. Why aren’t you mad, Mom?”

WRT 32 | Grief Transformation
Grief Transformation: He’s here spiritually. When we do stuff that he taught us how to do, he continues to live on.

 

I said, “I can’t be.” You have to understand something. Mom prayed for healing because I wanted him physically here. He’s my rock. He always will be. He’s the person that holds all my marbles in a bag. The Lord knows my marbles have gone all over the place. The thing about it is he’s getting something that we don’t have yet. That’s the ultimate healing. Your Papa will be able to run again, have fun and fish, and not get hurt, and that’s okay. We’ll continue to let him live on through us.

I talked with the other kids. I said, “You guys all have to understand something. He has been a character in our story for so long that he’s the leading character in my life. At this point, he’s going to become the narrator of my story because I know his words and actions. I know what he would want us to continue to do. That’s what we’re going to do.” That’s what we’ve done ever since.

I’ve taken all of my pain, trauma, and PTSD from dealing with COVID. I’ve turned it into being able to express it. If somebody else doesn’t have to feel alone, isolated, or frustrated and not know what to do, even if some of my cracked pot conversations are because they are sometimes, we can help them get through something. That’s all that matters.

Brandy, I’m so sorry, but I am happy for you at the same time. Thank you for sharing that. Can I ask a few questions?

You can ask anything you want.

Since you have a medical background, a lot of times, people hear the word ventilator, but I don’t know if they know what it’s supposed to do and what it is. Do you mind explaining a little bit about that?

In this particular circumstance, they put him in a medicated coma. His brain waves were all still there, but as far as his actual functioning, that was going to go on autopilot. Because his lungs were bad, the vent was put down his throat, and it created the flow for the oxygen, the pressure, to allow his lungs to open and close the way they were supposed to.

With COVID and being a previous smoker that he was, COVID started to harden the lungs. Our lungs are designed to open and close freely. With his, they were tight and could only open far. Because of that, when he was on the heated high flow, the respiratory personnel turned it up too quickly, which caused the lung to have a hole blown in it.

That created anxiety attacks and extra pressure, which led to the vent. With a vent, it breathes for you. It puts that amount of pressure that your body needs to maintain where it’s at. The plus side is that as you heal and get better, it weans its way down. It allows your body to have the rest that it needs. Unfortunately, in his case, it couldn’t heal the way it should have.

Thank you for sharing that. You mentioned Tim being the lighthouse for the family. How have you guys honored that? How do you see being in that space?

It has been hard. His biggest fear was that if something ever happened to him, the family would fall apart. Everybody would go their own way, and they wouldn’t have the unity of what is the family. I’m not even going to lie. I have struggled to maintain that and keep that status quo. Even though I have fallen apart and shattered into 1,000 pieces, the family is what I look after the most, even on the days when I don’t want to be here. I’d much rather be with him, but somebody needs to kick these people in the butt every now and then to get them back where they belong.

It’s been a process, but the whole family has felt the pain. It’s sad to say it’s a blessing at the same time that it is to look at their face and see that they miss what I miss. They miss that person they could count on regardless and showed them unconditional love, even in some of the toughest times. One of the things they’ve talked about that has been the hardest for them is that when they see me, they still expect to see him.

It’s been a real struggle to find my balance with that. They are connected to me, and I don’t want to cause them more pain at times. It’s hard for me to go around on certain days or aspects. My sister-in-law has officially told me and has said that’s not an option. You don’t get to go anywhere because you are the best part we have left. We would love to have had both of you, but we have you. We still have him. Because of that, I attempt to make sure that the nieces, nephews, grandkids, and sisters, that connection stay and thrive. We can sit and have open conversations.

We are going to be celebrating his 60th birthday on July 1st, 2022. His birthday is on June 29th. The family is going to get together on July 1st and have a 60th birthday party and a big family cookout. I wasn’t 100% sure if I was going to make it. They said, “No, that’s not an option. We will come to drag you there. You have to be.” I said, “I’ll make sure I’m there.” It is refreshing and sad for me all at the same time because when I go places and to their homes, I still half expect him to walk around a corner.

It hurts, but at the same time, we got little grandnieces and nephews now. They don’t know him, and they won’t know him the way the others have. I went to a birthday party. Ollie was turning one. He’ll never get to know my husband, which hurts. I have pictures of my husband holding him when he was firstborn. I will pull those out every time.

Every time it’s a birthday, they get a semi, truck, or something to do with a truck, whether it be an actual semi itself, a book of some sort, talking about trucks that go here, there, or everywhere. The cards are always signed, “Love Aunt Brandy, Uncle Tim, and Sebastian.” That’s how it’s always going to be. Ollie’s favorite gift for his first birthday was the most annoying semi that went around the whole day. He still plays with that. I continued to get the messages or the videos of him pushing it around, going, “Thanks, Aunt Brandy. His batteries are still working.” I was like, “You’re welcome. I’ll have another one next year.”

I’ve heard you speak about God and that call. How does your faith relate to his loss?

My faith relates to the fact that I know where my husband is. I know that he’s not in pain anymore. There’s going to come a time that I get to be with him. Unfortunately, it’s not as fast as I want it to be, but I’ll be there when God says it’s my time and I’m done doing what I’m supposed to do here, even though God knows I have no clue what I’m doing here. I would love an email or a memo of some sort, even a proofread, that says, “Yes, that’ll work for me. No, this doesn’t.” Email me. Let me know a little bit about what’s going on.

What’s kept me going is I know there’s going to come a time when I get to be with him. I’ve already told the kids, “When that time comes, do not stop it because I’m out of here like the Roadrunner. I’m gone. I got a man waiting for me. I can already imagine. He’s by the pond. There’s a bench. Everything in his place. I’m seeing you later. I’m going to be there. That’s my spot. I’m waiting. I’m getting there.”

 

 

It’s been a journey. I’ve questioned God and why he thinks that sometimes I need to have more issues on my plate than I can handle. I always joke and say, “God’s got jokes on some of the stuff he puts me through.” Everyone always tells me, “He doesn’t put more on your plate than you can handle.” I think he thinks I’m an all-you-can-eat buffet of problems at a comedy club. I’m locked in some days. I’m like, “Can I be excused from the table, please? For a little while, give a break, please.”

I get it. If I didn’t go through some of the stuff that I’ve gone through, I wouldn’t be able to help other people and be there for my grandson the way I am. There’s a reason why and a purpose. Even though we don’t understand it while we’re going through it, sometimes it’s there to help other people later on. That’s how I look at it.

I want to circle back to something you said. I hear this okay often. I want people to try to understand this. You said, “I’d rather not be here.” Sometimes people hear stuff like them, like, “Are they trying to hurt themselves? Are they trying to do something?” It’s hard for people to understand the difference. That’s not a self-inflicted wound versus where your heart is. Can you explain a little bit about that? I’m sure you’re able to. You know what I’m talking about.

When my husband passed, he was my everything. I didn’t want to be here any longer. I was a mess. I did not turn to alcohol or drugs, but mentally, I checked out. I went to work, came home, and laid on a couch. I did not mentally want to be here. I went through as far as getting all my paperwork, finishing everything up, and tying up my loose ends. I had the full process to join my husband.

The realization came in quick and hard, like a smack in the face. God made sure of it. I guarantee he did. With my grandson, there were some issues that hadn’t come up. I’m the only one that was there for him. I was the only one who stepped up to make sure that, for him, he was going to be okay. Even now, we go through a lot of stuff. Don’t get me wrong. My family is amazing. His bio family is amazing, but they’ve not been there the way that I’ve had to be there or, better yet, chose to be there.

When stuff happened the way it did, it snapped me out of that mentality because, at that time, I was only focused on myself. I was focused on how much I had lost and how much I wanted to be with him so badly. I didn’t realize that the people around me still needed me. I was broken and shattered, but they still needed the pieces that were still left behind because I was no longer the person that I was when I was with my husband. I’m something different now. A bit stronger but different.

In those moments when I said, “I didn’t want to be here,” I didn’t. I wanted to be with him so badly that it was aching and unbearable. I was able to talk about it. I was able to have those processing thoughts and to get it out there. The one thing that I’ve learned through this entire journey is the more you talk, even about the stuff people tell you not to talk about, that’s part of healing.

If somebody tells you, “I’ve never thought that way after losing somebody.” Who are you kidding? That’s a part of your process. It’s okay to think that way because, with the person who had us, we’re lost without them. Our brain does all these crazy thought patterns and all these things. It’s okay to feel that way, but remember that you are still needed, wanted, desired, and loved here by many others, whether you understand it, know it, feel it, or believe it, but they’re there.

 

 

Under the smallest expectation, all of a sudden, they’ll pop out one day. What changed for me was when I realized that it wasn’t any longer about what I was missing and wanting desperately. It was about what God had left for me to be designed for what I had left to do. Even though I didn’t understand it and didn’t know it, I look back now, several months later, and I’m like, “I get it, God. We had to go through these devastations, loss, turmoil, and pain to be there for other people who are still struggling.” People that are coming into it feel the way I did back then, and no one wanted to speak about it, but I speak about it.

I get it now more than ever because my mom lost my dad several years ago. She was a widow at an early age, much like me. I understood the loss of a father, but I didn’t understand the loss of a husband. When my husband passed, I was able to be there for my kids in a way that I didn’t have someone there for me back then. I understand what my mom went through and why she hung onto me tightly because I was the one thing that was keeping her sane. For me, I have Sebastian and others, but I have him in my home.

It’s on an everyday basis. It was a process. I don’t regret openly having those conversations about where my mental status was at the time because I know now there are a lot of people who go through that. Sometimes they don’t speak about it. When you don’t speak about it, it overwhelmingly takes over. Sometimes, that darkness holds on a lot longer than we want it to. I’m a firm believer. When you’re having those dark thoughts, shine them to the light because the light is where they get set free. The light is where you’ll heal. That’s where God wants you.

There’s something powerful about taking those thoughts that are trying to hover in your mind and releasing them. When you hear other people saying, “I struggle with that same thing.” It doesn’t particularly make it easier, but it takes the edge off. It lets you know this is what grief looks like. This is what people don’t always say openly, which is why the show is having these conversations. I feel like people that are struggling have had loved ones lost during COVID. There’s a different sense of loss of community and loss of people being able to comfort or support you. What are your thoughts on your experience?

 

WRT 32 | Grief Transformation

 

What I’ve experienced with COVID is I’m one of the blessed ones. I know that sounds weird to say, but I’m one of the blessed ones. I was able to physically be there with him. My kids are hurting because they weren’t. He could only have one visitor for the entire duration. At the same time, it’s one of those things I also feel guilty about. Did I miss something? Did I not catch something with me having the medical background that I have? What did I miss? What did I not do enough of?

When it came down to having to figure out the COVID status, I called a family meeting. The hospital didn’t like it, but they allowed it. They allowed the family to come down. We had a discussion on what we were changing, what we would change, and what we wouldn’t change on his COVID status. That was the first time any of them got to see him since he got sick. It was an eye-opener for them.

We still talk to this day. I told them, “I’m going to give you guys the opportunity because we needed to do this as a family for this part. He means so much to all of us. I’m going to let you know that last part, that if a decision has to be made to take off the vent, that will be mine only.” They said, “Why?” I said, “It’s because of the way you feel afterward. I knew what that feeling was going to be.”

I’m not going to lie. There are some days I feel like a murderer. I feel like I gave up and didn’t push hard enough for them to do something. There’s a reality to it. We exhausted everything we could. After I talked to my son about this and him telling me, “Mom, you did what you had to do for him. We’re not mad, upset, or angry with you. You gave him peace.”

I’m not going to lie. The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life is to know that I’m the one who had to make that call. I would’ve done anything to trade him places. They told me how much it was in his lungs. I begged to take mine. We are the same blood type. I will give anything for that man. During COVID, there wasn’t a whole lot that could be done.

I’m blessed because I was able to be there. There were many thoughts and processes that went on. Being the only one there meant that everything that you’ve seen and had to deal with relied solely on you. You feel alone. You try to hold it together. You try to walk in and have a smile on your face like everything is going to be okay. You’re reassuring them that everything is going to be okay. The moment that you walk where you’re not seen by anybody, you lose it. You break down, and you start to feel the pressure that comes in. It hurts so bad.

Brandy, I am glad for Tim’s words to tell you that God was in control, for him to tell you that his moments in this world would not be quickened or changed by anybody but God. I know we have to tell ourselves that when those thoughts creep in, but him giving you that solid word to hold onto. I’m sure even when it gets complicated, you’re able to pivot back to that and say, “This is true.”

It doesn’t stop the hurt sometimes. I go back to my husband’s conversation that we had. Nothing manmade or otherwise is going to take me before my time. If he was meant to be here, on October 6th, 2021, at 10:58, he would’ve continued to breathe. He would’ve continued to do what his body was designed to do, but in reality, he took his last breath in my arms. I told him how much I loved him, it was okay, and I would still be. Whether it would be COVID, a heart attack, an accident, or something else, he still would’ve gone home at 10:58 on October 6th, 2021. His place was already set. There are days that I’m okay with that, and there are days that I struggle.

You mentioned talking. How did you start talking on TikTok? How did that begin?

I started talking on TikTok when everybody on Facebook got tired of me posting.

Several people have told me that. It’s like, “Now that I’ve got done with the family of friends, I still need to talk. Let me move to someplace else.”

I always thought it was funny. Tim had TikTok. He did all of his own stuff on TikTok. I always thought he was crazy. I’m like, “That was a kid’s app. Have you lost your mind?” He is like, “No, it’s not. Look at this.” His TikTok versus my TikTok is different because, on his TikTok, there are Bible verses, Christian songs, preachers talking, and woodworking.

Tim loved to do woodworking. That was his hobby to pass the time. He would start looking at a lot of different stuff on there, but it was always comical for me. When he got sick, the family couldn’t be there. I did Facebook Lives. I would give everything out about what was going on and when I got there. I would sneak, hurry up, and do a live showing of all the equipment, and do the rundown to keep the family and everybody in check. On the way home, I would do a recap of the day and go through everything.

I had one particular so-called friend who’s no longer a friend, who was like, “If you have to post that much stuff about what you’re going through, you need mental help. I needed mental help. Did you not think about it? I wasn’t sound, to begin with. Now my husband’s dying, and I’m losing every marble under the sun. The man who held the bag of marbles dropped them on the floor. God, they’re rolling here, there, and everywhere. Are you kidding me?”

I went to TikTok. The first one I ever posted was on my husband’s. I posted for him, letting his followers, his people, know that he passed away. All of those who were sending the thoughts and prayers, I graciously appreciated it, but unfortunately, this count would not be giving anything else out. That was the last post that was ever posted on his account.

I went to mine, and I was like, “I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m talking to my phone in the middle of a car and doing this. This is how I am. I’ve lost my marbles. I don’t know which way they’ve run. If somebody sees one, please ship it back to me. I may need the marbles at another date.” It started going from there. It was like I was talking to him or talking to myself. There were times I would post a video, and I couldn’t even remember twenty minutes later what I was dealing with because the widow brain, which I thought I was getting dementia, was kicking in on top of COVID brain and everything else that I was dealing with I started talking.

I read the comments about how we’re here for you. We’re not alone. We’ve got you. You’re amazing. You’re this. You’re that. The positivity that I felt started to grow. I’m a person that I am who I am, even in person. I’m as raw as you can get, as nutty as a fruitcake. You never know what’s coming out of my mouth, even on here. There are things I probably share that I shouldn’t share, but it’s me. It’s rattling around up here. I got to get it out before it gets stuck. That’s how it’s processed. I’m not even going to lie. I’m blown away by the responses I’ve had from TikTok, the people, and the positivity in itself, all from an app.

I was blessed. I connected with a couple of the other widows. I was able to start going live, not in person, but on here. We started talking off of TikTok. When one of us was having a meltdown, we had phone numbers. I was able to go through and start cleaning my kitchen when we would get on Snapchat or Facebook Messenger off of TikTok to have that person to connect with, or sometimes we did it even on lives. I remember the first time I got decent sleep. I fell asleep on a live. They kicked me out of the box and put me in the comment section. I woke up the moment the live ended because I heard weird voices in my house. That wasn’t anybody I knew. It scared me.

Community is important to be able to connect with other people. You don’t have to qualify your statements. You don’t have to explain this. They already get it. I want to talk about what friends say sometimes.

I’ve been blessed at times because the friends I have around me stepped up. Some of them I hadn’t talked to for many years. They were here for me. I’ve also had some tell me, “You’re not over that yet. Haven’t you processed that enough? He wouldn’t want you sitting around and crying or being this way. You need to move on.” I need to move where? Move on, move forward, move up, move down? No, I need to move over because you, in my life, are pushing me sideways. No, I’ve had to stay firm in where I’m at with certain things.

Some people think that because you cry that you’re in so much pain and you’re going to do stupid things at times, but that’s not the case. Each tear that we shed, it’s a part of healing. We cry and grieve hard because we loved so much. The fact that love is flipped to grief. It hurts. I’ve had friends who were able to say thank you because I shared my story. They ended up with people dealing with the same stuff. I’ve had friends come across and say, “I never would’ve thought of that. I’m talking with my spouse tonight.”

Each tear that we shed is a part of healing. We cry so much and grieve so hard because we loved so much. Share on X

I’ve had friends who went ahead because of my age. I’m only 41. We never talked about wills or power of attorney. What are we going to do with our kids if something happens? Because I voicefully said everything that I was saying, it got them talking, thinking, and realizing that when that time comes for them, they don’t want to be left with their I’s not dotted, and their T’s not crossed. A lot of them started kicking stuff into gear. They started processing, looking at things, and buying life insurance. It is the grownup thing to do. It was a whole process.

I’ve had a lot of good friends who have stepped up and have been supportive, and I’ve been beyond blessed. I’ve had 1 or 2 tell me that I need to get my mental health checked out and a straight jacket. It is what it is. The difference between them is that they didn’t have love like I had. I feel sorry for them. That’s the difference.

When you haven’t found that one, that person that completes you, that balances you where your puzzle piece finally fits, you’re not going to understand it, even on the fact of loss to have that connection with another human being that gets you. If you haven’t felt that ever, that’s where I felt sad for them. I told them, “Give it time. You’ll find that person you’ll understand someday. I pray that you never feel the way I do.” I gave him grace.

Where is Brandy now?

It’s been different. I’m a hot mess in a basket case several months later. I’ve started dating. Has that been a hot mess and a half? We talk about widow brain and widow fog. They don’t talk about widow fire. That’s a whole other process in itself.

I’ve never heard of widow fire. What is that? This is adult-adult. This isn’t for kids you.

The reality of it is when your body physically craves your partner.

When you are no longer numb, and you come back to life going, you are thirsty.

I was catcalling the UPS man, the FedEx man, the Amazon Prime man, and the mailman. This porch has heard more conversations on me yelling at the neighbor’s delivery people than Lord knows.

It was bad. I was like a fifteen-year-old going through puberty again. It was a whole mess, but that balanced. Thank you, Jesus. I’m to the point where I’m talking to a gentleman, trying to figure out if there’s going to be chapter two in my life. There has been a lot with that one alone, on the fact that I’ve learned that some guys are not okay with a dead spouse. They would much rather have an ex. They’re intimidated by that.

I have not only painted a picture of my husband on how much I loved him, cherished him, and how good he was to me. We also had our bad times. I humanized it. We had a great conversation. It takes a lot to find the right person you click with afterward because you’re not who you were before your spouse. You’re not who you were with your spouse. You’re a whole new mess. Sometimes it takes a lot to figure it out.

It takes a lot to find the right person that you click with afterward because you're not who you were before your spouse. You're not who you were with your spouse; you're a whole new mess. Share on X

I’m in the figuring out stage, but I’ve got a good person that I’m talking to, trying to figure out where things are going to balance and go from there. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. If it does, it’s a whole new adventure. The fact that he can respect where I come from, the love that I had for my husband, and he cherishes the fact that I will have a conversation, which is weird. There are things I will see similarities between the two of them. I go silent at those moments, and he’ll look at me.

He told me one time. He goes, “If there’s something I do that reminds you of your husband, let me know.” I said, “I don’t want to compare you. I don’t want you to feel I’m comparing you.” He said, “The reality to it is, you’re always going to look for something you know and love, but I’m going to honor that you see something similar in me that you found in your husband because your husband was a good man. Your husband was somebody who helped you grow and know your value. If even a small part of that is in me, I know we’ve got a good thing going.” He brought his A-game and song. It was awesome.

He is talking, looking, and doing right.

One thing I have found in looking possibly for another person is I went the total opposite of what I have normally gone for. I was raised in a town where, and this may sound tacky and bad, you don’t mix. It’s old school, small-town mentality. My husband was Caucasian, an older man, thin, and petite. He was wonderful. The gentleman I’m talking to is a 6’3” big man, African American. He’s awesome. I’m learning new things.

I can relate to that. My late husband was Caucasian. We met in the military intentionally. When I started dating, it needed to be something opposite because, in my mind, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t trying to duplicate or have a replacement for him. My heart has space to love more than one person, but to make sure, in my head, I was like, “Nobody did look like Mark.” My friends are saying, “I wonder if she’s going to date somebody White.” That’ll be no. I’m going to need them to be taller because he and I were the same height. I was intentionally making sure I was trying to be fair to myself and this potential new person because it’s too much of a mind game. I can relate to that.

I have a widower companion who is a similar height to my husband and has a similar hairstyle. We go out on motorcycle rides. We do stuff. The problem with it is there are times that it triggers a grief wave. There are times that I trigger a grief wave for him because I’ll say or do something similar to what his wife did. We’ve learned to communicate with each other. We are amazing friends there, but it’s that. It’s like, “Do you want to go to lunch? I don’t want to go alone. Do you want to go for a ride? I don’t want to go alone.”

It’s awesome to have that connection. As far as a partner and a spouse, it is different. This sounds bad. I don’t want to be able to look, in my mind, play a game to where you see your previous. I’ve learned not to go with the traditional interests of people that I would typically go for. This world got many possibilities and many wonderful people in it. Sign me up. Let’s do this. Let’s figure out what life has to experience. It’s great.

I stopped looking at people, whether it be their size, shape, or color. I stopped looking at that and started looking at their soul. How do you treat me? How do you treat people around you? What person are you inside? How does that come out? That has made a huge difference to the people that have come in and out of my life. I’m loving it.

We have talked a lot, and I am grateful. Anything you think you want to say that we didn’t cover or a particular topic you wanted to dive into?

Whatever grief wave you go through, God knows we will all continue to go through them as we go on with our lives. Whatever it is, allow yourself that moment, give yourself grace, and know that each tear that you cry is a process of healing. Even though you may say, “Never,” in the beginning, know it’s okay at some point for your never to turn into a possibility.

 

WRT 32 | Grief Transformation

 

There’s a part where people feel like their love is equated to how much they continue to stay sad or miserable. They connect their love for that person to the sadness. The reality is we are connected to them because of love. Being able to say that their love was nurturing to me, and I’m still open to continuing to love, is more of an honor to them. Everybody is different. I’m not saying that dating or remarrying is the cure to widowhood or widower, but it does not often have to be the end of your existence and love to be open.

One thing I’ve learned is, like for me personally was like, “I’ll never date. I’ll never be happy again.” I created new friends. With my new friends, I grow and bond with them through conversations. My widow friends that I met on TikTok, my people I know in person, you create those bonds. You lovingly open yourself up again to have those conversations and stop shutting yourself off so much.

I am not the same person I was several months ago because we evolve, grow, and heal. With that, our grief changes. We learn to handle it differently. We learn to house it differently. Sometimes our grief is we feel miserable. We don’t want to get out of bed, touch anything, or do anything. No one will ever understand us.

The next moment with our grief is, how can I help somebody else because that’s what my person would want? How can we show the love and compassion they gave us to somebody else? How can we continue to give that outwardness that we were given once? It’s all about evolving. It’s about how we continue to manifest the love we had in the life that we have now. How do we heal ourselves in that process because it’s messy? Know that the pieces never have to fit the same way.

When my husband was alive, I had hair down to here. I was a little bit thicker. I cut everything off, started wearing makeup and jewelry again, went to the gym, and started doing a few things to be able to manifest my own stress and anxieties the way I needed to. We put our pieces back for ourselves. It’s a matter of how we love ourselves and put ourselves first when we haven’t done that in so long. It’s about giving grace.

We put our pieces back for ourselves. It's just a matter of how we love ourselves and put ourselves first. Share on X

What gives you hope these days, Brandy?

When it’s my time, I have a man waiting on me. Until then, I am going to live the life I know he would’ve wanted to have. That was laughter, joy, family, and happiness. It was experiencing things we’ve never experienced before because that’s what he was about, holding our family together as much as possible. My hope is I will continue passing his beliefs, joy, laughter, and stuff that he put into me to the next generation. Hopefully, they will continue that.

If you could talk to Brandy at any age or error, what would you pick and tell her?

I would probably go back to the little me and tell myself, as the 8, 9, and 10-year-old, that I was with all the trauma and all the crap that I went through. I would tell her, “You may not understand this, but what you go through in life is not always about you. It’s not about how this hurts you at the moment, but you’ll learn to handle it and process it, and you’ll learn to help somebody else.” Sometimes that’s what God uses us for because the things we go through at that age are not God’s way or working. That’s other things. God will find a way to put the joy, light, and life back inside of you. He’s going to find it through the happiness of your partner. Wait, you’ll find that person that was made for you.

This has been insightful. I’ll let you close us out with whatever words you want to give to the widowhood.

I will say that no matter where you’re at in your stage of grief, whether it happens or your months, years, or even a decade or two out, know that those memories you have that could be painful at one moment, they’ll be joyous again someday. Give yourself grace with everything you go through, and know it’s healing and it will be okay at some point.

Give yourself grace with everything that you go through and know that it's healing. Share on X

It’s different. It doesn’t always get better. It doesn’t always get easier, but it’ll get different. You’ll learn how to do it. Enjoy the community we’ve been given. Know that we are all on a journey of grief, but we’re all on different bricks and steps. Don’t ever compare yourself to somebody else because your experiences are your experiences. Have a blessed day.

Thank you for being here through this conversation. I am sorry for the person that you have lost that’s driven you here, but I’m glad you found us. I’m glad that you are now part of this hood. I’m glad that you are taking in these conversations and knowing that you are not alone and we are here with you on this journey. Please email and share your journey. Let me know if you want to be a part of this conversation. Have a good day.

 

Important Links

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