Following The Signs Of Loves With Gwen Wright

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Gwen Wright | Signs Of Loves

 

Trusting your own gut and intuition is never enough to keep a relationship strong and meaningful. You must also know how to read and follow the signs of loves. This is exactly what Gwen Wright did in her life, especially during her grieving journey following the death of his husband Doug. In this episode, she shares how she met her partner in a little town in Wisconsin, got married, got divorced, and got back together. Gwen returns to the exact moment her husband died, reminisces their most wonderful moments together, and how his death impacted her daughters. She also talks about how going into a grief seminar alleviated her challenging journey and her plans to establish a foundation supporting widows and single mothers.

 

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

 

Tina Fornwald

https://www.facebook.com/WarriorNotWidow

Watch the episode here

 

Listen to the podcast here

 

Following The Signs Of Loves With Gwen Wright

Our guest is Ms. Gwen Wright. I met her on TikTok. I instantly knew her conversation would add value to the widowhood. I am grateful for her accepting the invitation and the conversation, especially the day that we’re recording how important it is to her. Let’s get into this conversation. I want to hear from you. Please message and email me at WidowhoodRealTalk@gmail.com about how you felt about this conversation. Let’s get into it now.

 

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Gwen Wright | Signs Of Loves

 

Gwen Wright, welcome to the show.

Thank you for having me. I appreciate it. This is going to be a good opportunity.

I am grateful to have you here. You have already been part of the widowhood, and you’re part of this particular show conversation. For the world to know, I did start her slow key, high key on TikTok. I’m watching her share her journey. I wanted to highlight her journey and share how wonderful one is with the world.

Thank you for those words. I appreciate that. 2024 is the five-year mark of Doug not officially passing away because he was on life support for three days. Friday will be the day that we officially recognize his passing. This is the day when he went down on our kitchen floor. It’s the day that our life completely changed. That’s what happens when you become a widow. I’m meant to be here talking about this. That’s how I feel. This is going to be a wonderful way to honor him and continue to honor him.

We’re recording this on January 24th, 2024. That day is important for Gwen. The day it will air will be different. As people are reading, they’ll be able to know what that day is. Let’s back up a little bit in your life. Who is Doug? How did you meet? I want all of that.

Doug and I both grew up in a little town here in Wisconsin. I went to high school at the neighboring school. I’ve known him before I even had a driver’s license, around sixteen years old. I was dating this different boy. There used to be this arcade, a place where you play pool and had all the old arcade games, and a pizza joint.

When I was in high school, my boyfriend introduced me to this person in Osceola. I started hanging out more. We eventually broke up, and I still came to town. There was this boy who kept coming around. I was like, “Who is this guy?” Our schools were rivals. When the football games were happening, everybody went to them. We were at a football game. He kept circling around like all that childish stuff.

One time, we were at the arcade. He came down the sidewalk, he and his buddies, and they threw this football. He comes running down to catch this long-yardage football in front of me. I said, “Is that all you got?” I walked away. The next day, we were sitting in the arcade. A bunch of my girlfriends were there, and we got up and ready to leave. He grabbed me by my wrist, spun me around, dipped me back, and planted this huge kiss on me. That’s what he was like, “That’s what I got.” That’s how we met.

We dated when I was a senior in high school. He had already graduated from high school. When I was a senior at the end time, he was like, “You need to have your senior year. I don’t want to tie you down.” He broke my heart. I went off and did my own thing, but he was always around. Through other relationships, he always came and picked me up. He was my friend. We got back together, started dating, and moved in with each other. We bought a house, all of that, and got married. Through our marriage, I got bored, and we got divorced.

What age were you when you guys reconnected?

It’s 21 or 22 years old.

No, you are going too fast. We need to back it up a little bit. What was the transition to catalyst? What made you reconnect with Doug at 21 or 22?

I was in this relationship with this boy. It was not a good relationship, and I needed to leave. It was one of those relationships I needed to leave. I don’t know how to get out of this. I don’t have an out. I don’t know how to leave. Doug came and was like, “I’m going to get you out. He went to the house where I was living and started packing. He helped me pack all of this stuff, got me out, and moved me back to my parents. When we were there, I wanted to take every single thing out of this house. I was not leaving this man anything. I was taking the last light bulb from the sky.

I was like, “You’re awful to me. I am leaving you with nothing.” Doug said to me, “No matter how horrible of a person he was to you, he still is a human being. Please leave him some toilet paper, a spoon, and a pan.” I had to take the stuff out. He made me leave him a cooking utensil and some toilet paper. I thought, “He knew how to be human.” That was it. We got back together because that’s a good human. Leave this person who was horrible to you, but you still have to leave him something. He’s able to live when he comes home, and his house is completely emptied.

Even if someone is horrible to you, leave them something to live by. Click To Tweet

I want to make sure I’m understanding. Doug says, “I’m going to give you some space in your senior year of high school.” He stays a friend. Was Doug dating people at the same time?

Yes, not pining over me waiting.

That’s the part I wanted to understand. Is Doug being the guy friend and waiting on the sideline? He’s doing his thing, and you’re doing your thing.

He’s still doing his thing, but we’re still connecting. We live in a small town. You run into each other all over the place. You talk about that stuff. It was like, “I’m involved, and you’re involved. We can’t do this stuff.”

When he comes to get you to move out of danger, was he dating someone at that point in time?

At that time, he was not dating somebody. It was the opportunity for him to swoop in.

What did that look like? You moved back to your parents’ house. How do you transition from being friends to now making this a dating relationship?

He’s coming to pick me up and take me out, eventually, things where it moves into. I spent more time over at his house. He lived with his dad at the time. He grew up in a single-parent home with a dad. His dad raised him and his brothers. There was no mom. He had a mom, but she was off and not fully in the picture all the time, which makes relationships difficult when you are not nurtured by a female.

It makes relationships different when you have different upbringings, whatever those differences are. The dynamic of the family is seen differently. That’s a good point. What are some things or lessons learned that you saw there were differences in?

Women are more open to sharing feelings. For moms with sons, in my experience, I don’t have any boys, just girls. I watch how maybe moms interact with their sons. Sons feel comfortable around their moms. They’re hugging them and saying I love you openly. Doug was closed. He was great with humans and other people, but he was hard to be affectionate. He was good at taking care of me in the sense of, “I’m going to do stuff for you. I’m a hard worker.” He’s good at that stuff.

When it came to emotionally being supportive, it was difficult to have important hard conversations because there were abandonment issues there. He was raised by his dad, who worked nights because he had to take care of his boys. He had to do what he had to do. They weren’t always around. They took care of themselves. They grew up and raised themselves. He was wild. He was more of that wild boy, which was intriguing and attractive.

Those are characteristics that we learn. It’s differences. My husband grew up in Pennsylvania, which is close to a coal mining town. He’s work-oriented, a provider, and does different things. He was one of four brothers. His mom knows her husband and four boys have different dynamics. Their mother was present. With four boys and a man, they’re running that home. There’s a different male energy in that space.

Mark learned to be affectionate. He learned the type of softness that you need in a relationship with a woman. He would tell other people, “My wife looks nice.” Opening his mouth to tell me that directly, you would’ve thought somebody had stuffed a whole rock in his throat. It got to the point that I realized it was bothering me. I’m like, “Why is he telling other people I look nice, but he doesn’t tell me?”

I was out visiting one of my cousins, and her phone said, “Beautiful, you’ve got a text message.” I was like, “I am tired of waiting for him to do something and getting mad because I like him. I can’t be this mad over this one little thing.” I put that text app on my phone. I came on and said, “Beautiful, you’ve got a new text message.” He looked at me because it was a man’s voice. He was like, “Whose voice is that? What is going on?” I said, “You never tell me I’m pretty. You tell other people.” Do you know what he started doing after he heard that thing? I was like, “I should have been there. I should have gotten that text application a long time ago.”

Nobody is perfect. I see it as saying that nobody is this perfect person. We all have areas where we could touch up that a little bit. We’re all human beings. That’s great. When our spouses die, we put them up for sainthood. They were still human in the trueness of who they were. Thank you for being transparent.

Through these several years, I feel like I have fallen in love all over again with him now that he’s gone. The reason is that once he was gone, I realized how important he was, how much he did for me and for our girls, and how much I took him for granted. I would start talking to him openly. It felt like we were having this connection only because there wasn’t anything to come back. I could create this connection with him, even though he wasn’t able to return any of the conversation. It is a strange thing, but I felt close. There was this thing that made me feel closer to him, which sounds bizarre.

I’m making a note of that because that is something I want to dive into to help people who are grieving. We’re going to go back to 21 and 22. You’re dating Doug. How does the relationship evolve after that?

I graduated from high school in 1989. This is in the early ‘90s. I move in with him and his dad. My girls and I are living in the house that I lived in for almost my whole life with him. His dad had purchased this house when they had to move here when Doug was a freshman in high school. Doug graduated in ’86. 1983 is when they moved here. They’ve had this house for this long. That’s where we live now. We still live there.

Doug and I moved in there. We saved money because we both were working. We’re young. We bought this little cottage house across the street from where we live. We still own that. We moved over there. I wanted to get married, have babies, and do all of this stuff. He was not moving along. I thought, “I don’t want to be here, do this and pretend.” I was young and naive on all of that, thinking that’s what’s supposed to happen in your life. It didn’t happen.

In 1997, we got married. We were married for several years, and I was bored with him. All of a sudden, he became this old man. He didn’t want to go out. At first, I thought he was depressed. He didn’t want to do any stuff. I felt like he also didn’t want to do anything with me. This is now going to be vulnerable, and a lot of people may know about it.

You don’t have to tell those other people that we did the part.

I used to work in this factory. There was this person who was my best friend growing up. He was a male. He took care of me all the time. He had moved away and come back to the area. I was excited for him to come back. We started talking too much. I thought, “This could be a thing.” Doug and I were not getting along. He didn’t want to, but he also wasn’t forwarding forward like, “Let’s figure out how we can work on this.” We did go to marriage counseling a couple of times. I was like, “I’m done.”

We ended up getting a divorce. I married Randy. All the things that I thought about him and that I knew about him were not true. I was shocked. Life is crazy and can throw you for some loops. I got pregnant, and I had twins with Randy. We have twin daughters. I had one more relationship I had to leave. I say this stuff out loud and think, “I was not a good picker of men.”

Let’s pause there for a moment. How long did you and Randy date?

We did not date. This is a boy that I have known since I was thirteen years old, and I grew up with him. Every day, I talked to him. He was my best friend. He was charismatic, fun, and a great conversationalist. He knew every single thing about me. I could run into him in the grocery store here, which is crazy because he has nothing to do with us. I could stand in the grocery store and talk to him for two hours because it’s weird.

It’s a relationship stuff. What did you learn that made Doug a good partner compared to other people you had connected with?

He wanted to protect me. He respected me, and never in our whole being did Doug ever call me any name. He wanted to genuinely take care of us and me. Looking back on that now, I know that is the truth about the whole thing. I was young, and I didn’t see all of that.

Hindsight is fabulous. Those nuggets that we learn, I can see how it makes us cherish people more than we did before. Sometimes, it takes some bumps in the road to appreciate the simplicity of being simple or not wanting to do anything else. We don’t get that when we’re young. When we get older, we have the peace of being in the house with someone, and there’s no drama and issues; we value that as we live a little bit longer. I could see how younger Gwen had no concept of that. That’s something you learn over time.

 

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Gwen Wright | Signs Of Loves

 

I left my twin daughters. My sister is married to Doug’s brother. Our family has not ever been separated. Christmases were always together. I never had a different in-law to go to, and it was the same with her. This is how Doug and I got back together. After we were divorced, my niece was turning a year old. I wanted to go to the birthday party. I have my daughters. They’re already a year old. They’re six months apart. My twins are six months older than my niece. I didn’t know if Doug was going to be there. Doug also wanted to go to the birthday party, but right this time, we were not good at this situation.

I asked my sister if she thought it would be okay. She contacted Doug, and Doug said, “We can go and be in the same place together. We went to the birthday party. When we were leaving, and I was packing up my girls and getting all this stuff ready, he came over and started packing the diaper bag. He carried one of my girls out in the car seat and got them in the car. He said, “It’s time for us to have a serious conversation.”

We met at this park and had the best conversation that we have ever had in our entire lives. It was the best conversation about everything that happened to us from when we were younger, what we wanted, and how we wanted this to be. I was like, “This is what I’ve been waiting for with you.” I felt like that was a realization for me right at the moment, Tina because I was driving down the road. I was like, “I wonder if I’m going to have these moments of great love in the rest of parts of my life here.” When I’m like, recanting this story, that was a moment of great love that I forgot about that.

We were there. We were sitting on this picnic table. He was behind me in this river, lake, and sunset. It was glorious. It’s a great connection. I  kissed him, and it was one of the best kisses that I’ve ever liked. I can’t even believe I forgot all about it. We go, and I’m like, “This is it. We’re going to be back together, and this is going to be good.”

I see him driving down the road with this girl on the back of his motorcycle. I was devastated. I’m hyperventilating and crying. I thought, “How could you do this to me?” I’m thinking, “I left you before for this person.” I called him and said, “I can’t believe you did this.” You’re on the back of the motorcycle. He said, “Gwen, you have to end things with people. I needed to have a conversation with this person to say, ‘We are done. You are not for me.’ This is my person.” That’s what that whole moment was. I overreacted.

He came one night. He was supposed to play in this pool tournament. Me and my girls were at home. There was a knock on the door. I opened the door, and he was standing there. I said, “What are you doing here?” He grabbed my face, kissed me, and said, “This is where I’m meant to be. I’m not ever leaving again.” That was it. He came back. We lived in a trailer park here in this nice fancy trailer. When you’re young and you live in a trailer, people have this whole judgment against you. They’re like, “You must be trashy.” When you’re 65 and 70, and you live in a trailer home park because you’re retired, you’re rich.

You’re saving money unless you’ve done that already. We have as much space as we need. What has been Doug’s relationship with your daughters?

He took care of them from the time that they were infants. They called him Dad when they could start talking. He took care of them like they were his own children. When he passed away, they lost their dad. Their biological dad would come around, and he was not in a good place in his life. He still is an addict and an uncontrollable alcoholic.

I shouldn’t say that. He could function and go to work. I did not foster a relationship with him and my girls either. I left that up to Randy to say, “If you want to have a relationship with them, here’s all of their stuff. Here are their basketball and volleyball games. Here’s the school dance. You are more than welcome to take him to the father-daughter dance.” He couldn’t do that. I would always have to say to my girls, “I’m sure that your dad loves you because people who bring people into this world love them. They don’t maybe know how.” He’s sick and can’t figure out how to get himself help.

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Gwen Wright | Signs Of Loves
Signs Of Loves: I would always say to my girls, “I’m sure your dad loves you. Those who bring people into this world love them. They just don’t know how.”

 

When we got divorced, the judge said, “You have the right to be part of your girls’ life.” I didn’t deny that, but he said, “I can’t take care of myself. I can’t take care of them.” That was the most mature thing ever that he ever said. At one point, I was going to have him sign away his rights. Doug stopped me from doing that and said, “You’re not going to do that because that takes away all his responsibility of being the dad. You’re not going to let him get off the hook that easy.” Part of me was irritated by that, but I also understood that you don’t get to say see you because I don’t feel like I want to do this.

Randy is having to sit in his own hell. That’s what is happening. My girl had a good relationship with Doug. He coached all of their sports. His dad passed away a couple of years before he did. His dad was like my own dad. He was such a great person. They both get to live in heaven together. Doug and his dad were best friends.

Did you and Doug remarry? Doug comes, and there’s this kiss at the door. He says, “This is what I’m meant to be. I want to go back there with you.”

We’re together. We are hidden in this life in full force. He is taking care of my girls. We’re doing this thing. We sold the trailer and moved back to the little house that we own because he stayed living there. He was like, “I want my own child. We are having babies.” My girls now are three when Olivia is born. We talk about getting married. We never ever got around to getting remarried. In the State of Wisconsin, nothing is recognized.

After he passed away, things were very messy.  I, several years in, have things all tied up. All that stuff is taken care of. We have Olivia. We’re living in this little house. We have two toddlers and a baby in this little two-bedroom home. We were like, “This place is small. What are we going to do?” His dad was like, “Let’s swap houses.” His dad comes over and lives in the little house. We go over to this big house. We will do some renovations there to get things all done. We move in on Christmas Eve. I say to Doug, “We’re not moving in until every single thing is done.” He was like, “Don’t even worry about it. I’ll get it all taken care of.”

Olivia is eighteen years old. We still don’t have to trim up in my house. We moved there when she was a year old. That is on my list of things to get taken care of. We’re living over there in the big house. We’re doing the thing. We’re trying for like another baby. Doug and I lost a baby. I had a miscarriage after Olivia was born. We got pregnant with Morgan. Morgan was supposed to be twins also. I lost one of the babies early. Morgan stayed. We ended up having four girls.

The miscarriage experience, both of them. Can you share about that?

I felt alone in the one between Olivia and Morgan. I was at work, and I started spotting. I worked at a hospital. I knew all of the doctors and the nurses. I work as a patient advocate to help people figure out how they’re going to pay their bills and how to get insurance. I help cancer patients find different areas in which they can help themselves. I ran upstairs and was like, “There’s something that is happening.” I found my doctor and said, “I’m having a miscarriage.” They did the blood test that they can tell if your hormones. They were dropping. They were like, “Go back to work. Let this process happen.” I thought, “I’m going to go home.”

I went home and pulled into the driveway. He and his dad were out in the yard. I got out of the car and started crying. Doug said, “What’s the matter?” I said, “I lost the baby.” He hugged me like it wasn’t a big deal. I was devastated. It was such a sad thing. It was early, but we wanted to have this baby. I went into the house and cried by myself for a couple of days. I thought, “This is not like we lost a pet, and we’re going to go on.”

I went back to work. I didn’t have to go in and have any procedures or anything done. Nature did what it was supposed to. I was fortunate for all of that stuff. After that, I don’t even know if we even talked about it. When I got pregnant with Morgan, I was excited, but I was nervous. You go through that whole guilt stuff of, like, “Maybe I did something.” I know that’s not how it works. It happens.

When I was pregnant with Morgan, and I started spotting, I thought, “This is it. It’s going to be another thing.” Because I had twins already, when I would get pregnant, they would do an ultrasound as soon as you’re able to do that to make sure that everything was and there were not multiple babies. When I went in and had the ultrasound with Olivia, I was like, “Do not even tell me.” They’re like, “No, that’s a shadow.” With Morgan, they did hear two heartbeats. I was like, “You have got to be kidding.”

I went in and did an ultrasound right away. There was one heartbeat left. Your body absorbs that when you have twins. That wasn’t as devastating because I had a baby still. I thought, “God knows what is supposed to be happening because I maybe could not have handled another set of twins.” That was what I played in my head of why it happened. Doug was like, “We still have one baby.” That’s how he was. That’s what I’m saying about being affectionate in that way. I can hold you for hours while you’re crying.

He was able to ground you. Did you connect the word grief with the loss of having the miscarriage, or was it hard, and you kept moving on with life?

I did not think about that at all. I don’t think I even connected the word grief until after Doug passed away. I lost my grandparents when I was a young girl. I lost my favorite person. My dad’s brother was my uncle. My uncle Dale died by suicide. I was young. I was eight years old. I didn’t understand it, but I didn’t understand that at all. One day, he’s here, and all of a sudden, he’s not. He was cool to me. He was the coolest person. He had great long hair and was the complete epitome of the ‘70s guy. He has bell bottoms. He listened to this cool music and turned me on to Lynyrd Skynyrd when I was eight years old. He drove this motorcycle and lived in a bus. He was fighting life. I didn’t even know what grief was.

Let’s transition to where life went. I don’t want to jump to what happened.

We’re like living. We’re doing our thing. We talk about it every once in a while, like getting married again. We were in Walmart, and Doug handed me this little box. It was filled with all of these gumball machine rings. He said, “Will you marry me again?” I was like, “Yeah, I’ll marry you again.” We talked about it, and we would never pick a day. Was it that important? I don’t know because we were living together. We were doing all of the things that married couples did. We lived like married couples. We took care of our girls and raised them up. Morgan was ten when Doug passed away. Olivia would’ve been thirteen. Hannah and Hailey were getting driver’s licenses. They’re sixteen years old.

You mentioned this was an important day. Can you talk about what that is up to when Doug transitioned now that we have progressed in life where things were? I know this is important. I wanted to share that part because that’s part of your journey.

We had all of our issues like other couples. Doug’s dad had prostate cancer. He put things off, thinking that it was fine. It ended up metastasizing. We went to the hospital because he had this infection. We came to find out that he was at the end of life himself. We brought him home and put him in hospice. We have this little house on our property that we call the death house.

Was that the name before his dad lived there or afterward?

No, afterward. Doug built this house out of this little shed that we had. He was handy. I missed him, but I miss his handiness. He was such a hard worker. He took care of everything. He built with his dad this house. His dad could have been with us, but this was before his dad got sick. We ended up renting our little cottage house to some single mom who needed places to stay. That’s what that turned into. The state paid us. People could come and live there.

His dad’s living in this little house. His dad ends up being sick. We bring him home. They told us that he would last six months, but he lasted three weeks. I witnessed Doug taking care of this human being. He took care of us. He took care of our girls in these ways. I don’t know if he ever took care of me like that. Let’s say I’m sick. I watched him bathe his dad. His dad was losing his bowels. Doug had dignity for this person, and I thought, “You were incredible. I want to be like you.” If there’s anything out of being with him in this life, I’m going to be like that. That’s what I want to be like.

We lost his dad after three weeks, and it was quick. Doug decided to quit his job. He worked at this place for many years. He said, “I’m going to quit my job. I’m staying home. I’m taking care of you and the girls. I’m working at the store, and I’m going to drive a bus.” I thought, “How are we going to do this?” I said, “Okay.” How could I deny him that? I couldn’t deny him that. He lost his best friend, and he was like, “I am not losing any more of my life of getting up at 5:00 in the morning and not getting home until dark and doing all of this stuff. I’m going to live my life.” I said, “Let’s do it.” We completely live off of faith. Even to this day, I still don’t know how to make it.

He quit his job. He worked hard to become a bus driver for our school system here. He had some learning disabilities. He had a mild dyslexia. It would take him forever to do some things. He had to take the test for the written part of the bus driving test fifteen times. Finally, the person who was doing the thing said, “I’m going to walk you around the bus, and you are going to tell me all of the stuff.” He could do all that. They gave him his bus driver’s license.

The kids here loved him so much. I’m happy that for the last several years of his life, he was doing something that he loved. He got to be home, take care of our girls, and take care of our house. I worked here at the store. I own an antique store. He came here and helped me at the store. All of a sudden, something happened to him. He was not processing the grief of his dad at all. He wasn’t talking about it. He wasn’t recognizing. There was something that was going on with him. There was a little bit of depression.

Now that I know what grief is and how it hurts to miss somebody, I recognize it. I didn’t recognize it in him. I would say to him, “Do you want to talk about your dad?” He’s like, “I don’t want to talk about it.” He shut down a lot. He didn’t talk to me. He put a lot of focus into coaching our girls for volleyball and basketball. Our one daughter, Olivia, and he were inseparable. It was crazy. There’s an incredible whole story that goes along with that years down the road. They had this relationship that was completely amazing. They got each other. I was a little irritated by it. I would say to Doug, “You hogged Olivia. I don’t even get an opportunity to know who my child is.” He didn’t think anything of it.

Grief hurts. It is not easy to miss somebody who is gone forever. Click To Tweet

At the end of his life, our relationship was not solid. We were in how relationships ebb and flow. We were in a down part of i. I’ve already been divorced from him because I was bored. I had said to him at one point, “If you ever think about having to go and be with somebody else.” That’s how our relationship ended in the beginning. I was attracted to a different person. I said, “Please, you have to let me know.” He said, “We would not be getting back together. I’m going to one-up you. I’m not doing that. That’s not how I operate.” We were not in good communication. He was trying to figure it out.

One day, I said, “You got to get out of the chair and do something.” He didn’t want to work. He was still driving a bus, but I don’t know if he wasn’t feeling well or if he knew something was coming. I would say to him, “You have got to start taking care of yourself because our girls need two parents. You’re going to die before you’re even 55 years old. We want you around here. Please take care of yourself.”

He smoked. He drank way too much Mountain Dew. He was asthmatic. We have been through all of the asthma attacks and things before. When the weather would change, it would severely affect him. It would be hard for him. If he had ever would get a cold, it was scary. The year before that, he was in the hospital for a week. I kept saying, “I can’t do this by myself.”

I was trying to take care of our house, get our kids to all of the sports, and do the things. I said to Doug, “I got to give up. I’m not taking them to the game.” He was like, “You are going to do this, Gwen. I believe in you. You can do this. You are capable of taking care of all of this stuff. Get your ass in that car and take our daughters to all of their stuff that they need to do.” I was like, “Okay, I can do it.”

Little did I know, he used that every once in a while while I had these moments. I remember him saying, “I’ll believe in you. You can do this.” At the end of our relationship, we were down. One time, I said, “Do you want me to leave? What do you want me to do?” He was like, “I don’t even care what you do.” This was two weeks before he passed away.

There’s that stuff that sticks with you, and I’m at peace with it. At 7:00 in the morning, I was driving. Our twins had volleyball practice early in the morning. I left to bring them to volleyball at 6:30. I got up, and Doug had a hard time breathing. I said, “Are you okay?” He said, “I’m going to be fine.” He’s doing the thing. He always could get himself out of it. I said, “This seems serious, Doug. Do you want me to take you to the hospital because I’ll drive you to the hospital?” He was like, “I got it under control. I’m going to be fine.” I said, “I’ll call you an ambulance.”

I trusted that. I had to trust what he said because that’s what he said. I left to drive our girls to school. I stopped at the gas station and got a cup of coffee. I was putting gas in the car. Olivia called and said, “You have to come back home because Dad can’t breathe. He can’t drive the bus.” Normally, he would drive, and he would bring Olivia and Morgan in on the bus. The bus is running. It’s in our driveway. Our buses can stay at your house.

The bus is running. Olivia and Morgan are going to get ready to get on the bus. Doug is going to drive them to school. I wonder if the stuff that I remember is true. I know I was at the gas station pumping gas, but was I pumping gas when the phone call came? I had to finish pumping gas. Olivia called me, and she screamed, “Dad is on the ground. I can’t get him up.” I said, “I’m on my way, Olivia.”

It was snowy here. We were not having a snowstorm, but it was icy. It was snowing. We were in the middle of this polar vortex. It’s freezing cold. I drove 75 miles an hour. Every single person who was on the road was gone. We’re eight miles out of where we are. I had a clean shot of my house. I didn’t have to be honking. I don’t think I did. I think I drove. I said to Olivia, “Go and get grandma.” Doug’s mom has been living in this little house since his dad passed away. His mom is now there. He had a stepdad. His mom and stepdad are living in this little house. They’re up here, and they’re living there.

I said, “Go over and get grandma. Olivia, I need you to call 911. I need you to listen to what the lady says to you.” I told the 911 operator to call Olivia. I don’t even know. I rattled off Olivia’s phone number. To this day, I cannot tell you my daughter’s phone number. I don’t even know what it is. They called her. I called and said, “You have to get somebody to my house. My husband is dead on our kitchen floor.”

She was like, “What?” I was like, “My girls are home. You don’t understand. I know that he’s dead, and my daughters are there with him. You have to get somebody there. Call my daughter and tell her what to do. Here’s her phone number. I’m going to hang up.” She’s like, “No, you have to tell me.” I go, “Here’s our address. I’m going to hang up because I have other people to call. I have to use two hands to drive safely.” She said, “I need you to slow down. We’re not calling an ambulance for you.” I said, “You don’t understand. My girls are there.”

I hung up the phone, and there was a gentleman who was a friend of mine and a vendor here in my store. He lives by us. He is never awake in the morning. I called him. I said, “Jim, you have to get to my house now. Doug is dead on our kitchen floor. I know that he is. Get there. If you get there before me, I need you to get there and be there with Olivia and Morgan.”

I got to the house. I walked in, and he was on our kitchen floor. His mom was patting him on the face. She’s trying to wake him up. I yelled to the 911 operator because she was on the phone. I said, “I’m here in my mind.” I think that this is what happened. I threw the chairs out, jumped on top of them, and started giving him CPR. We did that, and he threw up death in my mouth. I knew that he was gone. We kept doing it. I had to switch with his mom. I said, “You got to do this because I got to do chest compressions.”

I don’t know what was happening with Olivia and Morgan. Even to this day, I don’t even know what they saw and went through. Morgan said some things to me, such as Olivia was in the bathroom hating her head on and saying, “No.” Morgan was ten, and Olivia was thirteen. She witnessed her dad and best friend in the world go down.

The EMTs got there, and My friend Jim came. We were all in the living room. We live in a small community with 2,500 people. Every single person knows each other by their first name. I know everybody in our fire department, EMTs, nurses, and doctors. The person who was in our kitchen trying to save Doug’s life, Doug was on a basketball court with him two days before coaching his daughter. I’m yelling at him like, “Adam, you have to do the thing.”

They put the chest compression machine on him. They said to me, “Don’t look back.” I did. They said, “Take your girls, go to the living room, and don’t turn around.” I turned around. When they were doing that thing, all the fluids were coming out. I thought, “We’re not getting him back.” They got a pulse back. I thought, “Could this even be happening?”

They got a pulse back. We went to the hospital. We’re here at the hospital. I called my parents and my sister. She called her husband, who is Doug’s brother. We got all of the people there. I had to send Jim to the high school so he could get the twins. They thought our dog died. They had no idea that it was their dad.

I was supposed to go on a lunch date with a girlfriend. She had lost her husband a year before in a heart attack. I called her and said, “I can’t come to lunch. Doug had a heart attack.” She was there for me throughout the whole process of the day. I used to have meetings with the doctor who was there when I was working at the hospital. I’m yelling at him. I’m calling him by his first name. I’m like, “Eric, you’re going to do every single thing you can to save him. You’re going to save his life. We have girls. You’ve taken care of all of us. You’re going to save his life.” He’s screaming, “Somebody gets Gwen out of here.” It’s like what you see in a movie.

I had to leave. I remember my dad coming and telling me that I needed to calm down. I used some language towards my dad that he has forgiven me for because in the moment of it. I thought, “How dare you tell me to calm down? Our whole entire life is getting completely uprooted here.” We were there in our local little hospital for an hour. I don’t even know. He kept going in and out. They would lose a pulse.

They sent him down to Regions, which is a big trauma hospital for us here down in cities down in St. Paul. That’s where we spent most of the day trying to figure things out and what happened. He had an asthma attack because your body was forcing itself to breathe heavily. It causes kidneys to produce too much potassium, causing him to have a heart attack, and he was without oxygen for too long.

While we’re all down there and the doctors are telling us all this, immediately my girls knew what that meant because back in October, we had this dog that had this weird heat stroke seizure. We brought the dog to this emergency vet. They were going to put the dog on life support because her brain was swelling, and she was without oxygen. When the doctors were saying his brain was swelling, there was a brain bleed, and he had been without oxygen for too long, my girls immediately knew because we had to put the dog down.

Death is horrendous. All of the stuff that comes with it is unbelievably painful. There are parts of it that are incredibly beautiful and miraculous. I don’t believe in coincidence. That was supposed to happen to our dog, right? That prepared our girls. They knew. We were all in shock. That’s all that comes along with it. It’s traumatic. We all suffer from post-traumatic. At that moment, we were like, “We know what we’re going to deal with. We’re going to go on.”

 

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Gwen Wright | Signs Of Loves

 

We were down at the hospital. We got through all of the doctor’s stuff. When they show all of the things in the movies, when the wife or the husband is hyperventilating in a room, that’s all true stuff. I was in the emergency room, and I said to the doctors, “You have to give me something. I was begging them for something. You have to give me some Valium. They do that in the movie.” They give you something. They were like, “We’re not giving you anything, Gwen. Put your head between your legs and start breathing. That’s what I want you to do.” I was like, “This is not how it’s supposed to work.”

Because Doug and I were not legally married, I got to make the decisions, but I couldn’t sign off on any paperwork. His mom had to. Moments and stuff get to the family dynamics all come into play. My brother-in-law had to say, “You remember who’s in charge. She’s in charge. This is her life. This is her family. She’s making the decisions. It does not matter if it’s not on a piece of paper or not. They are married.” When the doctors and the nurses came, they specifically talked to me, but we would have to have somebody else sign the papers. That’s what happened.

It was respectful that everybody was able to work accordingly. During difficult times when emotions are heightened, it’s easy to slip and make decisions that you regret when you look back at it. I’m glad that the family was able to work together like that.

There were moments through these days. For three days, we were down there, and he was on life support. This is the day that I counted the first time that we had to say goodbye, and Friday is the actual day. 9:26 is when we went down to the operating room. That’s when he was gone. People got to come, and they got to say goodbye.

I didn’t leave that room. I stayed there the whole time. Because our relationship was teetering a little bit, I got to say so much stuff to him. I got to ask for forgiveness, and I got to give forgiveness. I talked to him for a whole 24 hours. I climbed up in that bed with him. I begged him to wake up. There were moments when we thought that we saw his leg move and it was the compression thing.

This is what hope feels like because we were like, “He moved.” We were all rejoicing about this whole thing. It wasn’t. That’s not what happened. That was the magic part of it. There was a moment when we thought we were going to get him back. I don’t know what he would’ve even been like if he would’ve came back. He would’ve not been himself. That’s for sure.

He became an organ donor. They had to come and ask us if we would give permission for him to be an organ donor. I was like, “Absolutely.” “Some other people in the family did not want him to do that. He has another brother who has a different religion than the rest of us. They don’t believe in that. He was fighting. That got messy. He was fighting it a lot to say, “We’re not doing this.” The nurse came and said, “It doesn’t matter what you all think. Doug signed the back of his driver’s license. He already gave permission.” We waited for a match. That’s what we were there for.

My girls are athletic. There was this big volleyball tournament. I didn’t know what to do. It was the first time I had to make decisions by myself. Everybody helped me through that. “My girls were like, “We would like to play volleyball, mom.” I thought, “Okay, you’re going to do this. We’re still going to live even though we’re down here.” They had to play down in the city. They weren’t far from there.

My sister took over and shuffled my girls to where they needed to go and be. My mom came here and ran the store. I stayed down there for those three days. People brought stuff. My stepsister brought me clothes. I did shower at one point. My friend Jim stayed there with me almost the whole time. He’s this older gentleman. He’s great. He knows about death. He lost his son. I was appreciative to have him there. He loved Doug and our girls, but it wasn’t his heart for the rest of us. He could help us see.

He wasn’t in that fall. He was there, but it hadn’t taken him over because that attachment didn’t exist.

He stayed down there with me. I talked to Doug about every single thing. It was incredible and heart-wrenching. It’s the worst pain that I can’t even imagine how you make it through. I can because I’m here.

At that moment, you cannot comprehend how you can even breathe another breath.

We are not going to make it through this. I curled up on the bathroom floor on the second night I was in there and wailing in the hospital. I didn’t even care if anybody could hear me. I was begging Jesus. I was like, “This death has to be purposeful. I don’t know what you’re taking him for, but you better make this have a purpose.”

All of a sudden, there was a knock on the bathroom door. The transplant nurse came, knocked on the door, and said, “We found a match. At that moment, when I was screaming out, she was like, “We found a match.” This wave of peace came over me, and I thought, “This is it. He’s going to go, and he is saving somebody else’s life.” Our family is gonna get turned upside down, but these other families are going to be able to live. That’s what happened.

By becoming an organ donor, even someone who passed away can still save somebody else’s life. Click To Tweet

The next day, we waited. The way that it has to work is incredible. What the transplant team had said to me is only 1% of people who sign up to be an organ donor get to. Not everybody who signs up can do it because all of the parts of the event have to be in order. Because he got brought back and gone and up, all of his organs didn’t die off. They were able to save him. They put him on life support. His brain was dead, but everything else was viable. It all had to work perfectly. That’s what happened. I get a lot of peace from that. I find it incredible that he’s gone. Part of him that is still walking on this earth in multiple people.

On that day, we came, and we all got to say goodbye. We had to send a message to the girls’ boyfriends and said, “It’s no time. They had to leave the volleyball and come. That’s what we did. We were all there then together as a family, said our goodbyes, and we were going to go down to the operating room. I was the only one who was going to go.

I said, “He’s not going down there by himself. There’s no way I am letting him be down there by himself. I am going to hold his hand. He’s not going to be alone with strangers. We are not doing.” My sister said, “Can I come too?” I was like, “Absolutely.” His brother said, “I would like to be there.” His stepsister said, “I would like to be there also.” I was like, “Come on.” I did not let our girls go down there. Part of me wonders if that was the right choice, but it doesn’t matter now because it’s too late.

You made the best choice you could at that decision.

I would’ve wanted them to be in there.

It was intense. You’re not sure if they had the emotional bandwidth to manage what that would do to them. You needed to be a mom and wife while trying to make those. That duality is tough.

We went down there. Before we brought him down there, I said, “When they unhook you, please don’t wait. I said, “I want you to go as fast as you can. Run to Jesus and get there.” I want you to get there.” The chaplain comes. We’re not a religious family. I believe in a higher power. There’s a heaven because I’ve been shown it numerous times. I believe that there is something. I call Jesus God, universe, and spirit. I call him GUS. I think that is a girl.

Have you seen the movie The Cabin?

I have not.

That is a good movie. There are points in there where they show God as a female persona, and we may need both. I can see that. If we came from God and there’s a male and female, there’s something to be considered with that.

God is all around. The chaplain comes before we’re going to go down there. He has a thick accent. He couldn’t say, Douglas. He kept calling him Douglas. He’d be like, “Douglas, we’re praying over you.” At one point, we started laughing, and he started laughing too. He was like, “I’m sorry.” We were like, “Who’s Douglas?” He would try to say Doug again. We were laughing. It was those moments when you’re life is turning on its end, and we’re having this whole laughing moment with the chaplain at the hospital.

We’re on our way. We go down to the room. We’re getting ready. We have to put all these big white gowns on. The nurse said, when you start crying, you have to pull your mask out.” We were like, “Okay.” She said, “Otherwise, it’s going to get filled with snot.” Before we go down there, we all say a prayer. We listen to some music. We’re walking down this long hallway. It was the most bizarre feeling. I thought, “Is this what people feel like when they’re on death row?” I also had this moment where I thought, “This is like Willy Wonka. We’re like these Oompa Loompa.”

We were walking down this hallway. We had to knock three times at the door. The people knew that we were coming. I thought, “This is bizarre.” We go to this big light filled with all of these surgeons and nurses. He is lying on this gurney. He is all hooked up. This music is playing in country music. Doug loves country music. It’s not my thing, but I was like, “Play the country music for him. We’re listening to country music. They’re like, “What would he like? I was like, “He would like country music.”

Country music is playing in the background, and I don’t even know what song it was on. We’re there. They unhook him. You can watch the monitors start to go down. His heartbeat is stopping. I started yelling, “I am not ready. You have to hook him back up. You can’t do this. I can’t have this to be done. We’re going to keep him on here and hang onto him like this. I’m not ready to let him go.” I completely panicked about it. ’cause I thought I was ready, and I wasn’t.

All of a sudden, everything stopped, and he wouldn’t progress. It was like he was there in this limbo thing and he wouldn’t progress. We’re all crying. We started yelling, “Pull the mask.” My brother-in-law was like, “I have snot.” We have these moments. We’re sitting there and waiting for him. I’m waiting for Doug. He’s not doing anything.

I started tapping his arm. I was bored. It was one of those things like, “Why are you not doing anything?” The surgeon said, “Gwen, tell him. You have to tell him that he can go.” I said, “I’m good, Doug. You can go. I’m going to take care of the girls. We’re going to be fine and live a happy, joyous life. We’re going to be fine. You to run to your dad. Please run to your dad and find him. Find Jesus and run to your dad. That’s the only person that you need up there.”

As soon as that happened, all of a sudden, he was gone. It was incredible. It was the most beautiful heartache I have ever witnessed. It’s more than when I birthed my children. You are seeing somebody enter the other side. It was amazing and awful. We turned around and walked out the door because they had to get ready to do what they were going to do. We left and walked out.

We went back up to his room. We went into that hospital with a person and came out with a bag of his belongings. The nurse held my daughter. All of a sudden, Olivia’s whole being changed when we were walking out of that room. I said, “That lady gave you back your power, didn’t she?” She said, “Yep, she did.” To this day, I don’t know what she said. I don’t know what their conversation was. I thought I didn’t need to know because that is something that can be private between Olivia and her.

Doug’s mom was like, “She could have softened it.” I go, “No, I needed that. I needed somebody to tell me the truth. I don’t want something to pretend. My girls didn’t need anybody to pretend for them. We needed somebody to tell us the truth about what was happening. I appreciated that.” We had this male nurse down there. He was my protector. There were a couple of moments where I needed to have somebody to be there and stick up for me. He was kind. He said, “How do you feel about me shaving him?” Even though he was on life support, he needed to shave. I watched this man gently shave his face. I thought that was incredible. I got to witness many amazing things through this. Humans are incredible.

I want to say thank you for being willing to share all of that. Sometimes, we can talk about that, and it doesn’t bother us at all. Sometimes, it’s like we’re right back there at that moment. I know you wanted to share to be able to help other people and to know that they’re not alone and other people go through this. I wanted to say thank you.

You mentioned something when we first started talking about how much it seems like you remember everything up to that. The year after that often seems to be foggy about what happened after those pieces. It’s also interesting how that moment can be big that you talked about how it almost swallows up some of the good moments that you had. The moment you remember Doug being there at the park and talking to them. It takes a while for us to be able to recapture. Have you thought of any other wonderful moments that you’ve had with Doug that seemed like grief had taken them and swallowed the memory that is coming back for you now?

There were moments when we were coming back, and I was like, “I was mad at you. Why couldn’t you have been more affectionate?” There was a time when I remember we had this dog when we were young. I loved this dog. When Doug bought me this dog, I thought,” You got me a yippy dog. What were you thinking?” It was always like he knew what was best for me when I didn’t know what was best for me.

He bought me this dog, and this dog got hit by a car in front of me. That was traumatic. I cried for days. Doug worked nights. I went into the house, and I was hyperventilating. I was like, “The dog got hit by a car.” He went out with this bucket of soapy water and scrubbed the road. I didn’t have to look at the spot where our dog got hit by this car. It came back up.

When Hannah and Hailey were little, they both had RSV. They wanted to send one to the cities, and one was going to have to stay here. I was like, “They both are going to be together. This is what has to happen.” We were leaving the hospital. Doug said, “I’ll be back to get you.” I was like, “Where are you going?” He went home. We walked into the house. It was this bleach company that came to the house, but he was disinfecting every single thing at the house because he wanted to make sure that all of it was clean. I thought, “Who does that?”

All of those memories came back and started flooding me. I thought I forgot about all of that stuff because those are not also things that you think about on a regular basis in your relationship. You don’t take time to stop and be like, “Why did I fall in love with this person?” Most of the time, we don’t do that. I have a friend who is intuitive. She has a strong connection with me. Three days after Doug died, when we were home, I got this phone call. It had a Michigan number on it. I didn’t know anybody from Michigan. I had no idea who that was. This was at 9:30 at night.

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Gwen Wright | Signs Of Loves
Signs Of Loves: When someone dear to you passes away, many memories will suddenly come back, especially those things you do not simply think about regularly in a relationship.

 

I pick up the phone. I was like, “Hello.” I heard her. She was like, “Gwen.” I was like, “Erica, what are you doing?” She goes, “I’m at my mom’s in Michigan. What happened?” I said, “Doug died.” She said, “I knew something was going on.” We started talking. She said, “I need you to know that he is going to love you hard from heaven the way that he wanted to love you while he was here on earth but wasn’t capable of it.” I thought, “How would you know that?” It’s been the truth. That was a moment where I thought it was okay to go back and remember all of those good things and the stuff that he’s shown me. He has to be a believer in signs. The stuff that he has shown me from heaven is incredible.

Can you share one with one of them?

He visits me in dreams a lot. Several days after he was gone, I had this vivid dream of him, but he was in these Army tanks. I don’t know anything about the Army. All these Army tanks came into our yard, and he jumped off this Army tank. All of a sudden, I was like, “You better run out. You’re back.” He kissed my forehead and said, “No, I’m just passing through.”

There was a time when our water downstairs in our basement could not shut off. I would be like, “I need you to shut this off.” In my dream, I hear this rustling downstairs. I thought, “What the heck is that?” Here comes Doug, walking up the stairs and fixing this stuff. After he passed away, we were in the middle of this polar vortex. Bees don’t live in the winter.

Most of the time, no.

This bee came to our house.

This is a wake or the dream.

This is a real thing. I write all this down. I have all these things and stuff that happened to us. This bee came, and I thought, “That’s strange. What would that be doing here?” Another one came the next day, and I thought, “This is something.” We looked this up. There’s this whole tail that bees are messengers to heaven. They will deliver messages. If a bee shows up after somebody passes away, that means they’ve crossed over. Do you know how a lot of people see the cardinals? We get the signs in these bees.

My plan with my TikTok page is to share more of the stuff I’ve written. I’m open about my feelings, the things happening, and the bees. Every person in our community knows all about them, but they’ve also got to witness it. When Olivia was having her senior prom, I said to Doug, “You better show up. You’re going to be there for her.” That night before, I’m sleeping. I’m running and chasing after this thing. I thought that I was looking for Olivia in the dream. I thought, “No, that’s not what I’m looking for.” I knew that he was there.

Our prom ends up always being on this boat, and it’s down by this river. That’s where we have a prom. He’s like an angel. He did say this to me in the dream. He goes, “Look what I could do.” He tightens up and turns himself into this form. I could touch him in that dream. I could hold onto him because normally, I could hug him. He could touch me, but I could never do that. It’s incredible.

This is now real life. The next day, we went to prom, and I waited for him to show up. Olivia is standing there, and she looks at her corsage. I knew what happened. Here comes this bee, and it lands in her corsage. She said, “Mom, he’s here.” The bee stayed there the whole time that she was out there taking pictures. The kids who are around her also understand the whole bigness of this. There are parents who are out there crying because the bee came. It was April. This one boy said, “They’re not insects yet. Insects are not here yet in Wisconsin.” Here comes this bee who stayed there the whole entire time.

There are other things that happened. One time, I had to get a windshield wiper. It cost me $40. I don’t have this extra money, but somebody came here. All of a sudden, $40 gets dropped off. That’s the universe. That’s him working through, like, “I’m taking care of you girl.” There are many beautiful moments that come out of loss if you are noticeable. You have to be open to it and see that because loss is awful. Hopefully, you’re lucky to have a community that is going to surround you. I lucked out in that department.

Many beautiful moments could come out of losing a loved one if you are just open to them. Click To Tweet

That is important as you talk about people’s community. Having community has been a large part of your ability to continue living.

I didn’t cook for two weeks because everybody fed us. They did a meal train. We didn’t make a meal at all. I had to say, “Could you please feed my sister’s family because they also are suffering this loss? My nieces lost their uncle, and my brother-in-law lost his brother. My sister is also grieving.” They were like, “Sure.” They took care of us. There’s a restaurant here that I love. They were like, “We’re going to feed you.” One time, I said, “I would love a CSA.” We live in this farming community.

CSAs are farmers who grow the food. All of a sudden, the local farmer came in and said, “Gwen, we’re going to gift you this CSA.” I was like, “What?” I said this by myself in the car. She’s like, “We’re gifting you this.” I got free fresh farm food for the entire year. That fed our family. Somebody started to GoFundMe for us because we didn’t have life insurance. We were young. It’s not something that you think of. We didn’t think of that. Doug was 50 years old. I wasn’t even 50 years old.

Life happens quickly.

It doesn’t matter how old you are.

Does it feel like several years?

When you say several years, it seems like such a long time. It doesn’t seem like a long time at all because I could talk about things. It feels like it was yesterday, but not that pain. The pain doesn’t feel like that. Thankfully, that lessens. Thank God that goes away. Did I cry this morning? Yep. I sat in the car. I call them parking lot cries, where I’m stuck in my van, and I can’t get out. I’m in a parking lot, and I’m crying. I did that this morning, but not for a long time. It wasn’t like one of those hard sobs, but it was tears that I shed for him and for myself.

There are still moments where you feel sorry for yourself, or you think like, “I can’t believe this happened to us. Why did this happen to us?” Throughout the day, I felt good. I have given myself enough grace to know that I have to take care of myself and that I’m worthy enough to, like if I need to have the moments, I’m going to take the moments. I’m not going to stifle them. If the tears need to come, they’re going to come. I’ve given myself a lot of permission to do that. I’ve given myself and my girls that permission. If you have to take a moment, you take that moment.

Take those moments for yourself after losing a loved one and permit yourself to grieve. Click To Tweet

Olivia was on a basketball court one time. I don’t know if she was a freshman. She was playing a varsity game. It was on an anniversary date. All of a sudden, she was out there. I don’t know if his presence was big. She said, “I got to come off.” Her coach recognized. I was open with our coaches. They all knew. They said, “Come on.” She sat on the bench and cried. I watched her. It wasn’t like a sob as you got hurt. It was that deep sob of like, “I need him here.” I went down to her and said, “You need a moment.” She said, “I need a moment, mom.”

Be brave in front of the entire school, peers, and everybody to pull yourself off and say, “I need this moment because I know I’m not going to be able to do this.” Gather yourself back up. I said, “You can do this. You’re going to take your power back right now, and your dad is here. You’re going to be able to go out there. She went out there, and you could watch her like a phoenix. She would rise, and she killed it. It was those moments.

I want to make sure that my girls know that they have every right and permission to take care of themselves that way. Life is way bigger. That’s what we’re doing. It does, and it doesn’t. Several years of having to do this stuff is a long time by yourself, and I’m tired. There are a lot of things that you take care of. Financially, I have to do it all. When it’s winter here in our store, things are slow. If we don’t have sales, I don’t have any money. Doug and I weren’t married. I don’t get spousal support. There’s that comes along with it.

We didn’t have the life insurance, but somehow, we managed. Three girls are in college, and we’re all figuring it out. Morgan is now a freshman in high school. Several years of making decisions all on my own has been one of the hardest things. I don’t have anybody to bounce things off of. I try to bounce things off of everybody. What would you do in this situation? Do you think I’m making the right choice?

In several years, I’ve had to learn to trust myself. If you want to look at blessings that come from death, that could be a blessing. That’s the good things that come out of death. I have to trust my intuition. I have to trust myself. I have to know that this is the truth. I have to be good in the decisions that I’ve made because this is what I’ve done. This is what this is. I hate small talk with people. It’s an annoyance to me. I like meaty because something meaty happened to me.

It changed the dynamics of what’s important and what’s not. You have the ability to say no to things that you would’ve said yes to before. You also talked about how you talk with Doug. You started with that, but I wanted to share your journey. Can you go back to that now that there’s a perspective on it?

He knows everything that is going on, but I will get in the car. We are driving for sports. I sometimes have to drive for an hour and a half to get my daughter to a sports thing. Sometimes, I’m by myself driving. I will talk to him. I’ll be like, “Did you even see what that happened like now?” I pretend I’m having this conversation. If people saw me, they’d be like, “What is that girl? That is crazy.”

It’s not like all the time that I do that, but I will ask him for things. If I have a big decision that’s coming up or something that’s important, I’ll say things to him like, “I need you to please come. I need you to be here with us. I need you to show up, be here with us, and tell me somehow if this is the right choice.” I’m observant of things. The very first time that I ever asked Doug to be somewhere with us was when Olivia used to play softball, and Doug was her first base coach.

When I say that they had a connection, they had a connection. It was hard for her to go back out onto that field harder for her than it was for basketball for whatever reason. We had to make some big decisions. She had to do those all on her own. We had to talk through a lot of stuff. She decided not to play softball anymore and she was going to focus on basketball, which is fine. Before we went to one of these games, I said to him, “I need you to be here. We are making some decisions, and this girl needs you. You got to show me something.

I’m walking down the side, and I see this shiny thing. I thought, “What the heck is that?” There’s this shiny dime sitting in front of me. I’ve heard other people say, “Dimes are money from heaven.” People say, “Pennies are from heaven.” Dimes are the things that show up for people. This dime showed up, and I thought, “That’s you.” You get this feeling inside you. I kept this dime for a long time.

You have shared none of this.

People think that it’s crazy.

You have not been on the road. You have been, “Shut your mouth.” I’m going to say that for somebody that’s reading and you’re thinking, “I have lost a loved one. I’m reading this conversation. Let people be where they’re at in that space.” I can’t tell you how to run an antique store because I have never run an antique store. If you’re a widow or a widower, go, “I’m a widow. I can talk about that.” Are you Gwen or Doug? No. I cannot tell you how to be Doug’s widow. I can give advice from the perspective of being a grief coach from my life and other people, but in the end, I have to leave it in your space for you to decide what pieces you want to pluck out of, whether I share or not. This is your journey.

If someone is reading and feeling like it’s crazy, wait until your spouse dies and come back to me and all your wisdom. If you have not broached this road, what you may have thought may have been one thing or something else. I’ll leave it at that. Do not feel like you have to validate it or what it is. This is your life and your journey. What you thought it was going to look like and what it is now is different.

Before this happened to me, I knew people who lost their spouses. I would be like, “Are they overreacting? You don’t even know. Now I know because you don’t know until you know. I use this experience in everything. I don’t know how to run an antique store. Don’t pass judgment. I can’t pass judgment on anybody because I don’t know what it’s like to be in your shoes. I don’t know that situation. You don’t know what you don’t know. When I think about people, I’d say, “It’s been several months.” The people who think that it’s people who are dating too fast. Who cares? It’s not up to you to make the choices and the decisions for other people.

 

 

I have a lot of stories about how he shows up. I take a ton of pictures all of the time, like the dimes that are present to us. We were bringing Hannah and Hailey down to college. I got into my brother-in-law’s truck because he was driving us. We were all going down there. I looked in the cup holder. It was filled. There were 50 dimes in there. I was like, “That’s Doug.” It’s those things. We went prom dress shopping and got out of the car. We come to the car to get into it. All of us look at the seat. Here are these dimes sprinkled on our car seat. They were not there. They go, “Dad was here with us.”

They all know. The beach comes, and the dimes. It’s incredible. He’s loud. He is here with us all the time. I feel safe. When I need clarity on things, I ask him. He usually shows up. I was part of a book. A local friend of mine here had lost her mom on her honeymoon. When she was on her honeymoon, she was getting ready to board the ship. They got on there, and they were leaving. She got a phone call to say that her mom had passed away. She couldn’t leave because they were at sea. She couldn’t leave until she was there. All of this stuff started happening. She was like, “That was my mom.” She had written this book and did all of this research by other people. I was a part of that book.

You were part of a book. What was that experience of being part of a book for you?

It helped me be a part of something. I didn’t feel alone in all of these things that were happening because they were happening to other people. I don’t know, after you lost your husband if you chased after things at all to find out. I was obsessed with death.

Let me answer. I needed to understand from my perspective what my beliefs were about what happened after your body left this world. Mark was cremated. I had to watch a video on the process before I would allow them to do it. I needed to know the statistics on how many people died per day. I would wake up every day and go, “I want a life lottery. Look at this. Here I am. I’m still alive.”

If Mark dying ripped the fear, anxiety, and stress of everything about death, I needed to understand it more. I embraced it because this was going to happen. You know, off to the side of those other people, there are different stuff. When Mark died, both my parents were still living with all of my siblings. Death was not something that was close to me as it was when he died. It changed the dynamics of everything. It changes the level of passion that I have when I show up.

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina is the entire 501(C)(3) nonprofit to support people who are grieving. Unlike you and me, there are people doing this who have zero community. There are people that are doing this and feel alone. I’m going to take this jump if you want to talk about things that you want to do for widows and have that conversation. I want to give you space for that.

Here’s the book. It’s called Sacred Hellos. I looked it up. I was like, “I can’t remember what the heck the book was called. It was a fun little thing. I have to share some stories. Noelle put them in there. I’m appreciative of her thinking about me. Noelle, the girl who wrote the book, she and I were doing some stuff here in our community. It was called The Path Forward. We did put on a grief seminar for a day. We had some specialists come in. We had a nutritionist come in and talk to us about what happens to your body when you’re going through grief. These are tips for you on how to eat better. If you can’t sleep at night, get up. Don’t force your body to try to sleep because your body is going to do all of this stuff.

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Gwen Wright | Signs Of Loves
Sacred Hellos: Messages from Heaven

Here is one thing that happened to me after Doug died. Everybody is bringing you the food. Everybody is doing all of that and wanting to take care of you that way. I had one gal who said, “This is what’s going to happen to you. Your body is going to be tired because grief is going to exhaust you.” She worked for this homeopathic. She had all of these supplements. She said, “I’m going to send you these. This is what I want you to do, and you’re going to take this at this time because your endocrine system and everything is going to go like a buzz circle.

She supplied me with these expensive vitamins. You’re paying $70 for this bottle. The money part of it didn’t matter. Because she was the one person who thought about what was going to happen to me physically and mentally, she took care of that part, and I appreciated it. She was saying, “It’s fine for you to eat that pan of brownies, but I want you to eat a whole entire tub of strawberries. Make sure that you drink the water and take a nap when you need to. Don’t think that you have to be doing all of these things.”

I was grieving and trying to make sure that my girls were taken care of, and they were grieving at the same time and doing their own thing because we were all going to grieve at different levels. I remember one time I had an actual grief breakthrough. I woke up in the morning several weeks after Doug died. We had such cold weather. My girls were off of school. It was cold. I was thankful for the weather because we had this extra time.

I woke up in the morning, and I thought, “There’s something happening to me, and this is not going to be a good day.” I did not hide from my girls at all crying. I didn’t hide that because I wanted them to know that I was sad. It was okay to be sad. Whatever was about to happen to me, they were not going to be able to see this. I called my sister and said, “You have to come. You have to get my girls because I don’t know what’s happening to me, but this is not going to be good.” She said, “Okay.” She came and got my girls.

I was in my bed. I could not get out of my bed, but I was in my bed with the most intense emotional pain that I have ever experienced. I was screaming. It was primal on this day. I’m crying. I thought, “I’m going to die. I am dying with him, and this is it. My kids are going to not have any parents.” I thought that was what was happening to me. All of a sudden, I was exhausted, and I passed out. I had no control. I thought, “You were giving up, girl. You were giving into this, and you were letting this happen.”

After that, I was cleansed. I had this renewed energy. It happened to Olivia. She called me from upstairs on her phone. She said, “Something is happening to me.” I don’t know what is happening.” I said, “Get downstairs.” I got her downstairs. I was excited because I said, “You’re having the grief breakthrough.” She was like, “What?” I was like, “Olivia, it’s going to be scary and painful. I want you to know that you’re not going to break and die. You’re going to be fine. I’m here for you.” She goes, “You’re like a freak.” I said, “I know, Olivia, but this is what is supposed to be happening to you. Here’s all the Kleenex and water. Scream if you need to because tomorrow, you are going to be renewed.” That’s what happened to her.

All of a sudden, we were lighter. Olivia and I had formed this relationship. I was afraid because Doug had her all the time. I was afraid of what this relationship was going to be like, and we both experienced these things at the same time. We both helped each other through. Before the part where you were talking about what you’re doing, I had this passion, and I didn’t know how to get there. It is not the time yet, but it’s there. I’m not supposed to do it until Morgan is gone from our home. That might be it. I’m not sure about that.

I have this thing that’s called the House of Girls. It’s me and the girls. I wanted to do this retreat area for widows. We have this beautiful property. We have this big creek that runs through twenty acres. It’s got trees. Swans, cranes, and ducks come, and it is magical. Doug and I used to walk it all the time. It has this incredible spirit about it. There are a couple of spots out there that every time I get to, I can’t do anything but cry. I don’t know what is in that little spot, but it releases something in me. When we were kids, we used to walk out all the time. I would say to him, “Someday, we need to use this property for something incredible.” He would always say to me, “Someday you will.” That’s what’s going to happen.

Do you know those big bell tents? I do have one that a widow friend of mine gifted to me. It’s another gal who is a widow. She and I were in this business class on Facebook. I have no idea who she was. I didn’t know who she was. She didn’t know who I was. We were talking. We got split up into these groups. I was like, “Do you live in Milltown?”

It is half an hour away from where I live. We formed this relationship online. Her husband was in this freak four-wheeler accident and died. I still didn’t know her, but we were in our town here. I was walking into another business. She was coming out. I was like, “Are you Jackie?” She’s like, “Are you Gwen?” I said, “I am.” We sat out on this bench and talked about everything for two hours. I had lost Doug. It was all supposed to be.

I got this tent gifted to me to be the first thing for people to come. My idea is to have these big bell tents placed down the creek bed, and people can come. They’re going to sit in there, breathe and release. All I’ve wanted is to have quiet and to have a place where I could meditate, release, let go, and know that I’m surrounded by people who are in the same thing in safety. I envision this whole big, huge, long-like harvest table. We’re all surrounded and sharing a meal.

I would love to have this smash house where you get to break all of the broken China that’s in my shop. You could let out some anger. There could be cold bathing and saunas. I want to put it all in this whole spiritual release camp for widows. Along with that, after Doug died, Olivia made these T-shirts that on there. They said, “We are one.” She and my brother-in-law did that. It has Doug’s heartbeat on there. There were these angel wings and a cross. We all had those after Doug died. We give scholarships out in his name. We do this little fundraiser.

A friend of ours put on this pool tournament fundraiser. Doug used to play billiards all the time. We had our scholarships for kids to go to college in Doug’s name. We Are One Foundation will be more fundraising. It will be able to help widows and single moms. If you have a house project, I can help you take care of it.

You have become the handywoman that Doug was.

I’m not handy. I’ve had to do things. I’ve had to do some plumbing. I’ve had to do some things. I’ve had to figure out stuff with our washing machine. I’ve had to change numerous tires. I have a deck that’s falling off our house. I don’t know how to do that stuff. We financially pay for that. A single mom of four kids, money is the last thing.

Don’t go on that deck. We got other stuff we got to do.

I need to have trim work put up. I have a great group of guy friends who would be helpful. I would like to have this foundation. If somebody needs something, they are taken care of. I can pay them. That widow doesn’t have to worry about it.

The safety of who the people are and the money. Sometimes, I need these pictures. I need a small move. When you have to be already exhausted from grief, trying to do minimal tasks can seem overwhelming.

You’re having to try to mow your lawn. You have to do all of the things. Some widows have babies. Who has the time to grieve and take care of a baby? Think about if you’re trying to nurse the baby, and your body is in this whole grieving thing. You’re now not able to do that. It’s exhausting. I would like to be able to provide ease. That’s what I would’ve liked.

That’s another level you could do. That’s what we’re doing. We’re learning from our experience and paying it forward to other people.

That’s the purposeful part. I was like, “I am going to live a purposeful life.” He taught me how to be a better human. I would like to continue to honor him until I leave this earth. Whether I get another relationship, that’s how it’s going to be.

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Gwen Wright | Signs Of Loves
Signs Of Loves: Doug taught me to be a better human. I like to continue to honor him until I leave this earth.

 

I have asked you a ton of questions. Thank you for this conversation. I’ll flip it around a little bit. Any questions that you have of me?

How long have you been widowed?

Mark died in March of 2017.

I know through your TikToks that you guys were on vacation. How did that look for you? Were you in a strange area? Did you know where you were at?

I was living in Pennsylvania. Mark was living in Virginia. Our goal was to relocate back here to Virginia. He obtained a job first. We got him a one-bedroom apartment here locally. I feel like God was leading me so that we could connect that weekend. I was thinking, “I don’t want to drive all the way down to Virginia. I’ll see him on Easter weekend.” That was my thought process. I felt an immense amount of push to get together.

We met on a military base in Delaware, which was about several hours from where we both were. We went out that first night. We went out to eat. We went to the movies and came back. He had been complaining of gas and pressure. The next day, he went to get breakfast on the base where we were staying. There was a golf course, and they had food there. He came back and took a nap. He was feeling hot. There’s a lot of sweating.

I asked to go to the emergency room. He said, “No, I don’t want to go.” I didn’t want to be a nag. We had such a great weekend. We got lost and didn’t argue about it. I was like, “I’m not going to be a nag. I’m not going to have it this weekend.” I was like, “No. If he grows, he doesn’t want to go. I’m not going to do anything.”

He had a heart attack in the hotel room when we were there together. I’m in the middle of nowhere. I know where I’m at, but I don’t have a concept of what’s around me. I called the front desk. I frantically told them what was going on. The medical people that come are military. They have weapons. I’m saying, “I can stay here.” I’m at the end of the hallway, losing my whole mind.

They try to revive him. He wouldn’t respond. They take him to a medical facility. They give me an address, and I’m like, “Who’s doing that? Either one of you is getting in the car or showing me. I don’t know where I’m at. Do you understand what’s going on?” They take me there. I’m in the hospital, and they say, “Come to this room.” It’s never good when they put you in a room by yourself in the movies. This is not a good look at all. I’m going, “This is not what happens.”

The doctor comes in. I’m trying to find a sheet of paper to write. They’re talking. I was like, “This is not good in the movies.” He says, “Your husband has had a massive heart attack.” I’m like, “Defined massive.” It was something like 60% to 75% of his heart was gone. I was sitting on the bed in the hotel. I heard a thud. I thought Mark had slipped on his sweat. Thinking back, if 60% to 75% of your heart is not pumping blood, there’s nothing for the body to stand. That was logical to me.

In my mind, I’m thinking, “I’m going to take off work for weeks. I’m going to nurse them back to help.” The doctor said, “We’re going to see if he makes it through the night.” I was like, “Do I tell my kids?” He said, “You need to get your children here immediately.” My son was in the Navy. My sister, who’s a retired senior, had to put a Red Cross message and do all that. My daughter was in Pennsylvania. I got a family friend to bring her down. She didn’t know what. By the time my daughter got there, he had died.

I am grateful for the medical professionals because when Mark died, they let me be in that room, and they let me lose my whole mind. They didn’t say, “Stop right away.” I was screaming. It was horrific. It was the worst moment of my life. I crawled up on that bed with his body, and I was touching his head. I remember touching his hands and saying, “His hands are cold. Those were the hands that were around me the night before.” When you think about how far that is from the heart, that’s not pumping. I was like, “He is dead. This is where our story ends.” I’m leaning into that.

I remember connecting with every person I knew who was a widow. I started going through my phone. Every person I knew who had lost a spouse, I was calling them and asking them like, “How do you do this? How do you get back in your bed? How do you not slap somebody? How do you do this every day?” I’m like, “You made it through the first year, but he’s still dead. I’m not quite sure what we’re excited about, but we made it through the first year because he doesn’t come back.”

For me, it was therapy. It was the thing where you said you couldn’t go to sleep at night. I had the elliptical machine that I moved into the front room because if I couldn’t sleep, I was going to be on the elliptical machine watching TV. Some of my siblings were on the West Coast. I would talk to them at all hours of the night because I couldn’t sleep. I did tell death to you part.

You don’t think that that’s going to come to you until you’re 90. You divorce them, or you’re supposed to be with them until they’re old. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

It has been that process of finding a candid, safe space to be. My mom was still married to my dad. It wasn’t like I was going to ask her, “How’s this going?” I’m going, “How are they alive? He’s dead.” I wasn’t trying to wish them dead, but it seemed out of order in my mind. It has been connecting with other people, being able to have this conversation, and giving people space to have this discussion. I remember searching the internet looking for information. I can see when someone joins the YouTube channel at 2:00 in the morning, and I’m going, “I know what that looked like.”

I leaned into my mental health like it was a war because I was afraid of being in this place in my mind where I thought that I was going to be stuck in this moment of time, that grief fog, and that concept. I had to fight for my own mental health to not be stuck. That was the therapist, journal, and working out. That was all those things that I had to save Tina because my children were grown. They were living their own life, which was something that pissed me off. I’m like, “He didn’t die. They are both grown. I’m in this house by myself. It’s not the plan. I have to figure out what life looked like.”

My middle sister had relocated from California to Virginia. She spent a lot of hours going up to Pennsylvania, helping me clean out the house and do different things. We now live next door to each other. She is a board member on Widowhood Real Talk with Tina and an instrumental part of us showing up for other people in this difficult space. Not only is it difficult, but imagine having no tribe or nobody to talk to, feeling muted and alone. Imagine a year has passed, and everybody is going, “Are you still upset about that?” I am the grief share leader for my church. We’re looking to do scholarships. We’re looking to have a grief garden and a grief cafe. Be able to be with people in a difficult process.

It’s important, because, in our culture here, we don’t even want to celebrate death. When you think about other cultures, they have big parties. They’re excited. You’re going to the other side. You’ve made it. When you think about it, this is something that helps me get through. When they say that he went home, that’s where we all came from. That’s what you’re supposed to be doing here on Earth. We’re all supposed to be trying to walk each other home. You’re supposed to be trying to get there and do your best possible human while you’re here and living purposefully and doing right and good by others.

 

 

It’s taken several years to sink in there. I’d be like, “Doug is there. I don’t fear death anymore because I know I’ll be there. I’m going to see him at some point.” It is painful. He sucks, for sure. I couldn’t find any grief groups that I liked because everyone around here was religious, and I didn’t like that or this weird by-the-book thing.

There was this book that everybody was reading out of this book. I went to one thing, and I was like, “Who can’t take a shower?” Everybody was like, “I can’t barely put my socks on.” Who hasn’t brushed their teeth? Tomorrow, we’re all going to get up, and we’re brushing our teeth. Let’s all make a pack that we’re going to get up and brush our teeth. We’re going to drink one cup of water, and this is what we’re going to do.

I wanted real stuff. I wanted to know that other people were feeling and doing the same thing. This is what one of them was. I’m like, “You are this caterpillar. We’re in this chrysalis. At some point now, we’re in the season of fall, and we’re going to turn into the butterfly.” I can’t open the mail because it makes me anxious. Bad things come in the mail. All of a sudden, bad information came out that I didn’t want to see. I still sometimes have this anxiety about the male.

Grief and anxiety are real. We’ve had trauma in our house. All of us seem to be a little bit more anxious. I am hypervigilant about my children to be like, “You better make sure that you’re safe. Make sure that you’re taking care of yourself. Please do this thing because I don’t want to ever feel this pain again. That means you guys are not allowed to die.”

That is real because death came your close. It’s a reality. When people say, “We don’t have tomorrow.” You don’t understand. Don’t say that like it’s a lullaby. That is for real. My daughter is like that. We’ve been in this conversation for several hours. My phone is off. She is not happy with me. She texts Fred, and he says, “Your mom is doing a show.” After a while, it doesn’t work.

You need to be able to have a space because you’re thinking, “Am I the only one that can’t go back into the grocery store that we used to go in all the time? Am I the only one that when I drive around the corner?” You guys have to walk into that space in the house where they saw Doug on the floor. We’re past the pretense of a conversation. I need you to talk it out with me.

I’ll be a small talkie with people. If you want to, you better give me something. I need some meaty something. Otherwise, that’s it. Here in our community, all the widows gravitate towards you. I’m a hub center for downtown. There was a gal who lost her husband. I thought it was longer, but it’s only been several months. I’ve been waiting for her to come.

The other day, she came into the store. I always like to say, “You’re not going to cry when you see them. You’re going to hold it together for them.” Everybody knows each other here. She came into the store and stood at the door. Here come the tears from her. I was like, “Screw it.” We cry together. I hold her. She’s like, “When does it get better?” I was like, “How far out?” She’s like, “Several months.” I go, “You have to hang on because this is new. You’re still in this honeymoon phase.

After Doug died, I thought, “I got this.” This isn’t hard. He’s on vacation. We’re getting through. We’re good. My girls and I were looking through pictures. We were doing the things. We were laughing about the stuff. We were rejoicing because the bees came, and Doug was in heaven. We’re doing all this thing.” All of a sudden, the shit show came.

You have to find people to talk about it. That is why this conversation is essential. When somebody looks at it and goes, “I want them to feel like they’re the third person on the couch. These are my people. They understand how I feel. I am not making it up. I’m not losing my mind.” This is what grief looks like. You don’t have to pretend it doesn’t.

One of the biggest things for me is finding those people. I’d be like, “That is true.” I was chasing after the death thing. I was chasing after any connection. I like talking to psychics. I’ve like done all of that. I said to him, “If she’s going to be real, you are going to give me an answer. That girl is going to say something that you and I only know about.” That has happened. I go, “That’s real.”

When you were at this, you were chasing for an answer. Sometimes, those things may chase something good. Sometimes, it may chase something without any proof. That intense need to have an answer is strong. You are trying to find peace and a way to deal with this. I know we have been talking for a while. What is the name of your store?

It’s called The Looking Glass in Oceola, Wisconsin.

What gives you joy right now in life?

I’ve been trying to find stuff every day. I’m not sure if there’s one specific thing, Tina, that I find to be joyous. I’m maybe still looking for that. Doug and I used to do a lot of things together. I used to paint furniture, and I loved it. I was a good furniture painter. I sold furniture and did that. After Doug died, I have now not painted a piece of furniture at all. I try to get back to that and do that.

What I do find that lights me up is that when COVID hit, I had to figure out how I was going to keep my store open. What I used to do was make these live sales, which I would get on Facebook. I’m going to start to do some of those. I did that stuff for a year. You’re doing live sales and telling stories. I talk about Doug a lot. I talk about grief even in my store. Customers are my friends. I sell stuff to people, and it’s fun.

I took a break from it because I was tired. I’ve now started back up with it. I do realize that is something that lights me up. It’s more like a connection with people. On the other side, it is social media. The selling of my goods here. Moving forward with some different things here at the store is making me excited. I have some big ideas for things that I would like to do at home. I’m excited for that.

I allowed myself to dream again. That is bringing me some anticipation. I’m not that I’m looking forward to all my girls being gone, but Morgan is a freshman in high school. Soon, she’ll be in college. My other two will be done with college. Olivia will be finishing. I’m going to have my own life. It’s going to be my life. I’m looking forward to that. That’s bringing me some joy.

If you could pick any year season of your life, what would you pick, and what would you tell?

When I was starting out with my kids, I would tell Gwen that your choices were going to be fine. I would tell her that you are brave. You’re going to have to be braver than you’ve ever been. I didn’t realize what strength was until now. People say, “You’re strong.” You’re like, “That is true. I’m strong and a warrior.” Doug’s death day didn’t turn us into anything but warriors. It’s the day we became warriors. All of my girls and I, except for Morgan, because she’s not old enough, and we all have the same tattoo.

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Gwen Wright | Signs Of Loves
Signs Of Loves: Doug’s death day turned us into warriors.

 

I would tell my younger self, “You’re going to be fine.” Life is good, even through all of it, every single thing. Through bad relationships and marriage, and thinking that it was going to be the end and feeling like I was going to be broken time and time again, you’re going to be fine. I’m excited to see what the future holds because the best is yet to come. Good things are coming.

I will let you have the final comments or anything you want to say and close out this conversation.

I appreciate that you reached out to me. We’re going to have some good stuff happening. Be proud of yourself for everything you’re doing and accomplishing. Death is hard, but look at how many people you’re helping. That’s purposeful. That’s a good life.

Thank you.

I am grateful for every conversation that I’m able to bring to you because it’s somewhat extended their trust in me to share their story with the world. Conversations like this are amazing. The real talk is when someone is reading this late at night, early in the morning, and you may be wondering if you are the only person who is having this type of grief journey. Without a doubt, you are not alone.

There are things that we talked about that I never knew about Gwen. Things we never discussed. I am grateful for her transparency. I invite you to consider sharing your journey here at Widowhood or maybe suggest a topic or a conversation that I should have. Please email me at WidowhoodRealTalk@gmail.com. Thank you for being here with me. I am sorry for the person that you have lost that has drawn you to this conversation. I welcome you to be part of our hood. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye.

 

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About Gwen Wright

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Gwen Wright | Signs Of LovesGwen Wright lost her husband unexpectedly in 2019. Left with four daughters to raise on her own and the busy store she owns, Gwen deeply understands the real-life balance between sitting in grief while also balancing the ongoing, continued needs of the world and family. She has openly shared her walk with grief, anger, hope, signs, and questions along the way. In 2021, Gwen trained and received her Grief Educator Certification from world-renowned grief expert David Kessler. She has hosted local grief seminars. Gwen founded the House of Girls and the We Are One Foundation.

Instagram: houseofgirls.warriors
TikTok: @warriornotwidow

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