The best (if there were a "best") and ugliest part of going through a tragedy is that you really see people's true colors. Some people can simply amaze you (like all of you bloggy friends and your amazing support, not to mention the majority of my Marine wives and sorority sisters and other friends, I can't believe how wonderful so many people have been to us through this) while others can shock you in not-so-happy ways. Some friends get really distant, some choose to let loose lips fly, and others are just not so nice in other ways. I think most of the negative comes out when people really don't know what to say (who does?), feel pressured to do something (you really don't have to, if you want to, I love it; but if you simply can't, I understand), or are simply grieving in their own ways as well. No matter the reasoning though, friends who don't stay faithful and supportive make the grieving process that much harder. Worrying about what other people are thinking or saying, trying to mend other people's pain, and fix broken friendships, added to being angry/sad/guilty/upset over the loss of my husband is too much at once. So, it's not taking priority anymore. I have spent the last couple days worrying about certain friends, but it's time to say enough is enough. I need to focus on me and my daughter and that's it (hell, I still haven't even cleaned my "tornado house" because I only have so much motivation a day). The mentality now to friends who are less than supportive, can't handle it, or just want to make my life harder is... "They'll come around. And if not, screw 'em." One thing that helped me reach this point, and stop stressing about girl-drama as much, was an article posted on the American Widow Project website, under the "First Year" category, entitled "Things You Should Know... to Survive." I am going to copy and paste it here, mainly for myself, since I have to scour the website every time I want to read it (several times a week) and now I'll know exactly where to go, but also if there's anyone out there coming across this blog in a similar situation and hasn't been to the American Widow Project, it may be of some use to them as well. So heeeere it is (and remember, I didn't write this).

Things You Should Know... to Survive
by American Widow Project
November 20, 2009

Learning to expect the unexpected will help you get through this most painful time in your life. Here are 10 things you need to know if you are to survive.

1. Expect people to say stupid things. “Don’t worry, you’re young, you’ll meet someone new.” No matter your age, this will sting like a hot iron on raw flesh. Your mind is on your husband and preserving His memory. The thought of another man in your life too soon after His death may cause you additional pain.

“I’m sorry for your loss.” If there is a “loss”? This makes you wonder where is found? For the new widow, there is no found.

“He would want you to find a new man.” Hmmm… On this one, this writer takes umbrage. Nobody can tell you what He wanted, except you, nor, should they.

“I understand. I’m divorced.” Not. Divorce is different than death. Though a divorced individual may wish her ex to not be here, it just isn’t the same thing. While divorce can be painful, and having experienced one personally, the death of a soul mate is different, as this writer will attest, there is no connection.

2. Expect to be asked out—by your husband’s best friend.

3. Expect to be asked, “Do you masturbate?” by your best friend.

4. Expect to break down in tears when you least expect it—at the sound of the doorbell, at the sound of the telephone, at the sight of a couple walking hand in hand. All too soon the reality of being without Him sets in and it will take time for you to let go of your past. But you will.

5. Expect to begin each day wondering how you made it though the day before. And end it thinking you just can’t do it any more.

6. Expect to feel weak, strong, suicidal, angry, happy, euphoric, glad, sad, guilty, alone, lonely, trapped, free, tired, bored, overworked, overwhelmed, silly, puzzled, like you don’t belong.

Why not? You have just experienced life at its worst. I’m here to tell you, everything will be okay. Think baby steps. Think, I can and think, I will.

7. Expect all your friends to run away. They’re frightened, too. And they just don’t know how to handle your grief. Seeing you dealing with the death of someone near and dear is just too close for comfort.

8. Expect all your friends to come back. Give them time. The real ones do.

9. Expect to find yourself standing in front of an open refrigerator at 3:00 in the morning studying the expiration date on a bottle of ketchup. Give yourself permission to process your grief any way you need to.

10. Expect to laugh when the dog pees on the living room rug, when the garage door falls off its hinges, when the refrigerator makes a puddle on the kitchen floor, and when the woman next door goes out on a date—with the woman down the street. Your life is forever changed and so is your outlook. In the big picture, these things become miniscule.

11. Expect to wish you were dead.

12. Expect to blame yourself for His death.

13. Expect to ask yourself questions that have no answers. What if? Why me? Why couldn’t I have died first?

14. Expect to make plans to run away.

15. Expect to cancel them, because you realize there is no place to run away to.

16. Expect to kiss a fool.

17. Expect to feel like you cheated. You didn’t.

18. Expect to wish for a giant eraser to erase away all the pain.

19. Expect the pain to never end. It won’t. But in time you will learn how to manage it. I promise.

20. Expect to smile when you feel like crying.

21. Expect to not sleep.

22. Expect to not focus.

23. Expect to not eat. In the beginning you won’t be able to enjoy food. But it is important to drink plenty of fluids. If nothing else, drink water to keep your kidneys flush.

24. Expect to eat too much.

25. Expect to not be in the mood for all the things you once were in the mood for. Imagine. This writer didn’t want to eat chocolate!

26. Expect the sun to come out tomorrow, the daffodils to sprout in spring, every bird on the planet to sing, every oak, elm, and cottonwood to shed its leaves in autumn, the moon to glow, the stars to twinkle, the earth to spin on its axis, and then to wonder why.

27. Expect no one to understand. Though they say, “I understand.” They can’t. They don’t. They never will. Not even another widow. Grief is personal. It’s just like a thumb print, no two alike. Expect to make mistakes.

28. Expect to forgive yourself.

Okay. That’s it. And now I know what you’re thinking – She’s listed more than ten things.

But to make it through your grief, it’s important to realize you are not alone. What you are feeling is normal. Being informed is being prepared. It will help you survive.

Expect the unexpected.

And, like the mighty oak caught in a fierce storm bending in the wind to keep from being uprooted, you will learn to accept your plight. You will learn to remain grounded, and eventually you will be able to turn your upside down world right side up again.
~Linda Della Donna @

Semper Fi,


  1. I don't have anything to say that will make you feel better. I am praying for you and your daughter every day... praying that God will give you strength and comfort.


  2. that is such a great article, and I think it was awesome that you shared it!

  3. I think the new mentality you've adopted is best. I hope it serves you better and somehow can give you more peace in your life at this time. You, your beautiful baby, and your family are in my prayers.

  4. Those are really good points!!! For all people grieving! I'm glad you posted this! I hope your friends come around, you really deserve good friends in a time like this... and remember, open invitation, when in MD... I'll take you to lunch!! :-)

  5. I really just want to hug you. *hugs*

  6. I'm so sorry you are dealing with even more pain from loved ones that should be your support system.

    Even though I am not a widow it was really wonderful to read that post, I feel like I'm better equipped to know how NOT to react if it happened to a friend of mine. At the same time reading that is so scary. I could never imagine having the strength you carry. Your heart is truly an inspiration to us all.

  7. I am thinking about you. Of course your bloggy friends are here to help you and listen to you whenever you need us to be! Don't worry about those friends who pull away from you...your true friends will be there through thick and thin. They are the ones worth saving. You are always in my thoughts.

  8. Don't worry about other people and girly drama. You do not need to be their for others right now either. You lost your husband, your daughter lost her father. It is the two of you who need all the support in the world. Those who can't give you support, are needy or say stupid thing are not people you need to be concerned about in this very difficult time in your life.

  9. Wise words. And you're right, it's not your responsibility to make people act right or do the right thing. I'm sorry that, on top of everything else, you have to deal with "no-show" friends. But the ones who stay will be the ones you need. Love you and praying for you, all the time.

  10. That is one accurate list...or so I would think.

    I don't understand. I don't pretend to. And I won't hide that reading your posts over last few days (new follower) has terrified me.

    But I want you to know that I'm here for you anyway. Just in case you need me. Even though you probably won't.

    I hope you're doing as well as you can be. Know that my thoughts are with you.


  11. I wish I could be there to hug you as the first comment said. I know you don't know me and I don't know but I just want you to know that I'll be sending a million thoughts and prayers as well as millions more air hugs and kisses. From far away California my heart is with you and your family!

  12. I just wanted to let you know that I think of you and your beautiful girl a lot. I'm glad this list helps, especially the part of grief being like a fingerprint. No greater truth spoken. I wish you nothing but the strength to make it through the next minute and eventually the next day.

  13. I just wanted to say that through all of the tragedy you have maintained poise, grace and dignity. I am absolutely certain that your Marine looks down with pride at the ones he loves.

    You have my sincere admiration and respect.

    Hope for the future!


  14. We're all praying for you and sending you our love. Hundreds and hundreds of women and families all around the world are thinking of you daily. Just keep going. You are so strong!

  15. You are such an amazing woman. A true Marine wife! Even through all of this you can understand where those friends are coming from. You are such a loving person. I'm praying for you and your daughter.

  16. I'm a new follower also, and can't begin to imagine where you have found the strength to get through this. You have a great outlook, and seem to have zeroed in on what you need... focus on yourself and your daughter. Anyone who is being less than supportive should not be given your attention right now.

    Sending prayers your way.

  17. People just don't know what to say or do so they say or do stupid things. If only they would think about what they would want people to say if their were in your shoes. I am praying for your comfort and strength. If some of those people are reading your blog they need to head over to my blog because I just did a post on things you can do to support someone who is grieving. Please know that I care about you.

  18. I sincerely hope people are not saying such horrible things to you as given as examples in the article (which was very informative, thanks for sharing) - and if so, i am so very sorry, you shouldn't have to deal with that on top of your own grief.

    i will not pretend to understand but i will say that i am praying for you and He certainly does.

    thank you for sharing this with us.

  19. Big hugs!

    I'm right there with Carrie on this one. I will never understand and I won't pretend to either.

    I've been reading for the past couple of weeks but I have been scared to write because I don't want to write the wrong thing.

    But I'm here for you, I'm thinking of you and I hope your true friends come back soon!

  20. You and your precious daughter are in my thoughts and prayers always. May God be with the two of you.

  21. I have been following your blog for about a month now but I've never commented, mostly just because I had no idea what to say. I am amazed by how strong and positive you seem to be staying throughout all of this. My fiance is a Marine, so I know what those deployments are like, worrying if something will happen to them.. but I won't even pretend to know what the pain feels like when the *worst* actually happens. We did lose our daughter a few months ago, so I can totally identify with a LOT of the feelings of grief listed above (other than the ones pertaining specifically to relationships). I can especially identify with the friends saying hurtful things, part. Some of the worst things that have been said to me during this time were from well-meaning people that thought they were being nice.

    Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I'm thinking of and praying for you, and I hope you guys are doing okay!

  22. Definitely some words of wisdom on that list. I've lost people in my life, but that doesn't mean I understand how YOU feel. Everyone grieves in their own way.

    I do think it's wise to ignore any negative things people have said to you. Just do what you need to do to focus on yourself, your daughter, and making it through the day.

  23. Oh sweetie.. if there was a way I could be in North Carolina... I would clean your home for you! I am praying for you!

  24. I honestly cannot imagine what you must be going through. My thoughts are with you. I'm so sorry.

  25. It's a good idea to post it here. You will always have it in your 'own space' now.


  26. I cant imagine what it must be like for you; not only going through this, but to have your friends react that way. But you're right, they'll come around, and if not, screw them. Its completely selfish for them to act that way with what you're going through.

    You're in my prayers. :)

  27. You have been in my constant thoughts and prayers.thank you for sharing this article with us, I am in the mist of a difficult deployment, with our brigade suffering the lose of 32 amazing selfless soldiers. and 4 months to go till the end.
    Sometimes support comes from places you would have never thought to look, and sometimes the support is lacking in the very place you need it to come from the most.
    keep blogging lady, We will ALWAYS stand behind you!

  28. all I can say is I am still praying and I am sorry that friends are not being friends

  29. I still think about you and Ari all the time and wonder how you're both doing.

    Sometimes friends disappear in times of need because they don't know what to say or do. Give them time, they'll come around.

    I noticed I used the word "time" 3 1/2 times.

    Time makes a difference...what you're feeling will never completely go away. But you'll learn how to cope...and that will come with time.

    Even though you don't know all of us bloggy friends, know that our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  30. I think that list is wonderful and I am so glad that you have it as a tool to help you try and cope.

  31. I said this to you before and I will continue too because it is all I can think of that makes any sense. Put one foot in front of the other, move and breath.
    Don't spend your time worrying about others right now or what they need, this is about you and your daughter, you need one another now more than ever before. Let your husbands smile come to you from her. She is your connection to him forever. I wish you all good things..
    From one Marine wife, to another..

  32. People get weird when they're uncomfortable, but you are right to decide that it's not your job to make them okay. It's not even your job to make you okay... it's just your job to keep breathing. And while none of us know how you feel, and sometimes don't know what to say, we're here to help in whatever way we can.

  33. I can't believe people would be negative to you at a time like this. I hate that we live in that kind of world. I am so sorry there are people out there who have made this situation (which is hard enough to begin with) already more difficult.

    You're attitude toward them is right. Its your time to focus on you and Ariana.

    And, I gotta admit...I never know what to say. I wonder if I should reach out, or talk about something else, or nothing at all. But not knowing what to say doesn't give people the licsense to say garbage.

    (((((HUGS)))))) You're handling this with more grace than I think I ever could.

  34. I am glad you are finding information that helps. I'm sorry people aren't being nice, but you are right, they are not yours to worry after. I continue to pray for you and your daughter and your family. I wish there was more I could do. ~ Jill

  35. I truly hope your true friends continue to be your rock, and you're right - if they're going to walk away, let 'em. You're trying to take care of you and your baby girl, you're dealing with everything, and that comes first.

  36. While I will never tell you that I understand what you're going through when dealing with the loss of a loved one, I will say that I completely understand what it's like to be alienated and have people say things that are completely wrong. I've been struggling with infertility for years (and dealing with Tricare, yay) so I know what it's like to have friends and loved ones say and ask all the wrong things. It's frustrating to say the least. I wished they would educate themselves on what this heartache is like so that they can be more supportive but in the end I couldn't count on them. So I learned to blog. And I found so many new friends who DO know what I'm going through and even though I haven't met any of them, its making this process so much easier for me. I truly hope you find the same circle of friends for you.

  37. You are a very smart woman. I have no advice or words of wisdom. I can't claim to understand. I just want you to know that we are still thinking of you, praying for you, routing for you.

    Much love.

  38. I continue to send many prayers and support to you and your little girl.

  39. I was one of those who didn't know what to say, but you and your family and your husband were never off my mind or my prayers. I wish you only the best.

  40. I don't know the right thing to say, but I am letting you know you are in my thoughts. You are an amazingly strong woman, and it shows with your posts.

  41. I just wanted you to know, that you have such amazing strength. I have been following your blog for the past couple of weeks and my heart goes out to you and your family. Grieving is never easy and my thoughts and prayers are with you and your beautiful baby girl.

    God bless,

    Mrs. B

  42. I am in shock that people would hurt you even more. I really dont know what to say, only I hope you will be okay.
    Love ya,Debbie

  43. Mama, I don't know you but I think about you and how you are doing! I hope you are doing ok with all that you are going through and just so you know, you are being thought about all across the world. :)

  44. I just want to give you the biggest hug ever.

    I don't know your pain but I pray every day as I am 11 weeks pregnant and my AF husband is in Baghdad that he stays safe.

    My thoughts and my tears are for you and your daughter!

  45. I am grateful for your courage and honesty. I am not a widow but reading down your list I realized I am still displaying so many symptoms of shock and grief, from something else. Thank you for the reality check! From your place of pain you have helped me tremendously tonight and given me peace. I pray for some of that peace to settle in your heart as well.
    Thank you Mrs P.!

  46. I don't have any thing else to add just that I am praying for you and Ari! Even though I just started following your blog recently I see that you have more strength than you probably give yourself credit for. You are a strong woman and are raising a strong daughter. Keep your faith and He will get you through this.
    Praying for you daily,
    Heather, Army Wife

  47. I like your new motto of "they'll come around, and if not, screw 'em". No one can understand or judge the way someone copes just by imagining what they would do. I have no idea what I would do. You're here and you're being a mom to your lovely little one and that's a feat in itself.

  48. I just wanted to say I think it's great that you're continuing to blog. You offer an important perspective that I think doesn't get talked about enough.

  49. Mrs.P, I was at the MilBloggies last night, your award received a standing ovation. Your blog has moved and effected many people. Thank you for sharing a bit of yourself. Your words sent to JP at were beautiful and wonderful. I was moved to my heart, I wished at that moment that I could run to you and hug you!! I haven't lost a spouse, but lost my dad at a young age. I want to say that like the article says, the hurt doesn't end, but suddenly you just don't seem to hurt in the same way anymore. It takes time, it takes tears, and it takes being aware of what you need. Much love from one mil spouse to another!! A billion hugs!

  50. I think that list can be applied to many forms of grief, I too experienced the same type of "girl-drama" after losing my child.

    I am praying hard for you during this time, even though some days feel as if they are worse over all in time you are healing baby steps at a time.


  51. JG hit the nail on the head...this road your on doesn't have a map-no judgement from this SF wife, just prayers, love, hugs, and anything else you might need.

    certainly the notion that you're dealing with others, who can't, is ridiculous-simply ridiculous.

    keep writing
    keep doing what you do
    to BE
    and know that in this bloggy-sphere, folks are with you.
    we are!

  52. you are living the worst nightmare of every military wife. there are no words to say. I send you a hug and I'd come clean your tornado house if we were neighbors. I send you four deep breaths and a hug. I pray for you every day.


  53. To lose a husband is about the worst possible pain that a woman can go through besides losing a child. To have friends that can't be right there to hold you and help you through this difficult time is about the next worse thing to have to deal with. Lean on the ones who are there and are offering to help; be it an hour of watching the baby so that you can take a walk or someone from the FRG that is willing to come over and clean your living room and kitchen. Take what comes as a gift, not really a gift that you wanted but a gift that they are willing to give you.
    One foot in front of the other, one breath at a time; and someday, in the future it won't be as painful to take that step or that breath.
    Thinking of you and baby A everyday, prayers being said for you both. Know that even though we aren't right there to hold you and help you we (your bloggy friends) are here for you.

  54. I am also a new reader. I have never experienced the things you are going through so I have nothing insightful to say.. So I will just say that I am praying for you and your baby girl. As well as everyone affected by your husbands passing. Thank you for sharing with us, you are touching more lives than you can ever even imagine.


  55. I can't imagine what you are going through - sorry about your friends who are not there for you :( That is just redic.

    Also just donated for your run through D's name. Kick some butt on it I know Jonny will be with you every step of the way.

  56. One more; Expect your grief to be special and different. Many of the lessons you quoted, I experienced, but the general, mostly sucky, experience varies for everyone. I'm not just speaking as a male civilian widower. Grief doesn't respect status or gender, most lessons translate from male to female and the suddeness is generally common. I wish I had your support group, those were dark times for me as they are for you now. I have no lessons for you, just the best wishes for the day when the sun comes out and the colors shine in their glory for you and your darling daughter.

  57. Continuing to lift you and your daughter in prayer.

    Thank you for sharing the list.

  58. I've been staring at your blog posts for the last month or so. At first I fell absolutely in love with you and the Mr. When I read that first post telling of your horrible loss I cried for hours. My heart is so broken for you, your baby girl, and yes, for the Mr. You are an absolute inspiration and I find myself thinking of you several times a day, every day. My heart is with you, my prayers are with you, my love is with you.

    ♥ Mrs. S.

  59. It is so upsetting that anyone could treat you badly during this time. But you are right, you have to focus on you and your daughter and not worry about them. Hang in there!

  60. I'm not sure how I missed this post the other day. Those words are amazing and true. I'm so glad you're taking the time to focus on you and getting through it all. You are so strong!

    I need to send in a donation for your run, probably tonight!

  61. I just sent in a donation to your run. I am not trying to win your give a way - I just want to support you in the run (I also have some socks to send email me at Firm at crcpas dot com and let me know what to do with them. Also if you need anything other than the socks you can let me know then :) Good luck with the run you have inspired me to get the c25k program and try and run in the next 5k to help support our troops in any way possible.

  62. Check out this song...

  63. Hi Girlie,

    I'm so sorry that your friends are being poopers. :( I think about you all the time and how we got back in touch after not talking for such a long time and even though we were never best buds or anything, you're definitely one of my favorite people I met in college. I like to think that we met up again for a reason, even if it's just to share blogs. I'm thinking of you and Ari everyday and I am seriously chomping at the bit to photograph her beautiful face. I just bought a new lens that is perfect for portraits and SERIOUSLY I can't wait. I love you and I know that a thousand people are telling you this but I want you to know that you're doing the right thing by blogging about your grief, and Ari, and life as it is. You may not feel strong today, but in our eyes you are wonder woman.



  64. I had a hard time coming up with the words to say to you, but I TRY and at least want to say SOMETHING so you know I am thinking of you! :)
    I kind of laughed at the part about expect to get asked out by his best friend. really?

  65. Hey,
    I thought you'd like to know that, even though you weren't there to see it, you got a standing ovation and few dry eyes when Mrs. G read your acceptance speach at the Milblog Conference.

    People always do and say the stupidest things sometimes. The advise given above sounds incredibly insightful and sage to me. There are so many ready to help pull you up- please take full advantage of it. Baby steps, small goals, and lots of 'net hugs.

  66. I'm keeping you and your family in my prayers...

  67. I just wanted to say that even though I don't know you - and only recently started reading your blog I honestly do pray for you and your little girl every day - and I will continue to do so.

    I hope that you are surrounded by a great network of people that help to make up for when people say/do "stupid" or uncaring things.

    I think that the sock collection you're doing is amazing. I would love to donate some if you let me know how. You can email me at - -

    Have a great day!

  68. I am a friend of a friend and once met you and Ari just long enough to say hello but I think about you every day. I have been reading your blog and checking on how you are doing from afar but have never commented before. My son died shortly after childbirth so while I don't know your pain, I do know about living through all of the awkwardness of those who don't know what to say and experienced the stupid things people do say who think they are helping. Eventually I realized that most people are smart enough to know that lost loves cannot be replaced and that these folks really did mean well. They had no idea what to say but they were afraid if they didn’t say something it would seem like they didn’t care. I know I don’t have words to comfort you other than to say I am so sorry for the sacrifice your family has made for my freedom. I am happy to see you are taking action to soothe yourself and acknowledging that it is enough for you to worry about yourself and your daughter and not everyone else. God Bless you and Ari. I wish you peace.

  69. That is a great article and I think you have come up with a great plan. You are so right that you and your daughter are the most important thing right now and your real friends will be back.

  70. I don't think there is a right thing to say. Only those who have lost a spouse can understand. All, I can say is every time I visit your blog you seem a bit stronger and ever determined to honor your soulmate's memory!

  71. I'm so sorry that you have to go through this. I've thought of you often since first reading your blog when you had just found out the news. My heart just ached for you and as the child of a military man, your perspective just makes my heart ache with what other young women all around the country must feel when receiving news like this. Saying a prayer for you RIGHT now...


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