Visiting the Spiral Jetty

The summer after Marathon Girl and I were married, we took a trip to the north end of the Great Salt Lake to visit Robert Smithson's earthwork Spiral Jetty. At the time, the Spiral Jetty was something most people didn't know about or had no clue how to get there. We drove out and spent an hour walking on salt encrusted rocks amid pink waters and enjoying the silence. Since it had been about 14 years since we went out, we thought it would make a fun day trip to take the kids out to see it.

I knew before we left that the Great Salt Lake was near record low levels but seeing just how low it was really surprised me. As you can see below, the water is at least a half mile from the jetty.

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The dry lake bed didn't deter the kids from running out there and walking on the black basalt rocks that the Spiral Jetty is made from.

Apparently the cool thing to do is to write your name on the packed sand between the rocks. As you can see, one of the kids decided to use a pseudonym. He's always been a bit of a joker.

After that the kids wanted to hike out to the lake. About a third of the way to the water, the bottom of the lake bed turned from mud to rock hard salt. 

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Near the lake we spotted a glove on a pool waving to the water.

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Once we reached the shoreline, the kids had to play in the one small section of mud. Kids will be kids, I guess.

Aside from some minor sunburns, the trip was a success and the kids had a good time.

My favorite part about going out there, however, is how quiet it is. Just the desert, the lake, and the Spiral Jetty. No cell phone service, paved roads, lights or any other sign of civilization. You can sit on the rocks overlooking the area and think. Think without distractions. A place like that is difficult to find today.

Widower Wednesday: My Widowed Father is Rushing into a New Relationship

The following comment was posted last week on a past Widower Wednesday column.  My response follows the comment. (Note: For readability, I've broken the comment below into paragraphs.)

So I would like to get some input on this matter. I am the adult child of a recent widower. My mother and father were married 45 years, the last couple of which were rocky due to some mental and health issues of my Mom. Having said that I can assure you that my parents loved each other until the day my mother died. My mother died completely unexpectedly after a successful surgery 11 months ago.

My father's now girlfriend was a friend of the family before my mom's death and she began pursuing my father 1 month after my mother died. Within 2 months after my mom died they were dating and a serious item and by 10 months after they sat the adult children down and told us they planned on being married 2 weeks after the 12 month anniversary of our mother's death. Needless to say this rush to nuptials did not go over well with me. I love my father and don't want him to be unhappy or lonely but there is no chance that my father (nor anyone else that loved my mother) has had time even adjust to her passing let alone be prepared to have some one absorb her space so quickly.

Thankfully they have moved the wedding date back a couple of months but my father has broken every foundation of grief counseling. Within months he has emptied the house of most of my mother's belongs (clothes, decorations, furniture, possessions) by either giving to myself, my brother or family or donating. He has redecorated, resurface, pack up or passed on most of the fingerprint my mother left on their home and has jumped into a new relationship with 2 months of my mother passing.

To be fair, I can honestly say I really like my Dad's new girlfriend and can see that she makes him happy. I would never want to ruin that for him. I do have difficulty with the fact that they have no boundaries when it comes to my parents house. They don't have any concept of how inappropriate if feels to have this new woman absorbing my mothers space in her house. I have gotten to the point that I don't even feel comfortable in my parents home anymore. Yesterday while I was at my parents house visiting family his girlfriend was actually tending and rearranging my mother's flower beds!!! She doesn't even live at the house yet. My father keeps referring the house as "his house" to make the point to me that she is gone but just because she died does not erase her life. I am well educated enough to know how unhealthy my father's approach to his grief is.

Rather than deal with the sorrow and loneliness of the loss of his 45 year relationship (no matter how trying the last few years were) he has chosen to remove physical reminders of my mother and jump into this new relationship, become consumed with all these new loving feelings rather than deal with the loss of the old. I get that this is how he has chosen the deal with his grief by trying to barrel past it at mock speed. What he doesn't take into consideration is that he is forcing all the rest of us to keep up his break neck pace by forcing this new relationship on us. I don't want him to stop dating this great lady I just want some respect and appropriateness (within a reasonable time frame) where it comes to my mothers last standing footprint on the earth......her home.

--Can't believe we have arrived here already

Can't Believe We Have Arrived Here Already,

Losing a parent is hard thing for anyone to go through and seeing your father move on so quickly must feel like losing your mother all over again. But just because he's opened his heart to someone else so soon after her death doesn't mean he no longer loves your mother or that he's not ready to start a new life.

It seems like your biggest complaint is that their home no longer feels like their home. Since your mother passed, it's no longer their home but his home. He can do with it as he wishes. You say you don’t feel comfortable in your parent’s home anymore. Think about how you’d feel if you were or engaged to a widower only to have to live in a house that reflected the tastes of the late wife. Would you feel comfortable living there?

I'm curious as to what grief counseling rules you believe your father is breaking. I remarried 15 months after my late wife passed and have been married to Marathon Girl for 14 years. When I got serious with Marathon Girl, most of my late wife's things were either packed up or given away to those who wanted them. Though the length of time it takes someone to move on from the death of a spouse varies from person to person, those who do have successful remarriage almost always put physical reminders from their first marriage away in order to make room in their life and their heart for their new spouse. I see nothing wrong with your father’s actions. It seems like the healthy way to start a new chapter in his life.

I sincerely hope your father is ready to move on and that he's not rushing into a relationship he’s not emotionally ready for. There are too many women who date widowers and end up with nothing but a broken heart. But this is his life and home—not yours. I’m glad that you like the new woman. Be happy that your father has refused to dwell in sadness and misery for there is too much of that in this world. Your mother lives on in you and your brother. She also lives on in your father and the sweet influence she was in his life for 45 years. Just because the house she lived in doesn’t look like her house doesn’t mean she’s been erased from your father’s life. There will always be a special place in his heart for her.

Hope this helps,

Abel

 

Book Reviewers Wanted

As some of you may know, I'm coming out with a new book soon and possible a second one later in the year. The first book is along the sci-fi/fantasy genre and the second is a mystery/thriller. 

If you like to read one or both of these genres or future self-help books, I’m looking for a few honest book reviewers. If you’re interested in reviewing future books of mine, fill out the form here. I’ll be in touch soon.

Thanks in advance.

Podcast: Dating Advice for Widowers and the Women who Date Them

One of the big concerns I hear from women in relationships with widowers is that they love my books and find them helpful but their widowers aren’t readers or don’t have the time to pick up a book. If that’s the case, maybe they’ll listen to a recent podcast I participated in titled “Dating Advice for Widowers and the Women who Date Them.”

What I enjoyed most about the interview is that the interview focused on discussing the needs of widowers, how widowers can know whether or not they’re ready for serious relationship, and how they can know if they’re really in love with the person they’re dating. Listen to the podcast here then, if you like it, recommend it to the widower in your life.

Enjoy!

Me, My Husband, and His Dead Wife

There's an article on Upvoted about the hardships that come with dating and marrying a widower--something that many readers of this site can relate to. Excerpts below. I'm also quoted several times in the article.

While decorating the Christmas tree, Lara found a place for the special ornament she made for her family this year—a red plush picture frame decorated with little hearts and snowflakes. Displayed inside it was a photograph of a woman, a woman who is not her.

The woman has big eyes, a strong chin and, as Lara describes, a “million-dollar smile.” Lara knows her face well—there are images of her throughout the house she shares with her husband, Dave, and their four kids. Photographs placed in the rooms of the three oldest children. Snapshots tucked in binders on a bookcase in her bedroom. A giant portrait showcased in the den.

Though she never met her, Lara lives with the presence of this woman, Charlotte, who died by suicide in 2011. And she’s been trying to, as she explains, “make room” for her ever since she fell in love with Dave, the husband that Charlotte left behind.

As both the new wife and the new mother to the children the couple had together, Lara, 30, takes the family to Charlotte’s grave every month, makes sure there’s a cake on her birthday and includes her in holiday traditions, such as tree decorating. She does it for the kids, mostly, but also for herself.

“As much as it can hurt me, being allowed to participate in the grieving process to an extent by facilitating these opportunities allows me to not be ignored,” she says. “Otherwise, when grieving happens, I don’t exist.”

***

These are women who know what it’s like to experience profound love with a man who may also—maybe even always—love another woman. Women who are swimming in a massive gray area with very few resources to guide them. Women immersed in a world of grief that is not their own. Women who are constantly told to grin and bear it.

“It’s so conflicting, it makes my head spin,” says Rachel, a 42-year-old professional who has been dating a widower for three years.

As a human, you want to show compassion and sensitivity, she explains. But as a romantic partner, you don’t want to be making out on the couch while gazing at an urn filled with another woman’s ashes—an object that has been the source of many arguments in their relationship, and even a brief breakup.

“You get to a point where you say, ‘I don’t want to hear anymore,’” she shares. “I can’t listen anymore. I don’t want to know what her favorite color was. I don’t want to know what her favorite perfume was.’ I don’t want to live in the shadow of someone else.”

Read the entire article on Upvoted here.

Lady of the Feast

On the wall of a local restaurant I frequent, right above the table I normally sit at, watching as I eat.

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Update: A Catholic friend of mine pointed out that I posted this on the same day as the Feast day of Our Lady of Guadcalupe. That wasn't intentional, but it's a pretty cool coincidence.

Perspective, Purpose, and Perseverance: How a Suicide Loss Survivor Rebuilt His Life

Note: The following was given at the 2015 Wyoming Suicide Prevention Conference on September 10, 2015The term suicide survivor refers to someone who has lost a friend or loved one to suicide.

Thank you for the introduction and thank you all for the warm welcome. It’s nice to be back in Casper. My family moved here in the summer of 1992 just after I graduated from high school and I attended Casper College for two years after that. And though I only lived here a short time, the city of Casper and the State of Wyoming hold a special place in my heart.

I appreciate the invitation to speak at this conference. Though I do speaking engagements back home, this audience and conference is different than those I usually present at. There are people here with mental health and law enforcement backgrounds, educators, and suicide survivors. You all have difference experience when it comes to helping those who are suicidal or those who are left behind.

I’ve thought carefully about what I could give you, how my experience could help such a diverse group. After much thought, I’ve decided to share my story with you. Now, I believe you all received a copy of Room for Two. The first part of this story I’m going to tell you is in that book. But that book is just about the first year of my life after my late wife took her own life—an event happened 14 years ago this November. However, when one is in the middle rebuilding their life sometimes it's difficult to see the decisions, the people, and the miracles—if you want to call them that—that help us find lasting happiness and peace. Time, however, gives us a unique perspective. It allows us to look back and see the key moments, choices, and events that helped us prevail over difficulties and challenges that at the time seemed insurmountable.

Because I have this perspective of time, I'm going to share some stories with you that I've never told publically before. I share them in the hopes that they can help you in your jobs or in your personal life as you deal with those who are teetering on the edge as well as those who are left behind and have nothing but unanswered questions. Maybe the story of how I rebuilt my life will speak directly to some of you in this audience who are struggling. Wherever you find yourself, I hope and pray that there is something I can share today that you can use going forward.

My story begins on the night of November 9, 2001. It was a Friday night and I was tired after a long week of work. After the 45-minute, congestion-filled drive home from Salt Lake, all I wanted to do was relax and spend time with my seven-month-pregnant wife, Krista.  However, when I came home I discovered that my wife had left earlier in the day gone to her grandmother's house in Ogden—a fifteen minute drive north. There was a note waiting for me that said she wanted to spend the night there. I was upset at this change of plans and my wife's increasingly bizarre and unpredictable behavior. I didn't want to drive any more after the long commute to and from work that day. I just wanted to spend the night at home. Despite my reservations, I packed an overnight bag and headed out the door.

As I put my bag in the trunk of my car, I stopped and looked back at the apartment. I had a strong feeling that I should go back inside and get my handgun and give it to my brother for safe keeping. I thought it was a strange feeling to have. My wife and I had moved into our apartment the week before and the gun was locked away in a case. I looked back at the door to our apartment. I was tried and was running behind schedule. I didn't feel like I had the energy to walk back up the stairs and get the gun. I shrugged off the feeling and drove to Ogden.

The next morning, I left Krista sleeping in the bed and got up early to run errands. The night before we had agreed that after I ran the errands we'd head back to our apartment together, finish unpacking, and spend the rest of the weekend alone. As I got in the car to leave I had a second strong impression. This time I felt that instead of running errands I should drive back to our apartment. I didn't understand why I should do that. There wasn't much food in our apartment and the car was overdue for an oil change. There were other things that needed to be done. For the second time in less than 12 hours, I ignored the feeling and spent the morning running around town and crossing things off my To Do list. When I returned to her grandmother's house, I discovered that Krista wasn't there. While I was gone she had taken her car back to our apartment instead of waiting as planned. I called the apartment to see what was going on. There was no answer. I waited a bit and called again. Still there was no answer. After a few other attempts to reach her, I got in the car and drove to our apartment.

When I arrived, I was frustrated and angry. As I headed up the steps and took the key to the apartment out of my pocket I had another strong impression come to me. This time I felt that I should enter the apartment as quietly as possible. I stood outside the door for a moment wondering why on earth I should do that. I realized that it probably wasn't best idea to come home with anger in my voice so for the third time I ignored the feeling. I opened the door and called out for Krista in a somewhat nice voice. A second later I heard a gunshot come from our bedroom.

The police and paramedics that responded to the scene weren't able to save Krista but they got her body to the hospital fast enough to deliver my daughter, Hope, via emergency surgery. However due to the trauma and oxygen deprivation Hope had experienced before she was born, my daughter's condition deteriorated. Nine days after she came into this world, I made the hardest and the most difficult decision of my life and removed her from life support.

Now, I'm going to stop the story for a minute and say that most of the people I work with, those I worship with, and most of my neighbors don’t know this story. Some of them know I'm a former widower but they don't know the details surrounding my late wife's death. They don't know I’m a suicide survivor.

And that is how it should be.

Why don't they know this? It's not like I hide this story from the world. I have a memoir that tells this story in great detail. I have a website where they can find this information too. But I suspect the main reason they don’t know because I'm happy and I lead a pretty normal life. Like most of them, I get up and go to work in morning. Me and my wife, Julianna, socialize with neighbors at neighborhood BBQs and movie nights. I worship with many of them at church on Sunday. I coach my kids and their children on city league basketball and soccer teams. I have a good life and feel that I am blessed with much more than I deserve. On the outside, there's nothing to indicate that I'm a suicide survivor.

Now occasionally a neighbor, co-worker, or member of the congregation I attend with will come across my website or memoir and read about my story. Usually when this happens they express sympathy for my loss and sometimes they ask what I did to make it from losing a wife and a daughter to the life I live right now. My standard answer to that question is something along the lines that I took things day at a time and figured things out as I went along. There's some truth to that. Early on I had to take things one day at a time and with no "How To" manual on rebuilding a shattered life, I had to figure things out on my own.

But the real reason is a little more complex than that. And looking back with nearly fourteen years of hindsight I want to share with you seven things I learned that allowed me to move forward, rebuild my life, and have life I have today. Again, please keep in mind that I share them in the hopes that they can help you or those who you come in contact with contact with as part of your jobs or personal life.

The first thing I learned was the importance of getting out of bed every morning.

In the weeks and months after Krista's suicide, the hardest decision I faced every day was whether or not to get out of bed. I would wake up and stare at the ceiling and have this mental battle of whether I would stay in bed and sleep for another couple hours or get out of bed and go for a run.

I knew if I made the decision to stay in bed it would eventually lead to calling into work and taking a day off. And with no job to go to, I'd sit around all day watch TV and surfing the internet. I'd probably eat a lot of junk food. Maybe I would get around to taking a shower. Maybe.

The choice to get out of bed didn’t involve getting ready for the day but included running four miles. Doing that run would give me 30 minutes to be sad or work through things that were weighing on my mind. By the time I got home, I'd feel good enough mentally that I could get ready and go to work and make it through the rest of the day.

Now some days making this choice was easy and it would take less than a minute to decide for me to throw of the covers and start running. Other mornings it was a five to ten minute struggle on what decision I was going to make. Those mornings just making that one decision left me mentally exhausted. But every morning, I made the decision to get out of bed and run.

This all came to a head on a freezing winter morning. As I lay in bed, I could feel the wind shake the house and listened as bits of snow and ice hit against the window. I knew if I went for my four-mile run it was going to be near or below zero outside. I paused and thought about getting back under the covers for another hour or two. But inside I knew I had to run—even if it was only two or three miles—because I knew if I made the decision to stay in bed, it would be easier the next morning or the morning after that to come up with an excuse to stay home and wallow in self-pity.

I couldn't let that happen.

So I got up, put on extra layers of clothing, and headed out into the cold. Forty minutes later I completed my four mile run. Even though the run took longer than usual and I was chilled to the bone, I felt like I had just climbed Mount Everest. I realized if I could get out of bed under those conditions and run, I could get out of bed any morning.

Getting out of bed may seem like a small, trivial thing but the fact that I did it day after day allowed me to lay a foundation that I could build a new life upon. If I had not been able to do that, I probably wouldn't be living the life that I have. I don't know what I'd be doing but it probably wouldn't include a family, a good job, and or standing here before all of you today.

The second thing I learned was the importance of being grateful.  

I lost Krista and Hope just before the start of the holiday season. It was a hard time to be alone. While everyone else appeared happy and excited for the upcoming holidays, I had nothing to look forward to. Then one afternoon just as I was getting ready to leave work for the day, I overheard a coworker talking to about the divorce he was going through. The whole process was bankrupting him and it was looking like despite his best efforts, he was only going to see his four children every other weekend. As I listened to him choke back tears, it made me realize that I wasn’t the only one with problems and difficulties. Other people had their own challenges they were facing.

During the hour-long drive home that afternoon, I thought about what I had overheard. I realized that even though I had lost much, I had much to be grateful for. I thought about the friends and family that had stood by me and supported me during this difficult time. I thought about my friend Brent who had invited me to spend an extended weekend with him in Phoenix so I could to get away from the cold and the memoires that were in Utah. I was grateful for my friends, Ryan and Suzie, who invited me over for dinner once a week I could enjoy some company and a good home cooked meal. I was thankful for my job. Even though it wasn't the best or most exiting job in the world, it paid the bills and kept me focused on something other than my loss for most of the day. I was also grateful for an understanding boss who was patient with me as I tried to make it through each day at work. I was grateful for my good health, good books to read, and small but wonderful home to live in. By the time I got home I realized that despite my loss, I still had many good people and things in my life. After that, whenever I felt sad or depressed, I tried to find at least one thing to be grateful for to cheer me up.

It's something I still do it today.

Whether it's stress at work or something else that gets me feeling down or angry or frustrated, I try to think of the blessings in my life. And to be honest, all I have to do is think of where I was thirteen years ago then think of my wonderful wife Julianna and our six children and suddenly life doesn’t seem so bad.

The third thing I learned was the healing power of serving others.

One spring morning I was sitting in church and a member of the congregation said that they were moving that Saturday and needed some help loading the van. I volunteered to give them a hand. Now, I have to admit my motives for helping were a little selfish. I volunteered because without a job to go to, Saturdays were long and empty and I figured that this would help pass the time. So I showed up and for two hours helped move boxes from their home to the moving truck. When it was all done my muscles were sore but I felt good inside. It wasn't just the a good feeling of knowing that I had done the right thing, but I found I was a less angry at Krista, that I was a little happier inside. I felt a little more normal.

Now the concept of serving and helping others wasn't new to me. The importance of helping and serving others was something I had been taught since I was little and something I had done many times before. But where I was in that time in my life I was able to feel the healing power of service firsthand.

At first I wondered if it was some kind of fluke that I had felt that way. Yet I found the more I served and helped others, the better I felt about myself. When others in the congregation needed help with something, I was usually one of the first to volunteer. As I felt this healing power in my life, I started to look for ways I could serve neighbors. I mowed and edged the lawn or shoveled snow for a widow in the neighborhood who was too frail to do it herself. Sometimes the act of service was as simple as spending thirty minutes with someone who just needed someone to talk with. Each time I focused on the needs of others instead of my own feelings, the more peace I felt about my situation and life in general.

The experience also humbled me.

I'm a very independent person and like to think that I can get through life without the assistance of others. I realized that there were times after Krista's death where it had been hard for me to accept the service from others when it was offered. From that moment on it became easier to let others serve me even if I was sure it was something that I could do for myself. I realized that those performing the service might need the healing power and the peace that comes with helping their fellow man. So when opportunities arose for others to serve me, I let them do it.

For anyone here today who is struggling or hurting I encourage you to look around at friends, family, co-workers, and loved ones and see how you can use your time, your talents, and your abilities to lighten the burden of others. If you do it, I promise you that you will experience amazing healing results in your own life.

The fourth thing I learned was that it’s okay to not to have all the answers.

After Krista's suicide there were a lot of unanswered questions. I saw them in the sad faces of family and friends. I saw them every time I looked in the mirror. Why Krista had done it? Was mental illness? A chemical imbalance? Depression? Something else? How could I not known she was suicidal? Everyone looked to me for answers. I had none.

I still don't.

I have my suspicions why Krista did what she did but the truth is I’m not going to get answers in this life and I'm okay with that. We only have so much time and energy to spend every day and the more time I spent worrying about things I'd never have the answer to, the more it held me back from progressing and moving forward.

When I was dating Julianna, I learned that I couldn't get to know her if I was constantly thinking about the past and why things turned out the way they did. When shifted my focus to Julianna, I was able to open my heart to her.

Today, my time and energy is focused on my family, on my work, and my writing—not the unanswered questions of the past. It’s better spent figuring out how I can help my 11-year-old son with his social studies homework or my eight-year-old daughter refine her basketball skills. It’s better spent on figuring out the next plot twist in my novel, honing my marketing skills for my job, or looking for ways that I can help my wife, Julianna, around the house. There are a thousand things that I can work on that will make me a better father, a better husband, a better neighbor, a better Christian, and a better writer. Focusing on the past doesn't help me do any of these things.

The fifth thing learned that forgiving others is essential to moving forward.

The afternoon after my daughter's funeral, I said three words to Krista that I never thought I'd say to her. Those three words were "I hate you."

Now, Krista wasn't around to hear them, of course, but I remember sitting in my car alone pounding the steering wheel with my fists until my hands hurt and screaming those three words over and over again.

"I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!"

I also remember how good it felt to say them. And inside I found that Krista was the perfect person to channel all my anger and frustrations. Anytime something went wrong—no matter how small or insignificant—I found I could blame her for it. And even though all those feelings of anger or bitterness didn't solve any problems, it made me feel better for an hour or two.

About five months after my late wife's death I started dating again I found I couldn’t emotionally connect with the women I was dating because of the anger. As I started to have feelings for Julianna, I learned that if I was going to fully open my heart to someone else, I couldn’t have feelings of anger or bitterness toward Krista. I had to forgive her.

Now, it would be so much easier to forgive Krista if I could just talk to her. But she wasn't around to do that. No one could do that. I had no doubt that wherever Krista was, she was aware of the consequences of her actions and regretted what she had done. However, she wasn’t in a position to explain why she had done it or to tell me how she was sorry for the pain and anguish she had caused. It would be so much easier to forgive her if she could just apologize.

But that wasn't an option.

I tried brushing off the feelings or channeling my anger in a different direction but nothing seemed to work. Finally, I figured out a solution. Every time I found my rage and anger being directed at Krista, I tried to think of something good and positive about her. Despite all the good memories, it was easy to wipe them all away simply by thinking what she had done with one act. Thinking good thoughts instead of bad ones was difficult and progress at times seemed agonizingly slow.

But eventually it paid off.

It happened on autumn afternoon. I was standing in the kitchen doing dishes and looking outside at the fall colors. At that moment I was filled by this peaceful feeling. It was warm and strong and filled my whole body. It was one of the best feelings of my life. At that moment I realized I had made peace with Krista. I was no longer angry at her.  After I realized what had happened I tried to be angry at her. I thought of what she had done and I wasn't angry or upset.

I was at peace.

I can stand here before all of you today and tell you that thirteen years later I still have no anger or ill will towards her. It no longer matters to me why she killed herself or the pain and sorrow that I and others felt as a result. From that moment I was truly able to start a new life.

I sixth lesson I learned was that I had to forgive myself.

The hardest part in this process of moving forward was forgiving myself for not listening to those promptings I felt in the hours leading up to Krista's death. Even though my life was coming back together one piece at a time, I knew that in order to fully heal I had to forgive myself for my inaction. It was so easy to beat myself up over it. There were days when I wanted nothing more than to go back to that November morning and do everything differently.

It would be so much easier if I could just talk to Krista and express my remorse for my inaction. If I could just tell her how sorry I was for not listening to those promptings and have her forgive at me or yell at me, or do whatever she wanted in order to help her feel better, then that would go a long way to helping me forgive myself.

But that wasn't an option.

After a lot of thought and prayer, I realized that I needed to do two things in order to forgive myself. The first was to let go of the past. By letting go, I didn't mean forgetting about what had happened or erasing it from my mind. Rather, I couldn't dwell on it and beat myself up over it. It meant learning my lessons and moving forward. It was about building a new life from the ashes of the old one and not repeating the mistakes that I had made in the past.

And so I did.

Though I never thought I would rebuild my life quickly, I married Julianna fifteen months after Krista's death and together we started a new family. We've been married twelve years and she has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. With her I've tried to be a better husband—one who is more responsive to her needs than I was the first time around. I haven't been perfect but I think I've done a good job over the years.

Now there was a second thing I had to do in order to forgive myself. And that was I had to make myself a promise. And that promise is the seventh and final lesson I would like to share with you today.

And that is: Always listen and obey those promptings.

Back at the beginning of my story, I told you all about three distinct promptings that I ignored. I like to call them promptings but you can call them whatever you want: gut feelings, hunches, impressions, an inner voice. Whatever you want to call them I believe that everyone has them from time to time. It's the feeling that knowing that we need to do something even when we don't know why we should do it. We can have them when it comes to members of our family, our jobs, our friends, and our neighbors.

The consequences of not following those impressions was a brutal lesson and one I had to learn the hard way. Since then whenever a prompting or impression has struck, I have always followed it. A prompting was a reason I asked Julianna out on our first date. It was promptings that has guided Julianna and I where to look for work or where to live. Those promptings have helped when it's come to issues raising our children and knowing how I can best help them when it comes to their education and other problems they may be struggling with.

Sometimes the reasons for these feelings have been obvious but most of the times I don't know why I'm being told to do a certain thing. But even if the reason is never known, I have peace in my heart knowing I followed those promptings.

And that peace is priceless.

For those who are feeling the sting of a friend or loved one who has taken their own life, I want you to know that life does go on and we can find peace and happiness in this life again.

Thank you.

An Overdue Update

Since it’s been a while since I’ve blogged, several readers have emailed me over the last week or two asking if everything is okay. I appreciate the concern and am happy to report that, yes, everything is fine. Great actually. Life is just really, really busy. So busy, in fact, that blogging is one of many things that have fallen to the side. That being said, I find myself with a few minutes to provide a brief update on book, life, and a few other things.

  • Chronos update: The book as gone through its first editor. It was a bruising edit but it came back with a lot of good suggestions and feedback. I’m currently one third of the way through the revision process before the book will be handed over to a second editor. I wish I had all day to write so I could make faster progress but I do my best to make the most out of the 60-90 minutes of writing time I get each day. I don’t know when the book will be done but I’m doing my best to have it available this year.
     
  • Until I get this book out the door, I’m putting the Widower Wednesday columns on hold. I am still answering emails. So if you have a widower-related issue, feel free to email me or join the Dating a Widower group on Facebook (for girlfriends and wives of widowers) or the Widowers Dating Again group (for widowers who are dating again, remarried, etc.).
     
  • Marathon Girl and I are expecting our seventh, and final, child in November. A girl. And for the first time we’re actually close to agreeing on a name before the child is born. The kids are excited to have a little sister. Marathon Girl is exhausted. I’m just trying to fill in and help out the best I can until the baby comes.
     
  • I’ll be speaking at the 2015 Wyoming Suicide Prevention Conference next month as well as holding a workshop. Details of the speech and workshop can be found in the link.
     
  • I started a new marketing job at the beginning of the year. I love it. The work is challenging and it keeps my mind engaged and it doesn’t come with all the craziness and long hours of the old job. Marathon Girl likes the fact I usually come home in a good mood.
     
  • I’ve been running more than I have in a long time. If I keep to my schedule I should pass the 1,000 mile mark on Saturday. If I keep up the pace, I should hit around 1,300 miles by year’s end. And, no, I’m not running or training for any races. I’m simply running that much because I love it and it’s good for my mental health.
     
  • And though I don’t have time to blog on a regular basis right now, you can always follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Until I get back to blogging, it’s the easiest way to get a quick snippet of what’s going on.

That’s all for now. More later.

Sex and the Grieving Widower

I got a couple of mentions in a Huffington Post article titled "Sex and the Grieving Widower."

Women who date widowers are sometimes stunned when an actively grieving man presses eagerly for sex. Our culture mandates no "correct" grieving process, and grieving is unique to every individual, but most experts agree that men and women mourn in different ways. Women are less likely than men to seek comfort in sex while grief endures, says a writer at hellogrief.org, citing one reason why a women who is dating a widower "might be amazed that he wants to make love to you."

Silent brooding, isolation, and even anger are stock elements of male behavior, while women tend to "talk it out" with close friends. Support systems are emblematic of the female experience; men do not cultivate support structures in the same way women do.

***

Abel Keogh, author of The Ultimate Dating Guide for Widowers, believes that a widower's impulse to find someone new is ultimately sex-related. "When it comes to sex," he writes, "most widowers find themselves in a tough spot. When their wife passed on, so did regular sex. The desire for sex is one of the reasons widowers start dating again."

***

Recently I posed the question of sex as therapy, distraction, or denial to a friend who was widowed some years ago at the age of 57. He seemed surprised at the question. "A man's grief doesn't mean he stops thinking like a man," he said. "Sex is -- what we do."

Read the full article at the Huffington Post.

Where's Abel? At #Storymakers15

I'll be at the Storymakers writing conference this week. Thursday I'll be teaching a publication workshop and Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at the Utah Valley Convention Center in Provo, Utah. I'll be participating in the state's biggest book signing with the following authors:

The signing is open to the public so feel free to stop by if you're in the area. If you're part of the conference, I'll see you there.