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Widowhood and Trauma

Posted on June 22, 2021
Woman walking away toward sunset with text widowhood

By Sherita Mouzon, Community Engagement Assistant

I met my husband at a very difficult time in my life. I was living in poverty and suffering from addiction and trauma. He helped me get a job and let me move in with him. He changed my life forever. I knew what true love is and what it means to have someone love you unconditionally and help heal what has been broken. I never really had anyone that loved me. I would spend my time trying to find love from the wrong people. I turned to drugs to help numb my pain. I even had a couple of failed suicide attempts. Before him, I didn’t have a reason for living.

My husband was my personal cheerleader. He helped me become a better person. He taught me the importance of working hard and the importance of family. He was the best father and husband. He always made sure my daughter and I had everything we needed. We were inseparable. We were always together. No marriage is perfect, but ours was almost like a fairy tale. We had the greatest love story that has to be told.

Friday, January 18, 2019, I had texted him at work to say I wanted to be a housewife and didn’t want to work anymore. I wanted to have another baby. His last text to me was “Ok, we will talk about it when I get home.”

That Friday night was like most nights; my daughter and I waited for him to come home from work. I called him, and he didn’t answer. We went to bed. Then around 4:30 a.m., I saw this very bright light on my window - it was two police officers. At worst I expected maybe he was in a car accident, and we could go see him. But when they told me he was dead, my brain and my heart broke. To be there in that place and time - there was no buffer. I was not in my body.

Not understanding what to do or who to call is unlike anything you can ever experience. To have two strangers say that your love one has died is a trauma like no other.

They asked if there is someone they could call for me. So many thoughts ran through my mind at the same time: Call who? Call god and tell him he made a mistake? I had just texted my husband eight hours ago. What you mean dead? Our daughter is upstairs asleep. How do I tell her that her dad is dead? I can’t call his elderly mother and family at 4:30 a.m. to tell them he is dead. WTF?!

I remember coming downstairs and looking at our turtle and thinking, what do I do? Maybe it was a mistake. Somebody took his wallet and he is going to pull up at any minute; it would be a big misunderstanding. How could my life as I knew it end in eight hours? I was a happily married woman with a husband and just like that his car, his job, his essence, and his presence on this earth was gone.

I thought that I would break, but something inside of me knew how awesome I am. I had to be that inspiration for my daughter. We were so fortunate to have had a person in our lives that loved and took care of us. Even in his death he’s taken care of us. How blessed that I had him for 14 years. I’m am so thankful and grateful to have had that time with this amazing man. He took me out of a toxic environment and showed me how to want better for myself. He was teaching me, and I didn’t even know it. He taught me how to pay bills and take care of important business. I watched and chose to be a student.

He’s been gone for two years. We miss him every day.

My calling as a mentor and motivational speaker has prepared me to share my grief journey with other people. When your spouse, child, close loved one dies unexpectedly, it is a trauma that very few understand. You were not prepared to lose them. They were just here on earth. And now you have to bury someone that I was just talking to.

That’ why it is so important to provide support and resources around grief trauma. It is a pain like no other. People have strokes, heart attacks all the time. Loved ones dying so suddenly is such trauma. My husband was not ill or anything that would have led us to think that he would die by his car in the parking lot of his job.

My heart will be forever broken, but I do believe that he is in a better place. He is not suffering, and he knows he left us in good hands. He even came in spirit and sat on our bed. Knowing that it wasn’t the cat, I felt the presence of a person sitting down. I looked around the bedroom and felt a sense of love and calm - not sadness or pain - just love. I had never believed in spirits, but what else was it? My resilience, my faith, and my motivation is knowing someone is watching over me. I want to be that beacon of motivation for other widows.

Sherita is in the process of developing an in-person widow support group to begin later in 2021. If you are interested in finding out more, email her at spm333@drexel.edu

Posted in Trauma and Healing