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Aftermath

The Risk of Putting It On Paper Widow Repair

In December of last year, my fiance turned on his windshield wipers and dislodged three sheets of folded paper that someone had placed on his vehicle. The papers turned out to be photocopies from my handwritten diary.

The content was a brainstorming session that I did after my husband Jason died in 2006. I wrote no details—it was just a random list of memories that I planned to expand on in the future. I did not want to forget anything about him.

I know where I left my notebooks during that time, and I know who had access to them. The thief was trying to find a way to implicate me in Jason’s death.

The strangest part of this situation? A cryptic message was stamped on the back of the papers: “WERE YOURS!

I assumed it was some sort of threat, especially because the “O” resembles crosshairs. I sent it to my lawyer and filed a police report.

Were Yours Widow Repair

Hoping to learn more about the trespasser’s intentions, I posted on Facebook.

Soon after, I received confidential information that confirmed my suspicions. In 2006, when I was pouring my raw emotions into my diary, someone else was going behind me and making photocopies.

It makes my skin crawl to learn about this invasion of privacy.

The Risk of Putting it on Paper

A witness said that the thief described my writings as “questionable” and “dark.”

Part of the stolen content was written when I was teenager, before I started dating Jason. What teenage girl doesn’t get depressed and angsty?

I was 21 years old when Jason died. I was not good at talking to other people, so I wrote about my feelings during that period of vulnerability and mixed emotions.

Sometimes I was angry at Jason because I felt abandoned, and most of the time I described my love for him as I tried to work through heartbreak.

A private journal is the appropriate place to document your feelings after going through something traumatic, and the thief had no right to judge me.

The Threat of Twisted Words

The person who stole my writings and trespassed on my property was trying to say, “These ‘were yours,’ but now I have power over you!” [sinister laugh].

The person has a history of taking my words out of context and twisting my meanings.

However, I have nothing hiding in my closet. I wrote nothing that I should be ashamed of because there is nothing in my heart to be ashamed of.

The Remedy? Put Those Words in Context.

I’ve decided to do what I planned when I made that list. I’m going to write more about those memories and shed some light on old gossip. The trespasser’s threat has gone stale.

Let’s start with the “questionable” entries first, and maybe we can put my aggressor’s accusations to rest:

Inappropriate Comment or Playful Marriage?

One line described something sexual that Jason said to me. It was a little embarrassing, but there is nothing wrong with a risque comment between husband and wife.

I loved his playfulness. He was always trying to make me blush.

Illegal Activities or Drama Bait?

Another reference is so vague that it could easily be misunderstood: “fighting pit bulls.”

I wrote about this in a previous blog post. One day Jason told me about his idea to start fighting pit bulls, and he went on about it long enough for me to throw a fit about animal cruelty.

Then he told me he was kidding and laughed his head off. Always amused, he was baiting me for a dramatic reaction.

I loved that memory because I missed him. Even if he was fooling me, I wanted him to tease me again. I wanted more jokes, more chances to see his eyes squint with laughter while he held his fists in front of his mouth…such a characteristic gesture.

Sarcasm From a New Mom Who Wants to Take Her Baby Home—Right Now!!

One quote said, “We can’t leave the hospital until we know how to take care of Caleb (our newborn baby).”

Without knowing the details, would you jump to a bad conclusion?

I am a Type 1 Diabetic, and my body was adjusting post-pregnancy. We had been in the hospital for a few days, and we asked the doctor, “When can we go home?”

They really wanted me to nurse rather than bottle feed, but Caleb was reluctant. The doctor told us to stay longer and talk to a lactation consultant.

By this time, I was confident that Caleb and I would get the hang of nursing together, or we would use bottles. I was armed with my motherly instincts and resentful that they wanted to hold up my family any longer. How dare they imply that I needed help!

Weary and frustrated, I said sarcastically, “We can’t leave the hospital until we know how to take care of Caleb!” Jason’s eyes crinkled with suppressed laughter, and that became our inside joke about the long hospital stay.

I’m sure that all brand new parents felt the same way.


In context, my list is a series of memorable experiences with someone I love and miss.

Even though my writings were exposed, they are mine. They always have been. No one can take them or use them against me, and that person had no right to judge or steal from me.

I’m glad to finally have them back. I’ll go into more of those happy memories soon.

Is There a Right Way or a Wrong Way to Express Emotion After the Death of a Loved One

As a child, Disney movies were my only exposure to the emotions of loss after death, and my tears for Bambi were only temporary.

I learned this later: The death of a loved one almost chokes the life out of the people who are left behind.

Solemn & Subdued Suffering

Our neighbor died when I was twelve years old. Her son came over and told us what happened with quiet frankness.

After he left, my mom looked so worried. “It hasn’t hit him yet,” she said. She was worried about how he would cope when he was ready to face the loss.

Looking back though, I believe he was facing it already. We all have different ways of dealing with loss.

I remember a blankness to his eyes, as if he was talking into a void, but he needed someone to listen. There was a feeling of acute pain in his candid words.

Now I recognize this was the expression of his suffering at that moment. It wasn’t denial. He was feeling loss constantly.

Emotion vs. Physical Strength

My brother’s best friend died in a car crash.

At the viewing, a steady stream of comforters hugged his mother. She didn’t know me, but I explained how I knew her son from school.

She made no comment. The emotion in her eyes terrified me. They were wide and stricken: she seemed to be looking past me and struggling to focus.

I was pulled into a tight hug with her tears falling on my right shoulder. Her petite body was racked with sobs.

Self-consciously, I realized that I was not crying. I wanted to help her and take away her pain, but I could feel that her grief was all-consuming.

Torn between comforting her or retreating for my own security, I returned the hug.

She was clinging to me for physical support and maybe because she longed to hold her son. I was a prop of warmth and life to a mind in turmoil. When her strength failed, a chair was brought.

Back at home, life was unchanged for me in most ways, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the mother and her grief.

Composure & Bravery in Pain

When Jason’s grandmother died, his grandfather discouraged family members from staying at his house because it would prevent him from becoming accustomed to being alone.

When he spoke of his wife, his voice would thicken until he was forced to jump up from his chair and compose himself to hide the tears.

My experience with death at that time was only through observing the pain of others. I could not imagine the loneliness he was feeling after being married for so many years.

I did not say, “I understand what you’re going through,” because I didn’t understand—not at that time.

Mechanical Coping

Within a year, a former teacher lost control of her car on a winding road and died in the hospital.

Her husband and children were quiet and still at the funeral, but I could see that they were in the midst of misery.

The light was gone from the eyes of her children. Death hit them the moment they were told that their mother died.

If I knew nothing else about dealing with death by this time, I knew that people survive by living mechanically. They were just going through the motions.

Soon after that, I was hugging Jason, thanking the Lord that he was with me.

I remember thinking that our time together is not guaranteed, that I would never take him for granted.

That was only a week before Jason died. I never imagined that I would lose him so soon.

When trying to talk about it with other people, I was like the neighbor boy. I was numb.

Sometimes, I was like the mother of the young man who died, so consumed with pain that I couldn’t stand up. I wanted to sleep so I could have a break from reality.

I wasn’t brave like Jason’s grandfather. We all lost different people, different relationships. We all felt pain and lived in that pain in different ways.

The Wrong Way: Judgment After Death

It is wrong to judge the ways in which other people personally cope with the death of a loved one. For example, someone recently criticized me because I rarely visit Jason’s grave.

I’m happy for those who are comforted at the graveside, but that’s not me. I like to remember Jason while listening to songs that he loved or by writing about him.

Some people deal with death by blaming others. It’s not an emotion that I felt toward other people, but I’ve embraced it as a legitimate stage of grief.

However, there is a huge disclaimer to validating blame. Blame of other people should be discussed privately with a licensed therapist until you are able to heal properly.

If you spread unfounded accusations among friends and family, blame is no longer your personal expression of pain and loss. Instead, your grief and anger is projected on innocent people.

There is no moral justification for imposing one’s defamatory theories upon a community for years after the death of a loved one. Public blame is slander, whether it’s a phone call to a relative or a discussion with friends at the ballpark.

My advice for the person being blamed? Fight back by clearing your name with the truth and the facts surrounding the situation. Take strides to eradicate the damage that may have been done to your reputation.

I also want to give a loving warning to anyone who is angry—I know it’s hard for you to hear right now. Unchecked anger is destructive to relationships, especially if apologies are never offered.

My conclusion? No one has the right to judge you for the way you express emotion after the death of a loved one…unless you use grief as an excuse to attack other people.