Three years ago, my husband lost his battle with cancer. That day, I lost my spouse, my best friend, my confidante, the father to our three children, and the love of my life. Mr. Style was all those things to me and so much more. You can never prepare for the death of a loved one. In the blink of an eye, your world changes. And you are forevermore changed.
Looking back, I know the first year was so damn hard. I was overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with grief but also overwhelmed with how to move forward without my husband and carve a new life. Instead of we, it was only me. Ugh! My biggest cheerleader and my helpmate were now removed from the scene. It was a challenge to run my household and business all alone.
That first year I was running behind on both fronts. For a person who was always on time and organized, I found myself woefully late for everything, and my daytime routines were a mixed-up mish-mosh. I just couldn’t seem to catch up with anything. Then I decided to take it one day at a time. It’s the small things in life that have the biggest impact. Every morning, waking up at the same time, making a cup of coffee, feeding Oscar and Ollie, heading off to Pilates, Peloton, or Orange Theory, answering emails, checking in on social media, photoshoots, watering the plants, and even something as simple as taking out the garbage because that task hadn't been on my to-do list for years. Putting structure in your life is key because grief affects our mind, body, and spirit. Structure helps us to weather the pain. Take time to exercise, get a good night's sleep, and pay attention to a healthy diet.
Grief is hard work, and it’s also painful. But allowing ourselves to feel the pain is how we heal. It’s sad but true that in the 21st century, we are socialized to avoid grief and loss or repress lingering feelings of sadness. Grief works beneath the surface. There are no milestones to tick off. On the outside, we might look perfectly fine. But on the inside, we’re changing and transforming and hopefully healing. Grief doesn’t have a timeline, isn’t linear, and is personal. If you have just suffered the loss of a loved one, give yourself grace and space to heal.
Lean on your friends and family or find a good support group. Our mental health is key because it’s all too easy to slip down a slippery slope into depression or hopelessness. And we have to guard against being frozen in time. Many of us get stuck in a pattern of looking backward and can’t seem to move past the pain and suffering. You may even find yourself not wanting to go forward with life regardless of any hope for the future. Picking up the pieces of your life is hard. Grief isn’t about moving on, but it has everything to do with moving forward. If your sorrow becomes chronic and disabling, reach out for help.
After the first year, I decided to redecorate my bedroom. It was a bold move at the time, but it was a key step for me. The master bedroom went from a masculine Ralph Laurenish room to something decidedly feminine. Honestly, I loved the room before I had it painted and purchased new furniture. But the transformation was an important step for me as I now claimed the room as my own. It was symbolic of my life, and I absolutely love the space.
Two years after losing Mr. Style, I took baby steps to travel independently. I head to the beach several times a year on my own and zipped down to Amelia Island, Mexico, and a lovely resort at Lake Oconee. I struggle with dining alone, but I’m improving with each trip. And there’s always room service!
Three years after losing my husband, I honestly say I’m in a healthy and happy place. Mr. Style will forever live on in my heart because he was one of the most important people in my life and always will be. Most days, when I think of him, it is with a joyful heart. Although I know all too well there will still be days when missing him seems almost unbearable.
I love the jar graphic that shows grief doesn’t shrink with time. What really happens when we move forward with our lives is that we grow around our grief.
To all of us who have suffered the loss of a loved one, move forward at your own pace, and don’t be afraid to feel the pain. Spend time with your grief and allow yourself to heal.
It is well with my soul. xo
is the Founder and CEO of Style at a Certain Age. She writes Sundays-Fridays on all topics ranging from fashion, health, wellness, home design and more.
She’s 63, 5’8, and size 8.
have been wondering how you are doing.
thank you for sharing your heart….
Thank you for this thoughtful post about your personal journey through your grief. You are truly an inspiration for those of us “at a certain age” and it is comforting to know how you are now doing in year three one day at a time.
Thank you for this.One year and two weeks ago I lost my beloved husband to cancer.We were married 43 years-since I was 22.I will read and reread your post often.
Unfortunately, this is the only way this site let me make a comment!
Beth, thank you for a beautifully written post on grief. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with you concerning the passing of your husband.
I lost my husband March 2019 , pretty near when you did. I appreciate hearing how it’s been for you over the past 3 years. You don’t know how much that helps me to see change moving in a good direction as it has for me. My world was turned upside down we were together 42 years and married 37. Thank you for sharing your journey, I appreciate it.
What a lovely piece on grief and the love you have for Mr. Style. You are right, we do grow around grief. A very good graphic.
Wise, beautiful words. I especially like the jar graphic–extremely helpful! Bless you, Beth.
Thank you Beth for this post. So pleased to see how you have transformed and look to you for guidance as I am at 2 1/2 years out from loosing my beloved. You have been an inspiration and a wonderful distraction with all your helpful tips. I am forever grateful.
God Bless us all as we move forward
Thank you for sharing Beth. Your words expressing the thoughts and “stages” if we can call it that, describe the many endings of relationships. I never had what you and mr. style had, but the ending of a marriage that I gave 23 years to, will still at times, make me incredibly sad. Maybe my grief is missing what could have been versus what was…again thank you for putting words to our feelings.
What a beautiful tribute to your husband. Thank you for sharing this. You are an inspiration to so many of us.
Thank you for sharing. I love the photos of the 2 of you; you both look so happy and so in love. My husband and I have been together since we were 18 and 20, and married since we were 19 and 21. We have beaten the odds and stayed together and raised 3 wonderful boys (as an aside, don’t you love being the mom to boys?!). I know that at some point one of us will lose the other and tho that will be sad and painful, we also can look back with love and pride on our journey thru life together.
My deepest condolences on your loss and my admiration for the way you are working thru your grief. Blessings
Thank you for this post. It is very meaningful. Love and blessings to you.
Joanie from Iowa
The pictures of you and Mr Style are wonderful!
I really like the one of your Wedding Day leaving for your life together under the umbrella.
It will be 10 years this month that I lost my soul mate of 30 years. I lost my best friend and father of my children also. I will not tell you time will change your memories of your husband, but it will be a little less painful each year. Remember the good times. God Bless.
Beth, What a beautiful and heartfelt tribute to your late husband. Although I have not lost my husband, I have suffered grief from the loss of my sister to cancer in 1993 (age 41) and the loss of both parents in recent years. The grief jar so accurately illustrates what grief is actually like. We do indeed grow around our grief. Our loved ones are always in our hearts and memories. Rest easy this day in the sweet memories of your husband, Beth.
Remembered the third anniversary of your loss was in July, and have kept you close in heart. This post is a gem. My brother went to Jesus three weeks ago. Married 44 years and childless, my sister-in-law’s struggle with grief completely overwhelms her. Will share your post, praying she gleans insight for structuring her new life. Thank you, beautiful lady and sister to us all 💛
Beth it is so wonderful to read this post and have a notion of how you are doing.
You are an inspiration in so many ways.
Blessings to you.
While I haven’t lost my husband, three of my friends have. One two years ago, one last year, and one just two weeks ago. I am sending them this post because I think it will have hope and meaning for them. I know the best help my mother-in-law got was from her aunt, also widowed. It is a sorority that none wants to be part of, but is a very strong, helping bond. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for this, Beth. I lost my husband of almost 53 years in May 2020. I still weep a bit every day. Reading your post reminds me that there are, unfortunately, many women who share my heartbreak. Thank you for sharing.
PS: I look forward to your posts every day.
What a beautiful post. I’m sure Mr. Style was wonderful. Thanks for sharing the photos, too — sweet wedding picture. I will reread this enlightening post … as I continue to grieve the loss of my mom (10-2019) and two beloved senior fur babies (4-2020 and 9-2020).
What a wonderful tribute!
The older I get, the more concerned I get about which one of will go first. A lot of laughter goes into my sharing my thoughts with hubby and the kids. For example, no crocs on a first date with a new woman. His response . . . Oh yes. I need to break her in early. The list is long. All kidding aside, I loved your tribute/ post and should hubby be the first to go, I know I will recall your post.
P.S. My wonderful mother-in-law taught me that great grief is the price for great love.
Beth, this was a lovely tribute to your husband and a true account of how you are doing. I will link to it for my readers in an upcoming post. You should be proud of yourself – you have done well.
Thank you for sharing
Best wishes Beth. Those of us who have watched your business and confidence grow from a distance, are delighted for you. Grief takes many forms. Loss of a loved one, a job, a way of life. I will pass on the wisdom and courage you have shared to a loved one whose grief is for a different kind of loss, but no less painful. Thank you.
Your tribute to Mr. Style is both moving and beautiful!
You shared your heart with such honesty. The photographs of you two together show a wonderful love. God bless you in all that you do.
Thank you for sharing with so many and lifting as many as you can with what you have been through to inspire with faith and hope.
Thank you for sharing your life so openly. I have had a lot of experience with grief. Deaths. Divorce. Cancer. Everything you mentioned is spot on! Grief does not have a timeline. Each and every person may respond in their own way. It is important to reach out for help, assistance, coaching whichever works for them.
One breakthrough for me is this phrase uttered by a colleague “why look in the rear view mirror when the windshield is so much bigger?” It’s okay to check your side view mirrors and your rear view mirror but one cannot go forward if one doesn’t use the windshield.
I am happy that you are finding your way!
Thank you for sharing such an intimate part of your life. What a handsome guy!! You’ll have so much catching up to do when you see him again. Have a blessed day!
Love all your post, but this one really resonated. Lost my husband 18 months ago, the struggle is real. We loved to travel and i hate to think that is no longer an option for me. I am impressed that you will travel alone. But a thought occurred to me…..(i know your plate is very full) but start a group of your followers that are single and would be interested in traveling together????
Beth, the graphic with the jar says it all. Thank you for your beautiful words and the wonderful pictures of you and Mr. Style together. Subscribers like me see you as a confident woman who takes good care of herself and as someone who has a positive outlook, no matter what’s going on in the world. Thank you for taking time to give us this honest look at grief.
Grief has a way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it. I have a friend whose wife has dementia & is in memory care. He has talked about his struggle with becoming “me instead of we” after nearly 50 years of marriage. While he is dedicated to his wife & visits her twice a day, he is beginning to do some things by himself. My thoughts are with you on your day of remembrance.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on grief Beth. I too love the jar graphic you shared. I am glad that most days when you think of Mr. Style it is with a joyful heart. I am sure he is watching over you and is proud of your success.
What a lovely tribute to your husband. May God bless you for sharing your life with us.
We are currently supporting a dear friend, after his recent loss, so this post is most helpful. I have been wondering how you were doing, under the mask of everyday living. Changing the bedroom was a wise choice and a purposeful step in moving forward. You are always in my thoughts. Just as a note – wow – in that blue evening gown, you are a twin of Princess Diana – beautiful inside and out. 🥂
Beth, thank you so much for expressing your feelings so beautifully. I appreciate you putting into words my own feelings. I lost my beloved husband of 58 years 8 months ago. I was just 20 years old when we married and we were soul mates and perfect partners. I’m learning how to take care of myself and carry on with life .I believe we never get over the grief but we eventually learn to carry on. It’s what they wanted for us.
Beth, thank you for sharing your experience with grief with us. I’ve lost several family members in the past few years. It helps when others share their experiences, it makes me feel less alone in what I am dealing with. Also, thank you for sharing the beautiful pictures of you and Mr. Style. They are precious.
What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing. I’ve learned there’s no one way to grieve–we all just do what works for us.
Thank you for sharing Beth.
I been wondering how you were doing with your grieve. Because I know that even if you look very good outside, inside you could be suffering.
Hope you continue to try to move on.
Thank you for your article about grief. My Dad just passed away 3 days ago. It is very difficult to feel normal again right now. I will miss him.
How nice to see pictures of Mr.Style! What a handsome couple you make! Sharing grief is healing. We’re all listening and appreciate you sharing your love.
Thank you for sharing your story. I lost my love 2 weeks ago, today, from a cancer we didn’t even know he had. One day diagnosed, 7 days later gone.
We met when I was 12 and he 16.
We married when I was 19 and he 23. September would have been our 48th anniversary. Together, we had 2 children, 2 children-in-law and 3 remarkable grands.
I am heartbroken and wonder how I will go on with only part a heart.
After reading your story, I know there is hope and brighter days ahead.
In the meanwhile, I am going to start grief counselling and lean on those who want to help.
Thank you for this beautiful post. I especially love the expression of not moving on, but moving forward. I am blessed to still have my husband of almost 49 years, but we did lose our 27 year old son several years ago, and yes, the grief is still there, but we have moved forward. Thank you!
I can see why you called him Mr. Style. You were a beautiful couple! Your strength and grace is an inspiration. Since my husband got lung cancer and then Sepsis, he’s had short term memory loss. At times feels like Alzheimer’s. Thank you for sharing your story! It came at the perfect time! We’re moving from Boston to Fort Myers in 1 week. At 64 I will be starting a new career in RE. 🤞🏻 When I want to throw a pity party for myself, I will think of you and live life with grace and strength. After all, I’m blessed to still be here!
Beth, Well said Madame!
And I think when Mr Styles looks down on his Beth he’s beaming proud and delighted with all you have taken on! My goodness, the endorsements, layouts, beautiful changes to the house, and your rock solid essence of style that you both cultivated together!!
and let it always be said…
” You did right by him.” hugs, and respect, from another Midwestern girl, Shannon
You are such an inspiration and you are helping so many people with your honest and personal reflections. I admire you so much and appreciate all that you do for all of us.
I have followed you for several years. Thank you for sharing this. I think when I started following you Mr. Style filmed your videos? They always made me smile! I have enjoyed watching you grow in followers, and see your content grow with you. You are such a positive role model for many women, and I just want to thank you. Blessings!
This was a lovely description of your pain and grief. I have shared it with my family
What a beautiful post – true words. I have lost both my parents in the last 3 years. It was very deep grief and a pain that I had not known before. But over time, it gets better. Your graphics are wonderful and reflect exactly the life with grief as I experienced it. You are a great woman – and a great role model for me.
XO Martina from Germany
Thank you for sharing your story and feeling. I am sorry for your loss, I know that you are strong & have faith to continue with your precious life & fantastic work. I have been a single mother since I was 30 years old, I always felt strong because of my faith & determination to give my children a better life. I am always wondering why single parents are complaining instead of working hard and keeping some faith in God? life & kids are precious so don’t waste them with drugs & Alcohol. take care everyone.
Thank you for sharing your grief journey. I lost my husband who was also my best friend to cancer five and half years ago. It is a hard somedays to move forward. I am glad you are doing well. the pictures of you and your husband show in your faces how happy you were.
Beth, you continue to be so vulnerable, honest and wise when it comes to your posts on grief and I continue to have much respect, admiration and appreciation for this.
My mam passed in October and her and my dads house just closed today. For the first time in my life, I’d be homeless in my hometown. My dad is essentially gone – very advanced dementia means that he barely remembers to swallow when eating, much less who anyone is or even who he is himself. So reading this today was helpful. The jar analogy is perfect. I think I have ‘put off’ grieving in order to be the responsible sibling who has dealt with everything wrapping up the estate. Now that we’re pretty much there, I can take the necessary time for myself and moving forwards.
Oh, my. 2 weeks ago I drove a uhaul truck through Athens following our son’s car on his move to GA while my husband ( his dad ) watched our little farm. I thought about you, but didn’t know you’d lost your husband until coming home & happening to read this and it really struck me as my husband was diagnosed with cancer 6 years ago. He’s holding steady & I am trying.
Thank you for your bittersweet , heartfelt post.
I too lost my husband. Diagnosed with glioblastoma and died five months later.
My pain was unbearable. Diagnosed with a broken heart.
Do we as widows now know what to say and not say! The judgement! I have apologized to my friends that were here before me! I did not get it.
May we all find peace! Chapter two for me does include an amazing man. It’s different, but when we had a good marriage we know how to be treated!
Hi Beth–I too lost my husband 2 1/2 years ago after a very happy and devoted marriage. I appreciate your thoughts on the progression of grief. Most times I am fine and happy now, but a song or memory often will pull on my heart strings. I am making it a point to keep busy–don’t really want to travel alone and am reaching out to some new single friends to see if we might be a good fit for future trips. I’ve got a week at Chautauqua planned and have taken a few solo cross country trips to visit family. I’m grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had to travel with my husband so don’t feel deprived. Keep the faith.
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