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Celebrate as loud as you cried!

I was at a woman's conference in 2022 and I heard someone share how she felt guilty for finding happiness and joy after the death of her husband. This is a common thing for widows. It's a type of surviros remorse. You feel guilty for enjoying life and deciding to move forward. This phrase was LIFE CHANGING for me! In this season, I have decided to allow myself to embrace the thought of finding companionship and love again. It feels good to become excitable from receiving a call or text message from someone that you really like. In your heart, it feels good to know that you can actually feel these emotions for someone else. When you become a widow, the furthest thing from your mind is dating or finding new companionship. That is because you are so focused on the love and companionship that you lost. As time passes and you have healed from the spouse that you lost, you begin to grieve the actual relationship and what you thought your life would be like at this stage. This is sometimes when people realize that they are open to dating again.

Although dating is a really huge step in a widow's journey, there are many other milestones in this journey that arise that you may feel guilty about celebrating. I currently still live in the same home that Chris and I shared. When I was contemplating purchasing a home last year, it was difficult for me to process the thought that I would be buying my first home without my husband. This feeling wasn't specific to missing Chris as much as it was a milestone that I thought I would always achieve as a married woman. To this day, I still struggle with if I should be addressed as Ms. or Mrs. Many widows feel like Mrs. is the most appropriate, especially if they haven't changed their name. Since Cotton is my married name, technically I should be adresses as Mrs. when being called by my last name. I used to be very adamant about it because it gives reverence to my journey, but now either is fine. I tend not to correct people anymore. This is especially true becuase I am now at the point where I feel single and no longer married. When you initally become a widow, you feel and act married for some time. I honestly think that it took about 2 years for me to actually feel single again.

Clebrating huge achievemts is also another thing that widows struggle with. There have been many wonderful things that have happened to me within the last year, and although I know I should be extremely proud of myself, sometimes I feel like "wow, I can't believe I can't invite my husband to this". Again, at some point it's not the specific person but rather the status that you expected to have at this point in life. Even while dating this is difficult to invite a plus one because many times you aren't serious enough to have him meet the people who will be at these events. And if you are intentionally dating someone you may be thinking to yourself "should I bring a date? What will people think? Is it too soon?". Although the ideas of others should not matter, there was a time when they really did. Which is why I am now deciding that I will do what I feel comfortable with and what makes me happy instead of internalizing what others may or may not be thinking. There is something truely freeing about doing this and I feel it is a pivotal step in this process.

There are some times during this journey that I find it difficult to be around nuclear families, even when we are all friends. This is becuase it is a reminder of what my life "should have" been like. I was a young bride, and we waited a very long time to have children becuase we wanted to make sure that we were buliding a family on a solid foundation. Although emotions about what "could have been" flood my mind occasionally, I am beginning to have them less and less. The reality is, the Lord knows what is best for me. So if he feels like this journey necessary, then I have to trust that whatever he has in store for me is far greater than anything I could have ever imagined. I tend to have more good days than bad days at this point of my jouney which I am extremely grateful for. When I have those days that are full of emotion, I am sure to lean in and press in more. In this season, I am CHOOSING JOY! And the reason why I said CHOOSING is because it is most definitely a choice. Sometimes you have to jump, hop, leap up to grab it, but if that is what it takes, I will do it every time! Choosing joy does not mean that I will always be happy and never feel the pain of grief. Rather, it is the concept that although life is lifing (becuase y'all know that's never going to change), I find peace in the confidence of knowing that everything is going to work out just as it should. I always say that I would have not chosen this particular jouney for myself, but honestly speaking, I am loving the woman I am becoming and I would not be her without this journey. So I made a promise to myself, that as these wonderful and amazing things continue to happen for me, I will be sure to CELEBRATE AS LOUD AS I CRIED!!!! I love ya'll, be encouraged💙

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