My Story of Becoming a Relieved Widow

The Relieved Widow book on wood table

Why The Relieved Widow?

A single gunshot shatters the quiet early morning, and in an instant, transforms a wife into a widow. However, upon discovering her husband had taken his own life, shock and dismay quickly gave way to something truly surprising: relief.

Amanda-Lee retraces her 15-year marriage through a lens of grief to uncover the truth: Her marriage was tumultuous and unpredictable, thanks to his undiagnosed mental health battle, and it looked a lot like caring for a terminally ill partner. Coming to the surface allows her to breathe the air she had been choked off from and relearn the importance of boundary setting, giving grace to herself, and the building the courage to imagine and embrace a better future.

For those who have lost a spouse to suicide and felt relief, The Relieved Widow will guide the reader through the range of emotions, the delicate questions, and tremendous growth in the wake of loss.

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Entering Widowhood

When my husband died, I found myself hiding inside the house, worried about what everyone was saying about me. Whenever I ventured out, I would hear bits and pieces of what people said, what they thought happened, why he did it, and how I should have prevented it or at least seen it coming. There were times I felt compelled to correct people and to tell them what really happened, what had been happening for years. Other times, I didn’t have the energy to fight them.

I was seeing both a counselor at church and a therapist specializing in trauma recovery, but it was still so incredibly difficult. I was handed half a dozen books on how to be a widow, how to grieve, how to cope. I would pick up each one and flip through it, only to realize each time that the author had no idea what I was going through. I wasn’t the typical grieving widow.

The Relieved Widows

After a while, I quit my job as a teacher and began to work for an organization called Tragedy Assistance Programs for Survivors. I was put on the survivor care team, and I was exclusively providing support for spouses of suicide loss. I was desperate to make meaning of what I had gone through, but what I didn’t realize was that these women would give me a deeper understanding of what it means to be a suicided widow.

Suicide Isn't Easily Understood, But You Need to Know ThisWhat I found was that our stories were eerily similar. My guess is that 75% of the women I talked to detailed ugly stories of abuse, addiction, and mental illness that had gone undiagnosed in the months and years before their spouse’s death. More than that? We all felt some degree of relief that the world we had been surviving in for so long was finally over.

I went back to school to earn my doctorate in educational psychology after realizing the profound impact this had on my kids as they made their way through school. With a focus on childhood trauma, I engrossed myself in research and found that there was a lack of support in the school system for these kids—and their teachers.

After I obtained my doctorate, I continued in my studies and earned a certification in trauma informed educational practice, focusing on trauma within the military community. Although I have made the shift from working in survivor care to focusing my efforts on support within the classroom, I know that there is a lack of resources out there for survivors of suicide loss. It is time that changed. No more widows should have to walk this path feeling alone, ill-equipped, or full of shame. I am hoping that this book becomes a light to guide you in the darkness.

This book is for:

-Those who have lost a spouse or partner to suicide loss
-Those who have lost a spouse or partner to any loss where you were their caregiver
-Those who have endured abuse
-Those who know someone who has lost someone to suicide
-Those who need to see that redemption and restoration are possible even in the darkest of times

“After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)

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