Thursday, May 7, 2015

How to Grieve the Loss of Your Husband

If you've been following me on Instagram, you know that I've had the worst week of my life.
Last Monday, April 27th, my husband passed away.
He had a heart attack.
He was only 32.
Nothing can ever prepare you for something like this.
 I don't know how to grieve the loss of the person I loved the most in this world.
I don't know how to navigate through life without him.
We'd been together for over 11 years-that's over a third of my life.
How do you go on living without someone who has been there every single day for over a third of your life?
My husband was my most favorite person ever. He made me laugh, on a daily basis.
In fact, he made everyone laugh. It was a gift he had, and the reason that I fell in love with him all those years ago. I've spent a lot of the last 10 days remembering all the good times that we had and sharing stories with those who loved him.
And what I've found is that it's almost impossible to think about Wes and not laugh.
He would want us to laugh.
Which is why I'm writing this post.
I went back and forth over how to write this post without seeming like I'm not "grieving properly" or like I'm not "sad enough" (because the truth is, I'm very sad....I've never been so sad).
But I know that Wes would have done anything to make people laugh, and what I'm about to share is guaranteed to make you laugh.
Last Tuesday, after I had been out of school only 1 day, a coworker of mine brought over some letters that my students had written for me. After reading these letters multiple times (and spending hours laughing about them), I knew I had to share them with the world.
He would want me to.
So here goes....
How to Grieve the Loss of Your Husband
by 3rd Graders
"R.I.P. husband"

"Keys for losing someone you love:
-Do not cry forever!"

"Dogs will keep you company."
"We hope you get over the fact that he is gone."

"We hope you will get happy someday."

"Don't worry you're not alone-you have your dogs.
You can also find someone else and you're way pretty enough.
Mr. Lemacks doesn't want you to mope around."

"You can't run away from your sadness."
"I hope you are okay. I am sad, too.
Can you please come back and teach?"

"You should do what he would want you to do, which is being you."

"Here are some happy symbols to cheer you up."
(a flower, a smiley face, a heart, "I love you")

"Your husband was a good man, but cheer up! He is very happy in heaven."

"Think about the good things in your life right now."

"You just need to sit down and eat chocolate.
Also, if you can pray for him and come back to teach us, we miss you."
"Don't worry-your husband is in heaven."
(along with a picture of my husband as an angel, captioned "Your Dear Husband")
"Heaven, heaven, heaven, heaven..."
And my absolute FAVORITE one...
"Life does not go the way you want.
Please come back."

I also found this piece of paper. It was folded up and taped to the inside of one of the cards.
Apparently, they started a petition for me to come back...
So, I'm going to take the advice of my third graders:
I'm going to eat chocolate.
I'm going to keep my dogs as company.
I won't run away from my sadness.
I won't cry forever.
I love you, Wesley Lemacks.


  1. This is beautiful. Thinking of you and hope you have many laughs to come!

    Katie :)

  2. How beautiful, Natalie! You're such a sweet spirit. I'm glad you're finding a way to remember your husband and laugh/cry, which I'm sure you do a lot of. Bless you. So sweet of your kids. They really do tell it like it is, and it's very refreshing and full of great messages.

  3. I love this! Out of the mouths of much truth. I'm so amazed to see their empathy with you. It's almost as if they've known a loss as great as yours. My mom (who's been in heaven for almost two years) would say "time is a great healer." I truly believe that. And since I also still grieve for my mom, I know that you will go on. You will find happiness, but it will be a different happiness. You will live again, but it will be different. Your memories will ALWAYS be with you. I have prayed for you.....for strength, peace, and the ability to cope with each day and each adventure that comes your way. And chocolate will certainly help. (Don't worry about grieving the right one of the kiddos said....just be you!

  4. Here's a link to a song that helps me...maybe it will help you too.

  5. This is so sweet and touching. I think your posting the cards will help many other people who lost a spouse whether they are teachers are not.

    Sometimes in the hardest times, children are the ones teaching us.

  6. This sweet post is such a wonderful tribute to your husband and the special relationship you had. If you need anything at all, please reach out...I can ship you tons and tons of chocolate, too! XO, Jen

  7. You my dear, are a woman of courage, grace and love. That is what makes you -you, and that is why we all love you. Carry on sweet friend, carry on.

  8. I can't even imagine what heart ache you are feeling. Your sweet notes from you students made me cry!! They have given you the best advice. So genuine and sweet. Sending you lots of love and comfort!! <3

  9. What a brave post. You are such a strong woman . . . I can't even imagine. Sending love and peace your way.

  10. My heart breaks for you. I am so, so sorry for your loss. I can't even begin to imagine what you are going through. May you find peace. There is no "right way" to grieve, so you go right ahead and do what works for you. Love and prayers to you, my teacher comrade.

  11. Natalie, what a difference you made in Wesley's life as well as the precious children you teach! Please come visit in Nashville sometime, bring your Mom!, thinking of you more often than you know. Kim

  12. I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of your husband. Nothing can ever prepare you for that. I lost my husband 10 years ago this Saturday. It was not a sudden, unexpected loss such as yours. My husband had battled cancer for 2.5 years. You will grieve for a long time. I still do. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. You can only be yourself and grieve your way. I will pray for God to sustain you through this time. Jenny Rogers (your Flat Stanley's visited us last year).

  13. What a beautiful and brave post x

  14. What a beautiful & touching post. It is amazing how much insight children have when they are given a chance to share with us. Don't ever worry about grieving the 'right way' - sharing your husband's love for laughter is a beautiful testimony to his life and to your relationship. Keeping you in my constant thought and prayer! xoxoxo

    First Grade Fairytales

  15. I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing these amazing letters from your students - they are very wise, too!

  16. What a sweet post. It made me laugh and cry. Wishing you much Aloha and hugs in your healing journey.


  17. Natalie, I'm so very sorry for your loss. I can't begin to understand your pain. Your students are quite possibly the most wonderful students I've ever heard of. How smart they are, and their advice is just wonderful! This post was such a great reminder of just how wise kids are! Thank you so much for sharing this with the world!

    <a href="“>True Life I’m a Teacher</a>

  18. This is just so beautiful. We learned so much from our students! Thinking of you and all of that good advice you have been given!


  19. Natalie, I am so very sorry for your loss. I love that Wes continues to make you laugh through your memories. Sending you lots of hugs.

    xo Molly

  20. Oh wow. This post is beautiful. I wish you continued strength and courage and oh so much chocolate! ❤️ I've been thinking of you often!! Thoughts and prayers xo

  21. When I read your beautiful post, I cried and laughed at the same time. It's amazing how kids can simplify something that is oh so hard and complicated! I'm so glad you have your class, your puppies and some chocolate to help you through. Your Georgia blogging friends have been praying for you,

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  23. <3 You are so brave. Sending hugs your way. So sorry for your loss!

  24. My sweet sister, you know how much we all loved Wes and are grieving with you. I keep remembering reading through those cards that day and cracking up, and I can't help but picture Wes laughing right along with us, he would have gotten such a kick out of them (and admire the spelling and drawings). I love you, sis!

  25. Aww Natalie - I'm so glad you shared this post! I have been thinking about you and praying for you since I heard of your loss. I can't wait to give you a hug in Vegas. You were both blessed with each other. xoxo
    Teaching and Much Moore

  26. Children sure know how to give good advice. And they sure do love you and miss you and want the best for you. Your beloved Wes was taken way too soon, but you are lucky to have all those wonderful memories to cherish for a lifetime. Grieving is not easy, but I hope all the love that surrounds you, makes it a little more bearable.

  27. Natalie, you filled my heart with joy and laughter with your beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your heart with all of us and all of the precious cards. I love the one about just sitting down and eating some chocolate. Kids can say the silliest things in the most profound ways. Hang onto those cards and revisit them over and over as you celebrate the life, love, and laughter you shared together. I am still thinking about and praying for you as you.
    Deb at Fabulously First

  28. You are an amazing and beautiful person to post this your students love you and gave you some amazing advice!

  29. Wow, aren't kids amazing? I can't even imagine how tough this has been for you. Somehow I suspect those kiddos will continue to give you strength.

    Sally from Elementary Matters

  30. I can't imagine how difficult this time has been. Thank goodness for third graders who love you and miss you.

  31. God YOUR KIDS ARE SO SMART!...Through my tears I write to you...I cannot imagine what you are going through. I hope time will help you heal. I will give you a hug in Vegas! Smile my friend...he is smiling at you! :) wendy 1stgradefireworks

  32. I'm so sorry for your loss! I will be praying for God to wrap His loving arms around you and give you peace!

  33. Natalie I don't know you but have learned so much about you and the amazing relationship you had with your husband and the ones you have with your students through this post. I cannot imagine what you are going through- how you wake each morning and face the sadness in your heart. Find the reminders he will leave you often- laugh when he wants you to, cry when you need to, and each chocolate with every meal.
    Crayons & Cuties In Kindergarten

  34. I can't imagine what you are going through, but you are in my thoughts and prayers!

    Those little notes are just priceless!

  35. I was laughing and crying with you through this post. I am so sorry for your loss and I can't imagine what you are going through, but you are so strong! You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  36. I was laughing and crying with you through this post. I am so sorry for your loss and I can't imagine what you are going through, but you are so strong! You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  37. Thank goodness for third graders. I sure don't know what to say, but they sure did! I laughed and cried through this sweet post. I am so sorry! Clearly you are loved!

  38. thank you for this beautiful and brave post. May I share it with the grief group I facilitate?

  39. I am so sorry for your loss, but I hesitate to call it that. It sounds like your husband enriched your life so much and added so much joy to it. He has, no doubt, shaped you and made you better. That's not a loss at all. That's a way for you to carry around a little bit of him wherever you go. I hope your happy memories will sustain you, but don't be afraid to grieve. I can't imagine what you are going through, but you are in my prayers.

  40. I AM SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS! I hope you find comfort from the ones you love.

  41. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. Thank you for sharing this- I laughed and cried through it. Sending you good thoughts.

    Mandy from Caffeine and Lesson Plans

  42. I am so sorry for your loss. You are in my thoughts.

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  44. I am so sorry for your loss. I too lost my husband. We taught at the same school. We commuted every day together but the next day was our Read Across America celebration and I wanted new Dr. Seuss PJ's so he took the motorcycle. He never came home. That was a week before our wedding. My 1st and 2nd graders made me the sweetest cards. Some kids understood, some kids didn't. Some didn't understand that their questions made it harder. Some days we had great days, and some days we just cried together. Those who have never lost a spouse have no idea what it is like to have to try to learn how to function again. It's different when you lose a spouse. You have to learn how to brush your teeth again because he's not there sharing the bathroom with you, how to cook because now you are just feeding you, how to get ready in the mornings because you shared the bathrooms. The list goes on and on, but the worst part is learning how to sleep in an empty bed. I wish I had some magical words to make the hurt go away but there is nothing anyone can say or do to erase or patch the pain of this tragedy. Take comfort in the warm and loving memories you have and the beauty he added to your life. Some people never find the joy and happiness it sounds that you two had, even if for a little while. Again, I am so sorry for your loss.

  45. I am so sorry for your loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  46. I am so sorry for your loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  47. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. We sure are lucky to have kids to get us through stuff like this...they just let it rip while adults fumble around with the right thing to say. So with that...just know so many of us are thinking and praying for peace and comfort.

  48. What a beautiful post! One day at a can do it. :) Love you! :) XOXO

  49. A husband and dad don't compare, but I lost my dad exactly three months ago. I was broken. I didn't go to school for two days and found a big stack of cards waiting for me. Similar in messages - asking me back and saying sweet things about my dad and hoping I feel better. As much as I get on the cases of my kids, it was nice to see how much they truly cared about me.

    Anisa @ Creative Undertakings

  50. I cannot imagine. I'm adding you to my prayer list! I LOVE what your precious kiddos had to say. Bless your heart.

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