Checking the Widow Box, , Reflections by Carol, Gordon’s wife. After Ten Years

(Carol and Gordon, April 5, 2005)

On this, the 10th anniversary of her husband’s death,  my sister-in-law, Carol,  has agreed to share an excerpt here from her recently written series of reflections on the first year  of being a widow. Yeah, it gets confusing, both of us being Carol and all. Her excellent booklet, “Checking the Widow Box,” refecting on her first year as a new widow in her early fifties after almost 25 years of marriage is available HERE 

A Widow:
The loss of my husband of nearly 25 years left a gaping hole. I was only 52. The unfinished book “The Excellent Wife” (by Martha Peace) sat with a marker frozen in place between its pages. There is no longer an urgency to pick it up again.

Photo albums will no longer be of a family of four, but completed scrapbooks softened the edges of that jagged hole.  My then 23 year old daughter asked “Who will walk me down the aisle?”

And I wonder how I will be able to support myself, take care of the yard, live alone. Who do I call about adjusting the automatic thermostat, the broken shower door or with computer or car repair questions? Who will finish the projects he started?

With whom will I reminisce about the trip to Georgia and Alabama when it was just the two of us to remember? Gordon won’t be there to share our dreams for the future or sit with me in church or fall asleep on my couch.  I won’t have a reason to fix his favorite potato soup or pecan pie. There are so many layers to losing a husband that only time would reveal, and often unexpectedly. I never thought “til death do us part” would come so young and in this way.

I learned grief is like a shadow, a permanent, attached part of me. It used to cast a long, obvious shadow, but now, even though that shadow is short and sometimes hidden, it is and always will be there. I learned you cannot fully understand grief’s broken heart until you experience it yourself. I learned sorrow and joy can exist side by side, not only in the same day but in the same moment. I learned my anchor in Christ was strong enough to hold me through the storm. I learned I needed salty tears to wash my broken heart.

I learned just as others’ lives continued on around me, I had to make my own also go on. I learned how to redefine “a hope and a future” because my future was no longer linked to my spouse. I am learning to deal with loneliness as I learn to fill the holes left by my husband’s death.

I learned grief is weird, making me feel conspicuous yet invisible, surrounded yet alone, comforted yet afraid. I learned to do the things I think I cannot do. I learned every loss has layers. I learned how to navigate through my own journey of loss and pain.

My belief God is never early and never late was tested to the max and I came through the experience with that belief still intact. Above all, I can say with the Psalmist “I have seen the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

by Carol Jones Longenecker
©September 2015


And now from the other Carol, me, the sister.

And who walked that daughter down the aisle when she got married? Her mother and her brother. Carol said we would experience JOY on this day and we did. See it in their faces?

A Day of Joy

“A Day of Joy” four years later

Four little boys have been added to the family – my brother’s grandsons.  :   He’d be over-the-moon proud of his grown-up children, their spouses, and those little men. (updated, January 1, 2022:  There are now six rambunctious boys and one sweet little girl, who has her own version of rambunctious.)

And  to my brother I would say – you would be so proud of that wife of yours. She just put one foot in front of the other and did the things she thought she couldn’t do. I think she surprised herself. She’s quite a woman!

You are welcome to leave messages here for her in the comments below.

You can now order “Checking the Widow Box” HERE – Available in Kindle and paper back 


(You can also read a letter I wrote to my brother HERE on the 5th anniversary of his death.)

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15 Replies to “Checking the Widow Box, , Reflections by Carol, Gordon’s wife. After Ten Years”

  1. I’m so glad I found this blog. Your words speak to me and make me feel as though I’m intimately connected to what happened to you and your sister. Your writing is excellent, but your message us better. That last Scripture says it all. God bless you Carol. I look forward to following your journey.

  2. I’ve been saving this piece until I had enough interior space (and external space, too!) to really read it well. And I am so very glad I did. This is exquisitely written – in every sense of the word exquisite. Beautiful and pain-laced. Thank you so very much.

    1. Thanks for your words here Diana….and for reading Carol’s words. we were hoping she could reply to the messages, but this was a super busy time for her as she was working way more than usual in preparation for a 2 month trip to New Zealand to see her daughter and her family, which includes two of those four grandsons.

      I know you know the pain of loss.

  3. Dear Carol & Carol, A yr. ago tomorrow, my 40 yr. old daughter decided , after 7 1/2 yrs. of battling ovarian cancer, 32 surgeries, numerous rounds of chemo, kidney failure, constant, unrelenting pain & suffering, that she was ready to go to Jesus. She called Hospice from her hospital bed & they met her at home. This was on Tues. & she went to heaven on Fri., 3 days later. WE WERE ALL IN TOTAL SHOCK!! God took her in 3 days!! How did this happen so quickly? I wanted to care for her another 40 yrs.!! But God said “you’ve suffered long enough, My precious child. Enter into the joy of My salvation.” Now, the GRIEF begins. I inserted “mother” where you wrote “widow, sister.” And “daughter” where you wrote “husband, brother.” The GRIEF & SADNESS & BROKEN-HEARTEDNESS looks & feels the same. The journey & the destination, will culminate with Him. What a day that will be! Thanks for the encouraging blog. Much love to both of you. ❤

    1. Dear Virginia…so many years we walked together and for many now, we don’t see each other. Thanks for visiting here. Yes, yes, yes, while the details are different, there is an undercurrent of the grief journey which is the same. I wish we lived closer together. Every now and then I think of the years the three of us sang together. love to you on this journey.

  4. Thank you for sharing so openly. Your words remind me to cherish every moment I have with my husband – which I do, though not always as consciously as I should. Thank you also for your testimony in Christ to see us through even the most difficult situation!

  5. ….sorrow and joy, side by side, in the same moment….
    This is bone deep truth. It’s sure hard to recall all the hard fear and grief of those days, but I am PROUD to know the both of you– and very grateful for your gift to others in these words.

  6. Carol,

    Thank you for this precious gift and for pointing to God as your anchor. Lovely wedding photo and also the photo of you and your husband…((Hugs))…hope it is okay I sent you a virtual hug although we’ve never met.

  7. Words of beauty and hope here, even though the subject matter is difficult and sorrowful. Thank you, Carol, for sharing your journey–a journey many of us will have to make one day. And thank you for the reassurance that our anchor in Christ is strong enough to hold us through the storm– comforting truth to cling to! Gratefully, Nancy (another Glory Writer)

  8. Hard to believe it’s been 10 years. You and Carol were so strong through it all. What wonderful Christian women role models you were and continue to be.

    May God’s blessings be upon you and Carol, and the rest of your families!

  9. This was such a blessing to read. Carol L, you are such an example of walking in faith even when you didn’t know where this journey would take you. You have shown us how to walk through deep sadness and loss with grace and courage. {{HUGS}}

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