To you, dear widow: On the days when you hold your head high and manage a smile, I'm proud of you. Life still holds sweetness. On the days the tears fall free and hard, I am proud of you. It's okay to let it out. On the days when you lose your patience and yell at your kids-- forgive yourself. Parenting is hard even when not coupled with grief. Apologize, love those kids, and move on. I am proud of you for being there for them even though you make mistakes. On the days when you go to work on no sleep because of the deep aching for your husband which kept you awake-- I am proud of you because you persevere. In the moments you bite your tongue as someone jokes about collecting life insurance on their spouse-- I am proud of you. You have so much self-control it's hard to believe. In the moments when you set someone straight for talking lightly of their spouse's death, I am proud of you then, too. They don't realize how inappropriate that is if we don't tell them. At those times when your children ask why they can't see their daddy or go to heaven with him yet-- and your soul is crushed-- yet you answer them lovingly-- I am so proud of you. This is a heavy load to bear. Whether you wear your wedding rings or not-- I am proud of you-- I know you keep the memory of your marriage alive either way. On the days all you can do is ask God "Why me? Why him? Why us?" I am proud of you for continuing to communicate with God. He wants your honesty, not just your pretty words. Keep crying out to him. On the days when you feel certain no one will love you again-- remember that you are so special-- the husband who died loved you, after all. He saw such worth and beauty in his bride. I am proud of you for living in spite of the fear of never finding love again. Also know that your God has not stopped loving you for one second. Dear widow, I am proud of you on the days you simply "exist" because I know some days that's the best you can do. Keep at it. Not every day is wonderful, but not every day is horrible. Your grief path is your own. You truly have to allow the grief to take its own shape in order to heal. And always, always, always, know that I am proud of you, even in your "weak" moments. Be kind to yourself. Remind yourself that you are strong when you rely on Jesus for that strength. My sisters, you are loved. You are loved enough that God lowered himself to become human flesh and dwell among us-- not as a king but as a poor Jewish baby boy. He grew up, lived a sinless life-- all so He could be the blood sacrifice to redeem you. He gave His life-- everything-- to prove his love for you. Your heart is worth the life and death of the only perfect person to ever walk the Earth. He is the one true Hope when all hope seems lost. I walk this path alongside you. I love you.