After My Husband Died

A Clue for Adrianna (Captain’s Point Stories) A romantic women’s fiction novel written by Annie Acorn and Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent

Also available in print and for Nook and Kobo!

Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) a cozy mystery by Annie Acorn

Also available in print, at Amazon UK and Smashwords, and for SonyReader, Kobo, and NOOK!

After my husband died, I was filled with a need to do two things – memorialize him in some way and find a way to make good come from the bad that had surrounded my losing him.

It took me a while, but one day I finally saw the elephant that had been standing in the room all along.  His memory would live on both in my heart and through the two sons that we had produced as a result of our love.  Additionally, I recognized there were plenty of small kindnesses that I could reach out and do in his honor, unbeknownst to the recipient of such random acts.

Now all that was left was the harder of my two needs.  How could I make good come of his death and my grief?

Fate has a way of catching us unawares and in ways that we least expect.  The year was 1994, and I was trying to refinance my house, interest rates having gone down.  One interminable wait followed another as I was passed along to the one person who could clear the way for my loan, and as I waited, I read through the Birmingham News until I reached the want ads.

Now understand, at the time I owned and managed a tri-state medical outsourcing business, and I was in the process of successfully flipping a five store retail chain.  The last thing I needed was a job, but when you have the soul of a writer, you will read anything.  And so, my eyes traveled down the columns of alphabetical listings until they landed on the one that read:

WANTED:  Family Services Counselor – Work with families as they deal with the loss of a loved one.

Here was my answer, I thought.  I would pay it forward.  I would provide some sort of purpose for my husband’s too young death by passing what I had learned onto others.

Five days later, I began working at an historic cemetery in a less than safe neighborhood.  Back before time, I had majored in history, and the life stories reflected in the burial books that recorded more than a century fascinated me.  Then I met with my first widow.

She was fifteen years younger than me with a five-year-old son clinging to her leg as she tried to pick out a grave for the man she had loved, who one minute had been alive and the next minute had been dead, struck down by a drunk driver.  We were different ages, different religions, and different ethnic backgrounds, but grief for a lost loved one united us.  Somewhere on the universal balance sheet opposite the huge black void left by my husband’s death a tiny positive check mark was etched.

Two months later, I added managing a cemetery to my already full work calendar, and as I worked with even more widows and helped them achieve healing, a few more checks on the plus side appeared.  Three months later, I took on five more cemeteries and funeral homes as a district manager, and a full row of checks appeared.

Each new family I counseled, each new widow who touched my life had their own story.  Slowly, these accumulated in a journal I kept until they numbered over 400 stories of love, loss and recovery.

One day I woke up and knew that, while the scales never would be balanced, my work at the cemeteries was completed.  Now, as an author, I am working on a book in which I’m weaving a number of these names-changed stories into a fictional umbrella in hopes that through them many others may be helped.

“I love Memorial Day,” the grounds manager at my first cemetery once told me.  “Everyone brings flowers, and the cemetery comes alive.”

I’ve spent much of my life in the Deep South where visiting the cemetery on Memorial Day remains a strong tradition.  Whether or not this is your tradition doesn’t matter.  You can still pause for a few minutes on this special day and remember those you have lost, touch base with them where they reside in your heart and keep their memories alive.

Best wishes to you, your friends and your families – those who are still with you and those who are already gone.  I know I’ll be spending a few minutes with each and every one of both kinds of mine.

Annie Acorn

A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off! by Annie Acorn

Also available in print and for NOOK!

Murder With My Darling (Bonnie Lou Mysteries) a humorous mystery by Annie Acorn

Also available in print and for NOOK!


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4 Responses to After My Husband Died

  1. Christa Polkinhorn says:

    Annie, this is a very moving and uplifting post. And what a beautiful image: “I love Memorial Day … when the cemetery comes alive.”
    Thanks for sharing,

    • Annie says:

      Christa – Cemeteries also offer those in any kind of pain a lovely, quiet place to think, even in the midst of a big city. Glad to know you were touched by the piece! Annie

  2. Pamela says:

    What a touching post. Never thought of cemeteries that way before – nor Memorial Day.

    Nice to meet you through Twitter, and now here.

    • Annie says:

      Pam – It was an eyeopener to me at the time. We often had people use the cemetery almost like a park – to read a book or think quietly about a matter that was troubling them. Some even came and ate their lunches there, never forgetting to pick up after themselves. Glad you enjoyed the piece. Come again! Annie

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