Greif Memory Moving Forward Uncategorized

Holding onto the Memories

Chris Brandt

WSN: Day by Day by Chris Brandt

At first, I felt I wanted a small “shrine” of my late wife. It had only been a few days since she passed, and I wanted to have a visual element to view. I put a 5”x7” picture, her obituary, her last communion bottle, and her box of ashes on top of the fireplace mantle. These items were arranged well and looked nice in their prospective spots. For a few days, I felt comfort in looking at the items, and I found it memorialized her in a sense that made me feel a continued closeness.

As time passed, I started to feel less comfortable with the shrine. For reasons unknown, the shrine would make me feel sad. Not only would there be sadness, but at times, there would also be uneasiness. I never gave it much thought and assumed this was a part of a natural grief process. Later, I figured out that there was no such thing as a natural process. I learned that most of everyone’s approach to grief was unique to his or her situation. There was no schedule of grieving; there was no right way or wrong way. Lastly, I learned that it was okay to make changes and feel as comfortable as possible.

Once I came to terms with my feelings, I let myself grieve in the way that suited me. By doing this, I started to think of the memories when I looked at the items I had set up. I began to talk to the picture. To me, talking to my wife’s picture was okay to do, and it made things feel a little better. I started to feel more at ease and saw the items in a different light. Remembering the good and bad memories as part of a process that I needed then and still need to this day. The memories are there for the taking. Our wives were our loves and a big part of our lives. They will live on in our hearts through the memories we created together.

It wasn’t until recently that tears stayed at bay as I looked upon the fireplace mantle. Now I do it and often find myself smiling. I made a conscious effort to recall the good memories first, and at times, those fond memories are the only ones I remember for a while. It wasn’t uncommon to make her laugh as often as I could. Those are the memories that I think of first. We all have happy memories of our spouses in our minds; try keeping them at the forefront of our minds. Who knows, you may find yourself smiling a little more often. Be strong, my brothers.


You can reach Chris at

Memory Moving Forward

The Joy We Need

Chris Brandt

WSN: Day by Day, with Chris Brandt

We all are familiar with a house that is only a fallacy of what it once was. The house at one time was a place we went to after work or fishing that brought a smile to our faces. You know the smile for which I am talking. A house once filled with our spouse, our kids, and many times, the aroma of dinner being prepared. We looked forward to that and knew when we pulled in the driveway and saw the house; we knew what was waiting.

Admittedly, I felt grief for many months, knowing what was now waiting for me. The house felt like a hollow reminder of what was no more. It was not until recently that I got this scenario straight in my head. The memories of long ago were just the root cause of another meltdown. I decided there are too many of these scenarios. I needed to get one of these off my plate. These “triggers” can bury us, and I decided I am going to confront these triggers one by one.

One evening after I left work and started to head for home, I convinced myself that when I pull in the driveway, I am going to see a house of joy. I am going to see a place that sheltered my now-grown children, a home that sheltered my late wife, and a house that sheltered me. Our home was more than just empty wood; this is a monument of fond memories. This is a place were more memories can be made. That night, I pulled in the driveway, and I remembered the numerous times I got home and saw the wife and kids playing in the yard. I remembered seeing my wife watering the flowers in the circle drive. I also remembered the smile she made when she turned and saw me home from work.

I genuinely believe we have choices in some instances to either remember the joy or to think about what we lost. In no way, shape or form is this easy. It is an act that that requires a conscious effort and will not be a subconscious habit until we do it often. Joy, as we once knew it, has changed, but we all have a choice now of changing and finding joy in new ways.

Be strong, my brothers.


You can reach Chris at

Dating/Relationships Forgiveness Guilt/Shame Loneliness Mental/Emotional Health Moving Forward

Am I Cheating?

Chris Brandt

There is a feeling of fall in the air. Depending on where you live, you may have noticed the nights are feeling a little cooler, and the morning air is feeling a little brisker. Where I live, I have also seen the leaves on the trees are starting to lose their spring/summer green color. One thing is for sure, the last of the “Summer” holidays is upon us. That means different things to different people.

With fall approaching I have to do something I have been dreading, I have to take my son back to his apartment so he can continue college. I am ashamed to admit that a small part of me wanted his classes to be online rather than in person. I tried convincing myself that this hope stemmed solely from a concern for his safety. The truth is, I was only kidding myself. I wanted him home with me longer. I wanted someone home when I get back from work, I wanted someone home to eat with, and I wanted someone home to have conversations.

Recently, I accepted the fact that I will soon be alone. This made me think about a co-worker that I have been talking with at work. This friend has alluded to the fact that she is open to having dinner together sometime. I did not think about that as an option at the time because I had my son at home, and we had each other for company. Besides, I wanted to spend every minute I could live with him. Now, I face eating alone, which is why those passive hints from my co-worker resurfaced. It sounds like it would work out perfectly. She is alone after a break up in her relationship, I will be alone, and it is worth considering. Or is it?

After my thoughts started to get more serious about asking my friend to dinner, I became overwhelmed with emotion. What is the passion that is pouring over me? After concentrating on this feeling, I discovered its origin. What I am feeling is guilt. What I did not understand is why I was feeling this.

You may have experienced this feeling too. In my situation, I am just at the beginning of sorting out these feelings. The reason I wanted to mention this is that if you have felt this emotion, do not feel alone. It comes with the territory. I felt as though I would be cheating if I did ask this person to dinner. It is my opinion that after years of marriage, you will feel like you are cheating on your late spouse. In reality, I know it would not be cheating. I know she would want me to have company and companionship.

When the time is right, we all have to decide between being open to finding a new friend that may lead to a relationship. What we do need to remember is that there is not a set time for this scenario. It may even be that we decide we don’t want that type of companionship, and only you know if that’s your case. However, one thing we do know is that you need to be open to this, and it isn’t cheating. The only cheating that happens by hiding from others is you cheating yourself out of a possible friendship. Be strong, my brothers.


You can reach Chris at

Grief/Dispair Mental/Emotional Health Moving Forward Uncategorized

It is okay to be happy

Chris Brandt

Have you ever felt guilty or maybe even startled at a smile on your face? If you have, there is no reason to feel any shame. Let me explain. As my wife and I battled her disease, there where many times that I felt guilty about being able to do things she could not. I will not go into detail, but the guilt I felt was intense, and it was painful. I thought that once she passed, the guilt would pass with her. I was wrong. A few weeks after she passed, I was having a conversation with a friend from high school. He and I have always been the kind of friends that could pick up where we left off even after not talking for months. He has always had a happy perspective on life. Well, after talking for a few minutes, something happened, and it was startling. I smiled and laughed! I caught myself. I will never forget that moment because it was a significant event in my new life. I asked myself, “What are you doing?”

I wanted to share my smile and laugh story for a couple of reasons. It took much thought and self-reflection to conclude that it was okay to smile and laugh. Besides, the guilt I felt needed to be addressed. Please understand, when a widower is freshly dealing with their loss, these feelings are a major concern and not digested and proceeded the same way they are after a few months after the loss. At that time, I felt guilt, and for me, I think I know why. I felt that it was far too soon to smile and laugh.

One thing is for sure during or journey of grief, and I feel all of us brothers will agree, there is not a set time frame for any of this process. It is okay that some things take longer for others, and other things happen quicker for others. It is a wonderful and blessed reality that we are unique and deal with certain things better than others. The reason for this being a good thing is because we are band together and can use our unique abilities to help those that are in need in those areas. Nonetheless, one thing is for sure, if you find yourself smiling or laughing, don’t feel guilty, cherish that moment. There is no guilt in happiness.

-Chris Brandt


Please welcome Chris to our outstanding team of columnist. Chris lost his wife Christine on 1/13/20. He can be reached at

Giving Support Widower Awareness

Widower’s Need to Lean Upon Others

Each day, millions of people wake up and start their day the same way they do every other day. Their life is a routine, their life has normalcy, and their presence is taken for granted. However, there is another group of people that have an adverse perspective of life. These people take nothing for granted. These are also people that yearn for normality and the previously mentioned routine that so many do without thought. These are the millions of widowers who wake up daily and do things that they once did without much effort.

There was a time in my life that I did these everyday tasks without much thought. I had a routine, and it was great. Coincidentally I took this routine for granted; there was no immunity to that mentality. The first few days and weeks and months of learning to be a widower is difficult. I could write pages of why it’s difficult, but that’s not the mission of this column. I am here to tell you about why it’s essential to get up each day and put one foot in front of the other and work your way towards being the new you. For some, it may be using positive affirmations in front of the mirror each morning. For others, it may be getting dressed and conquering the task of feeling like you are happy with who you see in the mirror after some personal grooming.

It’s important to remember that even though there are days that you may feel alone, you are not alone. Many, many other widowers are experiencing similar feelings to what you are feeling. There are also just as many widowers that want to and are willing to talk about those feelings. Everyone has days that are better than others, and by banding together, we can hold each other up. There’s nothing wrong or suspicious about a bad day. We all have them, and they are a part of the healing process. One mistake some of us make is to try to go through this alone when there are people and resources available.

We are a band of brothers with something in common. It’s a group we don’t want to be a part of, but here we are. Stay strong my brothers and hang in there, the sun will rise tomorrow.

Chris Brandt

Chris can be contacted at