BW 049 - Giving Back and Grieving as a Mother of Young Children - with Jessica Gonzales

Sep 26, 2023

Watch the video here or on YouTube; listen anywhere podcasts are played (Apple, Spotify, Google…)

The Transcript is below.


Jessi is a young widow and a mother of three young children who felt like no one was there for her when she lost her spouse.

She planned the funeral all by herself. She continued to raise her children all by herself, and she really felt very lonely. During a time when most people feel that they're angry with God or they become distanced from God, Jessi views her experience of losing her spouse as a wake up call and a way that God used her to pull her closer to him.

I hope you enjoy this podcast episode as much as I did. Jessi gives back to other widows. She's written a book. She's given advice. She's physically gone out and served other widows and given other people what she wished she would have had during that experience.

You can find Jessi's book under her pen name, Amber Faith at:

Barnes & Nobles



The Brave Widow Community is a place where you can connect with other widows, find hope and healing, and begin to dream again for the future.  Learn more at  


Hey guys, I’m Emily Jones

I was widowed at age 37, one month shy of our 20 year wedding anniversary.  Nathan and I have four beautiful children together.  My world was turned completely upside down when I lost him.  With faith, community, and wisdom from others, I’ve been able to find hope, joy, and dream again for the future.  I want to help others do the same, too!



Twitter | @brave_widow

Instagram | @brave_widow

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YouTube | @bravewidow



Emily Jones: hey, hey, welcome to episode number 49 of the brave widow show. Today I get to talk with Jesse Gonzalez. Jesse is a young widow and a mother of three young children who felt like no one was there for her when she lost her spouse.

Emily Jones: She planned the funeral all by herself. She continued to raise her children all by herself, and she really felt very lonely. During a time when most people feel that they're angry with God or they become distanced from God, Jessie views her experience of losing her spouse as a wake up call and a way that God used her to pull her closer to him.

Emily Jones: I hope you enjoy this podcast episode as much as I did. Jessie gives back to other widows. She's written a book. She's given advice. She's physically gone out and served other widows and given other people what she wished she would have had during that experience. Let's dive in.[00:01:00]

Emily Jones: Hey, Hey, everybody. Welcome to another episode of the brave widow show. Today I have with me a special guest. Her name is Jesse Gonzalez, and I'm so excited for you to hear what she has to share today. Jesse, thank you so much for coming on the podcast and being willing to share your story.

Jessi Gonzales: Oh, thank you so much.

Jessi Gonzales: I appreciate it. Thank you for having me.

Emily Jones: Absolutely. Well, I feel like it's an honor because you have a book that's published and I'm not going to steal your thunder. I'm going to let you tell your story, but I think that's a pretty amazing accomplishment. And you've, you've got some really good insights.

Emily Jones: So if you don't mind, if you would just share a little bit of your background with the audience and then we can jump into your story, I think that would be amazing.

Jessi Gonzales: Yeah, sure. I'd love to. Okay. So, it just started on February 8th of 2022. As my husband, he passed away [00:02:00] and I have 3 children with him.

Jessi Gonzales: I have a beautiful daughter. Her name's Ava and I have 2 sons, which is Roman and Kellen and they're beautiful and thank God for them. And I, I went through the grieving process. I'm still going through it as well. It's just, it's so, there's so much pain and grief, but you know. I felt so alone and I just closed off myself to the whole entire world.

Jessi Gonzales: I didn't even answering phone calls to anybody because, I had them, nobody checking in on me during when I needed it the most, nobody was seeing if I was okay and everything like that. So, one day I just, I heard like God's voice speak to me and told me to, write a story.

Jessi Gonzales: About this to reach out to fellow widows out there going through the situation that I'm going through and just to give some encouragement [00:03:00] to them as well. The books called from wife to widow and it, it just came out like 2 months ago. So, it's just, you want, I just want to be able to let. Them know they are not alone.

Jessi Gonzales: I learned that, even though I had nobody checking in on me, God was there through me throughout it all. And inspired me to write the book and just I give God the glory, of course, not myself. And I just, I'm grateful to be able to, even though I went, going through that hard time that I had the strength through Christ to get me through and be able to write this amazing book to be able to share with fellow grievers and not just grievers, not just widows, but those as well that are helping those that are going through grief.

Jessi Gonzales: As well, because, like stuff not to say and the hurtful things, just a guide on how to [00:04:00] help those out there that are going through grief, if they're a family member or friend, like words of encouragement and, and stuff like that as well, some scriptures as well. So I'm super excited and I just hope, just to be able to inspire others out there,

Emily Jones: I love.

Emily Jones: I love it. And especially, it hasn't been that long since you lost your husband. And for those of you that are just listening, you're not seeing the video. I'm not going to ask Jesse how old she is, but she's young. She's a young widow. And I'm curious how old your children are, because I'm trying to wrap my mind around the fact that you felt like you lost a lot of the support that you have seen others have, or maybe you wish you have.

Emily Jones: So how old were your kiddos at the time, if you don't mind?

Jessi Gonzales: Yes. So, my kiddos were, so my oldest was 10 years old and then I had an eight year old son at the time and a three year old son. So very young. Very [00:05:00] young. They go through the grief as well and it hurts for me and I hurt for them. Cause, it's as a, as a mother, like it's hard for me to, I try to be strong for them.

Jessi Gonzales: As a being their mother, but there are times where, memories will, come in and or days and I'll just start crying and I just can't help but cry. But but, I feel like they're a blessing from the Lord because God uses them to bring me back to, joy and peace and happiness and patience and all the good stuff.

Jessi Gonzales: When I look at their face and, and they, and they asked me, are you okay, mommy? Those, those, those words right there, they just, it just melts my heart and I praise God for them and that they're here for me and they care about me as much as I care about them. So, and, when they go through it, like my middle child, he's the 1 that was like, the closest to his dad and they were like buddies and he cries [00:06:00] and I just tell him, I was like, I know how, I know it's a hard situation, your dad loves you and I know he's shining down upon you and he's, he's proud of you. You know what I mean? And I, I give him a hug and then we'll listen to some of my husband's favorite music that he would listen to and we just, keep his memory alive because no matter now or even in the future, he'll always be in our hearts and we'll always keep his memory alive.

Jessi Gonzales: Nothing will ever change, even in moving forward, if God does place a man in my life. So,

Emily Jones: yeah. So what, what would you tell, like, if we think about the, young mother out there that just lost her spouse and, three kids, I have four kids and three kids is a lot, especially when you feel like you want to just be able to grieve openly.

Emily Jones: And you're trying to balance that with being strong for them and not being. To [00:07:00] distraught with them, what, what words of encouragement or what advice would you give to someone who's kind of early on in that situation and they're just feeling overwhelmed with the kids and allowing space for their own grief and trying to juggle it all?

Emily Jones: What would you tell

Jessi Gonzales: them? I would first and foremost, I would tell them to turn to God and, go to God and cast all your fears and worries upon the Lord. It's in scripture. I would just tell them, just pray and ask God to give you that peace and just be there for you because, God cares about, the grievers and And for somebody that, may not know who God is, if I was to tell somebody in that point of view, I would tell them just know that, you're not, you're not alone.

Jessi Gonzales: And, there is. Those that, care about, I know there's a lot of people that don't know how to help those, but if we are able to [00:08:00] help one another and know how to, get to share these videos and, and get to teach others, the right things to say, then those out there can be there for fellow grievers, fellow widows, and that's why I'm very blessed, to be able to be on this podcast with you because I love how you're, you tell those out there the right words to say, and how to help, fellow grievers widows, and just. Encouraging words and it's just amazing.

Jessi Gonzales: And, and I just I just pray that the Lord, uses this to just reach out to every single widow. There is out there everywhere. And just just know, I know it's painful the pain. Nobody will ever understand what you're actually going through and how hurtful it really is because I go through that still to this day, still over a year later, still.

Jessi Gonzales: Yeah. Like, nobody [00:09:00] really knows how much I'm hurting inside. But, that's why I just, I just trying to just keep the joy of the Lord and just read, pray, and just, help others. If, if you don't know who God is, another one thing I would say is just go out and help people go be a servant to other people out there, help somebody.

Jessi Gonzales: Bring groceries in or any, any, anything that brings joy to you. Maybe even if it's giving a stranger, some money, whatever it is to bring joy to your heart, it helps, it really helps when you help others, it helps yourself. So that's what I would say.

Emily Jones: Oh, my goodness. You made so many good points in there.

Emily Jones: One thing that gave me chills for a second was, you, you leaned into the phrase, you are not alone. And for me, that is the phrase when I was driving home from the hospital and they told me, that. My spouse was dead, that it was just a phrase from God that just kept playing over and [00:10:00] over on my mind, like, you are not alone, you are not alone, and a lot of times I get asked, and so I'll ask you, how did you keep from being angry at God, or Keep from, questioning, well, why did you let this happen?

Emily Jones: And maybe there was a period of time that you were, but how do you recover from that? Cause I know some people that just really struggle with it. And it's a question that I get asked sometimes, what would you tell them? How can you still believe in God when he let this happen to you?

Jessi Gonzales: For me, I know what I would say is, God has the world in his hands.

Jessi Gonzales: We're all in his hands, we all belong to, to God as our creator. So for me, when my husband died I didn't go through blaming God. I went through being open minded and seeing maybe there, there's something that I need to learn through this, that God [00:11:00] has a plan.

Jessi Gonzales: through this situation. So, and I have been open to seeing what that plan was. It was to wake me up. I used to be blinded and I was backsliding away from God. I was living the wrong life. I was, I was an alcoholic. And I was so far away from God, and I would used to be streaming on dating site and, and then my children, at that point, my daughter, she thought, that, I didn't care about her because I was busy, living my life thinking I was so cool, doing things in this world and.

Jessi Gonzales: And that really, like made me think like, okay, so God used this situation to wake me up and saying, look, my kids need me, they need me to, to step up and be the mother that God created me to be. And I, I am just like, I was like, wow, I wasted my time, being on [00:12:00] electronic device instead of spending precious time with my children.

Jessi Gonzales: And I learned to this situation that life is short. Don't take it a day for granted, you know what I mean? Live today as if it's your last. So, what that meant for me is to, spend time with my children and be there for my children and make time for them and help them in whenever they are and support them and be there for them.

Jessi Gonzales: And, and as long as bringing them, to church and, just bringing them into good situations, being around better people and being around encouragement. And it's just, it's a whole lot of good that I'm glad that, this situation taught me because beforehand I was just wasting away their life.

Jessi Gonzales: They're only young for a little bit period of time. They're They're already growing on my daughter's already, she just started middle school this year. So, that's not all this time I wasted [00:13:00] away. And now I'm enjoying them growing, especially my youngest now he's 4. So now I'm taking every minute that he has for for, I take.

Jessi Gonzales: I, take advantage of that. So I'm blessed. I'm so thankful that I have them and I'm thankful that my eyes been open and just, just think I would, say to anybody going through this, like, there, there's, always a reason. There's a reason why. God has his, plan for our life, you're still breathing.

Jessi Gonzales: God has a purpose. So, my purpose is to be a better mother and to, do better with my life. And I've been, I mean, I've even started going to college as well. So, I have plans to be able to open up women's home that I can help a fellow, fellow mother and children struggling, it just.

Jessi Gonzales: Going to school and taking advantage and doing what I got to do to instead of being where I was Being content [00:14:00] being at the bottom. I plan on rising up so I can help others So

Emily Jones: I I love that and you made such a good point about doing for others

Emily Jones: And for you or would do for you. And that was something I learned in the leadership and business realm a long time ago, but it definitely applies to being a widow. Because it's like, if you want someone to ask how you're doing or to send you a birthday card or to, say, Hey, let me take the kids for an evening.

Emily Jones: Doing that for someone else can be a very. Rewarding and fulfilling experience. And, as, as you mentioned, finding a purpose and finding a way to give back can be a very strong aspect of healing and a good sign that you're, moving at least forward in your journey and trying to make an impact on, on others.

Emily Jones: I mean, what, what a big, a beautiful heart that you have. I just, I love that.[00:15:00]

Jessi Gonzales: I praise God for it, to be honest.

Emily Jones: So what would you tell I guess I should ask. As your children were grieving I'm sure some of them, the oldest one probably knew, or maybe had the most memories, the middle one was closest to him, but did you notice they all kind of reacted differently or did they grieve similarly, or how, how did you see some of the differences

Jessi Gonzales: in your kids?

Jessi Gonzales: Oh, yes. They all grieve differently. My oldest she she's More strong hearted. So she didn't really cry per se, but she, that she missed her, dad, by her listening to his music. And, now she's in, in a band learning how to play an instrument, like her dad play the guitar.

Jessi Gonzales: So, she's, learning his interest. So instead of crying, she's more so listening to all what music he listened to and just doing the [00:16:00] instrument. Like learning how to be musical and artists like her dad is. And she draws, like my husband was a great artist and she draws just like him.

Jessi Gonzales: So that's how I noticed with her. She's strong girl, like as it appears on the outside. But you know, those people that don't cry are, you're telling the inside, they, they hurting more. They're just showing that they're strong on the outside. So I told her, I was like, you're I'm proud of you.

Jessi Gonzales: I know, and I know that it hurts, and I know you miss your dad, but you're doing an amazing job, and I'm proud of you. Keep it up. And then my middle son, he, he cries, like, every so often. He'll, he'll just shut down out of nowhere, and he will just be. We'll just all of a sudden just start crying and I just check on him and are you okay?

Jessi Gonzales: He's like I miss my daddy in heaven and then I'll hold him and I mean him We'll just sit there and and I'll just tell him I'm like, I know your dad's proud of you I know he's smiling on you [00:17:00] and here you're doing an amazing job And he loves you and he'll always love you and always be here in your heart And everything, so his grace, more of the emotional side of it, like mine is.

Jessi Gonzales: And then my youngest, my youngest is kind of too young, so young, but he does know who his dad is. And I know when I will go to the cemetery to try to visit him one day, but I kind of went there too late. So he got upset because he wanted to see, go visit his daddy in heaven. And he was mad that they, that they.

Jessi Gonzales: The auditorium part of it was closed because he's in the Coliseum and he was so upset. So, yeah, they all just grieve differently and that's

Emily Jones: hard to write to kind of look at them. And I think sometimes we have an idea what quote unquote normal grieving is, or we expect everyone to cry or we expect people to be angry or, whatever we've been [00:18:00] taught about grief, but it is normal for everyone to.

Emily Jones: React differently and to show their emotions differently. And I know sometimes as a mom, that can weigh really heavily on you because your tendency is to take care of everyone else. And then whatever tiny fragment of time is left over is to take care of you and to process your own grief. How did you try to manage that with making sure your kids were okay, but also making space for you and what you needed to process?

Jessi Gonzales: Now, on that one, I'm going to be completely honest with you and the first when it first came down like the first few months, I really did not take care of me. I, I was focused on, my children and making sure they're. They're well and making sure they're okay. And that I neglected myself.

Jessi Gonzales: And, I wasn't that I was purposely trying to neglect, myself. It's just, I felt like nobody [00:19:00] understood how I felt. And and it's like, I try to go to a grief share, share, and I just. It just felt like, no, nobody wouldn't understand the pain that I'm going through or anything like that.

Jessi Gonzales: And then plus on top of it, like, when I went to a church event for a widow, so it was all older. Elderly women at that, and I felt like I didn't fit in because, I'm so young and I just did not feel comfortable. I wish there would have been somebody around my age that I could have connected with.

Jessi Gonzales: It would have been good, but that stopped me as well from going. So, so I did neglect myself for for actually this whole period with I'm going to like the grief shares and everything like that. And it's like, I couldn't, I have no family to, talk to about it. So, literally, I just. Just learn through to just cry alone in my [00:20:00] room.

Jessi Gonzales: That's what I do when my kids are in bed. That's when I cry it out, I cry and I tell God I miss him so much. And, and I just, I just wish I could have said goodbye to him, before. And, and that's what I do, I should be strong for your kids during the day and then just cry and cry at night, that's the I, I do.

Jessi Gonzales: I mean, I do need to start, probably try to go to grief shares and stuff, but it's just hard because they feel like nobody will really understand and I want to be able to connect with somebody that would actually understand, 100 percent of how I feel, but nobody will ever understand how.

Jessi Gonzales: We truly feel, cause we all go through things differently. So it's like, I like, how do I do this?

Emily Jones: Yeah. Well, yeah. And that's why I created Brave Widow in the online community there, because, I wanted. Other young widows and people that were trying to [00:21:00] juggle work and kids and all those things together and even though obviously we have people part of that community that are older or younger don't have kids, they're still just this common theme of looking forward with hope and understanding that everyone's relationship is unique and different, but at the end of the day, like I get it when We expect family members to show up a certain way and they don't, or our social circle changes, or people say that things to us that they think is helpful and it's not, like, certain things that are just really easy to understand because we tend to experience similar things and I would recommend to I went through the grief recovery method and they have a handbook if you don't want to go through the, the course, but the workshop and the course was phenomenal.

Emily Jones: And I was probably 18 months out or so when I went through it. And there was a lot of things that I felt like. We're left [00:22:00] unsaid like loops that hadn't been closed, like, Oh, I wish I could have told him this. I wish, we could have resolved that. I wish, we would have had this conversation, but going through that program really helped me walk away feeling a lot lighter and feeling like I had closed all those loops and said what needed to be said. So, if you get the opportunity, I highly recommend that when you're struggling with, like, either guilt or just feeling like, oh, I really just have this angst of what I wish, I would have said

Jessi Gonzales: so.

Jessi Gonzales: That's amazing. I love that. I really do. You know what's really awesome too is you know what I did like, I know I wasn't going to like the grief share and stuff, but I know what I did that actually helped me to keep my mind busy, is I, I got into like, just coloring. I, I know that that probably sounds, like childlike.

Jessi Gonzales: But I just got, I ordered a bunch of gel pens off of Amazon and I started printing out all kinds of pretty [00:23:00] coloring pages and just, started coloring and coloring, spending hours coloring. Cause it's all like the fine detailed, like crosses or butterflies or, Bible scriptures, all kinds of different drawing pages.

Jessi Gonzales: And I would just use color and color and it would help me. To keep my mind off of, the, the sadness and just into just enjoying just coloring. So I would say, like, I would tell anybody, just find something that you like to do and, do it, like, even if it's, like going, getting, your nails done, or getting a massage or doing anything to do your you time, me time, just.

Jessi Gonzales: Take that time to just do you time, whatever it could be, even if it's having like a, having coffee and a donut and just relaxing and watching some Netflix, whatever it is, just something that you enjoy to do. Okay. That helps. And I love that because that really helped me [00:24:00] throughout that whole, whole year.

Jessi Gonzales: That's been my, it really was an amazing thing to do. I'm glad I did that. Yeah, I,

Emily Jones: I think that's perfect. And what a lot of people I think don't realize is that to heal, you have to process your emotion. You have to take action. So doing things like coloring, even though you feel like, Oh, it's coloring. But actually any kind of creative actions works the same part of our brain as the part of our brain that processes emotions. So that's why you see a lot of craft therapy groups and art therapy groups and writing and journaling and all of those things really help because it's working that part of your brain that processes emotions and feelings.

Emily Jones: And so you were, you were doing the work even if you didn't realize it at the time. So that's

Jessi Gonzales: awesome. And no, thank God. I'm grateful. I am grateful because I, I didn't really think about that. I didn't, there are those therapeutical like classes and stuff [00:25:00] like that. I didn't think about that.

Jessi Gonzales: That's awesome. Yeah.

Emily Jones: All right. So tell the audience a little about your book. What's in it, maybe what you hope that people get out of it and where they can find it if they want to buy it or they want to learn more about you, where they

Jessi Gonzales: should go. Hey, so I wrote the book just starting from, explaining how before, from being a wife to a widow, I just go and I break down in the book that I that I.

Jessi Gonzales: It was just a regular normal day, and I didn't know that, February 8, 2022 was going to turn it from me being a wife and to a widow. That was the day that my title changed. So I explained in the book the. What I went through and how I've gotten through it and the ways that you can go about seeking [00:26:00] help or, things to encourage a fellow widow.

Jessi Gonzales: And also for those helping widows the kind and encouraging or ways to, if you want to sign up and help one of those one of us widows, you can do that and you can find the book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and It's a really encouraging book. It's really it's, I know that it might only be a few pages, but it is well worth it.

Jessi Gonzales: And I know it's like, 36 pages or so, but it's, it is very encouraging. And I encourage anybody to, pick up a copy. And even if you you want to have. The electric version, they have that as well that you can order. So you don't have to order the copy of the book. You can have it on like your Kindle or anything like that as well.

Jessi Gonzales: So that's cool option. But there's just basically I want to, be able to. Have god used me as you know his [00:27:00] purpose to for me to help other widows out there Going through the same situation because I to me feel like we all need to team up and help one another And we all should come together and be there for one another because there are people like As myself that didn't have nobody calling and checking if I was okay.

Jessi Gonzales: I I had a plan The my husband's funeral all by myself, I didn't even have the family, his side of the family helping me or anything. And that was hard. That was really, really, really hard because I even designed the funeral brochure all by myself. I did everything by myself because. I am struggling financially.

Jessi Gonzales: So I had to figure out what to do and make it happen. Because for me, I wanted my children and I to have, little ceremony that we can honor him and everything. So I, I spent hours like trying to get this [00:28:00] brochure perfect and then end up coming out beautifully. I'm so like amazed how beautiful the, the brochure came out.

Jessi Gonzales: And then I, I even did the like the videos that they play at the I, I made that video too, I got all the pictures and I made the slideshows and the songs through it and things that I wouldn't think I was capable of doing. I did and is this so amazing because I, this never happened.

Jessi Gonzales: I would never knew I was capable of, being creative in writing a book or creating a. A funeral pamphlet or even making a slideshow. Like, I just was like, wow, like, it's amazing. Like, like that. I have that. I know that. I, I might be alone in this situation, but I'm not alone because I have God and I have skills.

Jessi Gonzales: Like I have creativity, like, and I can help other people, I don't need to, like I could, I could sit there and I can be [00:29:00] like. Shut myself off, but what good would that be to me? It's like I found better to be able to help everybody. My heart is to help and I love helping people and that's just always been the kind of person I am.

Jessi Gonzales: So I just, whatever I can do to help, I just want to be that person, and I'll, and I'll, and if anybody wants my, a phone number, email, anything, I'll give my phone number, email to anybody that. Let me feel like they're alone because I don't want nobody, nobody in the world to feel like they're alone when they're going through grief and losing their spouse.

Jessi Gonzales: I'll be there for anybody, whoever needs. I walk you with open arms. You know what I mean? As you're not, I'm here anytime.

Emily Jones: Yeah, I, I love it and I can feel the passion and the love and just that service mentality just like pouring out of you. It's amazing. And I, I agree. It's so important for people to find their tribe, like their community, their group of people that [00:30:00] are going to be there and support them.

Emily Jones: And even if it's virtually, even if it's like this, Having someone who gets it, having someone who understands where you don't really have to explain a lot about what you're feeling and what you're going through. It's just an incredible feeling to have that type of support around you. Well, Jessi, thank you so, so much for coming on the show today.

Emily Jones: I really appreciate it. I will put all the links to your book in the show notes. So, if people are driving or, not able to write it down and they can go back and find it later, but thanks again for coming. It was really a pleasure having you.

Jessi Gonzales: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. And it was a pleasure being here.

Jessi Gonzales: And I hope everybody has an amazing, whatever day, night, whatever it is that they're watching this. And thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it. Thank you.


Emily Jones: Hey guys. Thank you [00:31:00] so much for listening to the Brave Widow Podcast. I would love to help you take your next step, whether that's healing your heart, finding hope, or achieving your dreams for the future.

Emily Jones: Do you need a safe space to connect with other like-minded widows? Do you wish you had how-tos for getting through the next steps in your journey, organizing your life or moving through grief? What about live calls where you get answers to your burning questions? The Brave Widow Membership Community is just what you need.

Emily Jones: Inside you'll find courses to help guide you, a community of other widows to connect with, live coaching and q and a calls, and small group coaching where you can work on what matters most to you. Learn how to heal your heart, find hope, reclaim joy, and dream again for the future. It is possible. Head on over to brave to learn more.