BW-057: A Veteran's Journey From Service to Strength Through Grief and Advocacy

widow interview Nov 09, 2023
 

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

The Transcript is below.


Content warning: PTSD, Suicide, Death 

Bonnie is a veteran of the United state navy the wife to an angel and the mother to 5 amazing children.  Since the death of her husband she stays busy advocating for veterans, trying to normalize grief and loss, and trying to provide her children the most normal after loss life she can.

Bonnie Recommends: 

  • Find support
  • Ask for Support
  • Accept help

  • Tend to get a little more compassion and understanding.                                                              

Quote: 

''The person who marries the widow next after she's a widow is going to have the best wife ever.''

'' I will say having my three younger kids was a lifesaver. Because I think if I didn't have them, I wouldn't have found a reason to get out of bed in the morning, I wouldn't have found a reason to get dressed, to do anything.''

''I've never known about so many young widows in my life until I became a young widow.''


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 bravewidow.com


 

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!

 

FOLLOW me on SOCIAL:

Twitter | @brave_widow

Instagram | @brave_widow

Facebook | https://www.facebook.com/bravewidow

YouTube | @bravewidow


Transcript:

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Emily Jones: [00:00:00] Hey, welcome to episode number 57 of the Brave Widow show. Today I have a special guest, Bonnie Barrington. Bonnie is a veteran herself. She's a widow. She's a mother of five. Her late spouse was a veteran and her two oldest are currently in the military. And Bonnie has a very gripping And yet beautiful story that she's going to share with you on the show today before I introduce her.

I just want to remind you, as we're in the last couple months of the year here, we have a lot of live events that are happening. We have some things that are coming up. We have prizes. We're giving away. There are lots of free resources that you can access. On the website at brave widow. com slash free F R E E.

And once you sign up to receive the free gifts and resources that I have for you, then that is the best way to stay updated on the latest and greatest with live [00:01:00] events, what's happening, things that you can join and participate in. And I would love to see you there. All right, let's introduce Bonnie.

Bonnie is a veteran of the United States Navy. The wife to an angel and the mother to five amazing children. Since the death of her husband, she stays busy advocating for veterans, trying to normalize grief and loss, and trying to provide her children the most normal after loss life that she can. We'll include the links and the show notes to all of her social media, but she is blowing up on TikTok at Bonnie Hoffman Barr B A R R.

Let's dive in.

Welcome to The Brave Widow Podcast. I'm your host, Emily Jones. We help young widows heal their heart, find hope, and dream again for the future.

Hey and welcome to another episode of The Brave Widow Show. Today I have a special [00:02:00] guest, Bonnie, and I'm really excited for her to share her experience, her story, and some of the insights that she has for us to. So Bonnie, thank you so much for coming on the show and being willing to, to share your story.

I really appreciate it.

Bonnie Barrington: Thank you for having me. I appreciate the opportunity.

Emily Jones: Definitely. So if you don't mind, if you would share a little bit about you and your background, then we can jump into your story wherever you'd like to start.

Bonnie Barrington: Sure. Well, um, I met my husband when we were both serving in the United States Navy.

We were both the Navy corpsman, which is medic. And, uh, we met actually in a school. Um, we started dating We both joined before September 11th in 2001. We started dating at the end of 2001. Um, we dated throughout the time that we were in the Navy through two deployments to Iraq, , through multiple [00:03:00] moves, living in different countries.

And we both got out of the military at the end of 2005 and ended up, um, Getting married finally in 2007. We do have five children. Uh, I have a son that is from a prior relationship. He's 25. He serves in the Navy. Currently, he's a Navy Seabee. We have a 21 year old son who is in the Marine Corps. And we have three daughters.

They are 15, 13, and 12. And, um, John passed away on, actually, September 13th of 2021. So, today is the second year anniversary of his passing.

Emily Jones: Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that. But what a beautiful way to... Honor him by sharing your story and getting to tell about your family. Um, and five kids is amazing. I have four and I, uh, people are [00:04:00] always surprised by that.

So I imagine they are fifth of two but I think after three, it's like, you know, what one more is not necessarily that different, but, um, are your teenagers, do they have any aspirations of going into the military?

Bonnie Barrington: Well, they're, they're girls, so I could see one of them maybe doing it, um, the other two, I, I don't think so, but you never know, things, so many things can change.

Emily Jones: Yeah,

absolutely. Well, okay. I think let's start with just your story of, you know, maybe tell us a little bit about your late spouse and, you know, what your relationship was like or what attracted you to him. And, sure. I think that would be really interesting to meet someone while you're both serving.

Bonnie Barrington: Um, so actually we met. When, uh, although we graduated boot camp together, we didn't know each other. We graduated the same day. We both had the same job [00:05:00] and we met when we were, it's called SATS Students Awaiting Training. And it's kind of, they wait until they have enough people to fill up a class. And, we met, we cleaned rat cages in a dental research lab.

And it started out, we were great friends, we realized we actually have the same birthday. so he's also from Chicago, although he's a Florida native. He was living in Chicago when he joined the military. So we just had a lot in common and, Our friendship just grew and, when we, uh, graduated corps school and he ended up getting orders to continue and, it's called field, uh, field medical service school.

It's when corpsmen can either serve the Navy or the Marine Corps. And he was, going to be serving with the Marine Corps. And so it's called the C school and that's where he was getting sent to. And I was actually staying at [00:06:00] Great Lakes here in Chicago, which is where I live currently. And, our friendship just grew and we realized when he was stationed in Japan that we liked each other more than friends.

And we talked every day on the phone and it just. You know, when he came back after a year, we saw each other and it was kind of like never ended. We obviously have gone through him being deployed to war twice and all of the Nuances of that, you know, it's long times away long time. I'm not talking. I'm very thankful because I actually have all of the letters that we wrote to each other so me to him and him to me and I think it's just such an amazing thing because people don't write letters anymore for my kids to have and see And, I actually have, uh, some of it, of the letters, I don't know, it's around the screen, but [00:07:00] you can see, like, tattooed on my arm and on my wrist and it's his handwriting and so it's so special that I have that stuff.

And I think we had such a good marriage because it was truly built on friendship and it was built on communication and we had to. Persevere through so much and we really knew each other. It wasn't just, although love's an important part, it was so much more than that.

Emily Jones: Oh, I love that. I love that so much. And what a beautiful family and life that you created together and legacy really he's leaving through your children. Do you feel like you can see some of him in them or parts of

him?

Bonnie Barrington: Absolutely. Well, obviously my two boys are in the military. So, I think that comes, well, it comes from both of us, but also came from him, you know, being a positive role model in their lives and teaching them,

what to do. And then so much in my [00:08:00] daughter as well. Everyone's like, they look so much like you. I look at them and I'm like, Oh my gosh, I see him in so much. And then, obviously you're a widow as well, so, I think you, you changed so much about the way you think of things and expression when you have children, like how you're raising them, uh, as an only parent, which is different than being a single parent, the things you talk about.

And one day I was asking my kids, Not what they wanted to be when they grew up, but who they wanted to be when they grew up. And I likened it to my husband's funeral. He was in, after the military, my husband was an elected official in our township. And everyone knew him. He, you know, He was like a leader in our community, and the people that spoke about him at his funeral didn't talk about what he was.

They all talked about who he was. [00:09:00] And when I asked my children, like, who do you want to be? My kids, two of my daughters, they're like, I want to be kind, you know? It's a pretty easy answer. But my middle daughter, who probably has suffered the most since he died, because they were really close, she said, I want to be the person that everyone goes to when they need something.

I want to be, and I'm like, you want to be your dad, which is interesting because she's really the only one who looks like him. She acts like him and now she like wants to almost emulate him and I don't think she realized that she said that so I do Think they're lucky that they had him for so long to kind of like build those pivotal blocks in their life

Emily Jones: Yeah, I think that's really wonderful and how touching for you to be able to look at what they've learned or they've incorporated as part of his spirit and who he was into, who they [00:10:00] are and who they're going to be.

I think that's really amazing. Did you feel at all, as with your kids, that you really had to prioritize their grieving process or, focus a lot of effort and energy there where it was a struggle for you to feel like you could just fully grieve or fully express how you were feeling? What was that experience like?

Bonnie Barrington: So I actually don't think I have fully grieved, I don't know that I ever will, the loss of him. And, um, I will say having my three younger kids was a lifesaver. Because I think if I didn't have them, I wouldn't have found a reason to get out of bed in the morning, I wouldn't have found a reason to get dressed, to do anything.

But because I had them and because it was so important to me that their lives didn't change any more than they were [00:11:00] already having to change. I got up every day. I made sure they still had the same activities. All three of my daughters, they're competitive cheerleaders, which is a pretty pricey sport to be in.

And it requires a lot of travel and, so it was important to me to have them maintain the same life that they had before losing their dad. And so, I have had to work really hard. My middle daughter, the one that I had said that she was the closest with her dad. Um, she's actually struggled a lot, and so my focus has been on them and making sure that they're doing well.

So I, I don't think I have grieved, and it's kind of scary because, you know, at 15, 13, and 12, I don't have a lot of years left with them at home. I'm anxious to see what it's going to be like when I'm [00:12:00] alone, you know, if that's when it's really going to hit me.

Emily Jones: Yeah, I, was speaking with someone, uh, in a widow group and they said that once their kids had grown and moved out and moved on, that they went through a process, I think over a period of a few days where they just.

Grieved and cried and just let it all out and they just felt like that was really the first time that they could just be and not have to be mindful of their kids or you know, even though we may cry and we may express certain things, there's still that. Okay, I'm the parent, I have to be strong, I have to, put on a face or whatever at times around them.

So that does make it really difficult for sure.

Bonnie Barrington: Yeah, because you don't ever want your kids to see you like, well, they have seen me cry. I don't want them to see me like stuck in that period of sadness. It is interesting having three of them. They all three have [00:13:00] grieved so definitely. One of them expresses it in anger.

One of them is a little bit, has a little bit of anxiety, you know, like, are you okay? The minute she hears me like sniffle or bites down my toe, and I'm like, oh, shoot, she's like, what happened? You know, and then my oldest daughter, she acts like it didn't happen, you know, like. It just was a blip in time and it's gone and we'll just never talk about it again.

as my youngest one is, she's in seventh grade this year. She's very cautious. Like she said, Anna, stop. That's my middle daughter. Stop talking about dad being dead on your TikToks. I don't want my friends to know and they're all seeing it. I'm like, why don't you want your friends to know that your dad is dead?

Cause I don't want them to treat me differently. I'm like, it's okay. No one's going to pick on you, no one's going to make fun of you, you know, sadly, when your dad died, it was like the front page of the newspaper, everybody [00:14:00] pretty much knows, and I don't think anyone is going to pick on you or make you feel bad because of it.

It's nothing to be embarrassed about, and so it's interesting to see how grief can be different for different people.

Emily Jones: Yeah, it is. And I think there's, you know, a big misconception that people should go through the five stages of grief. And so we have in our mind what that should look like and, oh, there should be depression and anger and crying and all these things.

things, but the reality is that wasn't a model created for widows or people grieving a loved one. And so it's sometimes hard to reconcile in our mind how we grieve or what we think that looks like. And then all of our kids as they're handling it differently or interacting differently, than what we expect.

I know for me, for one of my kids, they just didn't talk about it a lot. They didn't seem very emotional about it. And so I worried [00:15:00] about them, you know, for a good amount of time. Like, is this normal? Is it not? And that can be another challenging thing that we, we try to juggle as moms and working moms and trying to get through some of those things ourselves.

Did you have to ever step back and try to evaluate, okay, this is what our life looked like before, these are the activities we did, the traditions we had, and I'm going to keep all of that going, or did you end up scaling some of that back, or just completely changing up some of those things of how life looked

like for your kids?

Bonnie Barrington: My husband, passed away. He actually committed suicide after suffering with PTSD for 15 years. And, he did it after the VA changed up a medication. And, he had pretty much a psychotic break at 4 o'clock in the morning. And he took his own life in our house with all of us home, sleeping. And so that made [00:16:00] it a little bit different, because, um, I had a lot of decisions to make, and I made the very Hard decision that I wasn't going to leave our house because, um, this is my kids home.

This is where their friends live, where their school is, where their life is, their community. And at a time when they're losing so much, um, taking anything else away from them really was unthinkable to me. So... I made a lot of changes in our home, painted, got new furniture, like, it's a new house with the same walls, just to give it a totally new feeling.

I have not, we have changed some things, uh, like, We had a camper. We were, we camped as a family, obviously like that got sold right away because I'm like five feet tall and 115 pounds. There was no way I was towing a 30 [00:17:00] foot camper. I'm setting it up and doing all that. I think my kids miss it. Um, so I did have to change some obvious things, but everything else I've tried to keep the same.

They're in the same sports. They do the same tumbling lessons. I did change their schools. I switched them from public school to private school, only because, um, while the public schools in our area are really great, and I think public schools are an asset in any community, my kids needed a little bit more emotional support, and I think in a private school setting with smaller classrooms and, um, more, not one on one, but one on one attention They needed that, especially when my husband died, one daughter was in eighth grade, one was in sixth, and one was in fifth, and so I thought that was important for a teacher to have the ability to say, boy, you're not turning any of your homework, or [00:18:00] Boy, your grade's dropping.

Is everything okay at home? Like, what's going on? You know, not just giving them, progress note, like, oh, by the way, you're failing. Was it, it was a really good decision. I haven't really regretted anything. Decision that I have made, and some of those decisions are sitting around and sitting on it for a long time, and some of them have been really easy to make, like selling the camper, that was like, no brainer, easy to make, you know, other things, selling my husband's truck, harder to make, it took me a little bit longer, uh, his clothes are still in my closet.

Those kind of decisions are harder. Um, I still wear my wedding rings. You know, like, I am more likely to call him my husband than my late husband. And not saying that that's wrong for anyone else that can move on easily, or not move on, move forward easier. Uh, those are things I'm still kind of stuck in.

Emily Jones: Alright. Yeah.

And I mean, that's understandable. You have been through a [00:19:00] lot and you have a lot still that you're trying to manage with your family and your house and all those things. And I think there's no perfect time for people to move forward. As you said, it just, you know, it's whatever seems right to you.

As long as you are moving forward and you're healing and you're not suppressing emotions, things like that are things typically that we look for. I know I, have talked to other widows whose spouses pass from suicide and they definitely feel like, it's a different sort of sympathy that they get from people or they struggle with.

You know, comments that are made or how people react to that situation. What would you tell someone who is in the spot you were in, you know, within the first year and they're trying to explain things to their kids and they're trying to figure out, you know, even to themselves, how did this happen?[00:20:00] what advice would you give that person that's still really struggling with that?

Bonnie Barrington: I mean, I am a Christian. I believe in God and I don't understand it. I don't understand. I mean, my husband was also, he was a good man. He was a believer of God. He did good things in his life. I mean, I know where he is. I don't know why it happened to him though. Um, he suffered for, from PTSD for 15 years.

He attended weekly counseling.

I think in my situation, because veteran PTSD is kind of like a pandemic right now. I read something the other day. Since 2001, 120, 000 veterans have committed suicide. It's a huge number. And I think because of that, people feel bad for me because It was more a [00:21:00] failure on our country for not taking care of these guys, not due to like a mental illness, not something he didn't, you know, it wasn't something he suffered with, which, by the way.

No shame there. I mean, mental illness is a sickness, just like cancer. It just affects a different part of your body, you know? But there are people that are judgmental about suicide. I've noticed, because I do run in a lot of veteran circles, a lot of the older veterans, you know, like Vietnam era, Korean War tend to look at it more in a negative way, whereas the younger veterans, they all are suffering too.

So you tend to get a little more compassion and understanding. And actually I've gone as far as to ask some of the guys he served with, like, what do you think about it? And they all said like they get it, you know, they understand. What I would tell somebody is, I don't understand why it happened.

[00:22:00] They're not going to understand why it happened. And one day they're going to be able to ask questions, you know, when you're on the other side of heaven. But at that point, are you really going to care? You just kind of have to be confident to know that God doesn't make mistakes. And that's hard to say.

Because it absolutely feels like a mistake. I know you don't make mistakes, Scott, but you did here, like, you screwed up. But he doesn't. And there's a reason why everything happens. And, , it's allowed me, I think, part of the way that I have kind of made it through is I've become more of an advocate for mental health with veterans and getting help.

And, um, when John, it was probably three or four months after John died, I thought all of my friends, which I was wrong, by the way, were tired of hearing me cry and say how much I missed him and just want to talk about John. And [00:23:00] so I started making TikToks. I had four followers. My four older kids, they weren't going to watch.

They didn't care. And I walked into a tumbling lesson with my daughter one day and her tumbling coach said, Hey, they're famous. I'm like, what are you talking about? He's like, you don't know. I'm like, Nope. He's like, you have 10, 000 TikTok followers. I'm like, He's like, yeah, you come up on my for you page all the time.

I'm like, oh my God, how embarrassing. That was like the first thing I thought of like, right. I thought I was talking to nobody. Like, I didn't know anything about TikTok other than, like, I was talking and I felt safe. I have, like, almost 40, 000 followers now. I get so much support, and not just for my own self, but people saying, like, you sharing your story saved my life.

I told, you know, my husband about your husband and he wouldn't got help. And so I'm like, maybe that's my [00:24:00] new purpose. You know, I haven't really gone back to work since John died, because it's hard with, my three kids that don't drive and have a million different commitments. It's kind of like, I'm an Uber driver, but I drive for free.

And so it has given me the time to kind of like, think about who I want to be the same question I asked my kids, not what I want to be. I mean, before my husband died, I was a successful real estate agent. I made six figures a year. I did a lot of business and after he died, I'm not anymore, you know, like that identity is gone, but I get to reinvent and I get to decide who I want to be.

Thank you. And I don't really care about money anymore. I mean, yes, everyone needs money, but when you lose the most important thing of your life, you realize money doesn't matter. And so maybe I can... Take this new found, and I hate to call it a passion, but[00:25:00]

kind of a passion of what I see as a problem now and do something, you know, maybe I, I don't know, I'm still reinventing that.

Emily Jones: It's, it's a purpose, right? And it is a passion to want to help other people whose hearts are breaking and even to think. You had the smallest influence on any one person to say, Oh, my husband went and got help.

Or I recognize that this could become a serious issue if I don't, you know, actively work on that. I mean, what a huge blessing and reflection of you and your generosity of just sharing your time and your thoughts and importing into other people. I think

that's amazing.

Bonnie Barrington: And you realize, like, obviously I'm talking to somebody who directly knows.

What I am feeling when you lose the most important thing in your life, and in my case, I witnessed it, um, it was a huge [00:26:00] trauma. But it also opened my eyes up to something that I knew was a problem, but I didn't know it was a problem like it is, and I've seen, my middle daughter, the one that, like I said, my three daughters were home as well.

And when I screamed, they ran in the room and can't imagine, thankfully, I don't remember seeing anything. Um, I don't know what they remember and, I don't know how that's going to affect their lives. I'm going to make sure I give them every possible opportunity to heal is the wrong word, but to work through, but I also see like the VA service connected my husband's death, like, is that their way of taking responsibility a little bit, you know, but they haven't offered, they didn't say like, we want your kids to come in and you to come in and get counseling for what you had to go through.

We, that's a [00:27:00] problem, like you're failing the veterans on one hand, but then you're continuing the failure when you're not taking care of what was left behind. You know, John wasn't an 89 year old man who died of cancer. He was a 39 year old man who killed himself and his children witnessed it right after it happened.

They, they can't say they don't know that. They need to step in there and do something has now become kind of a purpose for me to fix what's broken.

Emily Jones: I love it. I love that you see a need and obviously it became hit you full force when it impacted you the way it did with your family, but you're stepping up to help bridge that gap and see. What can be done to fix it? And I know I, um, I went to a conference earlier this year.

It wasn't even a grief conference. It was on, you know, something with Dave Ramsey and, uh, you know, one of the men there made a comment. He was a veteran and he had a. [00:28:00] I'm going to say the wrong terminology, but a troop or a group of guys that he worked with, and between two of those groups, 30 of their past soldiers had taken their lives.

And one of the things he said to me was the military, you know, has nothing for. grief specific for widows and for taking care of the aftermath of what happens when these people take their lives, he's said the same things that you are. And so I know there's definitely a need there and how amazing would it be in the future if somehow.

We were able to create just a really nice support system for these veterans to prevent those challenges and those struggles and simultaneously something that helps families move through healing and move forward when they're left with the decision that was made and what happened in their lives. That would be just really amazing.

Bonnie Barrington: When it is, I mean, [00:29:00] not

Not speaking badly about the VA because obviously My husband did get care, it just wasn't the best care and, my remaining children and I, we get benefits, like insurance,

Financially, we get, you know, his pension, but When you translate that to the civilian world, it's not Blue Cross Insurance.

It's called Champ VA. Nobody takes it because they're slow to pay. They're super picky about how they claims are processed. So no one wants to take it. So my middle daughter, she's actually,

she attempted suicide about a year, no, it was about seven months after my husband passed away.

And getting her, obviously she did intensive mental health treatment impatient She was really sick for a while because she overdosed on [00:30:00] her ADHD medication. So,

she spent time in the hospital, both for physical sickness and then mental health. And there's one hospital, and I live in the suburbs of Chicago, so a pretty big area. One hospital accepts the insurance. One mental health treatment center.

One group of psychologists and counselors and psychiatrists.

It doesn't give you a lot of options.

It's sad, because had this not happened, she wouldn't need these things. And it's also, again, speaking to somebody who knows specifically, when you become the only parent, you know.

You become the only one that has to worry about if dinner gets cooked, if your kids get up and go to school, who picks them up if they're sick, who's gonna buy groceries, who's paying the cable bill, who's paying the electricity bill, the gas bill, all of that stuff.

And,

[00:31:00] then try to put yourself in three places at three different times to get three kids and, you know, it's a lot. And I think. In our world, our culture now, being a single parent is not abnormal. And so when people are like, oh, there's lots of single parents, it's like, there may be. I'm not a single parent.

Like, it's different. I don't have an ex husband that I can call and be like, Hey, I have to be at work. She's calling home sick from school. Can you go grab her? There's nobody,

you know,

and I think I love what you're doing because I'm sure it's mostly widows that listen, but maybe other people do. There needs to be more awareness because, again, It's, it becomes more obvious when it happens to you, and then you start hearing about it more and more.

I've never known about so many young widows in my life until I became a young widow.

That was [00:32:00] just something that didn't happen, right?

Widows were 80 year old women that had grown kids, and

like,

you didn't find them our age with young kids. That just didn't happen. But, I see it happens a lot.

And there's a lot of people like me and you and that's sad and just in, I'm in a Facebook group called, uh, and this might be the one where you and I met. It's like, um,

young and widowed with children and, um, I

can't even believe the amount of vets that have committed suicide whose wives are in that group. I'm, it's like crazy. It shouldn't happen this much.

Emily Jones: It shouldn't. And, it's in some of those different groups. It's just amazing how many people join every day. There's more. I think also a combination of covid and fentanyl overdose, whether accidental or not.

Those have really also spiked an increase in young widows and I talked to someone the other day, their husband was 26 and it's just shocking,

you [00:33:00] know,

how young, one of the first ladies I interviewed, I think she was 23 when she lost her spouse.

And so it's just amazing how young some of these people are. You know to your point I didn't want to be called a widow a long time in the beginning because that's what I thought was a bunch of 80 year old women that have lived their life and

Bonnie Barrington: I have no wrinkles. Come on. I don't have gray hair. Leave me alone well it is hard and I try to And i'm very thankful like I try to look at everything and find the blessing and not the curse I'm I actually and many people don't understand i'm actually thankful That I watched my husband die. I'm not thankful he's dead, but I'm thankful that I was there because I know that I couldn't have helped him.

Nothing I did could have saved his life. I know that he didn't suffer. I know he didn't lie somewhere dying, alone. Those things would have been worse for me if I didn't know those things. If I didn't know where he was, if I had to search for [00:34:00] him. And I've seen that, by the way. That's how I know. That would have been worse for me.

I'm glad it happened the way it did if it had to happen.

I, we had been together for 20 years. I'm thankful for all of the memories and experiences I had with him, and I'm thankful that I knew the kind of love that I had with him. Not everybody knows, not everybody gets to ever know what we experienced together.

And I'm so thankful for that. You know, without him, I wouldn't have my beautiful children. I wouldn't have my beautiful home. I'm thankful for those things. And so, yes, there's a lot of things in my life to look at and say, I can't believe God let this happen to me. What, where was he in my life? Well, I can tell you he's been next to me.

The whole time. That's how I've been able to make it. That's how, you know, I have a great church community. I can go there and I can [00:35:00] still praise God and thank Him because I see where He's working in my life. And,

I know where my husband is, and I know that one day I'm going to see him again. And I'm thankful for that.

It's kind of, when you, going back to the who do you want to be, it's like, I want to be the person that always has a reason to thank God. I want to be the person that always sees the glass half full and not half empty. I want to be the person that realizes how fragile life is. And that you might not always have tomorrow to say, I love you.

And so I, I've read a lot of books about being a widow. And,

a couple of them that I read have said, like, actually the person who marries the widow next after she's a widow is going to have the best wife ever, because widows truly know. What it's like to lose a love, so they are, they love differently.

And it's like, I could see that. I really could see that. Well, I [00:36:00] can't ever see myself getting married again. I could see where they're coming from there. Because I do appreciate things differently than I did before John died.

Emily Jones: Yeah,

yeah, I totally agree. Widows are some of the most resilient, purpose filled, meaningful, generous people that I know. And I know for me, if I do get married again in the future, that, i, Will be a much better wife, because like you were talking about earlier, the paint color doesn't really bother me anymore. Don't have to have the house a certain way. Things that used to drive me crazy. I started to miss after Nathan died.

And so I think I'm much more. Into savoring every moment, appreciating each interaction and being much more gracious with the little things that just used to drive me nuts. So, uh, I do think that's true in a certain way.

Bonnie Barrington: Mine were pillows on the bed. Like, I always had, like, ten decorative pillows on [00:37:00] our bed. And I would always, he'd help me make the bed, and he wouldn't put the pillows on right. And that's always what I crapped at him about. Like, you're not putting the pillows on right. And now I realize it's like, who cares? He helped me make the bed. The pillows didn't matter. Like, I wish I had taken 60 seconds I took to complain about how he put the pillows on to hug him and just sit, thank him for helping me make the bed and tell him how much I appreciated what he did for me and remind him that I loved him. I don't Those are things that the pillows don't matter.

Emily Jones: They don't. And, you know, I know there's probably times that you would have loved to walk into your room and see that they were all in the wrong, wrong place or wrong order

Bonnie Barrington: exactly. Right.

Emily Jones: That's a sign he was there. So. Well, Bonnie, thank you so much for coming on today and being willing to be so open and share your story.

Where can people find you? They, if they want to follow you on Tiktok or they want to just [00:38:00] kind of watch as you share more of your thoughts and your stories or connect with you, what's the best way to do that?

Bonnie Barrington: Well, on tiktok my username is Bonnie Hoffman barr B A R R. And then, I do a lot of things on Facebook, which, um, my Facebook name is Bonnie Hoffman Barrington. I'm hoping that I will be doing, you know, I toyed, I'm sure, same thing, you realize the,

uh, first two years after your spouse dies, there's all these things that go through your head that you want to do. I'm going to do this and I'm going to create this foundation and I have all those aspirations. But, you know, life gets ahead of you and.

Back to taking care of those three kids that don't drive and really don't do anything for themselves. They get in the way, thankfully.

I do actually hope to be publishing a book soon of,

what the first two years of grieving looked like. [00:39:00] And

just because, you know,

while to me they were just words, the things that I posted and wrote about, it might be something that's healing or helpful to somebody else. So um,

Emily Jones: I love it.

Bonnie Barrington: I think there's going to be more, but who knows, you know?

Emily Jones: Yeah, I, I love that and what I've heard a lot of people say,

I've met a few people that wrote a book afterwards about their experience and they say it reopens a lot of things and a lot of emotions that they felt like they had processed and handled, but that may be a great experience for you to get, feel like you're getting it all out and you're getting to kind of address some of those things again.

Head on. So I'm super excited. When you're ready to publish that book, you come back. We'll do be part of your book launch party and,

um,

make sure that people know about that. So

that's awesome.

Bonnie Barrington: Thank you so much. And again, thank you for having me come on. I think this was a very healing thing for me [00:40:00] today on the two years that gave me a reason to not sit around and feel bad for myself and cry.

I had to make sure my makeup still good for You know, coming on your podcast, so kept the tears dry.

Emily Jones: Yes. Yes, definitely. Well, I appreciated you,

you being willing to do that.

Thank you.

 

‚Äč

Emily Jones: hey guys. Thank you 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.

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.

Inside you'll find courses to help guide you, [00:41:00] 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 widow.com to learn more.

 

 

BW 062- Gratitude in Grief

Nov 23, 2023