BW 48 - Gratitude in Grief and Finding your Why - with Wensday Stanley

widow interview Sep 19, 2023

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The Transcript is below.



Today I talk with Wensday Stanley. We talk about gratitude and grief. We talk about finding your why and your purpose in this next chapter of life. And we talk about how faith and God plays a role in your grieving and healing journey, or at least how it did for the two of us.

Wensday is a 49 year old gymnastics coach. She has two daughters and a stepson, one granddaughter, and married the love of her life at 21. They were married for 27 years. And yes, I asked her what the secret to a happy, successful marriage of 27 years is, and she does give the answer. Her husband died three days after their 27th anniversary. And she's a faithful follower of Christ.


You can find Wensday at:

Facebook | Wensday Schlitzberger Stanley

Instagram | Wensday Schlitzberger Stanley



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

Facebook |

YouTube | @bravewidow



Hey, hey, welcome to episode number 48 of the Brave Widow Show. Today I talk with Wensday Stanley. We talk about gratitude and grief. We talk about finding your why and your purpose in this next chapter of life. And we talk about how faith and God plays a role in your grieving and healing journey, or at least how it did for the two of us. 

And I didn't find a great part of this podcast episode where I could dive into guilt. Wensday mentions guilt and grief a few times throughout the episode. And I think that's something a lot of widows struggled with. I know it's something that I struggled with. So while I didn't find what felt like a great point to stop the podcast and really dig into the topic of guilt and grief, if it is something you're struggling with, or it is something that you want to learn more about or [00:01:00] something that's a weight on your shoulders. I spent the last few minutes of this episode specifically talking about guilt and grief and another way to think about it instead of carrying such a heavy burden as guilt around with you. Without further ado, let me introduce you to Wensday. She is a 49 year old gymnastics coach. 

She has two daughters and a stepson, one granddaughter, and married the love of her life at 21. They were married for 27 years. And yes, I asked her what the secret to a happy, successful marriage of 27 years is, and she does give the answer. My, her husband died three days after her 27th anniversary. And she's a faithful follower of Christ. 

And of course, we'll put her social media links in the show notes, if you would like to learn more about her and to connect with her. All right, let's dive in. 

Emily Jones: Hey everyone. Welcome to another episode [00:02:00] of the brave widow show today. I'm here with Wensday Stanley, and I'm so excited to have her on the show. Wensday welcome. And thank you for coming on  

Wensday Stanley: the show today. Thank you for having me.  

Emily Jones: Absolutely. Well, if you don't mind, if you'll give the audience just a brief overview of your background, then we'd love to learn more about you and hear  

Wensday Stanley: about your story. 

Wensday Stanley: Okay. So, I am a gymnastics coach. I have coached for 35 years, met and married my husband when I was 21. And we were married for 27 years. I have two children and a stepson. I have a 15 year old granddaughter. And lots of cats now. Oh no, how many  

Emily Jones: cats? How many cats is it?  

Wensday Stanley: So, so I have two that live inside. 

Wensday Stanley: But somehow I've adopted [00:03:00] five that live outside. And one of them, one of them was pregnant three days ago. And, yeah, she doesn't look pregnant anymore. So, I don't know where the kittens are. You  

Emily Jones: may have a few more now.  

Wensday Stanley: Maybe. Okay. So I guess my background, I mean, I, I, I grew up in the same neighborhood as my husband but we are 10 years apart. 

Wensday Stanley: And we actually have kind of a little funny story about how we became to know each other. He and his brother used to, I guess, hijack my dad's Security patrol in the neighborhood when they were little, and they would drive around with my dad, and so, like, he knew who my dad was, and they used to terrorize my dad, saying, when we grow up, we're going to buy the house that's right behind y'all, and we're going to move there, and we're just going to be partiers all the time. 

Wensday Stanley: And my dad was like, yeah, that's not going to happen. So fast forward 10 years. So I guess no more than that. I don't know. Years and years [00:04:00] later my now sister in law called her husband and said, I found my dream house, my perfect house, the house I want to live in. And so he goes, cool. What's the address? 

Wensday Stanley: And she says the address. He goes, all right, let's go by and look at it. And he pulls up. He says, no way. No, because Tommy Schlisberger lives right there. So we are not moving into that house. And she was like, yes we are. And so eventually they did. And my husband actually helped move them in. And they're identical twins. 

Wensday Stanley: So I was walking out of my parents house one day. And I was like, hey Stacey. And he's like, my name's not Stacey. It's Tracy. And he got in his truck and he drove off. And I remember thinking. Man, what a jerk and so, weeks and weeks went by and we met each other a few times and we went on our first date in December, end of November, beginning of December, and we were married in August. 

Wensday Stanley: And so, it's just kind of a funny little thing. So when people in our neighborhood found out that I was [00:05:00] marrying one of the twins, they were like, aren't y'all like a little bit of age difference. But it worked. It worked for us, obviously for 27 years. But I was working in the church. 

Wensday Stanley: I was a youth director for when I, when I met and married my husband and did that for many years. And unfortunately was disenchanted with the governing church. And so I went back to my roots, which was gymnastic coaching. And so I'd always done that from the time I met my husband until now I've always coached gymnastics and I love it. 

Wensday Stanley: I love working with kids. I love being that person that can be that source of inspiration for, for people sometimes we are heavily involved in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo I actually help with a committee that services all the cowboys, and so we make sure that they have breakfast, lunch, and dinner, The whole time that they're there for competition, which is three weeks here in [00:06:00] Houston area. 

Wensday Stanley: My husband and I had a, what I've told people was a love affair. I loved him every day that I, that I, that I knew him. And did everything I could to spend as much time with him as possible, even though we worked opposite shifts. So he went to work first thing in the morning and obviously coaching gymnastics. 

Wensday Stanley: My shifts were generally in the evening and afternoon. So we try. Yeah,  

Emily Jones: I have to ask you 27 years, I was one month shy of 20 years. That's a long time. Like what, what do you tell people is the secret to having a marriage that lasts 27 years? For  

Wensday Stanley: me, we never stopped dating. So that's what I was going to say is that we had to be very conscientious of spending our time together and and making sure that we spent time together. 

Wensday Stanley: To the point [00:07:00] to where, like, some of the guys on his cook committee approached him one time, and they said, you take your wife everywhere, and he was like, yeah, she's my best friend, and so we were, we really were each other's best friends, and we did do everything together, which is a positive, and now, in retrospect, is also kind of a negative, because we did everything together, there weren't a whole lot of outside people for me to really lean on in the time that I needed them. 

Wensday Stanley: And so I kind of had to find my way. Yeah. So curious. So  

Emily Jones: for me, what I found was. My identity was really intertwined with my spouses. And so one hundred percent it's like you're having to recreate who you are and rediscover that. Did you feel the same  

Wensday Stanley: way? 100 percent. I mean, like I am. I didn't and that's exactly it is. 

Wensday Stanley: I didn't know who I was anymore. I didn't know [00:08:00] who I was without him and everybody was like, Oh, well, you're so strong or you're so this and you're so that and, and that is so great for people to feel that way. But when you don't feel that way, it's really difficult, to, to find yourself. And it took me I, I, I'm on so many different window groups and I read so many different things. 

Wensday Stanley: And I'm not heartless or non empathetic to other people or unsympathetic to other people's trials and tribulations, but for a while I had to get off of one of the widow sites because all it was was doom and gloom and sadness. And when you're trying to dig out of that hole. Being surrounded by that doesn't help you find your, your, your inner person or who you are anymore. 

Wensday Stanley: Having people tell you, Oh, it's going to get better or it gets better. You just give it some time and, and, and you'll, you'll, you'll move through it and [00:09:00] it'll be fine. It'll, it'll get lighter. And I've had to tell people, I spent a lot of introspective time afterwards. And one of the things that I did is I started walking every morning. 

Wensday Stanley: And, even though my dog probably needed to be walked away before all of this started I started with my dog and started taking her on walks and we walked every morning and I would just put praise and worship music on in my, in my head and be walking with the dog and, and listening to God speak to me. 

Wensday Stanley: And it was almost miraculous. Every morning, God played a certain, a different playlist for me that seemed to target how I was feeling that morning. Whether it was, a song that says keep your eyes on me or, let yourself go and I'm going to hold you through this storm, and because there were some days where it was easier to walk and other days when it wasn't so easy to walk, but I knew I knew that I had to do something for [00:10:00] me, something that, that got me away from everyone because, because our personalities or our lives were so intertwined I think everybody thought I was suicidal. 

Wensday Stanley: Everybody was so scared to leave me alone, everybody, nobody wanted me to be alone to the point to where my 25 year old daughter moved into my bed and was sleeping in my bed with me every night and it took me a couple of months to finally look at her and say do you think there's going to be a time that you find that you need to be in your own bedroom? 

Wensday Stanley: Yeah, I think I need some, I need some alone space because like even at that point I couldn't grieve. Freely because she was in the bedroom and I was worried about upsetting her more. And so I would go sit on the toilet and cry, if I was feeling overwhelmed and so like trying to rediscover like how to move forward, and that was kind of one of the things is I'm a. 

Wensday Stanley: I'm a researcher. [00:11:00] So like, I'm constantly lurking, learning, trying to learn new ways of, of doing things. And so for me, I listened to a lot of podcasts. I read a lot. I mean, I immediately started doing books. I went to group therapy. I quickly learned that was not a thing for me. I did grief share and I thought it was really good for a lot of people. 

Wensday Stanley: It was not it was not for me at all. It wasn't because for me, like I said, some of those widow sites, the doom and gloom. Really just kept bogging me down and making it really hard for me to Find any joy in my life, right? And so I was trying to find joy and my joy was walking in the mornings and spending time with god And sitting right here in this place every morning and talking to god and talking to tracy And and really reflecting on how I felt,[00:12:00] and being in those grief shares. 

Wensday Stanley: Everybody was so angry They were angry at their spouse for leaving them, angry at their spouse for doing whatever it was that ended their life. Angry at God for taking him or her. They were angry at something or someone. And the one thing I can say is that I've, even leaving the church as an employee, I never left my love for God. 

Wensday Stanley: Like I said, I became disenchanted with the... Hierarchy of church, but not disenchanted with God and kept constantly seeking out God's wisdom, even through, the death of my husband, which was also something that happened so strangely for us. So we're really involved in Houston Rodeo and we have our rodeo family and a gentleman that was sort of like a, an uncle or a grandfather type of figure for my kids growing up[00:13:00] passed away suddenly on August 9th and I remember getting that call and all four of us sat in the living room and cry. 

Wensday Stanley: That the thought that he was gone and it was like, Oh my gosh, how to, what's it going to look like in February when rodeo rolls around and he's not here and this, that, and the other. And so Tracy and I literally spent every night and it just so happened it was over the summer and in summers my schedule is kind of weird so instead of working a lot of nights I was working more midday so I would come home in an early evening and my husband and I would swim every night together. 

Wensday Stanley: And that week August 9th through August 15th, or August 14th, we spent every night in conversation about death. What do you want if, for some reason, you suddenly die? What would you want to see me do with my life, and then what would I want to see you do with your life, and what do we expect for the girls, and what do we [00:14:00] have, going forward? 

Wensday Stanley: And I never imagined my life without him. That just wasn't didn't seem possible, but that week, our eldest daughter was supposed to move on Friday on the 20th to Austin, Texas and start her life as a young adult, she graduated from college and she got a new job and she was supposed to go and start her life. 

Wensday Stanley: Our youngest daughter was beginning her junior year of college. And so she was not going to be home. And so we were going to be true. Empty nesters, nobody in the house anymore. We were going to be alone and, I just remember thinking that that night of August 15th and praying to God, we prayed about being empty nesters but I never prayed for this. 

Wensday Stanley: This was not the emptiness I wanted. I didn't want to be alone, per se. But what ended [00:15:00] up happening with my 25 year old relinquished her job and stayed home. And so, because like I said everybody was very very very fearful of me. Our anniversary was on the 12th of August, and usually. The man makes it all about the woman spa day and taking her out to this and this and that, and we had made a conscious effort to stay home and do a staycation that week instead of because our girls were leaving, and I planned for him, I took him to the spa, got his, his, he had his full, like, hot beard shave, and Ears and nose and everything was done. 

Wensday Stanley: And then we did an Astros game that night and we spent the whole day eating because in Houston in August that week it's restaurant week. So everything is like, there's lots of, of special prices and special this and that for a restaurant week. And so we did that. And so we were, we went and had [00:16:00] escargot. 

Wensday Stanley: We did all the fun stuff that we would do, as a couple, and it made the day completely about him. And then on Saturday, our girls gave us ghost hunting tickets. And so the girls and my husband and I drove down to Galveston and we went ghost hunting on the island. And then Sunday I have an amazing staff that I employ. 

Wensday Stanley: And when they found out that it was our anniversary, they asked if they could take us to brunch. And so on Sunday, we spent a three hour brunch with my staff. And we came home and we swim and we FaceTime people we would never FaceTime normally, and he actually got to FaceTime with his dad that night and we went to bed about. 

Wensday Stanley: 9 o'clock that night, and then he woke up the next morning and said, I just don't feel very good. And I thought, we've been traveling all weekend. We've been going here, there, and everywhere. Either ate something bad, or he contracted, like, COVID, or the flu, or something. [00:17:00] And he threw up in the bathroom, and I'm a little sensitive to vomit. 

Wensday Stanley: So I got up and left the bathroom. And I went into the living room and sat there, and I remember hearing something, but I thought, of course, it was a cat or a dog, knocking something over, so I didn't give much thought to it. And then I got up about five minutes later, and I went into the bedroom, and I found him on the floor. 

Wensday Stanley: And so, immediately began, trying to flip him over. And my husband was not a little man. I'm, I'm little, I'm 5'2 my husband was 6'3 and a very, very large man. But I began screaming, and both of my girls woke up, and so the three of us flipped him over, and the girls, I immediately called 911, and the girls started CPR, and I, I feel like the timeline sounds like it was like so long, but I mean, it like all happened so quickly, I just can't even describe how fast everything happened. 

Wensday Stanley: [00:18:00] And immediately on the other phone after 911 was on its way and talking us through CPR, I called his twin brother and they live close enough that he pulled up maybe 15 seconds after EMS got here to be here. And so, they worked on him for about an hour. And I think that they were really trying to make us feel good when they said, Oh, y'all gave him a chance, but I don't know that that's really what I truly believe. 

Wensday Stanley: But it was just so surreal for so long. And my sister stayed here for a week afterwards, really trying to field the situation. People showing up and unannounced or whatnot and her kind of like running, interference so that people didn't think that I was being rude and she didn't want me inundated and, and those things, but just the days after Ingrid left and Grace had to go back to school a week after her dad died and[00:19:00] Bethany stayed here as much as possible with me, but she's 25 and has, her own life. 

Wensday Stanley: I have some high school friends that may have come around me a little bit since my husband died, but not very often. And when they found out what had happened, they, they kind of checked on me every now and again. And then finally, I guess about a month and a half after Tracy passed, they were like, have you been out of the house? 

Wensday Stanley: And I was like, well, just for work. And then they were like, no, no, no, you need to get out. And I was like, well, I'm not ready. And they're like, you need to be ready. And for some reason, God put it on my heart that, I needed to kind of spend some time with other people. And so they were like, well, let's just go dancing. 

Wensday Stanley: It's light. You can have a drink or you don't have to. So you can. Dance, you can not, you can just be around some other people. And so I did, and it was kind of like the spark that God was putting back in me, that I started going dancing with and without my friends, by myself. I wasn't dating anyone, [00:20:00] so it wasn't like I was looking for a man or anything like that. 

Wensday Stanley: I wasn't looking for that at all at that point in my life. I just started dancing every night and walking every morning. I dropped 40 pounds in, I don't know, in a ma in a matter of maybe five months. Yeah. And then rodeo kicked in and, it just kind of, I just kept pushing myself to prayer time. 

Wensday Stanley: I didn't let my prayer time go away, my prayer, my time to reflect my time to think about what God wanted for me. And what Tracy told me he wanted days before he died, which was to not live in sorrow, and that's why I think having all those stories, you want to hear everybody's story. 

Wensday Stanley: I want to hear your story. I do. And I want to empathize and sympathize with, with everybody's individual story. But it became one of those, like, on one of the widow sites where [00:21:00] you were fielding more of the suicidal stories of people. And I was like, I can't, I can't do that. Like, my, my persona can't do that. 

Wensday Stanley: That's not the person I am. I will tell you that your values, you are loved. God has chosen you. You have a purpose in this world. But like, even in those grief share groups. Those, those women and men didn't wanna hear it. They were so angry, and I don't know how to help people not be angry. 

Wensday Stanley: I'm very, I, I know I'm very blessed that I was never angry. Yeah. I, I  

Emily Jones: think you make some really good points in there. And one is that I try to encourage people here on the show is you have to find a community. That has a view of hope and a view of, we're on this journey to healing and there's going to be days that are really hard and really bad, but we try to look forward with hope and we have something we're working towards and you're right. 

Emily Jones: A lot of them just don't have that. [00:22:00] Positive outlook for the future. And it's hard when everyone in the group is still in that really volatile state. And you don't have some people that have moved to that healing. I think one question I have for you that I get asked a lot is, when you're a person of faith and you have a relationship with God, why did you, why do you feel like you didn't get angry, like you didn't have that moment where you questioned why, or you got. 

Emily Jones: angry that, that God let this happen. But what do you tell people who might  

Wensday Stanley: ask you that? So for me I've always had a great relationship with God from the time that I was a child. I can tell you God called me into ministry when I was 12 years old. I remember the day and I remember being in my teens and saying, yeah, that's not the life I want to live. 

Wensday Stanley: I want to live this crazy wild party life. And then I remember again, when I was about 19 years old, God coming [00:23:00] back and saying, again, Hey, look, you and I need to have a talk. And he basically, I remember looking in the mirror that day and saying, man, are you proud of who you are? And looking at myself and saying, and I guess most importantly is, is God proud of who you are? 

Wensday Stanley: And when I couldn't answer yes to both of those questions, I sought my relationship out with God again and and really focused in on my relationship with God. It wasn't my relationship with God and Tracy. It wasn't, my, my walk with God was different than Tracy's walk and he was way more devout, devout than I was. 

Wensday Stanley: Like my husband was. Amazing. And he did his Bible studies every morning. He did, I mean, I prayed and worshiped, but I didn't, I was not like him at all. He was very, very, very devout. And, and he wasn't that when I met him, just so we're clear. He was not that when I met him, but like, he came to ask me out on our first date.[00:24:00]  

Wensday Stanley: I answered the door and he says, Hey, would you like to go out with me? And I was like, well, do you, do you drink? Do you do drugs? And he's like, well, I smoke a little pot. And I was like, I don't date people that do drugs. I'm sorry. I shut the door and I turned around. He said that that was probably the worst moment of his life when I shut the door in his face. 

Wensday Stanley: And he came back about two weeks later and he asked me out again. I said, well, do you still do drugs? And he's like, no. And I was like, okay. And so we went out after that. But but it was really funny because that was part of his faith walk was me shutting the door in his face and saying, so after our first date, when I realized I really did like him I told him, I said, look, before we go any further, we're not going to have sex before we get married. 

Wensday Stanley: And, and, and I'm not saying that I was a virtuous woman when he met me, I just knew where I was at that point, that we would not have sex before we got married and that our lives were going to revolve around going to church. And I said, if you can handle those two things, then we're good. And so I believe that God, like, it wasn't all of [00:25:00] a sudden that, like, I became a Christian and God all of a sudden was saying, Oh, you can't ever get angry with me or you can't ever have, trials and tribulations, because, you're a Christian now and your life is perfect and you do nothing wrong and you're sinless and you're blameless and you're all these things. 

Wensday Stanley: And I lived a life where I did things that I wasn't supposed to do and always turned back to God and asked for forgiveness. And... And he was always there for me and my husband actually came down with an autoimmune disorder in 2012 and he, he had what they called angiosis on delighted. And so he was in constant pain every day, kind of like having rheumatoid arthritis over your whole body is, is the way to explain it. 

Wensday Stanley: And there were days that he, couldn't get up. And I remember when, in 2016, In the fall of 26 or Christmas 2016 [00:26:00] they changed his meds and he was allergic to them. And so he ended up having a severe allergy to the Humira and it paralyzed him on his left side of his body. And so he Couldn't get up and I literally had to physically carry my six foot three husband out to the truck and load him into our truck, which was downstairs. 

Wensday Stanley: Need to go downstairs out of our house into the, into the car, and then literally getting to the ER, and then. Seeing me, trying, a little tiny knee trying to muscle my husband out of the truck and into a wheelchair. Finally, people came and helped us. And so, I was always so sad from, I guess, 2012 until now that my husband was in so much pain all the time. 

Wensday Stanley: We finally got his meds regulated maybe in 2018. He finally got his meds regulated. So for six years, he was in a lot of pain. [00:27:00] And he finally got him regulated to where, like, we could go places, we could plan vacations, we could, do things to where he wasn't, as long as he didn't have to climb a lot of stairs up and down and stuff like that, he was good. 

Wensday Stanley: And so, we were living a life of spending time together and, and loving each other so much that I just, I think when God called him home, I wasn't thankful. I just said this the other day in a post that I'm not thankful for death. I'm not thankful that my husband's gone, but I am thankful that he's wholly healed. 

Wensday Stanley: I'm thankful, and I think that those are the feelings that I had immediately, and I wasn't sure if I was supposed to have those feelings. So there was a little guilt behind those I've dealt with a lot of guilt, no anger, but a lot of guilt. I'm [00:28:00] thankful that he's healed. And I'm thankful that I know where he's at. 

Wensday Stanley: I'm thankful that he was an amazing husband, and I don't have. The emotional baggage that a lot of women have of husbands that cheat or husbands that are dishonest or boyfriends that cheated and were dishonest because I was so young when I got married, I didn't have all that emotional baggage that I went into my marriage with number one and didn't come out with any of that emotional baggage like that. 

Wensday Stanley: My last. 10 years of my marriage were about serving my husband because he wasn't able to serve himself a lot of times and so serving him and and wanting what's best for him and the night that he laid awake in bed moaning and groaning, I laid awake next to him praying for his healing. Praying that God would heal him in and and we [00:29:00] don't get to control God's way of healing, and so I know and we all know that the ultimate healing is being with God, and I never prayed for that, but I did always pray that God would heal him. 

Wensday Stanley: And so, I am super thankful for healing, and I think because I knew. That he was perfectly healed. And then I knew that he's with God. It allowed me to begin to heal quicker than other people because I didn't ever hit that stage of God. Why do you hate me or God? Why are you angry with me? God? 

Wensday Stanley: Why did you punish me? What did I do wrong? What did he do wrong? What did he do? Because I know, even though we weren't, we are not Sinless and blameless at all. And I'm not a perfect person and I'm not a perfect mom. I wasn't a perfect wife. I did the best that I could do. For me, I did what was best for my husband. 

Wensday Stanley: I did what was best for my Children, or what I thought saw [00:30:00] or thought was best for them. I don't know that everybody would agree with me. But. Knowing that I loved him more than life itself, and my my ex daughter in law actually and I were talking just the other day and she told me that my husband and I were the couple that she and her husband, her new husband, are striving to be. 

Wensday Stanley: And that makes me feel good that I know that even though things didn't work out with her and my stepson, that she saw a beauty in our marriage that she could replicate with hers. Or try to, replicate and she, and just like you said, when people ask for me, it's never forget about dating. 

Wensday Stanley: Never forget about serving each other. It's, marriage is not 5050. it's 100 and 100. if you're both not giving 100 percent to. Serving that other person and loving that other person, who cares if they fit in the sink and they don't wash it out with a toothpaste and [00:31:00] you come back behind them, just rinse it out. 

Wensday Stanley: Don't make a big fuss about it. It's not that big of a deal. It's just some toothpaste, or  

Emily Jones: it'll be one of those things you miss when  

Wensday Stanley: they're gone. 100%, 100%. But you know, it's like, I find that I don't dwell on the little things, and I'm that way is a boss as well with my employees. I get mad I say what I feel I say what I think, and then I'm done. 

Wensday Stanley: I don't continue to go remember you fit in the sink yesterday you didn't read that I had to read that again. It's the fifth time this week you brush your teeth five times and I've had to do it five times this week, it's, it's not harping in and dwelling on the little things that don't matter. 

Wensday Stanley: It's about finding your grace and, and your forgiveness and the love that you have for that person, to over take that, my husband was in no way shape, a perfect man. And I know that we all tend to. Elevate [00:32:00] our loved ones when they're gone and to not see the wrong, or the, the bad things. 

Wensday Stanley: And so I'm real careful when I say things, especially to my girls, I say, I'm not angry with your dad. I'm not mad, but, these things used to annoy the fire out of me, and so, like, when I began to feel like I was ready to start dating, I had a list. These are the things that are not going to happen again. 

Wensday Stanley: And one of them was dancing. When I met my husband, I was a dancer. I didn't dance for almost 27 years. And so rekindling my love for dance, that was one of the things that like, if a guy asked me, I was like, can you dance? Nope. Yeah, then this isn't going to work that in the blue bubble on the iPhone. 

Wensday Stanley: If you don't have a blue bubble, please don't  

Emily Jones: thank you. Thank you for saying that. Yeah, that's definitely  

Wensday Stanley: a sign. 

Wensday Stanley: I  

Emily Jones: know. So let me ask you, cause I know for some people [00:33:00] who are listening, some are more recent widows and some have been widowed for years. What, what year, how long has it been since your husband died?  

Wensday Stanley: It's been one year and two weeks,  

Emily Jones: one year and two weeks and so as I look at you and I hear in your voice, you have a joy there and you have, you mentioned gratitude. 

Emily Jones: And feeling a little off about that. Gratitude is actually very powerful in healing. And for me, instead of having sadness that hangs over me and all of my what should be happy moments, it now is more of a gratitude for what was instead of a sadness for missing that. But I know there will be people that are Six months out or a year out or even five years out and they're still just raw and volatile and like you mentioned in some of those groups just still. 

Emily Jones: Having this, this feeling of despair, what, what [00:34:00] would you say to people who wonder, like, how could I ever get to where she is? How could I ever get that spark of joy in my voice again? What, what would you say to those people?  

Wensday Stanley: So to somebody who's looking to find it, I mean, you really, I went to a conference this past weekend and I went to an, it was an awful sermon or an awful class for it, but it's finding your why. 

Wensday Stanley: And one of the things is the lady that taught the class is all about look at my why my whys a perfect my whys is I make this much money and I was like, yeah, that's not helping anyone. But I'm finding your why and understanding that your why changes. In your life at every season of your life, your why changes you when I was younger, my why was all about like finding a career and finding, what I'm going to do that, but I'm going to be successful and I'm going to be rich and I'm going to be powerful, which, that's everybody's, kind of dream when they're 17 and 18 years old and then meeting my husband and falling in love [00:35:00] and my why became about him And building our family and then when my girls were born my why was my girl and my family you know and and and doing everything to make life great for the family and then With Tracy passing my why changed and it changed selfishly Because, like we were saying, my, my personality was entwined with his so greatly that I didn't know who I was without him. 

Wensday Stanley: And so my why had to change and become selfish because I had to find out who I was. I had to spend some time in, in, in prayer and in reflection to ask myself, and I know that I'm very blessed that my husband told me exactly what he wanted. And it was fresh in, in, in my brain that day. When I woke up that Monday morning and he was no longer there with me, that [00:36:00] when everybody kept asking, what did he want? 

Wensday Stanley: Well, I know because he said this, this, this, this, and this, and I know that it was kind of weird because that week he worked with his identical twin brother. He told his identical twin, you know, hey, Wensday and I've been having these talks and he goes, I really want to make sure that she knows this is what I want. 

Wensday Stanley: I've told her this, but she needs to be able to hear it from someone else. So knowing that my brother in law had my husband's wishes as well allowed me to, I mean, I'm not even going to lie, the guilt is still there. The guilt is, will always be there because, everybody outside of the widow world thinks that your life should look like this and they don't understand what's going on in here. 

Wensday Stanley: And so, the way to find my gratitude for me was just finding solace and prayer in learning to worship God, through [00:37:00] my sadness. And then ultimately seeking out companionship for me helped a lot and not sexual companionship, even though that's a huge issue for women, the widow's fire hits. 

Wensday Stanley: And I found much like. Humor in looking at some of the other websites like Widow Humor or Widow's Island. And in those places where I would like read these stories and go, Oh my God, no, oh no. Or find the laughter in things, people like somebody just posted, they're like, how do you put out a widow's fire? 

Wensday Stanley: And I'm like, you just don't even let it ignite. I mean, let's like, just, and so like, everybody's got their place of where they are and the dark humor has has dark humor has really done it for me a lot. I found that I'm way darker now about things and I find laughter. It was awful and Halloween last year my, my oldest daughter was like I think I'm going to go [00:38:00] as dad for Halloween and she showed me a ghost. 

Wensday Stanley: Seriously, that is not okay. And she's like, Oh, come on, laugh. It's funny. And I was like, Oh, my God. And then my other daughter takes father daughter selfies with her urn. She'll go places somewhere new. She'll go somewhere new. And she's like, father daughter selfie. But she used to do that when they were, when she was in school here, when she was in high school, she did father daughter selfies every morning. 

Wensday Stanley: And so, the, the humor, trying to find the humor in things that may not necessarily. Be as funny as they would be if you didn't live in this world, but finding myself In places like just sitting with God. I mean, I literally I sat with God for hours a day and and through and I, I received God through music. 

Wensday Stanley: And so I would just turn the music on and just sit there and listen to what he might have to say to me, and, and, and a lot of times I felt Tracy through those words, through the songs, telling me that, I [00:39:00] am. I'm gonna be okay. You know that I'm gonna be okay. But sometime around December, I was really needing to talk to a man, I'm talking to my girlfriends was great. 

Wensday Stanley: I had some male friends, but not, anybody that, like, I wanted to talk to I needed somebody that, would look at me and say, you look beautiful today. You're so sweet. You're so this. And so, there was a gentleman that was friends with my husband and friends with me through rodeo stuff. 

Wensday Stanley: And he and I spent three months chatting, we didn't live close enough together. So that was a good thing. Because he kept saying, I want to take you on a date. And I was like, yeah, I don't know that I'm ready for that. And so like, we just kept chatting, kept chatting, we got very, very. To each other and then by the time that rodeo came he was like, okay, I'm ready to take you on a date. 

Wensday Stanley: And I was like, well, that's not going to work out. So it didn't work out and it was fine. But and, [00:40:00] and it was kind of funny, I told people, it's like, when I thought I was ready to start dating or to have a relationship with someone, God threw up roadblocks. Something happened to where I would say, yeah, that's not okay. 

Wensday Stanley: And so he had been going through a divorce. And so while I was there for him to kind of talk about the divorce side of it, which I've never been divorced, but I, the woman's side of how she might've been feeling and that kind of stuff. He was able to be empathetic for me because he was friends with Tracy. 

Wensday Stanley: And so he kind of felt the loss a little bit as well. And so we were there for each other in that aspect. But by the time that rodeo came around he was needing something that I wasn't ready to give. And so, We, we just said, this is it's strictly going to be friendship, we can't, I can't move, take that step forward with you. 

Wensday Stanley: And which was funny because then three weeks later rodeo was over. And a week after radio was over, I met a gentleman, and we have been dating since then. So it's been five months. [00:41:00] And he has experienced his own amount of grief. But the first thing he did when he came into my life was he made sure that I understood that he was very aware that if Tracy was still alive, that I would be married still, and that he would never have met me. 

Wensday Stanley: Number one. Number two and I see this a lot in the widow's places, like they meet somebody and they're like, the men are jealous of the dead husband. And so he has made it very clear that, he wants pictures of Tracy to be up and he wants them to be around. He wants to see those things. He wants to hear about Tracy and learn why I am who I am and why my girls are who they are because of the man that was in our lives to the point to where. 

Wensday Stanley: A week, the week that Tracy died, he planned an entire vacation for me and my girl and brought his daughter and we went on this. We went to the hill country and in Texas and we did river floating. He [00:42:00] took us out on the lake and complete with a butterfly release on the day that comemorated rated one, one year. 

Wensday Stanley: And so like, he is very, very In tune with our grief and so even yesterday driving home from my conference in Austin, a song came on and I just kind of looked out the window and he reached over and he grabbed my hand and he says some songs hurt harder than others don't say and I said, Yep. Yep. And I mean, just the tears, just, but it's like he has that knowledge and finding somebody that can, love me through that guilt, through that guilt and through that, that grief, of finding somebody that cares about me for who my husband made me. 

Wensday Stanley: Because we, we. I was a child when I got married, a literal child, grew up together. And so we made each other who we were. And and like we said, we keep going back to that, because I was so young, our personalities were so entwined. And so the only [00:43:00] issues my daughters have with the gentlemen that I'm seeing is she's like, they're like, well, you used to do this and now you do this. 

Wensday Stanley: And I'm like, well, because I did those things because that's all I ever knew. I didn't know there was all this that we could be doing. And so now that I know that there's these things, it's kind of like, I don't know if you've ever seen Runaway Bride. But in Runaway Bride, every time she got with a different gentleman, she took her eggs differently. 

Wensday Stanley: So the first husband liked them sunny side up with hollandaise sauce on them or whatever it was. Second guy liked his, to be over easy with just a little bit of salt and pepper. And the other one liked his scrambled and then somebody else liked eggs Florentine, and so like, the one thing that the reporter realizes that she didn't know how to find herself. 

Wensday Stanley: Because she got into these relationships and it was always this, and this is what you do. And so, coming out of a 27 year marriage, all of a sudden it was like, do I really like spicy stuff? Or did I just do that because my husband likes it spicy [00:44:00] and, and I find, my stomach feels a whole lot better without all that spicy stuff, or maybe, maybe I, I, I don't like wearing flip flops everywhere or, or whatever it is, whatever the things are that you used to do because you just always thought that that's what it was supposed to be, I went through a phase of not watching TV because that's all we did. 

Wensday Stanley: We came home from, from work together and we sat and we watched TV. So I turned my TV off. I don't even know why I was paid a cable bill because for like nine months, I did not watch TV because. I was trying to find some way to find myself. Otherwise, so I did more reading. I did more, tick tocking stay away from that. 

Wensday Stanley: I can go down a really good cat and dog tick tock whole fast but, just finding the different things that like you used to do. And for me going dancing, we didn't go dancing. And so, and I had rules about going out dancing. If I was out of the club, I didn't meet men. I wasn't getting numbers. 

Wensday Stanley: You weren't getting my number. I just made rules and I had these rules. And so,[00:45:00] meeting Jean really came out of the blue because I, I wasn't, I wasn't really ready for it, and then all of a sudden it was like this man who gets me for who I am, and, or who I think I am right now. 

Wensday Stanley: And the person that I'm rediscovering. And so it's, it's been a whole different kind of walk and having my daughters watch it so closely makes me very introspective of making sure that I don't do something stupid. That sets their walk back, if that makes any sense. Yeah, yeah, it does. So Grace graduates in December, and my, my boyfriend and, and, and I have already said, these are the things that we're going to do for her, for her graduation, and he is like fully on board, and he, my, my dad took ill. 

Wensday Stanley: Like, I met him the same day I found out my dad had terminal cancer. It was almost like God just like, Was really trying to [00:46:00] reposition me into a perspective of, of knowing my blessings. And so, a month and a half after the diagnosis of my dad, he fell and my mom has Alzheimer's. So, she doesn't remember calling the, the ambulance that day. 

Wensday Stanley: But my dad ended up in the hospital for three weeks. And this man that I met, I'd only been dating a month. and a month and a half. And I needed somebody to watch my mom because I wanted to go to the hospital to be with my dad and my sister was out of town and my brothers were busy. And he says, well, I'll sit at home with your mom. 

Wensday Stanley: My mom can't remember my daughter's name sometimes, but let me tell you. He spent a week with my mom that week, watching her every day. And my mom now is like, every time she sees me, where's Jean? Where's Jean? And I'm like, Oh my gosh, what did you do to my mom? 

Wensday Stanley: She can't remember who my kids are half the time. [00:47:00] But my mom loves him, but he said something to my dad. When my dad was in the hospital, we didn't think he was going to make it over in the overnight. And I just happened to hear it because he was whispering and I have hearing aids. So sometimes my hearing aids are really good about picking up everything. 

Wensday Stanley: And I heard him whisper in my dad's ear not to worry that he was going to take care of his girl. And I remember walking away from the hospital room that day and thinking. It's pretty presumptuous. I've only been dating a month and a half. But It just, I think that God God had needed me in places so that things would happen the way that he wanted them to be. 

Wensday Stanley: So really just taking some introspective time with God has really brought my joy and my heart to a place to where I know that I'm lovable. I know that I'm loved. I know that God chose me and, and I know that God only wants [00:48:00] what's best for me, and what I think is best for me may not be what is best for me. 

Wensday Stanley: And the other thing that I had to learn, because I, I dealt with this and talked with several women about it, where they would get upset and saying, this was supposed to be happily ever after. And somebody said this to me, and it was way too early for me to hear this. It was maybe two weeks into grief. 

Wensday Stanley: And somebody looked at me and said, well, maybe you were his happily ever after. And I just, at the time, was not super happy about that comment. But I can look at it now and say, you know what? We can't both be each other's happily ever after. I mean, aside from dying together. One of us is probably going to go before the other, and knowing, I know that my husband died fully loved. 

Wensday Stanley: I know that he loved me [00:49:00] through and through. And so we had a weekend together. I mean, people didn't believe it when they got the call, because they'd seen all the Facebook posts. Oh, we're at the Astros game. Oh, we're here. Oh, we're there for this. 30th anniversary. Cheers. Kind of stuff. But. I know that he died at a place to where he knew that he was completely loved by everyone that surrounded him, being me, my girls, and even my staff. 

Wensday Stanley: Like I said, my staff took us to brunch that morning. And then the next day when they found out that he had passed, I had staff members sitting on my front lawn. Wanting to come in and to we just couldn't have anybody in the house. I couldn't have anybody in the house. But they sat out here and they prayed over us. 

Wensday Stanley: Though, I mean, I know that my husband knew that he was loved through and through. And I think that that's another reason that I know that I can find that joy, [00:50:00] because I know that that's what he wanted for me. He wanted me to be happy again. He, he knew that I loved him, and I never, I never, not gonna say I never went to bed mad, because that would be a lie. 

Wensday Stanley: People say don't go to bed mad. I went to bed mad several times, but somewhere in the middle of the night, my foot would always make its way to touch him, just to let him know. That, he is, I still love him. I may be angry and I'll probably still be angry in the morning, but I do love you. 

Wensday Stanley: So, that's kind of where I'm at. Oh,  

Emily Jones: well, I love it. It's such a heartbreaking, but beautiful story. And I love. The amount of faith that you've had, the gratitude you've had, the just positive outlook on how things can be and that feeling of being loved and knowing that you're cared about and that sometimes bad things just happen. 

Emily Jones: [00:51:00] And it's not because God hates us or doesn't want us to have a good life, but we live in a broken world and sometimes those things happen, but it sounds like you've really made a lot of progress just in one year. And I'm so  

Wensday Stanley: glad that my therapist said, my therapist was like, I don't understand where you're coming from. 

Wensday Stanley: I'm like. No, neither.  

Emily Jones: But I, I think you made a really good point early on, which is healing is a choice and healing takes proactive work. Like you researched, you read, you talk to other people, you tried groups and it wasn't for you, or maybe those groups weren't for you, but you made an effort. And there are a lot of people that will hear this, that think that they do nothing and time's just magically going to make things better. 

Emily Jones: But I think you're just a great picture of someone who, even a year later, can have joy and hope in your life again, when, for many people, they may feel like that's never coming for them. But, thank [00:52:00] you so much for sharing  

Wensday Stanley: your story. Thank you for having me. 

Wensday Stanley: Hey,  

Emily Jones: I didn't really get the chance to dig in with Wensday on the topic of guilt, but that is something that you heard her mention several times throughout the episode and something I just want to make a special call out for. This is something that I learned through the grief recovery method, which is amazing and the only evidence based grief recovery program in the entire world. 

Emily Jones: So it's amazing. But one of the main things that they teach is that there is a lot of guilt associated with grief. And it's something I struggled with. It's something that a lot of widows struggled with. And as you heard Wensday say, she struggled with the grief that she had some relief, but finally he was healed finally, that his. 

Emily Jones: Body and spirit were fully healed and with God. And she somewhat felt guilty about that. And that's [00:53:00] one of the most common areas of guilt that people feel. And what I learned from the grief recovery method is that. Guilt often implies malicious intent, and we know we can assume that for almost all widows, there's really no malicious intent with them wanting their spouse to be gone or declining their health or any of those things. 

Emily Jones: So what is it then that we feel? We associate it with guilt, we call it guilt, but the word guilt And it's really heavy word to set on our shoulders. So instead of thinking of it as guilt, or instead of saying, I feel guilty or I am guilty. Usually, instead, what it is, one of three things, we wish that things were better, more, or different. 

Emily Jones: And, I know for myself personally, as I reflected back over my [00:54:00] relationship with Nathan and about the way that things had happened, that, that resonated with me. That was true. I didn't really feel guilty because I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't take any actions that were wrong or... Treat him with the intent of being malicious, but I just wish that there were things that had happened differently. 

Emily Jones: I wish there were things that had been better or that there were things that we did more of. So, as you think about your own feelings on this journey of healing and how you reflect on grief, think about the word guilt and instead ask yourself, Not, do I feel guilty or why you feel guilty, but instead, is it really because you wish something was better, more, or different? 

Emily Jones: About the relationship or about some of the circumstances that happen. This is actually part of a course that I teach in the brave widow community called getting unstuck from grief. [00:55:00] Guilt tends to be one of those things that holds us back in grief and keeps us from being able to heal and being able to move forward. 

Emily Jones: Now, I don't think that's the case with Wensday at all, because you could hear the joy in her voice. You can see that she's looking forward to the future with hope. You can see that she's not wallowing in grief and unable to move forward, so it's not holding her back. But for some people, guilt is part, at least, of what holds them back from being able to move forward in their journey. 

Emily Jones: And if you'd like to learn more about that, I would love to have you as part of the membership community, where you have access to that course and several others. You can join in on some of our live calls and have a discussion just like we had today with Wensday about how she's doing and her story and some of the challenges and some of the successes and the wins. 

Emily Jones: That's one of the things I love about the community is we have that opportunity to share those with each other. And it's a community where people [00:56:00] are hopeful about the future. Yes, we have days where we struggle. Yes, we have days or moments that are hard. But overall, one of the most positive things I hear over and over about the community is that people appreciate it's a place where we instill hope, we help educate, we focus on learning and growing and developing. 

Emily Jones: And if that's the kind of community that you would like to be a part of, I would love to have you. 


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. 

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 [00:57:00] 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.