I was widowed, at the age of 39, by my husband taking his own life. There was absolutely no warning, and no note was left. Needless to say, my sons, 15 and 10 at the time, and I were devastated. Early on, through my fog, I realized, as horrible as I felt at the time, one day in the very distant future I would be able to come to terms with my loss. I was, however, not quite so sure how my sons would be able to handle this inconceivable blow. I could go on with my life, find new successes, and, perhaps, find another mate, but they would never have another father.

Luckily, within days of my late husband’s death, I was the recipient of a brilliant piece of advice from a counselor at the Survivors of Suicide support group.

When I asked what was the best way to help my sons, she simply replied: your sons are going to take their cue from you.

~If you act out, they will too.
~If you handle yourself with grace and dignity, they will too.
~If you show them how to pick yourself up after tragedy hits, they will learn a valuable lesson that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

It was at that exact moment that I made a conscious decision to not only survive but to thrive. I have always believed in parenting by example, and here was my greatest opportunity to teach my children about how to smile and go on with one’s life in the face of adversity.

Fourteen years later, I am pleased to tell you it worked! Despite their great loss, my children survived and are successful in their lives.

Ellen Gerst is a Life Coach specializing in grief and relationships and the author of several books on grief, including "A Practical Guide to Widow/erhood," born out of Ellen's own experiences as a young widow; 101 Tips and Thoughts on Coping with Grief, an easy-to read reference guide filled with suggestions for every day use on moving through the grief journey; and "Love After Loss: Writing The Rest of Your Story." "Love After Loss" is a blueprint on how to use her successful method to redesign your life to include a new love connection after the loss of a partner. Connect with Ellen on Facebook at Love After Loss (for daily relationship tips) and on Thin Threads of Grief & Renewal (for inspirational coping with grief thoughts). Click for more information on grief related services and books..

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