Category Archives: Widowhood

Conscious Rebellion…

I’m not a joiner by nature. Never have been.

And as a result, there are times I’m cross-wise with the world.

It’s just that I resist, more than anything

being boxed,

and labeled,

and tied up with a pretty bow

to be cataloged on a shelf.

I want to remain free to evolve.

I reject the world’s arbitrary expectations and control.

I question all the shoulds.

I question why you want to redefine me without my permission.

The more you try to convince me, the more I’m not.
The more I see your blindness.

Why do you think these limiting things?
Why do you define life this way, much less MY reality this way?

It doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in rules.

The polite world needs an honor code.

I’m a lover of systems. I see the world in patterns.

I notice when seemingly unrelated things are connected.

Which, of course, is part of why I design.

I Am a Creator.

I recognize that when we use design thinking and build conscious systems, which require cooperation, we improve quality of life; we solve world problems.

Systems are just programs that we use to empower ourselves.
They work alongside us as we continue to innovate.
Once built–click.
C:\Users\Julia>start program.exe

Now I don’t have to use up brain power and resources for that.

The program is now built.
It runs.
It maximizes what I can accomplish.

I enjoy using, analyzing, and building systems–as long as they serve as the good tools they were meant to be.

Systems help us understand our universe and free up our horizons for greater things. Tools, however, should never shackle the soul.

As a spiritually evolving people–Collectively, we are Stronger.

But, if we’re not careful, we can get into a rut.

We can stagnate, become toxic, and oppress.

Our systems of expectation become our God.

And we become finite echoes of what could have been.

We can forget the individual, our unlimited capacity, and lose our humanity.

And in the pursuit of “peace” and flow, we can forget conscious compassion and individual responsibility.

We can stop seeing the human, the soul.

Make everyone a label.

Become victim to the system.

There are times we just have to get out of the box and rebel against the status quo.

Dare to be and think differently.

Allow ourselves to become uncomfortable and take the inconvenient path–because it is the right one. Or at least, a better one.

I become weary and jaded the more people push me to live or be something that I just am not.

Try to convince me to care about things that, on the eternal level, just do not matter.

In the process of John’s dying, never was the superfluous more clear.

Things that don’t make sense. Things that make me ask why, why, why.
Things that make me feel like finding another planet to live.
Things I DON’T want to give energy to.

The more people tie me up with those pretty labels.

Am I what you expected?

If I label you, you’ll stay in your lane–right?

And as a Creative, I reject all notion of living a life of sameness without purpose.

It’s hard being here, in this reality.

Beauty and wonder are matched by pain and difficulty.

Risk is everywhere, and nothing (and no one) is guaranteed.

Not even the next breath.

If I have to be here, I will have my Creativity and Purpose and Face the unknown head-on.

I will partner with my Creator and consciously Craft my Direction.

I choose to bear witness to and celebrate the paths that cross mine without the world’s arbitrary rules of definement.

Where there is no room to breathe, I will hold space for oxygen to unfold.

Among the things that I appreciate that John gave me while he was alive was the grace to be me and the space to evolve.

There was always room to move and oxygen to breathe in the air around John.

We shared the same Chaotic Good heart, the same first-born sense of protection and responsibility, and the same desires for the freedom to Create, Transmute and Become in this life.

Never violate your conscience.

The strong should protect the weak.

The able should teach and elevate others.

Always do the right thing.

Embrace the suck.

Help others find their way through, and you will too.

We never forced expectations on each other, John and I.

It wasn’t our thing.

We didn’t adhere to the marketing concepts of what our life together should look like.

We had no insecurities about each other. We didn’t starve each other’s needs for career, friends, life experiences, or dreams.

And I think one of the defining features of our friendship, as well as our love, was that we allowed each other space, always.

We were never glued to the hip. We didn’t have to be.

We were two whole people who decided to become lifetime battle buddies.

We had no desire to stifle each other, and we were never threatened by the need to be alone or have our own things.

Maybe because we were both firstborn, I don’t know. But it worked for us.

In doing this for each other, we evolved in ways that wouldn’t otherwise be available. And we helped each other pursue our individual goals and dreams.

We didn’t have to have a life partner. We didn’t have to be together.
We just wanted to be. We liked being in each other’s space.
And we freely chose to be tethered and back each other up in this life.

It was a much deeper, more respectful way of being. I was never afraid to be myself. I knew I was loved for me. The young woman I was. The mother I became. The soul I was growing to be.

We always held space to rediscover each other as we grew further into adulthood together.

And there was born great love. We became more than our parts–together.

I think back to John’s grandmother’s words, “You don’t marry a body; you marry a mind.”

Though I think for me, it’s that I married a soul.

How can you possibly contain a soul?

Especially a force of nature like John.

You can’t. And you don’t want to.

What a crime to try. What a blessing to share.

John loved me fiercely and never wanted to change me or bottle me up. So as I.

I never understand people who want to remanufacture their partners.
Go remake yourself.

I don’t want to lock down the world and reality. Even while there is chaos, I know that possibility reigns and that order will come. Out of Chaos, magic is born, and Creativity holds all the cards. Holds all the art supplies too.

If we are to be free of the chains of the past–we have to explore and innovate new systems. We can’t stick with the same old habits and perspectives and expect different outcomes.

They’re only tools. And they lose purpose and wear out.

We have to allow each other the space and grace to evolve.

And dare to craft new systems as needed.

Craft new lives. Embrace new purposes.
Change our labels, or reject them altogether.

It’s mucky work, being human.

This Life was meant to be rich with experiences and opportunities to grow.
But it was not meant to be a museum and always pretty.

It wasn’t meant to be without Risk.

You have to take chances to have and love more than you thought possible.
And be willing to see the world and Life differently.

You have to be willing to get hurt along the journey, knowing that even failure enriches our growth.

The Path of the Conscious Rebel is not easy.
Yet it’s ripe with possibility and rich with uncommon love.
A journey of creative textures and colors.

After all, who are humanity’s heroes?
If not those who Dared a Life that was Different?

While I may look at life, love, and the world differently, I am not that unique.

I am not the only widow in the world. Not the only mother whose child is fighting cancer. Not the only woman carving out a career in a male-dominated world. Not the only friend trying to sift through the digital age to reconnect with someone real.

And not the only wounded soul trying to free herself from the black hole behind her and find the next step on the path.

But these are the things I sometimes think about.
On a pensive Sunday morning over coffee.

August 21, 2022

Copyright © 2022, Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved. No part of my post, writing, or words may be copied and shared without my express written permission and attribution.

People in boxes


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Filed under Random Thoughts, Widowhood, Writing


I want to write.

I’ve craved it for weeks.
An omen welling up. A portent.
Murmurs of words and feelings threaten to howl.

But there is no moon.
And my lungs are bruised.

A song of wisps.

Reaching through the fog.
To take initiative. Evanescent trust.
To seek connection, audience, witness.
To offer comfort.

Ten minutes. That will do.
Duty served. Pledges complete.
She’s ok.

She’s the strongest person I know.

Bloody thorns–to reach out first again and again.
Holding back the event horizon.
I will only be first so many times
before I relax and give in to the waves,
watching you peacefully
from the drifting deep,
at one with the seaweeds.

I will watch and listen from the other room,
remembering our once mingled laughter.
I’ll read your books and treasure your sorrows;
provide sanctuary when you pass through.

I’ll watch you walk away and never return.

The silent cornerstone balanced on a pedestal–
until the earth shakes again. Silly humans.
That’s not how any of this works.

It is challenging to reach out and preserve,
much less nurture a one-sided companionship.

But this is my blog–a reflection.
And I guess that means my struggle
on this one-way street
is with me.

June 23, 2022

Copyright © 2022, Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved. No part of my post, writing, or words may be copied and shared without my express written permission and attribution.



Filed under Poetry, Random Thoughts, Widowhood, Writing

I Will Find A Way…

It is difficult to minister to the spouses of the terminally ill.

But somebody has to reach a hand back into the darkness.

Somebody has to.

I cannot turn my back knowing what I know.

Caked in mud, blood and tears.

For now, it is my hand.

Someday, somehow, I will find a way to do more.

Helping hand


Filed under Glioblastoma, Widowhood


As a culture, we would benefit from talking about grief and aftermath more. No one should feel ashamed or shunned for grief.

Grief deepens us; it is our vehicle for honoring. Unless we are cheated of it and choked off from it.

It is said that God is with the grieving. The understandable assumption is that, of course, a Loving Creator has compassion and comforts the grieving soul. That when others abandon and neglect, God is steadfast. That even when you think you’ve lost all your friends and everyone stopped caring, God will be there, so count on Him. He will always understand. So much emphasis is placed on the righteousness of caring for widows and orphans in the Bible that it makes sense. God is the Great Comforter.

But I think there’s more to it than that. I believe that grief is a vehicle for God’s work in us. It is painful, but a new spiritual, transformative singularity is begun. As sideliners, we have the opportunity with the grieving souls in our circles: to step away from the energy of that remaking or to be a part of the work being born.

If grief is a sign that God’s Hand is present, then we should hardly turn our back and run from it when it appears in a friend’s life. Perhaps?

As uncomfortable as you may be with my obvious scars, you are mistaken if you think that grief makes me weaker.

Giving voice to these thoughts is much more poetic than it feels in real life since I pretty much feel like I’ve been set on fire and left to slow burn, a hot poker turning my coals. But then I wonder if the caterpillar feels pain as it dissolves into the primordial ooze that will eventually become a butterfly.

I desperately did not want to be reborn again. Not now. Not this way. But I’d be a fool not to recognize that my dissolving cannot help but be a part of reaching whatever my greatest potential is supposed to be. John is an inextricable part of my remaking.

Thing is, I was already a butterfly. I’m not sure what’s next.

Thanks to my friend Shari for sharing with me Nora McInerny’s TED talk about Grief.  ❤️

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Filed under Grief, Random Thoughts, Widowhood, Writing

There Is No Spoon…

I’ve had a recurring dream most of my life.

That there is plenty in the world until I arrive. Then something happens. But everyone around me is oblivious to my situation.

People see me a certain way and cannot see that my reality is quite different from their perception. I am assumed or judged by actions I have not taken and a reality I have not lived.

Last night I dreamt I got to attend a music performance at my daughter’s college. One of her friends was performing with a group, and the event would be followed by a banquet.

We arrived and everything was beautiful. We picked out seats, but I really needed to find a restroom. On my way back, I get completely lost. I ask for directions back to the performance hall, but no one knows what I’m talking about.

I finally find my way back, but I’ve not only missed the performance, I cannot find anyone I know. Still, I’m just in time to get a plate of food from the buffet before they tear it down. And I’m so hungry.

The buffet table is huge, taking up most of one side of the banquet room. As I go through, there’s very little left that I’m not allergic to, but I manage to find a little meat. Thankfully there’s still a little salad left on the salad bar at the end of the buffet.

I set my plate down to get the last of the salad, but as soon as I do, someone has taken my plate of food.

I’m in tears and I cry out, Not Again.

I can’t find my plate anywhere. My stomach pangs growl. And as I look back over the buffet, it’s been completely cleared.

All I have are a few leaves of spinach in a bowl. Even the water is gone.

And I feel despair.

This dream theme has recurred most of my life. And seems to play out in weird ways in my reality.

That everything somehow seems more complex for me. That normal sustenance, and needs fulfilled, is not readily available to me. That my trials are never typical. Like an alien trapped on a world I never quite click with. My timing is always off.

Everyone congratulates me on my cooking skills, yet no one is aware that I’m starving.

While it has improved some over time (i.e. my dreams rarely involve mortal danger now too), I’d like to conquer this dream. Master whatever it is that it represents. This dream had gotten better before. But it’s gotten much worse in the last 3 years since John’s glioblastoma diagnosis and death.

It’s understandable, but I need to figure out how to resolve it.

Or succumb.



Filed under Grief, Random Thoughts, Widowhood, Writing

Understanding Doesn’t Erase It…

No matter what I understand about stress and grief and trauma, the understanding does not erase its reality.

Understanding alone does not give me freedom.

I still have to work through the muck. Albeit, it does help to understand.

Grief and trauma aren’t like injuries. They are injuries.

I never understood the physical reality of grief as an injury as well as I understand it now. I peel back the layers every day, and still there are more.

Grief is a uniquely human wound.

Even understanding the anticipatory grief packaged with John’s terminal illness did not prepare me for the eventual reality of his death. It did not prepare me for this side of the trauma. We soldiered on through the brutality of his fight for life, because John and I faced things together. No matter how gritty, our family faced everything together. And we had hope for a cure.

Now… that hope has exited stage left, as has John. And now he’s not here to stare down his son’s own cancer with us too.

Grief cripples, even when you understand. Even when you seek balance in all things. You are not “you” for awhile. Maybe you never will be.

“Faith” that I’ll see John again in spirit does not erase the physical reality I face every day. It does not erase the wounds of our trauma together. It does not remove the flood at my knees or the fight at my door.

While no one can take over my burden for me, my friends and family can cushion the pointy-ness, salve the pain, steady me when I falter and stumble. Hold my hair back as I vomit from this Life’s kick in the gut.

No one has ever thrived alone. Human history is proof of this, over and over again. The world’s sacred texts are filled with example after example. Nature also teaches us this. We can survive alone, but we do not thrive. And we don’t heal from mortal wounds without assistance, from God or otherwise.

Like any piercing physical ailment, grief and trauma require recovery and healing. Avoidance does not erase the reality of it nor the need for working through it, any more than a broken leg can be pretended away. But neither does justification or comprehension remove the reality either.

While many things are affected and even created by belief alone, some things cannot be simply unmade through knowledge and recognition. And while choices have consequences, not all “consequences” have choices.

Sometimes, the task set upon us is unfair and without cause.

Understanding alone doesn’t do the work or walk the path of Life. It merely assists in our perspective. We still must face and work with the actual reality.

Perspective and applied understanding help us transmute. And transmutation of the spirit is why we’re here. To be reborn with every conscious effort, ever seeking the Path, even when obscured by tragedy. Even when we feel alone and blind with pain.

We are not robots and we are not God. I may be a part of God, a part of the family of God, or even part of the Great Network as I understand it, but I am not the sum of Creator. And yet, even my Creator God feels. Even Jesus cried out on the cross.

Christ understood far more about the universe and spiritual reality than we can comprehend. And yet when Lazarus died, whom He was about to raise from the dead – “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) 

Knowing everything he knew, knowing that Lazarus would return to life, knowing God and the nature of the universe and our connection, Jesus was overcome with emotion and cried for the friend he loved.

How could I be expected to perform “better” than that?

Life is in the Overcoming.

And some tasks are more difficult than others.


June 25th, 2018
by Julia Meek Chambers
All rights reserved.



Filed under Grief, Random Thoughts, Widowhood, Writing

Reaping Thorns: The Only Lifeline Is Love…

Yesterday, March 7th, marked the 2 year anniversary of rushing John to the ER. The day we first learned about glioblastoma. The day his 18 month, 8 day, 8 hour fight for life began.

Today our son walks into MD Anderson for surgery to remove the tumor inside his kidney.

We’re a whirl of emotions that should not exist all at once. But this Oprah article about failing friends in grief was appreciated.

Nothing teaches you harder about the impact of well-meant but misplaced words than the death of a spouse (or child), and worse when it is prefaced by a long, traumatic and even horrific journey to get there. A patient/caregiver/lovers’ journey that appears quieter than its reality, because you cannot talk about most of the grit. Because it’s too raw for anyone to experience. And you cannot go there without knowing you’re safe to open that door. No matter how desperately you need it.

The yearning for meaningful witness reaps thorns with it too. The callousness of the world levies its attention. And as the thorns collect, you cannot help but fear, dear God, did I ever do this to someone myself?

At least with the anticipatory grief that comes with a terminal illness, John and I could hold each other and witness each our tears.

With widowhood, any coping equipment you had for dealing with trauma is taken from you. The one person in your world who you always counted on and shared with is no longer there. Not to mention your every reality is permanently changed by no choice of your own. You not only lose your spouse, but everything you know and have is either taken or threatened too. Your time is stolen and effectiveness reduced; responsibilities change and magnify.

Unless a safety net can be successfully cast, your fall will be permanently disabling. Perhaps this is in part why the ministry to widows and orphans is so compelled in the Bible and in other religious texts. The alteration of reality can be crippling.

You will never ever see your husband again. You will never again feel their touch. They will never earn an income or owe taxes again. They will never put their things away ever again. They will never share the rest of your memories in any way. My John will never physically see his grandchildren and they will never get to meet him, even in passing. My heart will never recover its missing pieces. The bonding that marriage is, when you succeed – is excruciating when it is severed in trauma. Love is valuable, but it comes at a cost in the face of trauma. And the possibilities of never are endless.

Widowhood is torturous on multiple levels. The loss alone is more than enough. Grief will have its way with you, regardless of how much you understand. Regardless of your power of will. Like cancer, it is no respecter of persons. That carnivore will alter your capability in life, augmented by the quality of your relationship. The deeper the bond, the deeper the fractures. Yet the world steals more than just its lump of flesh. The startling negative things people will say. The vulnerability in a society that is still male dominant. The opportunists who come out of the wood work. But we don’t have the protection of neighbors and communities today like we once did in our history.

Even our friends get weird. They expect us to be normal, to react normal, to think normal, to remember like a normal remembers. They cannot see we lost an entire soul that once was inside. We simply cannot perform the way we did, until we recover. And maybe not even then. Maybe we’re different forever.

And then there’s the impact of silence, and the secondary vacuums that friends disappear into, which augments the feeling of losing every thing you value, trusted and recognize about the way you live, move and operate in the world.

In grief you are often forced to alter your perspective on relationships – that you did not expect to have to – along with your sense of trust and safety with others. Imagine suddenly having to reevaluate the safety of every relationship you’ve ever had. As death brings out the strange in people.

Some say cancer/illness/death shows you who your friends really are. Because friends wouldn’t hurt or abandon you if they cared, right? Especially when the demands upon you have multiplied beyond what a normal human being can expect.

I don’t know if that’s necessarily quite accurate, or even completely fair. That blanket seems a bit big.

Even now, in the well I’ve fallen into, I think that perspective is largely thanks to the filter of trauma we cannot help but be altered by. The tunnel vision we rely on in trauma, as all that we are often able to see is just the step we’re executing just right now. Blindingly looking for something to lean on, but faltering to find, because life knocked us silly and it’s not always easy for others to recognize.

No one is trained for this.

Not me. Not my friends.

I do not even now entirely understand what I need.

Just that I do. Need.

I know I’m far too vulnerable when a furniture salesman almost gets an earful from me, because my voice has been dumb for too long.

Neither I nor my friends will learn this without going through it together. And they cannot learn it if I am silent too.

I’m being forced into a rebirth I desperately did not want.

Every aspect of life as I’ve known it, in every way possible has been forcefully altered. It is unlike anything imaginable. Anguish that cannot be fathomed without experience. Something I could never wish on another. And yet desperately need witness for if I’m to heal.

We are all afraid of being overwhelmed, especially by what we do not understand. Trusting in God is helpful, but it doesn’t erase the way we’re designed. Without regular compassion to offset the regular negative, it’s no wonder that the loss of social support leads to “excess mortality rates” after the death of a spouse in our society.

Loss is part of the way of Life in this world. We cannot escape loss as part of our molding. Our losses are matched by our ability to Love. Our overcoming matched by the growth we already have achieved.

Well-meant but misplaced words injure. Silence injures less, but still injures. Silence robs friends of the opportunity to offset injuries caused by others. Because the callousness of the world will be on the doorstep. Not to mention judgement, gossip and malice. These too exist.

Am I what you expected after all.

How do we surmount both the precipice and the mountain falling down around us, as the tornadoes roar and floods gather at our knees?

There is only one answer. Face what you fear. The physical is transient. And the only lifeline is Love.

“Embrace the suck.” It was John’s message when he trained his men.

John’s words, his love, the Love of my Creator, and the love of my children and friends prop me as I face our son’s surgery today.

March 8th, 2018
by Julia Meek Chambers
All rights reserved.

Trapped In The Well - by AberrantCrochet


Filed under Glioblastoma, Widowhood, Writing