How I went from ‘we’ to ‘me’ after I lost my husband

How I went from we to meWriting Contribution by Tracie L. Yergin

Insight from Thriving women

Just over five years ago I lost my husband to cancer.

I remember the exact moment that he took his last breath in a hospital bed in the middle of our living room. He peacefully drifted off to sleep. That night will forever be etched in my mind.

how I went from we to me

Little did I know I also lost myself that night. I was no longer part of ‘we’ I was just ‘me’.

The first few months after his passing I was on autopilot, numb to everything around me and just going through the motions of everyday life.

Almost three months to the day after his passing, I broke down. I thought I was having a heart attack. (Thankfully I wasn’t). The Doctor told me it was a panic attack and it was then that I realized I couldn’t do this on my own and I needed help navigating my way through the grief process. I moved in with my parents, started seeing a therapist, joined a support group and leaned on my family and friends.

how I went from we to me

I am a very independent person, so asking for help wasn’t easy for me.

But looking back I am so thankful that I did, as I don’t believe I would be where I am today without it.

I recall my ‘year of firsts’ and the struggles that I had getting through them: My birthday, our anniversary, his birthday, the holidays, parties, weddings, etc.

I remember waking up and wishing those days away. They were special days that we always celebrated together and they were no fun celebrating alone.

On the first anniversary of his passing, I was in Las Vegas at a work conference and I remember jumping up and down on the bed in the hotel room like a little kid crying and yelling, “I survived!”

how I went from we to me

I didn’t think I would make it, but I did. That night was a turning point for me. I decided I was going to start celebrating his life and stop mourning his death.

In my heart I knew that he would want me to be happy—it was time for me to start living again.

I embraced our birthdays, our anniversary and the holidays. I came up with new ways to celebrate and incorporate my memories of him. A few things that I started doing and still do to this day:

Every February when I am in Vegas for my work conference, which happens to coincide with the anniversary of his passing (or as I refer to it as, ‘the celebration of his life’), I purchase a Vegas charm for my Pandora bracelet. Vegas was one of his favorite places and he used to buy me charms for my bracelet and hide them for me when he would be away on work trips.

Every summer we hold the “Uncle Brian Memorial Fishing Tournament” for his nieces and nephews—a tradition he started many years ago in an effort to teach the kids the love of the outdoors.

I feed the deer at the cemetery as he was an avid hunter. One of these days I am going to leave a salt block by his headstone.

I buy a new Christmas ornament every year that reminds me of him and put it on the wreath at his grave. We used to buy each other new ornaments every year for our tree, so this is my way of carrying on our tradition.

On Christmas Eve after the family gathering when the house is quiet, I sit down and write a letter to him and put it in his stocking. It’s my Christmas gift to him.

On New Year’s Eve I have a glass of wine and empty my ‘Good Times Jar’ and read all the notes that I put in it throughout the year. I relive all the good times that I had and I know that he’s up there smiling.

I still miss my husband—always will.

And even though I am no longer part of a ‘we’, I have realized that life goes on and it’s okay to be ‘me’.

It’s okay to be happy.

About Tracie.

how I went from we to meTracie was born, raised and lives in Michigan. Her animals; Shiloh (dog), Jax (horse) and Tito (goat) are her kids and she’s an animal enthusiast at heart. She loves spending time exploring the trails with Jax and her fellow horse riders, and long weekends with friends—where laughter and tears flow freely.

Tracie has learned that life will change without our permission and that it’s our attitude that will determine the ride.


Photography: Tracie with her animals by Angela Bowers Photography


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  1. Anna
    August 8, 2017, 7:44 EST

    This is beautiful and so touching. I’m glad you’ve found your way out and your own happiness. You are a very strong woman! I think your article is going to help many others going through such hard moments in their lives. <3

    • MightyD
      August 8, 2017, 7:59 EST

      Oh I so agree Anna! Tracie’s story has already impacted so many lives. She now has a unique voice and gift to help those who are hurting….to offer them hope and promises of a brighter tomorrows. Actually we all need that hope! xo!~D

  2. The Frenchie Mummy
    August 8, 2017, 4:01 EST

    What touching post about your husband. You decide to do the right thing by celebrating him. It’s the right way to do and the Pandora bracelet is so good.

    • MightyD
      August 8, 2017, 4:29 EST

      Isn’t it amazing that at some point it becomes “a decision”? Certainly not an easy process, but what a beautiful decision to celebrate Brian’s life. xo~D

    • MightyD
      August 8, 2017, 5:59 EST

      I agree! What a joy that she began celebrating his life. So healing and beautiful! xo~D

  3. Karyl | Karyl's Kuli
    August 8, 2017, 7:43 EST

    Wow, this is so incredibly touching. I can’t even imagine what you went through, but I also love the way that you celebrate his life and incorporate his memory into your days. What a great way to keep his memory alive, and to help you as well.

    • MightyD
      August 9, 2017, 4:08 EST

      I agree Karyl!! Powerful powerful!! xo~D

  4. Leslie
    August 9, 2017, 5:47 EST

    What a touching article. Tracie, you are an inspiration to us all. The things that you do to keep Brian in the heart of those who loved him are so beautiful. You are love!

    • MightyD
      August 9, 2017, 7:28 EST

      She “is love” isn’t she! xo~D

  5. Lynn Fiddick
    August 10, 2017, 2:26 EST

    Thanks D for sharing your friend’s story. It gives me hope to carry on as a happier “me” since the happy “we” suddenly came to end. Although I do have my 4 kids as “we” I have to focus more on being a stronger “me”. It’s really hard. I’ll always miss my Greg! Love You! Lynn

  6. Dorothy Carey
    August 10, 2017, 2:49 EST

    Please send me e-mail or a personal message on my facebook, I would really like to talk to you in a private conversation. I just lost my husband on June 25 2017. Thank you

  7. Susa Fisher
    August 10, 2017, 4:51 EST

    Traci I remember how D was so broken hearted for you when you lost your husband. Thank you for sharing. I lost my Mom in March & now am losing D’s Dad who I was very close to. I hope at some point I can celebrate both their lives & not feel lost. Thx for sharing.