Candid lessons that helped a young, grieving widow learn to live after loss.
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Prudential

Amelia and Manny made clear plans when they got married.

They planned to travel around the world. They planned what they’d want their family and their futures to look like. It was all so normal and real.

And then something they couldn't have planned for happened: Manny unexpectedly passed away soon after they'd tied the knot.


When the doctor in the emergency room told Amelia that it was time to say goodbye, she was in disbelief. "How do you even do that?" she wondered.

Manny in the parking lot holding a two of hearts the day they eloped. All images via Amelia Borealis.

Instead of being a young, happy newlywed, Amelia became a young, grieving widow.

It turned her life upside down. In the months that followed, she could barely wake up and get out of bed, let alone put on clothes and walk to work. Every day felt harder than the last while the world continued on around her.

"I wanted so painfully for everything to just stop," Amelia said in an interview for Prudential's Masterpiece of Love series. "I was so tired. I just wanted it to stop." But it didn't stop. Life kept going and so did she, at times reluctantly.

Today, Amelia has come out on the other side of the most difficult journey she could have imagined, and it's taught her a lot about herself, the grieving process, and how often life doesn't go as planned.

In hopes of helping others, Amelia wrote down eight things she learned about living after loss:

1. "Moving on" is a fallacy. Amelia prefers to call it "moving forward."

"Moving on" implies letting your person go, and that's an unrealistic expectation, Amelia wrote.

"Instead, you simply swim through it until the water clears up a little more, until the profundity of the depth is less terrifying, and until it feels a little easier, because you've gotten good at swimming."

Skydiving helped Amelia to commemorate the six-month anniversary of Manny's passing. "I guess some part of me felt like I could get closer to Manny somehow by stepping into the sky," she said.

2. "Try to remain open to life."

Amelia took a chance and met someone again who turned out to be a wonderful man. Having your heart broken again after loss is a nasty slap in the face, she wrote, but you should not let it shut you down.

"Practice kindness and graciousness when others are kind to you," she said, "and compassion when they aren't. That's a good practice for any relationship,."

A snapshot of of a happy life.

3. Hers is not a "success story."

The peaceful person Amelia is today has "clawed, gasped, screamed and survived." She fell in love again and had a child, but those are not successes she can claim. She says that getting to raise her baby has been a wonderful blessing, and new life gives loss slightly more perspective. Every day, as her baby learns, she is reminded that life continues.

An ordinary day after work. "I think this photo captures a very honest moment of peace and overwhelming love," Amelia said.  

4. This is a big one: "Release any hostility or jealousy."

"Friends will get married and have children, celebrate anniversaries and successes, all while you are alone in the dark," she wrote. "They will forget to be sensitive to your heartache, or think  that you're 'over it' enough so you won't mind if they gush. They might think that it's easier for you to show up with a smile than it really is. Let that go, too."

People are going to say the wrong things. They will say unbelievably tone-deaf things. It's important to not take hurtful words to heart, as hard as that can be. She advises trying to imagine a time when it will be easier to be happy for others again without feeling heartache yourself. Doing this will be healing.

5. "It will take longer than you expect."

Amelia wrote, "Because it doesn't go away, or stop, and because you don't get over it, that old heartache keeps creeping up long after you thought it should have gotten easier. Be compassionate with yourself. Life is not a round trip voyage; why should your grieving process be? You will get better at navigating the new normal."

A photo after her first pilot lesson.

6. "Only you know what you're really going through."

Amelia points to how well-meaning people will come out of the woodwork, desperate to tell you about when their somebody died, for three reasons:

One, they want to be helpful. Two, society shuns them from talking about their lost loved one and they want you to be a person whom they can commiserate with. Three, see number one.

Some people will say helpful things. But every grief is different. Every relationship is different. Every person who has passed is different, and every grieving person is different. If you grieve in your own way, you're doing it right.

Amelia on the Highline in New York City.

7. "The right partner will actively keep the memory alive with you."

"Be careful not to get so swept up in escaping your grief that you choose someone who wants you to get over it," she wrote. "Don't you dare let anyone take your grief from you."

The right partner will hold your hand on the anniversaries (if that's what you want), will wish that they could have met your person, and will admire how you still love that person today.

8. And finally: "You can do this."

"There may be times you're pretty sure I'm wrong on this point," she wrote. "That's ok, rest when it's too hard. Find something — anything — and hang on like hell. These peaks and valleys gradually get less steep. It takes a long time, but they do. And there is sunshine again out there somewhere."

A fun day swinging in the park.

As many of us know, life often doesn't go according to plan.

It's still hard for Amelia every single day. But she says it also makes her experience things on a deeper level. Whether it’s raindrops on her skin or the feeling of breath going in and out of her lungs, everything is more vivid.

She says Manny's passing has a lot to do with that; he reminds her that every single day is a gift.

Lainey and baby goat Annie. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse
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Oftentimes, the journey to our true calling is winding and unexpected. Take Lainey Morse, who went from office manager to creator of the viral trend, Goat Yoga, thanks to her natural affinity for goats and throwing parties.

Back in 2015, Lainey bought a farm in Oregon and got her first goats who she named Ansel and Adams. "Once I got them, I was obsessed," says Lainey. "It was hard to get me off the farm to go do anything else."

Right away, she noticed what a calming presence they had. "Even the way they chew their cud is relaxing to be around because it's very methodical," she says. Lainey was going through a divorce and dealing with a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis at the time, but even when things got particularly hard, the goats provided relief.

"I found it impossible to be stressed or depressed when I was with them."

She started inviting friends up to the farm for what she called "Goat Happy Hour." Soon, the word spread about Lainey's delightful, stress-relieving furry friends. At one point, she auctioned off a child's birthday party at her farm, and the mom asked if they could do yoga with the goats. And lo, the idea for goat yoga was born.

A baby goat on a yoga student. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Goat yoga went viral so much so that by fall of 2016, Lainey was able to quit her office manager job at a remodeling company to manage her burgeoning goat yoga business full-time. Now she has 10 locations nationwide.

Lainey handles the backend management for all of her locations, and loves that side of the business too, even though it's less goat-related. "I still have my own personal Goat Happy Hour every single day so I still get to spend a lot of time with my goats," says Lainey. "I get the best of both worlds."

Lainey with her goat Fabio. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Since COVID-19 hit, her locations have had to close temporarily. She hopes her yoga locations will be able to resume classes in the spring when the vaccine is more widely available. "I think people will need goat yoga more than ever before, because everyone has been through so much stress in 2020," says Lainey.

Major life changes like Lainey's can come around for any number of reasons. Even if they seem out of left field to some, it doesn't mean they're not the right moves for you. The new FOX series "Call Me Kat", which premieres Sunday, January 3rd after NFL and will continue on Thursday nights beginning January 7th, exemplifies that. The show is centered around Kat, a 39-year old single woman played by Mayim Bialik, who quit her math professor job and spent her life's savings to pursue her dreams to open a Cat Café in Louisville, Kentucky.

Jeff Harry started making similar moves when he was just 10-years-old, and kept making them throughout his life. After seeing the movie "Big,"Jeff knew he wanted to play with toys for a living, so he started writing toy companies asking for next steps. He finally got a response when he was a sophomore in high school — the company told him he needed to become a mechanical engineer first.

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