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.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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Like millions of others, I tuned in last night to watch Oprah Winfrey's interview with (former) Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Although watching "The Crown" has admittedly piqued my curiosity about the Royal Family, I've never had any particular interest in following the drama in real life. As inconsequential as the un-royaling of Harry and Meghan is to me personally, it's a historically and socially significant development.

The story touches so many hot buttons at once—power, wealth, tradition, sexism, racism, colonialism, family drama, freedom, security, and the media. But as I sat and watched the first hour of just Oprah and Meghan Markle talking, I was struck by the simple significance of what I was seeing.

Here were two Black women, one who had battled sexism and racism in her industry and broke countless barriers to create her own empire, and one who has battled racism and sexism to protect her babies, whose royal lineage can be traced back through 1,200 years of rule over the British Empire. And the conversation these women were having had the power to take down—or at least do real damage to—one of the longest-standing monarchies in the world.

Whoa.

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Tory Burch

Courtesy of Tory Burch

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This March marks one year since the start of the pandemic… and it's been an incredibly difficult year: Over 500,000 people have died and hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. But the pandemic's economic downturn has been disproportionately affecting women because they are more likely to work in hard-hit industries, such as hospitality or entertainment, and many of them have been forced to leave their jobs due to the lack of childcare.

But throughout all that hardship, women have, over and over again, found ways to help one another and solve problems.

"Around the world, women have stepped up and found ways to help where it is needed most," says Tory Burch, an entrepreneur who started her own business in 2004.

Burch knows a thing or two about empowering women: After seeing the many obstacles that women in business face — even before the pandemic — she created the Tory Burch Foundation in 2009 to empower women entrepreneurs.

And now, for International Women's Day, her company is launching a global campaign with Upworthy to celebrate the women around the world who give back and create real change in their communities.

"I hope the creativity and resilience of these women, and the amazing ways they have found to have real impact, will inspire and energize others as much as they have me," Burch says.

This year's Empowered Women certainly are inspiring:

Shalini SamtaniCourtesy of Shalini Samtani

Take, for example, Shalini Samtani. When her daughter was diagnosed with a rare immune disorder, she spent a lot of time in the hospital, which caused her to quickly realize that there wasn't a single company in the toy industry servicing the physical or emotional needs of the 3 million hospitalized children across America every year. She was determined to change that — so she created The Spread the Joy Foundation to deliver free play kits to pediatric patients all around the country.

Varsha YajmanCourtesy of Varsha Yajman

Varsha Yajman is another one of this year's nominees. She is just 18 years old, and yet she has been diligently fighting to build awareness and action for climate justice for the last seven years by leading school strikes, working as a paralegal with Equity Generations Lawyers, and speaking to CEOs from Siemen's and several big Australian banks at AGMs.

Caitlin MurphyCourtesy of Caitlin Murphy

Caitlin Murphy, meanwhile, stepped up in a big way during the pandemic by pivoting her business — Global Gateway Logistics — to secure and transport over 2 million masks to hospitals and senior care facilities across the country. She also created the Gateway for Good program, which purchased and donated 10,000 KN95 masks for local small businesses, charities, cancer patients and their families, immunocompromised, and churches in the area.

Simone GordonCourtesy of Simone Gordon

Simone Gordon, a domestic violence survivor and single mom, wanted to pay it forward after she received help getting essentials and tuition assistance — so she created the Instagram account @TheBlackFairyGodMotherOfficial and nonprofit to provide direct assistance to families in need. During the pandemic alone, they have raised over $50,000 for families and they have provided emergency assistance — in the form of groceries — for numerous women and families of color.

Victoria SanusiCourtesy of Victoria Sanusi

Victoria Sanusi started Black Gals Livin' with her friend Jas and the podcast has been an incredibly powerful way of destigmatizing mental health for numerous listeners. The podcast quickly surpassed a million listens, was featured on Michaela Coel's "I May Destroy You," won podcast of the year at the Brown Sugar Awards, and was named one of Elle Magazine's best podcasts of 2020.

And Upworthy and the Tory Burch are just getting started. They are still searching the globe for more extraordinary women who are making an impact in their communities.

Do you know one? If you do, nominate her now. If she's selected, she could receive $5,000 to give to a nonprofit of her choice through the Tory Burch Foundation. Submissions are being accepted on a rolling basis — and one Empowered woman will be selected each month starting in April.

Nominate her now at www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen.

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When 59 children died on Christmas Eve 1913, the world cried with the town of Calumet, Michigan.

Woody Guthrie sang about this little-known piece of history.

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AFL Labor Mini Series

A one-man drill operation

In July 1913, over 7,000 miners struck the C&H Copper Mining Company in Calumet, Michigan. It was largely the usual issues of people who worked for a big company during a time when capitalists ran roughshod over their workers — a time when monopolies were a way of life. Strikers' demands included pay raises, an end to child labor, and safer conditions including an end to one-man drill operations, as well as support beams in the mines (which mine owners didn't want because support beams were costly but miners killed in cave-ins “do not cost us anything.")

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Few child actors ever get to star in an award-winning film, much less win a prestigious award for their performance. That fact appeared to hit home for 8-year-old Alan Kim, as he broke down in tears accepting his Critics' Choice Award for Best Young Actor/Actress, making for one of the sweetest moments in awards show history.

Kim showed up to the awards (virtually, of course) decked out in a tuxedo, and his parents had even laid out a red carpet in their entryway to give him a taste of the real awards show experience. When his name was announced as the Critics' Choice winner for his role in the film "Minari," his reaction was priceless.

Grinning from ear to ear, Kim started off his acceptance speech by thanking "the critics who voted" and his family. But as soon as he started naming his family members, he burst into tears. "Oh my goodness, I'm crying," he said. Through sobs, he kept going with his list, naming members of the cast, the production company, and the crew that worked on the film.

"I hope I will be in other movies," he added. Then, the cutest—he pinched his own cheeks and asked, "Is this a dream? I hope it's not a dream."

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