Rachel’s Story: Move Forward with Hope

by Rachel (Awe) Holmquist, Widow Might Board of Directors

My entrance into widowhood was an extreme shock. No one expects a young husband to die suddenly. We had been married for nine years. My son Devin had just turned six when Ken died. He started first grade the day after the funeral.

August 29, 2001, the day my whole life changed, started normally with us talking and laughing as we got ready for the day. I was getting dressed when I heard a crash. My 32-year-old husband had fallen and couldn’t get up.

At the hospital, I was eventually told that Ken had suffered an ischemic stroke. There had been no warning signs and he had always been healthy. About 15 hours later, we were informed that Ken was brain dead. I left my house that morning thinking that we would have to sell it if Ken was paralyzed. I returned home that night a widow.

God’s supernatural peace descended on me and allowed me to get through the early days. It certainly wasn’t me. I was able to be thankful for so many things. I was thankful that Ken wouldn’t be in a nursing home for the next 50 years. I was thankful that I was home when he had the stroke. I was thankful he wasn’t driving the childcare van when the stroke happened. (Ken was the director of our church’s childcare center.) The list goes on and on.

People said dumb things at the visitation and funeral. One woman said she knew what I was going through because her husband travelled a lot. Others told me that they seemed more upset than I was at the funeral. I was devastated, but God was holding me up and getting me through. I needed to be strong for our child. Devin started first grade the day after the funeral.

My advice? There’s nothing wrong with saying that you are sorry for our loss and don’t know what to say.

I serve a big God. He can take my disappointment, anger and anything else I can throw at him. He will always love me and cherish me, no matter what. God never left. People will disappoint me, but God never will.

The world is hard and scary, but God is the one who comforts me in the dead of night. I cry out to Him and He continues to answer my prayers and surround me with His love. God gives me enough strength to survive each and every day.

I have learned to live, heal, grow and thrive because of God’s love and the strength He gives me. One of my biggest accomplishments is raising my son Devin alone since he was six. I am so proud of him, and I treasure our close relationship.

After being widowed for 18 years (twice the length of my first marriage), I was blessed to marry again. God brought me another wonderful partner to share my life. As a bonus, he brought along two daughters and a son-in-law.

I continue to serve on the Widow Might board. I have a heart for widows and believe passionately in Widow Might’s purpose to help widows live, heal, grow and, in time, thrive. God has great things for us!


My advice? There’s nothing wrong with saying that you are sorry for our loss and don’t know what to say.