08/27/2013 05:42 EDT | Updated 10/27/2013 05:12 EDT

How I Learned to Trust After Loss

How does one trust in life again after experiencing two tragic losses? This is a question that I've asked myself since losing my son to stillbirth after a healthy 9-month pregnancy, followed just 18-months later by the death of my husband, a soldier serving in Afghanistan. I was only 27-years-old by the time my family had been taken away, and I was constantly asking: WHY me? How could I ever trust in anything again?

After losing my son, I was blessed with the birth of my beautiful, healthy daughter, Ella. I remember looking at her and thinking, "I have to be strong for her. I want her to grow up grounded, happy, and experience all of the joys in life." I knew that with that strength had to come trust. Each step that I gradually took out of the depths of my grief was shaky. I was constantly testing the stability of the waters around me -- not sure if I would be taking one step forward, or five steps back. I was terrified! I kept waiting to see what traumatic event would happen next. I felt like life's personal punching bag.

I began seeing a therapist after my husband died. I knew that I needed all of the support I could get! I didn't know how on earth I was going to move through the tremendous grief I felt. But as I continued walking through the waves of sadness, my counselor spoke one word that has stuck with me ever since: "trust." She told me that I needed to trust in my grief. That if I allowed it to move through me, it would gradually guide me to where I needed to go. So I spent a lot of time listening to the grief, and I became more aware of when I needed time for quiet, when I needed to nurture myself, and when I felt ready to reach out and connect with others. By trusting this process, I began learning new lessons each day. I realized that the grief was normal, natural, and human. I didn't have to be afraid of it... after all, I had already gone through the worst.

As I gradually grew to trust the process of grieving, I came to eventually trust in life again. I began looking at the beautiful gifts that were continuing to bless me. I became more aware of these gifts around six months after my husband's death. I suppose I opened up to receiving them. Of course, there was the gift of my daughter. Then new friendships with other young widows began to form. Many of these women are now some of my closest and most trustworthy friends. Relationships that had existed since before my losses grew deeper. I no longer took little things for granted. I was given a tremendous support system, I had a comfortable place to live, I was making incredible connections, and able to experience laughter. I began to notice the moments when I felt nurtured, and so the trust grew.

Am I always great at trusting? No, not always! But I do try and remind myself what trusting has allowed me to accomplish and overcome. I've become less fearful, more driven, and have accessed a space of deeper peace. I feel more carefree and less heavy-hearted knowing that I can hand things over to the universe and that I do not have complete control over what unfolds. One of my greatest tests during the grief journey has been gaining the ability to trust on a profound level. I can only hope that as the years go by, I continue to trust even more. And who knows, maybe another book will come out of my ever evolving journey!