Bringing Down The Wall: How I Opened My Heart 💕 to New Love After My Husband's Death

Feb 28, 2023

A pivotal part of my healing journey and finding love after loss, has been learning to feel “whole” all by myself. But another, more recent piece of the puzzle that has been missing, was figuring out how to then open my heart up again to new love.

If you’ve been following my story [read more about my dating journey HERE], you know that I initially filled the void of intimacy and connection by dating and ended up heartbroken after 3-month relationship that came to a sudden stop. From that point on, I swore I wound’t let another man make feel that unworthy and began my quest to wholeness.

I explored new hobbies & passions

I got comfortable taking up physical space alone

I listened to the voice in MY head instead of seeking to fill it with others, and

Literally told myself every day that …


I filled the empty parts of myself that died with my husband with self-love and self-study — I got to know myself in a whole new way!

After a year of this inner work, I truly felt whole, “enough” and empowered AF! I felt like I didn’t need anyone. Someone to share my life with would be bonus!

What I didn’t realize though …

Was how hard it would be to open my heart to that someone.

On my conquest to become whole — almost fiercely independent — I had sub-consciously built a wall to protect my broken heart.

Fast forward to August 2021 - two and a half years since Ian’s death.

I meet who would become my current partner David.

There’s a connection — not like the fireworks I had with Ian, but a pull at my heartstring that I can’t quite yet name.

There’s also anxiety — not like chemistry, but a subtle warning from my heart saying “caution! Take it slow.”

We date, we make memories together, we fall in love, and we even meet each other’s kids. But after 9 months, we call it quits.

Both of us … too afraid.

My body responds with anxiety

My head questions if he is “the one”

My heart struggles to receive

My inability to “go all in” triggers his need for control and stability, so he repels too.

We go our separate ways.

I take time to heal and get really honest with myself. I work with my therapist weekly, trying to understand why one part of me desires love and connection, but another part of me reacts and pushes it away.

She helps me get curious about my wall.

Why it exists?

What is it protecting me from?

How can I bring it down?

The wall is there to protect me from future potential pain.

From another loved one dying

From abandonment

From heartbreak

From grief

So in order to stop it from protecting me, I have to make peace with the pain. I have to feel it.

So I dive in …

Into the deep grief that I bypassed spending years in survival mode — starting a business, raising two kids, and exercising so the physical pain hurt more than the emotional.

Into the pain that I alchemized thru meaning making — turning it into purpose by sharing my tragic story and helping others heal.

Into the death that I couldn’t be fully present for and witness to —dissociating as a trauma response during Ian’s final days in hospice.

I find that as I dive into my grief, I expand my capacity to love.

This makes perfect sense because grief and love are so intertwined. When you bypass grief, you also bypass LOVE!

So I test this at a concert, where I invite David to join me “as friends.”

My mind holds no expectations for what will happen that night. I’m allowing my heart to guide me.

We meet. We dance. We get close. We kiss. We re-connect and this time the feeling in my heart is something I know — it’s deeply familiar…

It’s LOVE!

And 7 months later, the love is still there and flowing more than ever!

Now, I’d be lying if I said that the wall wasn’t there too. But I’ve learned to understand it. To appreciate its initial intent to protect me, but not let it run the show.

My anxiety is there too — but I’ve learned to cope with it. I know it’s there to alarm me that something feels unsafe and unfamiliar. Loving David is different than loving Ian and
my nervous system gets that. So I’ve taught myself how to lean into the discomfort and re-write this pattern in my body.

Fear still exists for both David and I. We’ve both been hurt. But we both know who we are, what we desire and why we are compatible. This clarity brings us confidence that we are choosing right and…

That our combined desire is greater than our fears.

Learning to love again after a loss is so complex! There’s a host of unforeseen challenges, questions and conflicting emotions that arise in the process; and having a guide, therapist or community to turn to and walk alongside you in the process is instrumental.

That’s why I partnered with Therapist and Dating & Relationship Coach Michelle Mouhtis to co-create our 8-week LIVE program Love After Loss…

Because I didn’t have this community! I did it alone. And I’m telling you sister… YOU DON’T HAVE TO!

This is just my story, but there’s a chance pieces of it resonate with you. If it does, I invite you to join me and an amazing community of widows for our third round of Love After Loss HERE

I’d be so grateful to do grief, love and life with you!

Emily 💖

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