Young Widows and Widowers Open Up About Dating, Remarrying in the Church

Hanging in Tammy Hill’s home are three photographs: one of Tammy and Mark Mulford on their wedding day, one of Jeffrey and Juanita Hill on their wedding day, and one of Jeffrey and Tammy with their combined family of 12 children. Written in vinyl lettering on the wall beside the images are the words “All because four people fell in love.”

Jeffrey and Tammy were both widowed fairly young, Tammy at 37 years old with four children (the youngest only 4 months old) and Jeffrey at 52 with eight children. Five years after Mark’s death and 18 months after Juanita’s, Tammy and Jeff married—a decision they and other young widows and widowers don’t make lightly.

The loss of a spouse introduces widows and widowers into a vastly different world than the one they were in previously, and amidst grieving and adjusting to their new lives, they are faced with the question of whether or not to date again. A question that each person handles differently. 

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Pregnant and Widowed at 21: A Latter-day Saint Woman’s Story

Kyra* knew something was wrong as soon as she turned on the lights and saw her husband, lying still in bed. “That moment is forever ingrained in my head, seeing that he just didn’t look right, that he wasn’t there. Something was wrong,” she says.  “There are no words to describe that moment.”

A Fairytale Gone Wrong

Kyra had just turned 21 years old. She and her husband, Jacob, had bought their first home two months prior, and after a prompting to begin their family earlier than planned, on Christmas day the couple had discovered Kyra was pregnant.

“Everything was exactly the way it should be. Our life was starting the way we wanted it to, we had our dream house that we were going to raise our kids in—we knew exactly what we wanted and where we were going,” Kyra said. 

But on January 11, 2018, when Kyra tried to wake up Jacob, he was unresponsive. After her initial panic, Kyra’s medical emergency training kicked into gear.

Kyra started CPR and called 911. She was put on hold for two and a half minutes before finally speaking with an operator—who then put her on hold again before she finally got through to someone who could help her. She performed CPR for 20 minutes while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. 

Kyra recalls, “I felt if I just focus then everything will be ok.” Because of that focus and the shock that naturally comes with such an unexpected tragedy, when the ambulance arrived, Kyra was able to calmly pack a hospital bag with her and Jacob’s clothes, put their dog in the kennel, call their families to meet them at the hospital, and then move to the front seat of the ambulance.

“Someone got in the front seat with me and said, ‘Are you ok? How are you feeling? Are you going to throw up?’ My brain was so turned off at that point, but the thought went through my head, ‘There’s something I need to remember. Oh, I’m pregnant,’” Kyra says. “That was the moment I [thought]: ‘I am pregnant, and my husband is dead in the back of this ambulance.’”

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