Today’s #SameHereHero: Randi Bleichfeld (She’s probably one of the strongest, purest people I know & her story & strength will help thousands. Her husband who she references below was a great friend of mine & someone I will always love.)
“Growing up, I’d say life was pretty calm and ‘normal.’ I had two loving parents (who divorced when I was 13), a twin sister, lived in a nice house in the suburbs of Westchester County & was involved in all sorts of after-school activities – all of which seemingly came easy to me. I went to college at Binghamton & was fortunate to meet an incredible man who I fell in love with. Both in school & after, there were ups & downs like in any relationship, but our love continued to grow, & we got married a number of years after graduation surrounded by friends and family. Life with him was where I wanted it to be – he was a larger than life character with many friends & a huge heart, & we often pictured our future together.
When I turned 29, we were ecstatic to learn that I had become pregnant. A newlywed of only five months at the time, my husband left to go to one of his routine early morning gym runs. That’s when life decide to throw me a challenge I never dreamed I would have to deal with. Running on the treadmill, he collapsed, the victim of a heart condition (that had been detected but he had been cleared to run with). Once I got word, I raced to the gym, & then to the hospital, where I received the brutal news that he had passed, ‘expired’ was actually the ‘comforting’ word they used. Completely alone, I was exactly six weeks pregnant at the time.
I not only experienced tremendous grief & intense loss, but fell into a major bout of PTSD. The poor mental health made me struggle to be present for others (something I always loved & prided myself on). I had to stay strong during the pregnancy, which added a whole other layer of difficulty & guilt. It was almost impossible to enjoy anything. It also left me fearing loss at all turns. Every time the phone would ring, I would jump out of fear that something bad had happened.
This new territory was unchartered, this new widowhood I entered was so lonely. It was so scary. Most of my friends were starting their lives, my acquaintances & peers had no idea how to help me & my parents, also still young, hadn’t experienced such a loss. I didn’t feel as if I had anyone who could ‘get me.’ It was so hard to feel like I didn’t belong anywhere in the world. Where did I fit in?
I wanted to be happy. I wanted to live. I wanted to feel that I fit in. I wanted to be the best, most capable parent to my soon to be born child.
Climbing out of this dark place began by openly talking to people. In fact, the most help came when I met others who also had experienced loss. The ones in the most similar situation, who had also lost a spouse & had kids were the ones I confided in the most & found help me the most. Running too became a huge part of my recovery. To be able to only need a pair of sneakers to go run wherever I wanted for however long I wanted to clear my mind, was so helpful. I found that therapy was also such an important part of healing, & talking helped to get the anxiety out of my ‘system.’ This was exactly what I needed.
Now, I find that helping others through life’s challenges is what helps me the most. It gives me purpose. I know there is science behind how helping others, actually helps ourselves. For so long, it felt like it would be impossible to truly feel happy. For so long I didn’t know how I would live or survive. Through a lot of hard work, a lot of crying, a lot of allowing myself to feel the pain, I’ve survived & am now thriving. I live, I am happy, I am raising a child who is the center of my world (see the picture 😉), we fit in the world we have created for ourselves (not the world we think we should be in) & I work a full-time job in NYC. My son happily wears his dads backpack to school & we both proudly rock his last name. It’s been 9 years, my son is 8 and we both love life. But I want others to know that when it feels impossible, it is possible. So #SameHere 🤙🏻and I know you can do it.”